Results tagged ‘ Zack Hample ’

David Wright Ruins Our No-Hit Bid (4/18/2014)

Saturday, April 18, 2014 was a fun day for the Cook Boys. After an adventurous drive northeast (during which I filmed an Instant Classic Video of Kellan), the boys and I arrived in the Upper West Side of Manhattan around 3:00 p.m. We parked at 79th & Riverside, where we found this awesome fire hydrant…

…and then we set out on foot for Central Park. In case you didn’t know, that building in the upper right (above) is the “Dakota” where John Lennon lived and was killed outside on the sidewalk.

Our plan was to get to Central Park with lots of time to spare so we could do some playing. But we drive took about 45 minutes longer than planned. We were going to meet up with Zack Hample at his family bookstore, which was across the park from us. So we just walked through the park, actually the boys ran through the park:

We met up with Zack, grabbed some food at a nearby deli, and hopped on the train:

Kellan got that banana at the deli and announced that he wanted to eat it once we got to our seats.

Once we reached Citi Field, we ran into a couple other guys…

… Greg Barasch and Rick Gold, who know their way around a MLB ballpark.

The boys passed the time while we waited on the gates by playing some catch along the 3B side of the stadium…

…and running around between the growing lines of fans:

Once the gates opened, we headed to the RF foul line:

And Kellan declared it to be banana time:

He destroyed that banana!

Nothing was doing on the RF foul line, so we decided to head to CF by the bullpens. Eventually, an unidentifiable Met tossed a ball to Tim:

Thanks, Mets guy!

We had the corner spot right next to the bullpen and it was relatively empty out there. But for some reason, we made the terrible decision to head over to the LF foul line where the Braves were playing catch. Left field was pretty packed. The LF line was packed too. And the Braves were essentially done throwing by the time we arrived.

So…

We headed back to the CF bleachers, which were now fairly full in the first 4-5 rows. We hung back in row 10 or so. And Tim took a picture of me and Kellan, just for kicks:

At one point, Craig Kimbrel walked into the bullpen to use the restroom. He walked by below us and waved and said hi to the kids. So I snapped a picture of his glove when he put it down on a chair below us:

As we hung out during BP, the boys went through my backpack and cleaned out our snack arsenal.

Tim had to take a break from his snacking when an usher-type-guy down in the bullpens decided to toss a baseball up to Tim. It took three throws for the two of them to finally connect…but Tim finally go it.

Thanks, usher-type-guy!

We had a rush of action late in BP. Ervin Santana and tossed a lot of baseballs to people in the front row of the CF seats, but no one had ever gone deeper than the first row. And there were no homeruns hit into the CF seats.

Eventually, things changed thanks to these guys:

First, Alan Butts (above to the left) wandered out to straight away CF. I figured I was the only person out there who knew his name. So, at an opportune time, I shouted out, “Hey, Alan!” He turned around, scanned the seats for the source of the call, and then he tossed a ball right to us.

Then, very, very late in BP. Ervin Santana spotted Kellan sitting up on my shoulders. He tossed a ball high over everyone else right to me. I held back on reaching out for it just in case Tim could catch it. At the last minute, Tim jumped in front of me and caught the ball. It was a great catch by Tim.

Thanks, Ervin!

Ervin had to know that Tim was my son too, it was just the three of us together in the row. But right after Tim caught the ball, I could see him think that Kellan still needed a ball too. So he went and grabbed another ball, called out to me again, and tossed a ball right to my glove.

Thanks, again, Ervin!

Once BP wrapped up, we decided to head upstairs to the area above the Jackie Robinson Rotuna for some dinner. On our way up the switch-back ramps, Tim stopped to pose with the Citi Field on the backside of the stadium (behind LF):

We dined on hot dog (Tim), nachos (me) and a jumbo pretzel with ketchup (Kellan)…

…and the boys kept warm with hot chocolate.

On our long walk back down to the field level, we first stopped (somewhat) behind home plate and had an usher take our picture:

Moments before the game started, we got a random panorama from a bit further down the 3B line:

And here is the first pitch from Jon Neise…

…to Andrelton Simmons. “Ball 1.”

Check out what was in the parking lot – cirque du soleil:

We headed to Shea Bridge…

…where it looked a lot like this:

The first inning ended with a 0-0 tie after David Wright…

…struck out swinging.

We spent huge portions of this game below Shea Bridge and behind the bullpens:

Check out what we found down there in the little hidden corner by the elevators:

For much of the game, Tim and I played catch across the length of the picnic area under Shea Bridge:

Late in the game, I saw on facebook that one of my wife’s cousins was at the game in the LF upper deck. We headed over there to find him. We never did find him, but we got these panoramas from section 533….

…and section 531:

It was windy and freezing up there!

Hey, guess what. All this while, the Braves were winning 1-0 and Aaron Harang was pitching a no hitter!

If we were going to witness our first ever no hitter, I wanted to be closer to the action for the end of it. We started heading toward the infield. But then Kellan wanted to check out one of the little Mets team shops along the 1B foul concourse. We headed in to find that several Mets fans were taking refuge from the (not all that) cold and watching the game on TV:

Here’s some random game action captured on our walk toward the 3B line:

It was the top of the 8th inning when we reached the 3B foul concourse, and Harang still had his no hitter intact. The Braves were still winning 1-0…

That is, they were winning 1-0, until Freddy Freeman went yard in the top of the eighth:

Historically, at least in my experience, the ushers at Citi Field have been insanely strict about checking tickets, even late (or after) the games. We headed over to the aisle leading down to the umpires’ tunnel. During our ten minutes or so standing there, I noticed that the usher wasn’t checking anyone’s tickets. So, eventually, we made a move, and (with no problems) we ended up here:

When we ended up in these seats, we sat down right in the middle of a profanity laced (but good spirited) exchange between a bunch of Mets and Braves fans.

So, heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, the score was 5-0 Braves.

I was excited for Harang’s potential no hitter. But check out this photo:

Because Harang had 121 pitches through the first seven innings, the Braves brought in Luis Avilan. We adjusted our hopes to at least getting to witness a combined no hitter.

Well, Avilan retired the first two batters of the inning. Four outs until a no hitter. But that brought up David Wright, and Avilan gave up a clean line drive base knock to LF to spoil our chance at history.

Booo!!!!!

(FYI, that is Wright on first base in the photo above as Avilan pitches to Curtis Granderson, who he would strike out).

For the ninth inning, we made our way down to the second row:

Check out these silly guys:

The Braves scored a sixth and final run in the top of the ninth inning when Justin Upton…

…hit a sacrifice fly.

Jordan Walden retired the Mets in order in the bottom of the ninth to complete the combined 1-hitter.

Boooo!

After the game, Tom Hallion tossed us our final ball of the day, which Tim displayed in this final photo of the night with Zack behind the dugout:

After the game, Zack, Greg, his dad, the boys and I rode the subway together back to Manhattan before splitting up in our own directions.

We had a great day packed with fun and…

…lots of walking. Sadly, I got in the car a mere 127 steps away from my first 20,000 step day. Darn.

2014 Fan Stats
4 Games
5 Teams (Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves)
3 Stadiums (Stade Olympique, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field)
27 Baseballs (Mets 5, Expos 2*, 7 Phillies, 6 Marlins, 2 Mets, 3 Braves, 1 Umpire)* Olympic Stadium Staff
5 Commemoratives (2013 WBC 1, Angels 50th 2, Dodger Stadium 50th 1, 2011 All-Star, 2012 All-Star)
1 Ice Cream Helmets (Phillies)
 

 

Felix Day in Pittsburgh (5/8/2013)

For months, we planned to go see our Mariners at PNC Park on Tuesday, May 7, 2013.  But then something came up at work and Tim had a Little League game scheduled that evening so our plans were foiled.  This was only the second time the M’s had ever played in Pittsburgh, and the first time since Tim was born.  I really wanted the boys to get to see the M’s play at PNC Park.  And I just generally really wanted to see a Mariners game.  The only other game in the Pittsburgh series was Wednesday, May 8, 2013.  It was a *early* day game with a 12:35 start time.  We had to do it.

We live 4 hours from Pittsburgh.  The early game time meant we needed to leave the night before.  So at 8:47 p.m. on May 7th, after my business dinner and the rain out of Tim’s Little League game, the boys and I hopped in the car…

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…for a late night drive across the Pennsylvania turnpike.  The boys fell asleep around Harrisburg, PA, and then I listened to some “Master of Puppets” by Metallica and chatted with my dad on the phone for about 2 hours.

We arrived at our hotel around 1:00 a.m. and had no trouble making it a complete mess by the *following* morning:

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After a decent free breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road and made it to PNC Park before 10:00 a.m.

It was #FelixDay and we predicted…

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…complete Felix domination.

I knew there would be no BP so I didn’t feel compelled to go get in line at the CF gate.  So, instead, we walked around to the other side of the stadium and hung out by the autograph collectors where the players arrive for the game:

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In that last photo, that’s Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez wearing a stylish suit (NOTE: baseball players shouldn’t wear suits) and listening to an mp3 player.

The first person we witnessed arrive at the players/employees entrance was our buddy Jason Phillips.  All of the autograph collectors were on the other side of the entrance from us.  Jason saw us as he exited his cab, signed one or two autographs, and then told the autograph collectors that he had to go chat with us.

Jason and I shook hands and chatted for a minute or so.  He confirmed there would be no BP.  He asked if we’d ever been to PNC Park.  He told us that he’d *opened* PNC Park with the Mets back in 2001.  And then he headed into the ballpark, after showing his official MLB credentials to the people guarding the entrance.

Jason Phillips is a cool guy.  It’s always good to get to chat with him, and it was nice to begin our 2013 in-person Mariners season with a  brief on-the-street chat with him.

After a while, I asked a guard if we could get around the stadium on the river side before the stadium opened.  He confirmed we could so we headed toward the river.  On our way, the boys posed with the new (in 2012) Bill Mazeroski statue:

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Then we walked along the river toward the CF gate:

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When we arrived at the CF gate, PNC Park regular Zac Weiss was already there.  After setting our bags down in line behind Zac’s bag, I took Tim’s photo with the Roberto Clemente statue (Kellan was avoiding the camera):

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Before the gates opened, Zac busted out a baseball and we all headed out to the Roberto Clemente Bridge to play catch:

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I played catch with both Zac (real baseball) and Tim (soft, practice baseball) at the same time, alternating throws between them.  I almost threw Tim’s baseball into the River!

Zack Hample was in line next to our bags when we finished playing catch.  He was there with Neal Stewart from Bigs Seeds and the two of them were on another leg of Zack Hample’s BIGS Baseball Adventure.

The CF gates opened at 10:30, but that just let us into the Riverwalk.  Zac, Zack, Neal, Tim, Kellan and I all gathered at the inside gate behind the bullpens…but we were stuck.  Normally, season ticket holders, such as Zac, can get into the field before regular fans, and they can take guests with them.  But the Pirates don’t do the early access for day games.  So we were stuck on the Riverwalk until 11:00.

We passed the time by posing for some fist bump photos…

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…and trying hot sauce seed sample packs that Neal had in his seed satchel.  They were tasty.

Thanks, Neal!

I was excited when we saw our first uniformed Mariner of the season:

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I think it was Hector Noesi.

Several Mariners joined Hector to play catch down the LF line.  Nothing was happening in CF. So the boys and I headed over to LF to see if there was a spot where we could watch the M’s playing catch.  There wasn’t.

So we headed to the kids play area instead:

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When the rest of the gates finally opened, Oliver Perez and his partner (who I didn’t recognize at the time, but am pretty sure it was Yoervis Medina) had just finished playing catch and the only other pair of M’s out there at the time were Hisashi Iwakuma and Lucas Luetge:

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Perez and Medina has been doing a little post-throwing running.  On their way back toward the dugout, Perez grabbed one of the several baseballs sitting on the ground and walked over and handed it to Tim.  I took the opportunity to ask him for a photo:

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Thanks, Oliver!

FYI, Kellan was still on my shoulders at the time and didn’t want to get down.

When Perez and Medina left, they were replaced along the baseline by Brandon Maurer and Carter Capps.

When Kuma and Luetge finished throwing, Lucas tossed his baseball to Tim and then he posed for pictures with both boys:

13b-lucas-luetge-and-the-boys

Thanks, Lucas!

Meanwhile, Kuma had started signing autographs a little further down the LF line.  We ran over there and he was happy to sign his and Lucas’s warm up ball in both English and Japanese

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…and to pose for a picture with the boys.

、ミスター岩熊をありがとう! (Thank you, Mr. Iwawkuma!)

Some Mariners had run out to the bullpen, but the only action left in LF was Maurer and Capps playing catch:

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When they finished, Carter tossed the baseball to Tim, and then followed the ball so we could autograph it and pose for a picture with Tim:

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Thanks, Carter!

With nothing else going on down the LF line, we headed out to LCF near the bullpen.  On our we stopped to get a PNC Park bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

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Just as we approached the LF seats, a group of about 20 people ran through the seats from LF to LCF and filled almost the entire section right next to the bullpen.  That foiled our plan to get a close up look at the action in the bullpen.  So we hung back in the shady cross-aisle behind the LF seats and had a nice chat with an usher.  She took our only family photo of the day for us:

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Tim was spitting his BIGS seeds all over the place and we ended up talking about seeds for some reason.  She mentioned that her co-worker gave her some pickle flavored seeds.  When she pulled them out, she realized she didn’t have the pickle seeds today, she had BIGS Salt & Vinegar seeds:

18b-nice-usher-with-seeds

We still had about 45 minutes until game time and nothing was happening on the field.  We ended up meeting up with Zack, Zac, Neal and PNC Park regular Robbie “Scoonz” Sacunas for lunch in the Hall of Fame Club:

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We’d never been in, or knew anything about, the Hall of Fame Club so it was great to experience it.  As our food was being prepared, Kellan and I walked around and took some pictures of the club:

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The Hall of Fame Club is right behind the LF upper bleachers.  There are big windows that look at over the field.  As Kellan and I walked around, we saw King Felix warming up out the windows:

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Zack, Neal and I all tried the new, off-menu novelty meal, the donut burger:

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The burger is a bacon cheese burger with a fried egg on a donut bug.  I find eggs to be incredibly disgusting so my burger was eggless.  I would recommend everyone try the donut burger so you can say you had one.  But it doesn’t rank near the top of my best burgers list…in fact, if I really had such a list, it would be way down on the list.  More than like eating a donut, the weird combination and texture of the burger made it seem like I was eating meat filled french toast.

The boys split a footlong hot dog.  Tim smothered his in ketchup and mustard, most of which seemed to find its way onto the front of his mostly white Mariners t-shirt.  Luckily, Kellan has no condiments on his half of the hot dog because he ate his dog while sitting on my shoulders.

Before leaving the club, I got this panorama out of the front windows:

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When we got back down to the field, King Felix warming up in the bullpen.  We headed over there to watch.  The bullpen set up is pretty interesting at PNC Park.  It’s not very good watching a pitcher warm up from the bleachers.  Here’s what it looked like:

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Just before the game started, Felix headed toward the dugout…

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…and the members of the Mariners bullpen gave each other a bunch of high fives.  See that baseball sitting on the garbage can in the last photo?  Jason Phillips ended up tossing it to us (after giving it a thorough rubbing).  It was thoroughly dirty and beautiful.

Thanks, Jason!

Here is where we were sitting for first pitch:

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Those were our real seats.  They were pretty awesome – section 31, row C, seats 1-3.  It was a three row section.  To our left was the aisle and then LF:

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The seats were pretty amazing.  They are regularly priced $36/ticket, but I found them on stubhub for $17/ticket.  Gotta love below face value tickets!

The tough thing about day games is that Kellan still takes a nap in the afternoon most days.  For a night game, I work his nap into the drive to the game.  But for a day game, there is no good nap time.  At this game, that actually played to our benefit.

When we reached our seats, Kellan was sitting, totally relaxed on my shoulders.  I tried to take him down, but he was very fussy.  Sometimes he refuses to get off of my shoulders, and this was one of those times.  I realized there was no one behind our third seat in.  In fact, there was no one behind that seat in the entire section.  So I figured there was no one whose view would be blocked if I sat there with Kellan on my shoulders.  That’s how we started that game.

It didn’t take long for an usher to stop by and tell me that Kellan needed to come down off of my shoulders.  “No problem,” I responded, “it’s just that it’s his nap time and he’s a little cranky and didn’t want to get off of my shoulders.”  When I took him down, he protested by crying, yelling and kicking.

Upon seeing the little tandrum in process, the usher came back and told Kellan that we could move to some other, even better seats in the third inning if Kellan behaved now.  Lucky for us, he did.

The M’s didn’t score in the first.  And then King Felix took the mound:

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With the dominating King Felix on the hill, I felt pretty safe leaving our seats to go get ice cream in the first inning.  My plan actually wasn’t too good.  The very first Pirates batter of the game, Starling Marte, hit a ground ball right past third base and down the LF line for a double.  That happened just as we started to walk up the stairway toward the concourse.

Felix struck out the next batter.  But Andrew McCutchen hit an RBI single as we walked through the concourse toward the ice cream place.

After twos innings, the Pirates still led 1-0.  The boys were still eating their ice cream helmets when the last out of the second was recorded.  I immediately stood up and waved at the usher who had mentioned the seat upgrade in the third.  I pointed at the seats and he gave me a confirming thumbs up.  And then we moved here (essentially) for the rest of the game:

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Is that beautiful or what?  Here is what our view looked like from the front row:

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That picture above with Tim and Kellan sitting by the ballgirl is actually way out of order (it was just the best picture I got showing our seat location).  In the third inning, this…

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…is the ballgirl who was sitting right next to us.  She was quite nice.  While Kellan finished his ice cream…

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…I chatted her up a bit.  She is a former college softball player.  And guess what happened when King Felix induced Andrew McCutchen into hitting a foul ball to the ballgirl in the bottom of the third?   Here’s a hint:

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Yep, she gave it to Tim!

Thanks, Felix, McCutchen and Ballgirl!

These seats were the absolute best seats possible for us.  Tim and Kellan do pretty good sitting in the seats when we have my dad or Colleen or some four person with us.  But when it’s just the three of us, for some reason, they really want to roam around and be on the move a lot.  But there was so much room to move in this seating section that we stayed put and I got to watch the entire (awesome) Mariners game!  Yes!

One of those in-seating-section activities included playing with the dirt and bugs:

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Into the fourth inning (aside from Michael Saunders who kept drawing walks), the Mariners batters, including Kendrys Morales…

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…, couldn’t find any success against Pirates starter A.J. Burnett.

In addition to showing Tim spitting seeds onto the warning track, this picture sets the scene for what happened next:

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Let’s examine that photo closer.  Upper left corner, the small scoreboard shows the score is 1-0 Pirates in the top of the second with two outs (Morales, above, was the second out of the inning).    Also, notice that the Mariners have no hits on the day.   Next, Mariners centerfielder Michael Saunders is standing on 3B after drawing a leadoff walk, advancing to 2B on a wild pitch and to 3B on Morales’s groundout.  Finally, the ribbon board shows that Dustin Ackley is about to step to the plate (he hadn’t seen a pitch yet because the count is shown as 0-0).

Five pitches later, Saunders scored the tying run on a Burnett’s second wild pitch of the inning!  One pitch later, Ackley struck out to end the inning.

So, while being no hit by A.J. Burnett, the Mariners were all tied up 1-1 with the Pirates after 4 innings.

The Mariners finally broke through with their first hit of the game in the top of the fifth inning.  With Burnett pitching so well, it was a good thing we had King Felix on the hill…

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…throwing a dominating game of his own.  In fact, it was as if mother nature was behind Felix and the M’s during this game – she even set an all-natural crown worthy of a king right above Felix:

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Nothing could stop the Mariners fair and just King Felix.

Well, almost nothing, A.J. Burnett did a competent job of shutting down King Felix at the plate:

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But, obviously, hitting isn’t Felix’s thing.

The boys lost interest in the dirt and bugs and played a little grounders/bouncing balls catch behind our row of seats:

Despite numerous warnings from me only to *roll* the ball, the kids kept bouncing them…

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…and, every once in a while, Kellan was throw the ball in the air to Tim.  This resulted in two different incidents, one good and one bad.

On the good front, Kellan tossed a ball to Tim that hit the railing behind our handicapped accessible section, rolled along the top of the railing, and then fell right into a cup holder handing from the back side of the railing.  When it happened, the entire section behind us erupted in applause for Kellan – they were all apparently watching the boys play catch rather than watching King Felix and A.J. Burnett playing catch with their catchers.

On the bad front, Kellan threw another ball that bounced off of the head of the lady in the black Pirates jersey:

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I didn’t actually see this happen.  However, given the facts that (1) the boys were using a cloth/foam-y-ish ball (that incidentally looks exactly like a ROMLB), (2) Kellan is only 2 and (3) the ball bounced before it hit her, I’ll go out on a limb here and say there is zero chance this incident actually hurt the lady.  But she was very mad about the situation.  I thought we were going to get kicked out of the section and sent back to our regular seats.  I immediately put the kids’ ball away and sincerely apologized to her and she just glared at me with complete and utter contempt.

We let this incident bother us for about 30 seconds and then we let it go.  We have better, fun things on which to focus.  Like the pierogies race:

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And the shirt cannon/slingshot/toss, which resulted in Kellan coming up with this prize:

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And, most importantly, Jesus Montero’s go-ahead homer to RCF in the top of the seventh inning:

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2-1 Mariners after 7!

Kellan’s shirt was tied up with balloons, which the boys used to sling shot seeds on the warning track:

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Felix was dominating and he was getting solid defense behind him.  In the bottom of the eighth, Clint Barmes hit a shallow fly ball to CF that Michael Saunders grabbed with no problem:

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The next batter was pinch hitter Jose Tabata, and he hit a low liner to RF and Endy Chavez made a great play on it.  Starling Marte then singled, but was thrown out by Jesus Montero when he tried to swipe 2B.  Starling no swiping, Starling no swiping, STARLING NO SWIPING!

At the end of the 8th, we left our wonderful seats, took a bathroom break, walked through a small team store behind home plate, and then found ourselves here for the bottom of the ninth:

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FYI, Kellan refused to get off of my shoulders so I crouched on the ground in front of the seat so he wouldn’t be too tall for the fans behind us.

Although Felix Hernandez was out in the on deck circle at the end of the top of the ninth, Tom “The Bartender” Wilhelmsen…

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…came in for “closing time” in the bottom of the ninth.

Wilhelmsen got a quick ground out by Travis Snider for the first out.  He then has a 10 pitch battle with Andrew McCutchen, which included a foul ball that landed two rows in front of us, that ended with a  fly out to deep LCF.

Garrett Jones made things more interesting by hitting a 2-out single.  But Michael McKenry hit another deep fly ball for the final out of the game.

MARINERS WIN!!!!

MARINERS WIN!!!

MARINERS WIN!!!

It was truly a beautiful thing.

During the post-game celebration…

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…, Aarong Harang tossed a pearly white baseball to Tim.

Thanks, Aaron!

As the celebration died down and the interviews with the heroes began…

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…, Robbie Thompson tossed a muddy (game-rubbed?) baseball to Tim.

Thanks, Robbie!

After the game ended and all the Mariners took off, we met up again with Zack, Robbie and a few other guys where Kellan was too tired and cranky to give another fist bump:

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We had noticed the Pirates pig statue earlier in the day and wanted to get a picture with it on our way out of the ballpark.  As you can see below on the left, an usher wouldn’t let us go over to the pig for a picture and then wouldn’t get out of our view when we tired to get a picture with the pig from a distance:

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Luckily, he didn’t follow us out to block our picture with the Willie Stargell statue.

When we hopped in the car, Kellan fell asleep almost instantly and slept for at least three hours.

All around, this was a near perfect baseball experience.  It was awesome seeing our Mariners.  It was fun to see them in a new park (for Tim and Kellan).  And it was even better to see King Felix bring home the win in a great pitchers’ duel.

GO MARINERS!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

7 Game
12 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates
12 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2
35 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1
6 Stadium – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park
14 Player Pictures – 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
5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo

Ballhawking Prankology 101: The Plant

In case anyone who reads this blog hasn’t seen this yet, I thought I would share the guest column I wrote recently for myGameBalls.com.  Enjoy:

Here are a couple bonus pictures.  First, Tim with one of the FeMeBe baseballs:

Here is a photo by Avi Miller of Jeremy Guthrie standing in LF with the FeMeBe baseball in his glove pre-toss-up:

Here is a group shot from the myGameBalls.com “Ballhawkfest 2011″ featuring the FeMeBe baseball:

Finally, Avi and I did not tell Zack about the prank or the article.  We wanted him to find out about it through normal channels…just however the news would reach him.  I’m still not sure how the news got to him, but a few hours after the article was posted this message from Zack showed up on Twitter:

That’s all for now.  Go Mariners!

Griffey In A Mariners Uniform at Camden Yards (6/10/09)

Before Wednesday night, I had taken Tim to see Ken Griffey, Jr. play 10 times — 5 times for the Mariners, 4 for the Reds and 1 for the White Sox.  Griff played in only two of those games.  Only once as a Mariner.  That game was, oddly, minor league turn back the clock day.  So, prior to Wednesday night, Tim had seen Griff play one game wearing a White Sox uniform and one game wearing a Seattle Rainiers uniform.

Thus, the mission on this night:  see Griff play baseball wearing a Seattle Mariners uniform for the first time in Tim’s life.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!

10 griff on deck.jpg

Much more on Griff later.

We started off the day by purchasing the cheapest seats in the house — right field upper deck — at the CF ticket office.  We entered the stadium and headed into Section 90 — straight away CF.  Tim was sitting on my shoulders and as we entered the seats we were greeted by the beautiful sight of a field full of Mariners taking batting practice and shagging balls.

Within a minute of entering the seats, I heard someone calling out, “Hey, Hey, Hey.”  I looked to the right and saw a cop standing down in the grass below the batters’ eye:

4 felix and ivy.jpg

This picture of Felix Herdanez warming up in front of the CF Ivy is out of order, but it illustrates the situation.  (By the way, isn’t the ivy nice looking for the batters’ eye?)

We were standing in the seats essentially where the guy holding the little kid is standing (above the double doors).  I looked down at the cop yelling up at me and I though to myself:  “Oh, man, he’s about to tell me to take Tim off of my shoulders.”

I was very wrong.  Instead of reprimanding me for toting Tim on my shoulders, the good officer rewarded us with a baseball — a ball I like to think was hit into that grass area as a Mariners BP homerun — most likely a mammoth blast by none other than Mr. Ken Griffey, Jr. (of course that is just wishful speculation…but a guy is entitled to some wishful speculation from time-to-time).  Anyway, I will take a baseball over a reprimand any day.

So, after thanking the officer, it was back to watching our Mariners warm up.  Its amazing how many Mariners games I watch and yet how many Mariners look totally unrecognizable while wearing a jersey-hiding pull-over.  The 3 guys in CF were totally unrecognizable.  They must have been recent call-ups.  One of them looked like he was 10 years old.

Off toward left CF was base coach Lee Tinsley with a guy who looked a lot like Felix Hernandez, but clearly was not Felix.  In my post-game research, I’m pretty confident that it was new call-up Guillermo Quiroz.  Anyway, he caught a ball in deep left CF.  He had run in our direction to field the ball so it was natural to look toward us before turning to throw the ball in to the bucket.  As Quiroz looked up, I flashed my glove and he spotted us.  He was about 100 feet away or so.  But he motioned to me.  He was clearly getting ready to throw us the ball.  But then he motions “down, down.”  I’m clueless.  He yells, “down, down.”  I interpret this to mean, “Go down to the first row so the throw is easier.”

quiroz.jpgWe walk down to the front row.  Quiroz is walking toward us slowly, but is still at least 50 feet away.  He points at Tim and says, “Put him down.”  Wow — I’m getting reprimanded by a new Mariner!  How could it be?  Anyway, I put Tim down and he throws me the ball.  He then yells, “I didn’t want to hit your boy.”  Well, that’s not a reprimand at all.  That’s just plain thoughtful.  Looks like Quiroz is a keeper.

We watched a bit more batting practice, but Tim kept asking for ice cream.  He explained, “they’re playing baseball.  Its time for ice cream.”  I explained that they were just practicing and we would get ice cream once the game started.

 To tide Tim over, we decided to go to the kids’ play area.  Tim played on the play set.  He passed up on the bouncy house.  But he gave the speed pitch a try for the first time:

1 tim speed pitch.jpg I think Tim lit up triple digits on the gun.

Next, we headed back into the stadium and saw Jaime Burke stretching down the 3B line:

2 jamie burke tim.jpg

Tim yelled, “Hi, Jamie!”  Burke turned around and gave Tim a wave, which was nice because every time Tim waves or says hi to a player at a game he ends up asking me, “Can baseball players not hear me?”

I told Burke it was nice to have him back up with the big club.  He thanked me.

We watched Burke warm up Felix Hernandez, first in the outfield grass and then in the bullpen:

3 felix and phillips.jpg

Felix looked sharp in the bullpen.  I was excited to see him pitch tonight.  See the guy in the middle picture in the pull-over jacket?  That is Jason Phillips the Mariners bullpen catcher.  We watched Felix warm up from the seats just behind and to the left of Jamie Burke.  Phillips (and at time pitching coach Rick Adair) stood to the right of Burke and watched Felix.

Eventually, Phillips passes in front of Burke and starts walking toward the bullpen bench.  He stops in that little corner and starts digging around in that equipment bag behind the chairs.  He dug around in there for about 10-15 seconds.  Finally, he pulls out a baseball.  He turns around and walks a couple feet toward us and threw it to us.  Tim immediately told the guy next to us, “We got a baseball!”  And then he yelled “thank you” to Phillips.

WOW – three balls with very little effort.

 

32 three balls ties record.jpgIt tied my personal single game record set at a Mariners game at Fenway Park in 2003 when, without moving from the same spot, Mike Cameron, Rafael Soriano and Joel Piniero threw me balls during BP.

There would be no record breaking fourth baseball.

It was game time.  With Tim on my shoulders, we headed toward the Mariners dugout just in time for the national anthem:

5 oh say you see.jpg

After the anthem, we looked around.  No ushers in sight.  Four empty seats in the first row of the dugout, right on the aisle.  Why not stay a while?  Sure thing.

Mariners photo session ensures:

Ichiro bats:

6 ichi ball.jpg

…Ichi popped out…

7 ichi popped out.jpg

…its okay, later he would blast a double high off of the CF wall.

Jason Vargas and Rob Johnson had a view of the game very similar to ours:

8 game watchers.jpg

Vargas is impressing me so far.  I’m hoping he keeps it up.

Vargas’s and Johnsons’s view of Russell Branyan probably looked a lot like this:

9 branyan.jpg

All this time, Tim hadn’t forgot about his ice cream.  Despite the excellent seats, he wanted ice cream bad.  I promised we’d go get ice cream right after Griff hit.  I didn’t want us to miss this great view for Tim’s first time seeing Griff hit in a Mariners uniform.

The guy behind us offered to take out picture.  But Tim put on his fussy “I need ice cream” face:

11 fuss for ice cream.jpg

Since the M’s went 1-2-3 in the first, we got a chance to see King Felix up close in the bottom of the first before going to get Tim’s ice cream:

12 walking to work.jpg

Mr. Gold Glove, Adrian Beltre, was there too:

13 patroling 3B.jpg

While Felix looked in for the signs, Russell Branyan dried off his glove hand:

14 M's ace.jpg

And just like that, IT WAS TIME — GRIFFEY TIME:

15 Griff at the plate.jpg

Look at this beautiful swing:

16 power stroke foul.jpg

Folks, that swing is one of two things — a 450 foot home run or a foul straight back.  Unfortrunately, this one was the latter.  He missed it by a millimeter.

Here is a shot of Tim watching Griff and Ichiro bat:

17 tim griff and ichi.jpg

Right after Griff popped out, we headed up the ailse with our sights set on ice cream (sadly, with no ice cream helmet).  By the time we reached the top of the section, we had turned back to the field to watch Jose Lopez go deep for this first of two HRs on the day:

18 Lopez bomb no. 1.jpg

With a 1-0 lead in hand, Tim and I bought some chocolate ice cream and headed toward the RF corner.  En route to grabbing some “ice cream seats” (def. seats found exclusively for the purpose of Tim eating his ice cream), for the second game in a row, we ran into MLBlogger Zack Hample wearing a hot pink “real men wear pink shirt.”  We shared a few words with Zack before grabbing our ice cream seats.  Tim can be seen in the last picture in Zack’s entry for this game — click here.

Tim was ready to dig into that ice cream!

20 ice cream no helmet.jpg

We had a great view of Ichiro from these seats:

19 Ichi in RF.jpg

As Tim ate his ice cream, a familiar face (and shirt) walked by in the cross ailse behind us.  It was The Happy Youngster (a/k/a Nick), of homerun catching fame.  Some kind patron took an extremely blurry and generally weird picture of me, Brew Town’s Happy Youngster, and my own happy youngster:

20a Happy Youngster.jpg

Check out Tim multitasking, posing for a picture while still holding his ice cream spoon in his hand.  Nick gave us a shout out (and some very kind words) on his entry for this game — click here.

The rest of the night, I was really hoping a Mariner would hit a HR to right field so I could see Zack and Nick battle for the HR.  Here they are in home run territory in a photo I like to call “Dueling Ballhawks”:

28 dueling ballhawks.jpgBack to the real game, here are Ichiro and Griff batting from our ice cream seats view:

22 Griff and Ichi.jpg Ichiro hit a double off the CF wall in this at bat.  I believe that Griff popped out to third.

You know that big warehouse in RF?  You know how many people have hit a ball off of the warehouse in the history of Camden Yards?  Its no secret.  One man:

21 Griff in dugout on board.jpg

In this picture, Griff is laughing and seems somewhat embarrassed because they just showed a video about him hitting the warehouse and it said something like “Legends of Camden Yards”….or something like that.

After Tim finished his ice cream, we headed out to Tim’s favorite spot at Camden Yards – the flag pavillion.  I fake pitched about 100 balls to Tim and he fake ran the bases (circled the flags) about 100 times.  For most of my fake pitches, I had to chase Tim and try to fake tag him out before he scored at fake home plate.  This is Tim’s set Camden Yards routine.  His home plate is always the same.  This is hit thing at Camden Yards.  He loves it.  He ran a ridiculous amount.  I ran a ridiculous amount.  But it was fun.

And Tim was a big hit with the ushers, fans and the beer lady in the corner of the pavillion.  Two fans gave Tim little stuffed Chik Fillet cows.  The beer lady told me how wonderful Tim was over and over again before she gave him a whole bunch of Orioles baseball cards — she apologized that she didn’t have any Mariners cards.

Well, guess what, one of the ushers did.  Check out the Bone:

25 bone visits camden.jpgThe final game I saw Jay Buhner play was actually at Camden Yards.  So it was nice to see Bone at Camden Yards once again, even if only in the form of a baseball card.

In addition to running the fake bases in the flag pavillion, Tim played a lot of fake catch in the pavillion as well:

23 tim patrols the flag pavillion.jpgMostly Tim played fake catch with Nick, including some fake fly ball shagging.  Nick very kindly played along with Timmers.

 Hey, here’s a picture we haven’t got yet this season, the obligatory Eutaw Street / Warehouse picture:

24 TJCs on Eutaw.jpg

Down the RF line in foul territory, there is a section of seating above the main cross aisle  that is turned toward the field.  That section is right behind our ice cream seats.  The section was 95% empty.  Tim explored it at length.  He ran up and down most of the aisles.  He chatted with most of the people in the section.  He is a picture of Tim at the top of that section.  He was yelling “HI GUYS!!” down to people on Eutaw Street and waving like crazy.

26 hi fans.jpg

And here is a panoramic view looking toward the field from the same spot:

27 camden RF foul panoramic.jpg

In the 8th and 9th innings, we went back and sat in the second row behind the Mariners dugout.  It was a good spot to witness a big Mariners Win!

29 mariners win.jpg

With two HRs on the night, the big hero was Jose Lopez who was interviewed in the dugout after the rest of the team cleared out:

30 lopez interviewed.jpg

As we were getting ready to head for the car, I noticed that Mariners trainer Rick Griffin was standing by the screen behind home plate with two very familiar looking bats.  He let me get a close peak and a photo:

31 swingman.jpg

Thanks, Rick!

This was  truly excellent night in Baltimore.  We finally got to see Griff play, which was awesome.  Ichiro had a lazer double.  Lopez two HRs.  Felix was dominant.  And Tim had a blast running around the park.

Its always a great time when you go to Camden Yards, but its even better the 3-4 days each season when our Mariners are in town.

Next up, I think, the Reading Phillies!

Season Fan Stats:

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

1 Player Autograph (Ryan Perry)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)
 
7,735 Miles driven/flown to games (season)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))

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

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

She was right.

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

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

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

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

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

The grounds crew was chalking the field:

1 nats chalking.jpg

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

2 hi hazle.jpg

Giants skipper Bruce Bochy was out and about:

3 bochy.jpg

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

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

4 hi screech.jpg

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

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

6 the people hide.jpg

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

The skies they were a-threatenin’

7 DC RF rain delay panoramic.jpg

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

8 packed concourse.jpg

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

8b the rain cometh.jpg

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

9 bullpen ball.jpg

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

Did I mention there was a lot of rain?

11 Lake NatsPark.jpg

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

12 Natty Waterfall.jpg

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

 
14 tim entertains himself.jpg

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

13 tim wheres the game.jpg

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

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

15 tarp removal.jpg

…and into the outfield grass:

17 LF rain delay panoramic.jpg

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

18 squiggy coach.jpg

And then came the diamond dust…lots of it:

19 lots of diamond dust.jpg

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

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

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

 

20 with zack.jpg

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

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

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

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

21 multiple high fives.jpg

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

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

22 field looking better.jpg

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

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

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

23 Act II Return of the Rain.jpg

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

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

24 fan removal squad.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

25 no food for you.jpg

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

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

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

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

26 game on without us.JPG

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

Oh, well.

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

Season Fan Stats:

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

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

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

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