Results tagged ‘ Yuni Betancourt ’

Photo Day at the Phillies (6/1/2013)

On June 1, 2013, we continued our quest to have Kellan see all 30 MLB teams play a game live.  The Brewers were on the “must see” list and they were in Philadelphia, and so were we.

For some reason, we were running a bit late getting to the ballpark.  We arrived before the gates opened, but there was already a healthy-sized crowd there before we arrived:

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The reason for the big crowd:  it was Photo Day!

The Phillies’ website said fans could get photos of their favorite Phillies on field starting at 2:30.  I didn’t know exactly what that meant for the pregame schedule.  The stadium was going to open at 1:30.  Would there be an hour of BP before moving on to the Photo Day festivities?  No.

As we reached the seating bowl, the field was already set up for Photo Day.  I wish I would have taken a picture of it from the concourse, but I just wanted us to get down there onto the field.  Several gates to the field were open along the front row of the foul territory seats on both sides of the diamond.  Fans could walk around pretty much the whole field (with limited exceptions, like in front of the Phillies dugout).  In the outfield, there were two catwalk’esque runways put together on each side – two in LF and two in RF.  The runways ran about half way out into the outfield grass from the warning track and fans could stand out in the OF waiting for the Phils to arrive.

At the beginning, we hung out down the 3B line…

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…and in front of the Brewers dugout.

A bunch of Phillies ballgirls started circling the field…

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…signing autographs for the kids (or, I guess, adults, too).  Each ballgirl has her own baseball card and they personalize all of their autographs.  Two of the 7 ballgirls we met up with *loved* the name “Kellan.”

Interestingly, while the fans were blocked from going in front of the Phillies dugout, there were no similar restrictions in front of the Brewers dugout.  If a Brewer wanted to come out to the field to run, stretch or throw, he had to walk through the crowd.  It was pretty awesome.  (By the way, this was the exact same situation that they had at Photo Day at Fenway Park in April).

I bought Tim that cheesehead Kellan is wearing in the photo above while I was on a business trip to Milwaukee in 2012.  I figured it would be funny to wear at a Brewers game, and this was our first opportunity.  Guess what?  Everyone loves a fan wearing a cheesehead.  We could hear people commenting on it all around us while the boys were passing it back and forth.

The Brewers liked it too.  Like Tom Gorzelanny who stopped to get this photo with the boys on his way back to the dugout:

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By the way, we were hanging out right here because half of the warning track was blocked off for fans in wheelchairs, but there were none at the time so it was a totally unblocked view of the field.

Brewers coach, Lee Tunnell, liked the cheesehead too…

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…he tossed a baseball to us after playing catch with several Brewers.

We hung out by the dugout a bunch because it was fun watching what was going on in there.   Tim touched (and made me touch) this…

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…burning hot TV camera.  After touching it, I was surprised it hadn’t spontaneously combusted.  It was firey hot from the sun, which was beating down hard on us.

I wanted to find Yuniesky Betancourt.  I was hoping to get my picture with him because (1) he’s a ex-Mariner, (2) he’s always been very nice to us, and (3) I was wearing my Jose Lopez jersey (who was Yuni’s doubleplay partner and buddy while in Seattle).  But Yuni was nowhere to be found during pre-game festivities.

With no Yuni in sight, Tim posed for a photo by the bullpen with Michael Gonzalez getting interviewed in the background:

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When it seemed apparent that we wouldn’t find Yuni, we headed toward the outfield.  Kellan was content sitting on my shoulders and didn’t want to get down for any photos.  Tim got a photo in LF with the foul pole behind him:

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Check out his sweet shirt in that photo – “Cheesehead Cowpants.”  I got him that gem while on a different business trip to Milwaukee…actually, to Racine, Wisc.  Pairing the Cheesehead Cowpants shirt with Tim’s banana shorts is one of my favorite non-Mariners gameday outfits.  It’s pretty hilarious, no?

Here’s a random photo in LF:

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We headed  over to the RCF warning track below the pizza wedge…

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…so we could see the players-point-of-view when we’re usually looking down at them from the pizza wedge.

Check out how easy it would be to pick off a homer in CF:

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No jumping required.

While we were out in CF, several Brewers were in the upper (visitors’) bullpen.  The last two to leave were coaches, including Marcus Hanel.  As Hanel walked by…

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…we said hi to him and he handed us a spare baseball, he had two in his glove and he took the other back to the dugout with him.

Of course, we had to check in with the Mariners on the out of town scoreboard:

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Finally, Phillies players started making the rounds.  The “rule” was you weren’t supposed to get individual posed pictures with the players, you know, because they didn’t have time to pose for a picture with everyone.  I think that’s always the rule at all of the ballparks.  Anyway, some of the Phils just walked around saying hi and shaking hands.  Some walked a bit and then randomly stopped to take a photo with one or two fans (Chase Utley).  Others posed for photos with every single fan who wanted a picture.  That’s how it oughta be!

We ran all over from RCF to LF and out the LF catwalk trying to get a bunch of player photos and looking for certain guys.  We missed a lot of guys while looking for other player or because the guy didn’t want to stop for a photo.   Here’s who we met:

First up, right in CF, we met Joe Savery…

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…and Jonathan Pettibone.

Right after we got their photos, I saw Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz coming our way from LCF.  We missed some guys (like Antonio Bastardo) trying to make sure we didn’t miss Chooch.  And, happily, we did not miss chooch…

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…or Charlie Manuel.  If you ask me, both Charlie and Tim have hilarious faces in that picture, and eerily similar at that.  If you couldn’t tell, we were out on a walkway in LF when we ran into Charlie.  We stayed out there most of the time and we kept going back because it was less crowded than the warning track.

If you ever go to Photo Day on a blazing hot day, I highly recommend taking squirt bottles.  The players love squirt bottles, and so do other fans, for the most part.  When we asked Justin DeFratus for a picture, he took off his hat and said, “First, you have to squirt me in the face.”

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After DeFratus posed for a picture with Tim, he remarked at what a good deal he and Tim had made.  It was a pretty good deal too.  Tim’s a lucky boy.  Not many people can say they’ve squirted a uniformed major leaguer in the face with a squirt bottle!

While Cole Hamels passed by behind, Ryan Howard posed for a picture from afar as Tim squirted his bottle in the air…

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…and Ben Revere sported shiny glasses and one of the straightest bills in the league.

We had a nice Mariners-based chat with both Larry Anderson (a former Mariner)…

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…and Gary “Sarge” Mathews, Sr. (who likes to wear fancy hats like Mariners announcer Dave Sims).  L.A. was really very nice.  He chatted with us a minute or two about the Mariners and the beautiful Kingdome.  Sarge claimed that he was wearing hats before Dave Sims.  On twitter, Dave later told me he and Sarge both started wearing hats in 2007.

How about a couple Washingtonians?  Mount Vernon, WA’s Kyle Kendrick…

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…and Spokane, WA’s Ryne “HOF” Sandberg.  I asked Kendrick how his family was enjoying the detour around the collapsed bridge in his home town.  Not surprisingly, they were not big fans of it.

Several years ago, three future Major Leaguers playing for the AA Reading Phillies (now the Reading Fightin Phils or the “Fightins”) came to my Reading-Berk Business Softball League game against the R-Phils front office and they heckled us mercilessly. Those players were Kyle Drabek, Mike Zagursky, and current Phillies reliefer Michael Stutes…

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…who totally remembered it when I mentioned the softball game to him.  Next to Stutes and Tim, that’s Tim “Spray Man” Cook and 2007 N.L. MVP Jimmy Rollins.  Rollins was riding around on that utility truck behind him in the photo.  He would ride a little bit and then hop up for a few pictures.  We had to chase him all the way down one of the runways before filing meeting up with him on the warning track.  When he saw Tim, he said, “Come on, Spray Man!” and then he squirted Tim three times in the face while I took this photo.  Great memory!

After getting that pic with J-Roll, we wandered around trying to find the best N.L. bullpen catcher, Jesus Tiamo, but to no avail.  So, we headed off to grab some ice cream:

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Ice cream in the shady on a hot day is good stuff.

While we ate ice cream we watched the grounds crew take up the four white runways in the outfield.  Soon, it was time for the pitchers to warm up.  When Jesus Tiamo headed out to the bullpen, we wandered down into the pizza wedge and he promptly tossed a ball to Tim…

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…and another to Kellan.

Thanks, Jesus!

I asked Jesus if he was out on the field for the photo session, but he said he was not.  That’s too bad.  It would have been great to get a photo with him.

Before the game got started, we went to the play area…

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…and then we played some games:

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We were happy to see that Santa Claus…

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…was spending his vacation in Philadelphia, and apparently roots for the Phils.

We played enough games to get 20 stamps…

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…the exact number you need to win one of these Citizens Bank Park mini-bats.  When the guy realized I had two boys, he through in an extra bonus bat!

Thanks, guy!

The game had just started by this point.  We decided to head to the upper deck to grab some food and sit in the shade.  On our way across Ashburn Alley in CF, Tyler Cloyd induced Ryan Braun…

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…to fly out to Ben Revere in CF to end the top of the first with no score.

Within thirty seconds of taking that last photo, I found a $5 bill on the ground in Ashburn Alley:

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Hooray!

After circling around to the concourse in LF foul territory we spotted the Phillie Phanatic…

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…riding his ATV down the switch back ramp.  That was kind of amazing because we never see the Phanatic out and about in the stadium.  He’s usually just on the field or on top of the dugouts at the end of the game.

On the upper deck concourse, Tim and Kellan did some fake hitting and base running before we grabbed some food:

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Speaking of food, after buying our hot dogs, I found another $5 bill on the ground!  That raised the my found-money-at-a-ballpark grand total up to $30, all at Citizens Bank Park.

We sat here…

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…in section 421 while we ate our lunch:

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So, by the way, there was some scoring by this point that I haven’t mentioned.  In the top of the second inning, the Brewers scored two runs on a single to RF and a throwing error by Delmon Young.  That made it 2-0 Brewers.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Phillies got on the board when Brewers’ second baseman Jeff Bianchi couldn’t handle a bases loaded knock by Kevin Frandsen.  The Brewers got out of the jam without giving up any more runs.  2-1 Brewers after four.

The Brewers got that run back pretty quick.  In the top of the fifth, Aoki hit a single followed by a triple by Jean Segura.  3-1 Brewers after five innings.

The Phils got one more run in the bottom of the sixth on a single by Erik Kratz.  Back to a 1-run game, 3-2 Brewers after six.

We were just relaxing.  And having fun with squirt bottles:

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We were right up at the top of the upper deck seats.  Check out what we could see behind us:

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That’s the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot.  I’m not sure when they put in the covered parking.  I’d never noticed it before…but then again, we never park over there.

We decided to hit up the kids’ play area one more time before it closed.  One our walk down to the concourse, I got this shot…

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…of the stairs.  I love how there is one solitary row right about the tunnel.  That’s be a sweet place to sit someday.

Visiting the kids’ play area turned out not to be a great idea.  The kids’ play area is pretty big and parents can only see one side of it at a time from the area below.  The kids went up to play and I sat on the ground in front of the play area taking some notes in my notebook and putting baseballs in baggies.  Tim and Kellan came running by a couple times after going down the big twisty slide.

But then I didn’t see them for a while.  A couple times I heard some crazy kid screams from inside the play area.  They were spaced out over a minute or two.  I grew concerned that it was Kellan and he was stuck inside the play area up top somewhere.  I started walking around the play area and I found this scene on the back side:

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Actually, this wasn’t right when I got there.  There is a steering wheel type toy up there.  When Kellan tried to play with it, a kid a little shorter than Kellan with a mohawk started hitting Kellan and pushing him into the walls (I missed all of that).  He apparently also bit Kellan’s finger (I also missed that).

When I found Kellan, Tim was trying to push Kellan and the other kid apart.  Kellan was screaming and crying.  The mohawk kid ran off to the right.

I had no clue what was going on at this point.  I just knew that Kellan was going ballistic crying.  I asked a Phillies employee (the lady shown in the picture above) if I could go up and get him because he wouldn’t come down.  She said parents couldn’t go up after kids.  A minute later, I saw her up there.  I still had no clue what was happening – if Kellan and that kid were just fighting (i.e., both being bad) or what. Then I saw that lady up there.  My first thought was that she was going to kick Kellan out for fighting with that kid.  But she was up there to find the kid with the Mohawk.  The other kids told her where he went in the play area and she went and kicked him out of there.

She then came back to see if Kellan was okay.  While she was away, two moms came up to me and told me what happened with the kid with the mohawk.  They were both super mad and they mentioned that the mohawk kid’s dad was standing below laughing as he tussled with Kellan.  One said that she wanted to run up there and kick that kid out herself.

Anyway, I was calling up to Kellan and asking him to come down.  He was just standing up there crying and wouldn’t move.  That lady up there couldn’t really get him to move, but she point out to me that he could walk to the right and take the slide down.  I finally got him to walk over there and slide down to me.  He was still crying and screaming when he reached me.  I picked him up and popped him onto my shoulders and the three of us got out of there right away.

As we walked toward home plate through the concourse, Tim told me all about what happened up in the play area and Kellan instantly fell asleep (it was a tiring altercation with the little mohawk kid).

We had a goal of getting some mathematical photos for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt, we headed to the RF foul corner, but we were too far away.  So we headed to the SRO area behind the Brewers dugout.

In the top of the eighth inning, Jonathan Lucroy hit a solo homerun that put the Brewers up 4-2.

I’m happy to report that we were able to get both math photos that we needed:

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And we got to see our Yuni Betancourt (unfortunately) not hit a homerun:

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When Kellan woke up, he started spraying his bottle and eventually hit this cameraman:

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I told Kellan not to do that, but the cameraman turned around and said, “no, please do!”

In the ninth inning, we ended up heading down into section 129:

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Freddy Galvis led off the ninth inning with a solo homerun:

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The crowd was excited for a Phillies comeback.  Kellan was most excited about how thoroughly he had doused his face with his spray bottle:

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Jimmy Rollins followed with a pinch hit single.  Interestingly, Kyle Kendrick pinch ran for Rollins.  Ben Revere sacrifice bunted Kendrick to second.  Cesar Hernandez followed Revere.  During his at bat, the Brewers picked Kendrick off second base for the second out of the inning.  And, wouldn’t you know it, Hernandez then hit a double off the RCF wall.  Had Kendrick not been picked off, Hernandez’s double would have tied the game.

With a one run lead still intact, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez intentionally walked Dominic Brown and then got Michael Martinez to ground out to end the game.

Brewers win 4-3.

Following the final out, it was super easy to get into the corner spot at the home plate end of the Brewers dugout. We got home plate umpire Tom Hallion’s attention and he bounce-passed a baseball to Tim off of the top of the dugout.

Tim hammed it up when someone took a shot of us…

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…before heading to the gates.

The game ended at just about 7:00 p.m. and we ended up playing catch…

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…in the parking lot for half an hour before hopping in the car or the ride home.

It was another great day at the ballpark!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

12 Games
17 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers
22 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4, Mets 2
55 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 4, Reds 4,   Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2
9 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field
30 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge” Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins
5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

2012 Cook GFS Game 4 – Orioles vs. Royals (5/16/12)

On Wednesday, May 16, 2012, we woke up for the last time in our St. Louis area Caboose and hit the road for Kansas City.  The drive to KC was pretty easy, just a few hours. Nothing like our 550+ mile trek from Minneapolis to St. Louis.

However, we had put the wrong address in our GPS, which resulted in us driving right by our hotel (literally right by it, it was right off Exhibit 18 on I-70), right by Kauffman Stadium…

…and all the way into one of the least desirable sections of Kansas City.  After figuring out our mistake and backtracking 20 minutes, we found our hotel and just rested in our room for several hours.  But our hotel time, I reconnected by phone with Royals season-ticket holder and myGameBalls.com member Garrett Meyer.  We’d met Garrett last season at Ballhawkfest.  Garrett knew we’d be at this game.  After catching up a bit, Garrett and I discussed gate times and the Royals “early-bird” tour.

After discussing it with my dad, we opted to meet up with Garrett and do the early bird tour, which gets you into the Royals…

…Hall of Fame (where we saw some cool stuff like this…

…) and then it gets you into BP way before the rest of the public.

Besides getting in early, the normal BP people have to stay in the outfield for a while once they are let into the stadium.  Meanwhile, the early bird tour people stay on the infield, behind the dugouts.  We set up shop behind the Orioles’ visitors’ dugout on the 3B line:

It was beautiful.  Our view looked like this:

At the beginning, Garrett was on the Royals side (where the Royals pitchers were warming up).  A bunch of fans wearing Orioles gear were on our side and they all seemed to be either autograph collectors or folks who just wanted some extra time to see the Orioles.  No one seemed to have any interest in getting a baseball tossed to them.  Also, if foul balls are hit into the stands down the foul lines, the usher will let you run down and grab it.  It was a crying shame that ZERO baseballs were hit into the foul seats (which is amazing).

Anyway, while the Royals were taking BP, several infields took grounders at SS and 3B.  The first group of infields included Alcides Escobar…

…and the second group included former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt.  Both the tossed stray BP balls to us on their way off the field.

Thanks, Alcides and Yuni!

A few Orioles were hanging around in the bullpen below us.  Since people were asking for autographs, I asked Tim if he wanted to get one of our new baseballs signed.  He did.  Dana Eveland was happy to oblige Tim’s request:

During much of BP, Tim played with ants that were crawling out of a little hole in the cement…

…and Kellan just walked up and down the rows like walking was going out of style.

At some point, Garrett came over to the 3B dugout.  I hadn’t even seen him yet when I noticed an Orioles coach standing by the Orioles BP ball bin start tossing balls out in the crowd.  He must have thrown 6-7 baseballs in a row.

Moments later, Garrett walked over to me and Kellan and said, “That Orioles coach is tossing a Camden Yards Commemorative to anyone who asks for one!

Kellan and I high tailed it down there.  He was no longer throwing baseballs, but was still standing at the ball bin.  I called out to him and when he looked up I was happy to see the face of former-Mariner Jim Presley looking back at me.

I asked for a OPACY commemorative ball, he dug around in the bin until he found one (I saw it too), and then he tossed *a baseball* to us:

(Photo taken after the game started)

I was thrilled!  I shouted out a big:

Thanks, Jim!

And then Garrett whispered to me, “it is not commemorative!”  He could see in my glove as I thanked Presley and saw the MLB logo on the ball he’d thrown.  I was utterly confused because I *saw* Presley grab a commemorative baseball and throw it to me.  Or at least I thought I did.

Garrett and I exchanged puzzled looks.  And then I got bold.  I called out to Jim again and asked (paragraphing), “Hey, Jim.  I don’t mean to be annoying, but is there any way I could trade this baseball for one of the Camden Yards baseballs?”  He looked up at me with a confused look and asked, “That one wasn’t one!?”

Nope.

I tossed it back to him.  He put it back in the bin and he tossed me a pearl of a Camden Yards commemorative baseball.

Thanks again, Jim!

Presley then walked away from the bin.  My dad and Tim had not heard or seen what was going on.  When Garrett, Kellan and I went back down toward the OF end of the dugout, I told my dad that he and Tim should give it a shot if Presley wandered back over to the bucket.

Well, wouldn’t you know, he did…

…and they did, and he hooked them up to!

Sweet!

Quadruple thanks, Jim Presley!

It was our first Camden Yards baseballs and my dad’s first baseball of the trip.  So it was a very special interaction with a first class former Mariner.

Moments after Tim and my dad returned with their Camden Yards baseballs, an Orioles fan was getting an autograph from Brian Roberts at the camera well at the end of the dugout.

Tim and I swooped in and capitalized big time:

In one fell swoop, we accomplished three things: (i) Tim got Roberts to sign his new Camden Yards baseball, (ii) he got his picture with Roberts (first ever picture  with an Oriole!), and (iii) Roberts held the baseball and gave a thumbs-up in the picture so it qualified for five points in the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!

Thanks, Brian!

Tim was in a thumbs-up mood.  So he got a thumbs-up picture with Garrett too:

While the Orioles pitchers warmed up down the LF line (where we could only go if a foul was hit into the stands), three set of Orioles position players played catch right in front of us at the dugout.  When the final group was finished, Chris Davis tossed us his warm up baseball before walking back into the dugout.

Earlier in BP, my dad and I had a little bit of discussion with former-Mariners pitching coach Rick Adair.  Tim and I have had several nice discussions with Adair at Camden Yards since he joined the Orioles’ coaching staff.

Well, after all of the Orioles pitchers had warmed up down the LF line, I saw Rick down the line chatting with an O’s pitcher and tossing a baseball back-and-forth from hand-to-hand.  He was probably 150 feet down the line.  When he finished chatting with the player, I called out, “Hey, Rick!” and I flashed him some leather.  I was hoping he would make a big long toss throw to me.

Instead, he walked toward us.  He was on his way to the dugout.  It was clear he was going to give us the baseball, but he wasn’t into the long toss idea.  As he got closer, he was into Tim’s catching range, so I pointed to Tim.

Adair made a good toss, but Tim botched the catch.  It fell to his feet and he picked it up.  He’s actually botched the toss from Jim Presley too.  So he wasn’t having a gold glove day so far.  But he got the ball on his own, so it was all good.

Big thanks to Rick Adair!

Eventually, a friendly female usher who was chatting with us behind the dugout told us that the entire stadium was open so we could move around wherever we wanted to go.  My dad went to the team store to buy some baseballs (he buys a team or stadium baseball at each stadium he visits), Garrett went out into the outfield where we saw several Orioles air mail baseballs over his head, and Tim, Kellan and I headed down the LF line, but stayed in foul territory.  We took up a spot on the wall and watched BP:

Orioles pitcher Luis Ayala was running around LF wearing a huge, oversized glove.  From myGameBalls.com and other mlblogs, I know there are several guys around the country who use a “big glove” like this.  So I scanned the crowd, and soon we met Minnesota’s own Big Glove Bob:

I love that picture of Tim and BGB.  Bob has the face of a man stuck in the middle of Tim unfolding a long and overly detailed story.  I believe this particular story was about how Shawn Camp tossed Tim two baseballs the day before in St. Louis.  That was a story with which Tim regaled anyone who would listen while at Kauffman Stadium – notably, Garrett about five times or so.

Kauffman Stadium was great, but the setup of the seats down the LF line was frustrating me while we were down the line.  At some stadiums the seats in the corner are situated diagonally so the end seat in each row butts up against the fence.  In that type of row, I can block Kellan into a defined space.  But  none of the seats down the line at Kauffman Stadium butt up against the fence.  In fact, there is a huge amount of space in front of the seats.  So it was very difficult to keep Kellan near us without chasing him back and forth.

I decided we should go out to LCF so I could block in Kellan at the end of the bottom row next to the batters’ eye.  We ended up going out there for a very brief time, but the sun was right on us and it was too hot.

While we were there, Ronnie Deck and someone named “Flaherty”…

…were shagging fly balls in CF and LCF.

I placed my third or fourth call of the day to my “Orioles guy,” Avi Miller.  The call went like this:

Todd – “Hey, Avi, what is Flaherty’s first name”?

Avi – “Ryan.”

Todd – “Oh…wait, I gotta go.”

I called him back about 30 seconds later.  That call went like this:

Todd – “Ryan Flaherty just tossed us a Camden Yards commemorative.  Thanks for the assist!”

Avi – “Any time, sir.”

If you’re visiting Camden Yards or seeing the Orioles on the road, Avi is a good guy to know.   Well, he’s a good guy to know in general, I guess.

Thanks, Ryan and Avi!

That was it for BP.  Thanks for the early bird tour, we snagged 7 baseballs with almost no effort.  Not too shabby.

As we made our way toward foul territory, we stopped briefly at the bullpen.  One of the Orioles coaches was crossing the warning track grabbing stray balls.  Totally out of view, he tossed one right over me.  I didn’t see it in time to get my glove up and it sailed right into the fountain.

Doh!

While we were out in LCF, me and the boys met up with my dad and Garrett.  After BP, Garrett offered to take us to the only “Kauffman Stadium” sign in the ballpark, which is above the Royals dugout on the 1B side, so we could get a Kauffman Stadium bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.  Because of the Diamond Club, you cannot get from the 3B side to the 1B side on the field level without going up into the concourse.  While we were passing through the concourse, Tim and Garrett posed for a picture with the Royals pig:

There were a bunch of kids in the first row above the dugout and it was far from an ideal situation to get a picture featuring the Kauffman Stadium sign.  This was as good as we could do with Garrett’s assistance:

I took a second picture of Tim from the first row just in case the last picture came out horribly:

Then, we split off from Garrett and the boys, my dad and I headed up to the upper deck to try again from up there:

That one isn’t ideal either, but it was better.  Tim was pretending to be scared his heights while up there.  That’s why he isn’t smiling in the photo.

While up there, I also got this panorama from the front of section 420:

And then we walked the concourse a bit.  All the way down the LF line, we could see a classic spiral ramp and the KC Chiefs stadium next door:

We all headed down to the field level for the beginning of the game.  We got some great tickets on stubhub for way under face value.  This was our excellent view from section 112:

And this was the view of the first pitch of the game:

Fairly quickly after the game started, Tim wanted to go see the kids play area that I’d mentioned was behind the scoreboard in CF.  I didn’t know what all was back there, but I was up for checking it out.  On our way, we met Sluggerrr:

As passed behind the Royals Hall of Fame, we noticed that the crown on top of the scoreboard had little spikes on it.  We figured we ought to take a picture of it:

We also figured we should take some panoramas from the top of section 202 in LF:

And from down at the bottom of section 202, just above the LF fountains:

As we made our way to the play area, we ran into the Kauffmans…

…who were apparently very enthusiastic with their waving.

On the back of the scoreboard, the Royals have a big “KC” logo instead of a “Kauffman Stadium” sign:

There was one big problem with the play area:  it had too much fun stuff.  Literally, it was just too much.  Tim was really excited about it.  But I quickly realized we could end up spending the entire game there.  And I wasn’t too excited to spend our only game at Kauffman Stadium behind the scoreboard where I couldn’t see the game.

Here are two of the things we didn’t do:

On the left, that is a miniature golf course.  See how the ground is all wet in front of the mini-golf?  Well, we didn’t notice as we made the approach.  And then a huge blast of water flew straight up my pants.  I walked over a fountain set into the walkway exactly when it went off.  My shorts were completely drenched.

It was funny, but I could have lived without the comic relief.

Tim was really excited to play, but I had to limit him to the play fort thingy.  Mini-golf just takes too long!

The play area would be great if this wasn’t our first game at Kauffman Stadium.  It would be ideal for the down time between the end of batting practice and the beginning of the game.

The other non-ideal thing was that the play fort was a bit too advanced for Kellan.  So Tim played for a bit while Kellan and I just roamed around.  And I got this panorama from behind the scoreboard:

And soon enough, it was time to head back into the infield and grab some dinner:

We go the nachos and grandpa got the BBQ sandwich.  In retrospect, I wish I would have tried a BBQ sandwich too, but I missed out.

Actually, I basically just missed out on dinner because this was going to be our only game in KC and I needed to run around and see the stadium.  So the boys ate dinner with Grandpa and I took off.

I started by heading the LF corner and I got this panorama from behind section 104 – just on the CF side of the Royals bullpen:

Then I checked out the fountains…

…and the trough behind the CF wall, where a few people have jumped down to grab homerun balls.  I could see several baseballs down there.

I got this panorama from the walkway behind section 101:

Then I walked through the area behind the batters eye and below the scoreboard, and I popped out on the other side in the party porch:

I walked across the party porch and got another panorama from RF:

Behind the Orioles bullpen in RF, there is a bar thingy that I didn’t go inside…

…and I’m not sure if it is open to the public.

There are more fountains and less seating in RF than in LF.  There are also more statues in RF than in LF:

Here is one of my favorite panoramas that I got at Kauffman Stadium, from above/behind the fountains in RF (the thing on the far upper right is the bottom corner of the scoreboard):

I circled around that bar thingy and got this panorama from section 248:

Then I headed up to the 300 level (which I would naturally call the “second” level).  It seemed to be a suite and club type level, but it seemed that they let anyone walk through it.

I had a funny interaction in the suite level concourse.  I ran into a super-drunk Orioles fan who was also walking around the stadium taking pictures.  He saw me walking with my camera and thought it was hilarious.  We chatted a bit, and he had previously also lived in Pennsylvania.  He ended up taking a picture of the two of us.  I gave him a hugely over-exaggerated thumbs-up in the picture.  I imaged that the next day he probably scrolled through his pictures and scratched his head thinking, “Wow – I drank too much.  Who in the world is this guy!?”

Anyway, I got panoramas from section 321:

And another from the stairway between sections 315-316:

I noticed that this would have been the ideal spot to get our picture with the Kauffman Stadium sign:

Maybe next time!

By the way, although I never tried to walk into the Diamond Club, it seemed as if anyone could sit in any seat at Kauffman Stadium without an usher ever asking to see your ticket.

Next, I headed up to the upper deck and got a couple shots before my dad texted that Kellan was asking for me.  First, I got this panorama from section 419:

And this one from section 417:

After twirling my way down the spiral ramp, I noticed that there was a cool “Royals” sign on the exterior of the stadium:

When I got back to the seats, it was reaching twilight.  The scene in the outfield looked pretty cool with a pink water show going on in the RF fountains:

By the way, I should mention the game was 0-0 through four-and-a-half innings.  In the bottom of the fifth, the Royals finally found the plate, twice, on the strength of a Humberto Quintero single to CF.  That made it 2-0 Royals.

Soon, it was time for ice cream.  Tim, Kellan and I went in search of some ice cream helmets.  We finally found them behind 3B.  I was surprised to find that the Royals only offered vanilla soft serve.  I thought that was odd.  And it was outside of Tim’s chocolate wheelhouse.  But the Royals made up for it with a strong showing on the toppings front.  Tim got crushed Oreos and Tim got chocolate chip cookie dough topping.  And the toppings looked and tasted GREAT!

Here’s a pretty sight:

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to share in much more than a single bite.  I used the ice cream time to finish my tour of the stadium.

I started by running up to the .390 Bar & Grille on the second deck.  It was a nice looking restaurant with a big sign “NOW OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.”  Unfortunately, all but one of my pictures in their came out completely blurry. But the one that came out clear was the most important.  Here is clear was the most important.  Here is our view if you choose to dine at the .390 Bar & Grille:

Wait, I got one more good picture from the restaurant:

That’s my dad holding Kellan as he scarfs down some ice cream.  We had the first four seats in the row and Tim is off-camera eating his ice cream in seat number 4.

I left the restaurant and got this panorama from section 401:

I already had a panorama from the front of section 420, so I went for another from the back row:

As I circled behind the first base dugout, a Royal (I think it was Francouer, but I’m not certain) smoked a foul ball right to OUR seats.  I zoomed in to see if I could see if my dad got it…

…, which would have been really hard while holding Kellan.

He didn’t get it.  Actually, if you look right between the ballboy next to the “Firestone” sign and my dad and Kellan, you can see a guy (two rows in front of my dad) in a blue shirt and light colored shorts.  He is leaning forward with his hands over his head.  In his left hand, you can see him holding the foul ball.  That is darn close!

I kept moving and got this shot from the stairs between sections 425 and 427…

…this one from between sections 435 and 437…

…, and this one from the very last seat at the end of section 439:

My tour was essentially complete, but I got a couple more pictures as I made my way back to our seats.  I got this shot from section 230:

And this one admiring the big World Series trophy that is part of a sign for the Royals team store:

By this time, it was official, I was hardly spending any time at all in our seats.  And, frankly, it wasn’t going to spend much more time there.  It was very late in the game by this time.  Like the 7thor 8th inning.

Kellan had been in the seats most of the game and he was ready to move around.  Mere minutes after returning to the seats, Kellan and I headed to the cross-aisle.  We ended up stopping in a huge tunnel behind section 118 (right behind 3B):

Kellan had a great time running around in this cross-aisle.  It was pretty clear that the Royals ushers didn’t care what fans did in this huge open area.  Kellan was sprinting back and forth across the big piece of cross-aisle/tunnel real estate, and all we got were “oh, that’s adorable” looks from the ushers.

After a while, Kellan decided it was time to continue his hanging from railings strength training:

The game was still tight.  In the top of the 8th, the Orioles finally got on the board on an RBI double by Nick Markakis.  That made it 2-1 Royals heading into the bottom of the 8th.

But the Royals got the run back pretty quickly.  After two quick outs, Billy Butler hit a single.  He was then replaced by pinch runner Mitch Maier.  Moments later, Maier motored around the bases and beat the tag…

…on a double by Alex Gordon.

That made it 3-1 going into the top of the ninth.

With three quick outs and the Royals could tuck the win into their back pocket.

We decided to get a closer look.  Garrett had texted and mentioned he was in the fourth row in section 118.  I noticed that the usher were not checking anyone’s tickets.  So as the teams made the offense-defense switch before the top of the ninth, Kellan headed down the stairs and met up with Garrett.

This was our view:

View nice.

Garrett was sitting with fellow myGameBalls.com member Leiming Tang.  Like the seats, Leiming was very nice too.

But you know what wasn’t nice?  The Royals’ decision to bring in Jonathan Broxton to close out the game.  Living in the Phillies’ television market, I know a thing or two about Broxton.  Well, really I only know one thing, I HAVE NEVER SEEN HIM CLOSE A GAME SUCCESSFULLY.  Okay, that might be an exaggeration, there is a chance that I have seen him do it.  But I seriously do not remember that ever happening.

Guess what?  It didn’t happen at this game.

You know, I said bringing in Broxton “wasn’t nice.”  I take that back.  I had wanted to see two games in Kansas City, but the length of the drive to Denver wouldn’t permit it.  And, frankly, I had missed a lot of this game because I was touring around the ballpark.

So I think the Royals were actually doing the nicest thing they could for me.  They extended the game, and almost let me see two games in one.

So, I guess you can tell by now, Broxton blew the save.  He blue it BIG TIME.

He coughed up the first run on a homerun by Wilson Betemit:

That made it 3-2 Royals.

He then gave up singles to Chris Davis, Xavier Avery, and J.J. Hardy.  Hardy’s single was of the RBI variety.

Tie ballgame, 3-3.  Extra innings on their way, and so was a huge dose of hitting futility (or pitching dominance).

In the top of the 10, we were happy to see 5’7” Royals pitcher Tim Collins.  Like Tim Cook, Tim Collins also sports number 55:

He sat the Orioles does in order.

After the 9th ended, Tim and my dad came down and met up with us in section 118.

Tim entertained Garrett with story after story after story.  Every fifth story, it seemed, was about how Shawn Camp tossed Tim two baseballs the day before in St. Louis.

Garrett was great.  He handled Tim’s shower of stories like a champ:

A friend of mine from New Orleans had told me a day or two before this game that a local guy named Johnny Giavutella had just been called up to the Major Leagues by the Royals.  Well, Giavutella pinch hit in the 10th inning:

He came up empty in the 10th inning, but eventually went 1-3 on the night.

We had lots of time to chat and take random photos, like these shots by my dad:

In the 13 inning, Nick Johnson hit a double for the Orioles.  For some reason, the ball was thrown out of play after the hit, and it was eventually tossed into the stands.  Johnson’s double­-ball now resides at my parents’ house!

Sluggerrr came and visited our section to keep the game entertaining (just in case the duel of the relievers wasn’t entertainment enough for some of the fans):

Heading into the 14 inning, Kellan was ready for more baseball!

In the top of the 15th inning, Adam Jones took matters into his own hands:

He hit a solo bomb to LF (way out of there) to break the 3-3 tie.

Kellan continued to clown around with Grandpa during the top of the 15th inning:

And then Tim, Kellan, and I moved into the first row with Leiming during the bottom of the 15th inning:

Actually, Tim had already been down there with Leiming and Garrett – and he had been having a blast hanging with the guys.  They were both awesome and really made Tim feel like one of the guys.

It just so happened that we were directly above the umpire’s tunnel.  Our friend (well, we don’t know him, but he’s been friendly to us in the past) Angel Hernandez was behind the plate.  We were in absolutely ideal post to get an umpire baseball.  Leiming, Tim, Kellan, and I all had our gloves ready when the final out was recorded.  (By the way, Garrett had moved to see if he could get the final out baseball – he was unsuccessful).

As we prepared for the final out, I told Tim he needed to be sure he squeezed that ball tightly if Hernandez tossed him a baseball because it would fall back down into the umpires’ tunnel if he missed it.

After the final out was recorded, Angel Hernandez walked right to us.  We all called out to him.  He then looked at me and Kellan and said, “Let’s let the little guys get one first!” and he flipped a ball to me.  He then flipped a second ball to Tim, and Tim caught it!  Success!

Finally, he tossed a third baseball to Leiming before ducking into the tunnel.

Thanks, Angel!

With these two baseballs, Angel Hernandez has now tossed us a baseball on each of the last three Cook GFS Roadtrips.

A few minutes later, we got a late night photo of four happy Cooks:

What a night!  Tim and I tied the longest game of Tim’s life, and Kellan set his new longest game record as well.

As we drove back to the hotel, I looked back, snapped this photo…

…and wished The K a good night.  It was a great one.

The next day would be a travel day.  A long one, we would be driving all the way to Denver.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

8/7 Games (Tim/Kellan)
12/11 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals
11 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2
42 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 5, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 2
6 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3
7/6 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Brian Roberts; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
4 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts

Rangers vs. Mariners (5/4/2009)

When I was a kid, my family would arrive at the Kingdome for a night game at 4;30, before the gates even opened.  We’d try (with low to moderate success) to catch balls during BP.  After the game, we’d watch the players walk to their cars.  It made for a long day at the ballpark.  Tim can’t hack such a long day, so he’s attended very little batting practice in his life so far.  However, on May 4th, my folks agreed to bring Tim to the game at game-time and let me go early for BP.  It was great fun.

I started out by parking over by the Seattle center, grabbing a bite to eat at Dick’s on Queen Ann, and walking to Safeco Field.  I arrived at Safeco Field before the gates opened and decided to enter through the Center Field Gate.  Waiting to get in, I took these two pictures, which show (i) the closed roof from Occidental & Royal Brougham and (ii) the play area in CF sticking out over the street and toward the train tracks: 

safeco outside roof and play area.jpg

Tim loves that play area!

Going to BP was great.  I can’t wait until Tim has the endurance to do BP for weekend games.  I knew the Kingdome like the back of my hand.  But I moved to the east coast a month and a half before Safeco Field opened.  I’d only sat in two different seating areas and I’d never had a good opportunity to just explore it.  Today was the day.  But first, BP.

In CF, you get your ticket scanned and enter the park before they check your backpack.  My ticket taker took my ticket early and I went in to get my backpack checked.  They told me I’d have to wait until a horn sounded to signify that people can enter the stadium.  Everyone else was still outside of the gate, so I had a 20-30 foot head start on everyone.  When the horn sounded, I ran inside to see if I could find any “easter eggs” in the RF seats.  I was the first person into the stadium but others came quick.  There was one ball already in the stands but it was all the way on the other end of the RF seats and some other guy got to it first.  So I picked up spot and watched some BP.  About 30 second later, the first HR was hit of BP and I literally had to move only 1 foot to catch it on the fly.  Here is the ball:

HR ball.jpg

This is a camera phone picture I sent to my wife.  Its taken exactly where I caught the ball.  The ball was hit by a right handed Mariner in the final cycle of Mariners BP.  M’s BP was finished a few minutes later.  After catching the ball and taking this picture, I turned around to see this:

mr. mariner fix it.jpg

He was fixing the seat.  I then went around to the 3B line because the Rangers had taken the field and were playing catch by their dugout and in LF.

safeco rangers catch.jpg

In the top left, Omar Visquel is playing catch in front of the visitors dugout.  I’m hoping little O makes the Hall of Fame.  The guy is a stud at SS.  In the bottom left, the pitchers are playing catch. To the right, the pitchers are doing some running.  Frank “Throw Me a Chair” Francisco (isn’t he the chair thrower?) kept telling “Every day” Eddie Guardado to say “go” to start the pitcher race and a couple other pitchers kept starting when Eddie said “ready, set” and it seemed to upset Francisco much to the delight of all of the other pitchers.  In the top right, you can see the head start one of the pitchers took.

As I stood there, I realized that the CF seats are totally separated from the RF seats and the competition for BP HR balls would be really low.  So I headed out there.  I didn’t catch any more HRs on a fly, but I got one more ball as a 20-something kid over ran a ball, tipped it backwards and it rolled toward me as I scurried over to the deep-center side of the CF seats (in aisle 3).  Here is a picture of both of my balls and where I got them:

safeco BP balls.jpg

In the bottom right, the ball stamped “practice” is the Rangers BP HR ball.  The top right picture shows where I snagged it off the ground — all the way down the aisle on the other side of the step.  The guy standing behind the pointing girl is the kid who got a glove on it but couldn’t make the play.  After I got it, he came and gave me a high five and was disappointed in himself for over running it.  The top left shows the view to the plate from where I caught the Mariners BP HR.  The bottom left shows the stupid railings in the middle of the aisle. Trying to move down to the bottom row for a ball that didn”t make it into the stands, my left foot got jammed into the space between the railing and the next step and I almost broke my wrist bracing for the fall.

While watching BP, I was entertained by a attendant giving balls to little kids:

 

space yo guy.jpgSee the space between the outfield wall and the stands?  Tons of balls landed down there.  Each time, another attendant went between the walls and grabbed the ball and then gave it to the guy in the pictures above.  Each time he got a ball, he stood around looking for just the right kid.  Once he found him or her, he tossed the ball to the kid.  And without fail, the kid did not say thank you.  Each time, the attendant said, “Yo!?  What do you say?”  Without fail, NO ONE said thank you until he had “Yo’d” them at least 2-3 times.  Ah, kids!

Next, it was time to explore.  I went all around the field and took tons of pictures for panoramic views.  Here is the view from Section 190, Row 12, Seats 11-12 (our alleged seats for this game):

safeco cf panoramic.jpg

Here is the view from the last seat in the back row of the deepest-center part of the CF upper deck seats:

safeco CF upper panoramic.jpg

Here is the view looking straight down from the upper deck down to section 108 in RF (where we sat the previous day):

300 level down to 108.jpg

Pretty scary!  Here is the view from the 300 level behind the RF foul pole:

safeco rf hr panoramic.jpg

Then I turned around and took some banner shots:

mariners banners.jpg

Next, RF foul territory:

safeco rf foul panoramic.jpg

Next, I took a picture in the concourse and one back in the stadium:

mojo meal.jpg   
qwest-to-safeco safecto-to-qwest.jpg

To the left, its the ad for the “Mojo Meal” – a major dog, chips and a soft drink for $5.00 (1/2 price).  Its a special for family 1/2 price days.  To the top right, is a picture as I approached the stadium.  Its shows Qwest Field in the foreground and Safeco Field in the background.  Below it is a picture looking through Safeco Field toward Qwest Field.

Next, I headed to the last row of the upper deck straight behind home plate:

safeco home upper panoramic.jpg

Then another on the 3B side:

safeco home-3d panoramic.jpg

Then, I went to the last seat in the last row of the upper deck in LF foul territory:

safeco lf foul panoramic.jpg

When I was up there, I noticed that Felix was warming up in the M’s bullpen.  So I headed down to the bullpen standing room area:

king felix with flu.jpg

I also found the Moose and got a picture with him:

moose and todd.jpg

Finally, it was about time for the game to start.  Tim and my folks showed up and met me by the little boy fountain that Tim loves so much:

Edgar Martinez Street in the rain.jpg  
safeco fountain.jpg

Tim and I had tickets in the CF bleachers (cheap!!), but there was hardly anyone at the game.  So we ended up sitting with my folks and their friends Lynn and Steve in Section 118.  Here was our view:

safeco section 118 panoramic.jpg

During the game, we had the Mojo Meal and the world’s largest ice cream helmet — chocolate fudge brownie and strawberry cheese cake:

nacho chip hider.jpg

On the way to get the ice cream, I took a photo of some license plate art on the wall of the concourse behind 1B:

Mariners license plate art.jpg

And the Safeco Field Code of Conduct:

safeco code of conduct.jpg

Then I took some action shots of Yuni Betancourt popping out and Franklin Gutierrez taking a pitch (the ball is circled in red in both pictures):

yuni pop out.jpg

gutierrez takes one.jpgFinally, since I was using this game to really get to know Safeco Field, I figured I’d try for a picture of a Safeco Field fixture.  In the picture to the left below, you can see a guy holding a big piece of cardboard.  That is “Beltre Guy” as I call him, he probably has an actual name, but I don’t know it.  He stands up every time Beltre comes to the plate with a huge cardboard cut out of Beltre’s head.  Once I attended a game with Paul where Beltre Guy had a 3 foot tall Beltre bobblehead sitting in the seat next to him.  Beltre ended up giving Beltre Guy his bat during that game.  Anyway, Tim and I approached him during the 7th inning stretch.  As he stood with his arm around Mrs. Beltre Guy, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked, “Hey, Beltre Guy.  We live in Pennsylvania and see you on TV all the time.  Could we get our picture with you?”

I think we might have been the first people to ever ask him this.  His face was priceless.  He looked stunned and super-excited.  Anyway, as you can see to the right below, Beltre Guy delivers big time in this photograph:

beltre guy.jpg

As for the game.  It was another good one, but another 1-run Mariners loss.  Felix wasn’t as effective as normal, but he wasn’t terrible.  After falling behind 4-0, we tied it up.  But a two run homer put the bad guys up 6-4.  The M’s tried their best, but ended up falling just a bit short when Ichiro popped out with the tying run on base to end the game in the bottom of the ninth.

One other important note, with this game Tim has now seen every team in the AL West live.  It is the most important division in baseball (clearly!) and it is Tim’s first to see every team.

Once again, no Ken Griffey, Jr. in the line-up.  :-(   He was ill for a couple days.

Season Fan Stats:

7 Games
4 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, and Citi Field)
9 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, and Padres)
6 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies and Mets)
3 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 1 Rangers)
2 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose and The Bird (O’s))

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