After returning home from Boston back in July, it started to hit me that, if Griff decides to retire after this season (and I sincerely hope he DOES NOT), Tim and I would never see him play again. I didn’t like that idea. So I reviewed the rest of the M’s schedule to see if they would visit anywhere even remotely near southeastern Pennsylvania.
They had one more trip to Cleveland on the books. Cleveland is in northeastern Ohio, and Ohio borders Pennsyvlania to the West. I determined that fits within the definition of “anywhere even remotely near southeastern Pennsylvania.”
Therefore, just 4 days removed from the conclusion of a wonderful roadtrip with my dad, Tim, my wife Colleen and I piled into the car and headed across Pennsylvania on the PA Turnpike.
After camping out a night in Washington, PA, we headed north up the Ohio turnpike to Cleveland and after taking 80N-to-480W-to-77N-to71 we cruised into town on 9th Street and this was our view:
Ah, Jacobs Field…the Jake. (I think that is a typo on the sign, that’s not how you spell ‘Jacobs’). It was good to be back to the first field where Tim ran the bases. And it was great to be in the same city as the Mariners.
We came into the city early to see what we could see in the Land of Cleve. Unfortunately, we knew nothing about the city…except that its on a BIG lake. We ended up driving through downtown and spotting the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Browns Statium. So we turned left down a street heading toward the water. Next, we turned right down a long road that ran by some water and an airport before finally reaching a marina. Here are some pictures of what we saw:
Check out that lake! Tim was asleep when we pulled up to the marina. We woke him up and pointed out the huge lake. He responded, “No, Daddy. That’s not a lake. That’s an ocean!” Its big. In that top right picture, that’s the R’n’R Hall of Fame. Below, is a Blue Angels jet resting on a stand in front of a Navy facility by the airport. Pretty cool stuff.
And, that was the extent of our city touring. We had a game to go to!
After parking in a garage a few blocks away, we walked up to a misty Jacobs Field. The clouds were just spitting a little bit. No need for an umbrella or a hood. And I figured it would be no problem for BP.
I was wrong.
Colleen and I had made a deal. We would come early to this game so I could watch some BP. But we wouldn’t come early the next day (which was a day game and might not have BP anyway). But as a approached the gates, I could see the in field was covered. No BP.
There was a sign that said the stadium was open at Gate C. So walked over to Gate C in RCF:
In front of the Gate C entrance, there is a statue of Bob Feller (middle) with which Tim posed. I didn’t think it was a very good statue, at least compared to the extremely life-like statues at U.S. Cellular Field. [NOTE TO THE MARINERS: When Griff does eventually retire, use whomever made the statues at U.S. Cellular for his statue. Also, use a classic Griff pose, not the pose with both arms over his head after hitting a home run.]
As we entered Gate C, there were two display cases just inside the gate with lists of the two teams’ starting line ups. Oh, no…no Griff!
Despite my disappointment (which I was prepared for because I knew a lefty was pitching for the Indians), I thought it was a cool feature to have the line-ups posted like that.
Below is a view of the RF concourse…
…we quickly learned that we were trapped in the RF seats and/or concourse until 6:00 p.m. — a full a hour away…and most of the food stands were not yet open (and as I mentioned, no BP). What ever would we do to kill the time?
We walked down into the field level seats as close to the RF foul pole as we could get (the Mariners bullpen is between the seats and the foul pole. Here was our view:
The big draw on the field was Ichiro. He played catch (with his interpreter, I believe)…
…and then he did some running.
Then a couple Mariners relief pitchers played catch by the tarp over the in field. Because we were stuck in RF, we couldn’t get very close. I couldn’t recognize anyone from out there except David Aarsdma.
Ardsma and his buddy were the last two playing catch. His partner threw a ball passed him that rolled out and sat in the grass just off the tarp behind second base. Aardsma pulled another ball out of his pocket and finished playing catch.
When he was finished, he walked out to grab the ball behind second. We were now all alone in the seats in RCF. I called out, “Hey, D.A.!!!!!”
The D.A. immediately picked up the damp ball and threw it REALLY far and directly into my glove:
After throwing the ball to us, a bunch of people in RF yelled Aardsma’s name and he turned and threw his other baseball on a line all the way to the back of the RF seats. The throw was very impressive.
Here is a panaramic view from where we caught the ball from Aardsma:
By the way, Aardsma’s second throw landed at the top of that last section, just under the overhang.
Here is a view to our right:
Next, we went to Heritage Park.
Heritage Park is the Indians’ outdoor Hall of Fame. Its pretty cool. As you can probably tell from the bottom picture, Tim and I played catch in Heritage Park. Colleen didn’t think it was appropriate to play catch in there. I told her they’d tell us to stop if they didn’t like it.
After a couple minutes, a stadium usher type standing behind the plaque in the bottom left corner of the picture above called me over. Uh, ho. I figured we were, indeed, getting shut down. I walked over to him.
Todd – “Yes?”
Usher – (pulling a baseball from his pocket and whispering while staying behind the column) “Throw this one back to him.”
So, how about that? Instead of getting told not to play catch in Heritage Park, we were rewarded with a ball. Not bad.
Tim was happy to add another ball to his collection.
After playing some more catch, we walked down the stairs to the lower section of Heritage Park. While down there, Colleen found this:
This was literally the first and only plaque Colleen read. So, as a big-time migraine sufferer, she was mighty surprised to see she’d picked the plaque of a ball player whose “Career was curtailed after 1941 season by migraine headaches.” That is something you don’t hear every day.
Finally, they opened the rest of the stadium. We were eating some nachos by this time. We relocated to the seats just a little bit down the line from 1B. We were at the top of the section when two individuals popped out of the M’s dugout and started walking toward the bullpen. One of them was Jason Phillips, whom you might remember from our trip to New York and Boston in July. We had a couple interactions with Phillips in Boston and New York this season, and he’d already given us 5 baseballs so far this season.
I ran down to the first row and arrived there just as he passed:
Todd – “Hey, Jason!”
Phillips – (looks over and give me a big smile) “Hey, how you doing, buddy?”
Todd – “Good, man. Nice to see you. Any chance of you hooking us up with a warm up ball today?”
Phillips – (I couldn’t understand exactly what he said, but it was something like) “I’m sure we can make that work.”
Then he said something like, it would be a little bit because he had to do some stuff first.
I went up to talk to Colleen and Tim. And we relocated down to the bottom of the field section. Eventually, Jason and Felix Hernandez started playing catch, and we watched:
Tim and I hung out in the RF foul corner and scoped out the scenery…
…like this weird little “chalking” machine that really shoots white spray paint onto the ground…
It didn’t do a very good job. A chalk line looks about 10,000 times better than this painted line, even after the guy took two passes at it.
We scoped out the bullpen, which has a seating area in the front with the pitching mounds behind…
…just above the OF fence in foul territory, we noticed what looked like a wedding party.
In a little bit, Jason came back out and went into the bullpen again. Again, he looked over to us and gave us the “hold on a minute” finger. He put on some shin guards in the bullpen and grabbed his catchers mitt.
Then he walked out of the bullpen, came straight over to us and set a nice looking ball showing some warning track dirt marks into my glove.
Then we all posed for a picture:
“Thanks, Jason!” He has been mighty cool to us this season and I am hoping he sticks on with the Mariners as bullpen catcher and eventually as a coach (that is, unless he has an opportunity to make a comeback as a player).
Next, we headed out to our seats in the LF bleachers — Section 184.
I trudged up the stairs and into the upper CF corner in Section 185 and took this panaramic view:
Here is Mike Saunders, who made an error in LF and got hounded for the rest of the game by a bunch of guys three rows behind us:
Of course, Tim wanted to play catch several times during the game. And he wanted to play in the tunnel from the LF concourse into the LF bleachers. I told Tim we’d certainly get kicked out of the tunnel and told to either stop or move elsewhere…
…I was wrong. Instead, we were encouraged by the Section 184 usher. In fact, you can see him watching us in the picture to the right. He thought it was great that we were playing catch in the tunnel, even as people passed in and out of the tunnel.
Here is another action shot: (i) to the right, Fister nailed someone in the head (he was okay) and everyone gathered around to check him out and (ii) Josh Wilson about to catch a pop up…
…see that bat boy running in from the right side in the Josh Wilson pop-up picture? There was a runner on 3B and that kid came sprinting in like he was Usain Bolt. The guy behind us got all excited and thought it was the runner trying to score. He was right to get excited. It was pretty strange to see that bat boy come sprinting in like that.
Midway through the game, the Indians mascot, Slider, came to our tunnel with a pizza and gave it to some guy in Section 185. Tim and I left our seats and I asked Slider’s chaperone if we could get a picture with slider — of course we could:
Soon it was time for ice cream. We had to walk to the Pierre’s booth behind home plate. On the way, I took this action shot of Mariners rookie pitcher, Doug Fister, through the foul pole:
The Jake has some interesting art hanging around the park. Here is one of Pronk.
The game itself was a good one, but disappointing. The Mariners led most of the game on the strenth of an Indians error and a Russell Branyan HR in the first inning. But we wouldn’t score again and the Indians would tact on a run at a time in three different innings. The game headed to extras.
Griff didn’t play, but I could see him in the dugout…
…he started carrying around a bat while wearing his batting gloves. The M’s had pinch hit for DH Mike Sweeney late in the game (or maybe it was pinch ran for him) with Ryan Langerhans. I was sure Griff would pinch hit for Langerhans in the 10th or 11th inning. With his bat in hand, it looked certain. But then the Indians brought in another lefthanded reliever, and the M’s kept Langerhans in to bat. So, no Griff. Bummer
Late in the game, Colleen wore my new grey zip-up sweat shirt. And Tim wanted to share the hood:
Tim was happy to have “mommy” join us for this game.
In the bottom of the 11th, Luis Valbuena (a former Mariner) hit a walk off homerun. Double bummer.
To make up for dissappointing us by beating our M’s, the Indians put on a huge and extremely cool Rock’n’Roll Fireworks show. We had to relocate to the infield seats (you’ll see why below). On our way, we got a nice family picture (featuring Colleen’s nice new hairdo and fireworks being set up behind us).
We would be back the following day and we’d be hoping with all our might that Griff would be in the line-up.
Season Fan Stats:
26 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
12 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, and “Jacobs” Field)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
22 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
25 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry)
4 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)