On August 14, 2011, we woke up at our hotel in Miami, Florida. We had another Giants vs. Marlins game on tap for the afternoon. But, first, we had some business to attend to…beach business. We hopped into our rental car and headed to Miami Beach. South Beach to be exact:
I’m not a big beach fan, but South Beach was awesome. The water was perfect and we had a blast. We arrived early and by the time the beach was really starting to get hopping, we headed out.
It was time for our second and final game at Sun Life Stadium:
I was not expecting there to be batting practice so I was pleasantly surprised as the Marlins were running off of the field and the Giants were just beginning their stretching routine as we entered the seating bowl behind home plate. We headed over to the Marlins dugout where a few players and coaches were still walking off of the field and into the dugout.
I’ve learned over the years that listening is key. I had no clue who any of the remaining Marlins were. But someone else did. I heard a lady say hi to “Joe,” and then “Joe” walked over to chat with her. I noticed that “Joe” had a baseball in his glove. So when he finished talking to the lady, I called out, “Hey, Joe!” He
walked over to say hi. And soon enough, Joe’s baseball was in Tim’s hand.
By the way, “Joe” ended up being third base coach, Joey Espada.
I was ecstatic for us to finally get a baseball at Sun Life Stadium.
As we continued to stand around behind the dugout, I noticed that Marlins manager Jack McKeon was just below us chatting with a guy. I waited until they had a natural break in their conversation (in fact, they even took a step or two away from each other for a moment) and then I held up the baseball from “Joe” and asked McKeon if he would sign the baseball for us.
McKeon held up one finger as if to say, “yep, in just a minute,” and then he re-engaged his conversation with the guy. And unhappy looking (and quite large) Marlins stadium attendant…
…who was standing by McKeon on the field stepped toward us and barked with a menacing scowl: “He’s busy talking to someone right now.” Of course, that is why we had patiently and politely waited for a natural break in McKeon’s conversation.
Anyway, despite the evil eye from the stadium attendant, McKeon did not seem to think we had done anything wrong. After another thirty seconds of conversation, he looked up and put his hands out for me to toss him the baseball and our pen. He signed the baseball, tossed it back and was on his way.
As the Giants started to hit, Tim and I headed out to deep RCF. Tim is not a fan of the sun, and it was beating down pretty hard at this point, so he grabbed a shady seat at the back of the section…
…and watched as I snagged a BP homer off of the bat of a Giants lefty. That ball landed in about the seventh row just as I approached and then rolled all the way down to the first row with me hoping the rows following it. It hurt like crazy as I bashed shin-after-shin and knee-after-knee on the seats.
Shortly after getting that baseball, Tim and I decided to walk around a little bit.
We headed over to the LF foul corner and checked out the drop off created by the folded-up seats:
Nothing was going on over there, so we headed to the kids’ play area. But when we reached the McDonald’s play area that we had visited the night before, we found that…
…it was gone. But over by the batting cage, we found a batting tee and bouncy house that were a lot of fun for Tim:
After bouncing, we headed over to section 142 quickly to check out our seats for the game. Then it was time for lunch. On the way out of the seating bowl, I got this picture that shows Tim’s new give-away Marlins bag:
Our nacho lunch was much better than our nacho dinner from the night before because I invested $1.00 for some extra cheese:
And then it was time for the game, this was our view from section 142, row 4:
Tim and I decided that we wanted the Marlins to win this game. So we were happy when Cody Ross grounded out to lead off the game for the Giants:
There was an unexpected guest hovering over this game – the Goodyear blimp:
Since we got a baseball (or two) during BP, we were excited to be able to get a Sun Life Stadium bonus point picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt. Here is our first attempt:
We tried again later and I decided to go with the second attempt instead of this one.
The night before, we were sitting right behind Mike Stanton and I was telling my Dad what a beast Stanton is. Living in Seattle and not getting to many N.L. games, my Dad had never heard of Mike Stanton (well, not this Mike Stanton at least. He had heard of the other less beastly Mike Stanton or maybe it was this Mike Stanton).
Tim and I saw Stanton hit at least three homeruns last season (including a monster upper deck shot in Philadelphia). Well, make it one more:
Stanton hit this one to the absolute deepest part of CF at Sun Life Stadium. And then there was nothing left to do but trot:
That put the Marlins up 1-0 at the end of the first.
In the bottom of the second we had a little excitement come our way. We were in the fourth row between the Marlins dugout and the Marlins bullpen. Our assigned seats were 5-6-7, with 7 being the closest to home plate. Tim’s seat of choice is always seat number 5. My Dad took seat 7. So that naturally left me with seat 6. But there was no one sitting to our left in 1-2-3-4, so I opted for seat 4 and the open route to the aisle so I could run for a foul ball in the general area.
What I didn’t expect was that a foul ball would come directly to us.
But when former-beloved-Mariner Mike Cameron came to the plate and put this swing…
…on the ball, that is exactly what happened.
The ball was a towering foul pop up that travelled directly to us off the bat. It did not hook, it did not slice, it did not blow in the wind. From the second it hit
the bat, it was plain as day obvious that this ball was destined to land right at seats 6-7 of row 4 in section 142. I am an inch or two taller than my Dad and would have had the natural advantage if I was standing directly next to him in my assigned seat. But instead I was blocked off by Tim (grandpa’s little helper!). My Dad and I both put our gloves up next to each other. Mine came down empty, and my Dad’s came down cradling this little beauty:
It is my Dad’s third foul ball of the season, but his first caught on the fly.
Aside from the foul ball potential, section 142 is a fun place to sit at Sun Life Stadium because it seems to be the entertainment hub of the ballpark. D.J. Petey is set up in the “beach” section of the ballpark during the games and between innings he was constantly setting up games and other stuff right in front of us:
It is also an access point to the field for the mascots, dancers and other on field entertainers. This game was Billy the Marlins birthday so there were about 15 different mascots on hand to celebrate. At one point, about 6-7 mascots were right in front of us tossing shirts into the stands. But mascots can’t throw very far!
So most of them all landed in the lower seats. And I came away with this Marlins t-shirt:
An interesting thing about this game was that both starting pitchers’ names started with the letters “Vo”…
Ryan Vogelsong vs. Chris Volstad. In the battle of the Vo’s, Vogelsong dominated.
This was one of my best games for getting action shots. Here is a cool picture of Aaron Rowand just about to ground out:
The Marlins have a scantily-clad dance troop called the Mermaids…
…that also used section 142 as a main point of access to do their in-game entertaining. Those Mermaids must have changed outfits about 3-4 times throughout the game. And (as you can see in the picture above) whenever D.J. Petey did a contest, they had two Mermaids flank him and the contestant(s).
While I was busy catching that Marlins t-shirt above, my Dad and Tim were hiding away in the shady concourse. When they returned, they were bearing gifts of ice cream:
Between innings at some point of the game, they did a little video tribute to Jack McKeon on the big screen in honor of this being the 2,000th game that he has managed in the Major Leagues:
I thought that was pretty cool to find out that we got Jack’s autograph at his 2,000th game.
Thanks again, Jack!
In order to keep a full roster of Mermaids ready for Major League action, the Marlins have a minor league (so to speak) dance crew in training, the Minnows:
These little gals are just 6-8 years and a Mermaid-twisted ankle away from getting called up to the Show!
Back to the action, Dwayne Wise turned around this pitch…
…for a harmless pop fly out to LF.
Like at ballhawkfest last month, Tim had a spray bottle full of water and was blasting himself in the face most of the day to stay cool. Of course, he took the opportunity to spray down his hair and make a little mohawk:
In the top of the seventh inning with the Giants leading 4-1, Marlins reliever Burke Badenhop drilled Ryan Vogelsong in the back with a pitch. Vogelsong was furious. He slammed his bat to the ground like he was chopping wood with an axe. I was super-excited at the possibility of getting one of the most difficult shots from the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt – fake punching another fan in the stands while the players brawl in the background. “Quick,” I said, “Tim, act like you’re punching Grandpa in the face!”
We did our part, but Vogelsong totally failed us. The brawl just didn’t materialize. So sad.
Here is a weird picture:
Can you tell what’s going on in that picture? It is hard to tell. You have to click to enlarge the photo. Throughout most of the game there were about 50 dragonflies buzzing all around over our heads. It was alike a Dragonfly convention.
Not only was section 142 a hot spot for D.J. Petey, the Mermaids, and the mascots, it was also home base for a cameraman. Between almost every inning, the cameraman focused in on different fans in section 142 and put them up on the big screens at the end of both endzones – on in baseball terms, RF and the 3B line. At one point, he caught staying himself in the face with his water sprayer…
…but right when I took a picture of the big screen, Tim turned around and looked at me with a big smile so all you could see on the big screen was the back of Tim’s head.
There were so many mascots all around that Tim just had to get his picture with one of them. While he would have favored Billy the Marlin or the Miami Dolphins’ dolphin, his best opportunity involved Sebastian the Ibis from the University of Miami. A little background is in order.
First, I have strongly disliked the Miami Hurricanes since the 1980s. Actually, I’m pretty sure I have a lot of company. It seems like everyone dislikes the Hurricanes.
Second, a couple months ago, Miami hired Al Golden, Jr. as its new head football coach. Golden (or Cousin Al) is related to us through my wife’s family. It is not like we’re so close that we are spending Thanksgiving with the Goldens. But we are related. Here is the situation as I have figured it out: Tim’s great-great-great
grandparents (on Tim’s mom’s dad’s mom’s side) are Coach Golden’s great-grandparents (on his dad’s mom’s side). In terms of generations, Coach Golden is on the same generational level as Tim’s grandpa (my wife’s dad, Kevin Gill a/k/a Poppy). So, Poppy and Coach Golden share the same great grandparents. Kevin’s mom is first cousins with Al Golden Sr. – their parents’ are sisters. So that clears it all up, right? Anyway, the family connection (despite the fact that Coach Al recently dumped my alma mater, Temple) has made it so I can at least stomach the Hurricanes a little bit, at least enough for Tim to get a picture with the Hurricanes mascot, Sebastian.
Anyway, there is a little handicapped access area just below section 142 (and running all the way to the LF foul corner). Sebastian was hanging out just below the handicapped area in the field level seats below. No one from up above can get down to those seats. So Tim camped out on the stairs…
…waiting for Sebastian to wander by close enough for us to arrange a picture.
This is what it looked like just above the handicapped accessible area where we were waiting for Sebastian:
Eventually, Sebastian made his way down to us and posed for a picture with Tim:
And at the very same moment, D.J. Petey was running a “Hug Your Kids” segment with one of the cameramen right in front of section 142. So after Tim posed for the picture with Sebastian, the big Ibis (which we kept referring to as a duck) picked up Tim and started hugging him and swinging him around like a ragdoll. The
cameraman turned and the little scene was broadcast throughout Sun Life Stadium:
Tim thought it was hilarious! In those pictures, he is looking at me and my Dad smiling and laughing with joy. Ah, good times at Sun Life Stadium!
Late in the game, we were excited to see former Mariner Jose Lopez come to bat for the Marlins…
…he popped out on that swing. It must have been his first at bat of the season because the scoreboard said he was batting .000 and had played in only one game, which I was thinking must be this game.
In the eighth or ninth inning, Tim and I headed over to section 156 to see if we could get an umpire baseball from Angel Hernandez. We stopped at the top of section 156 to get this picture…
…and to look at this cricket:
By the way, as you can see two pictures above, Tim was wearing his University of Hawaii baseball shirt that he got from our friends from myGameBalls.com and MLBlogs, Todd and Tim Dixon, from Hawaii. (Great names those guys have, eh?) Tim loves his UH baseball and t-shirt. And whenever I mention that we only have a couple more baseball stadiums to visit before we have seen all 30 MLB teams play a home game, Tim also mentions, “But we haven’t been to the Rainbows stadium yet in Hawaii.” So someday in the future, we’re going to have to Roadtrip to Hawaii to see the Rainbows.
The umpire tunnel was considerably less congested at this game. There were two people in the front row on the outfield side of the tunnel and no one else was in the first 5-6 rows. So we grabbed some seats in the first row one section over (in the orange seats just next to the off-limits blue seats). Our plan was to bolt down the second row of blue seats and jump over to the first row next to the tunnel right when the game ended.
This is what our view looked like from the first row in section 101 (which is directly next to section 156 on the outfield side of section 156):
The night before, we saw Aaron Rowand ground out to Greg Dobbs in the ninth inning. At this game, we saw Greg Dobbs fly out to Aaron Rowand in the ninth inning:
At this point, the Giants were leading the Marlins 5-2. When we left section 142, my Dad had told us that he was going to stick around on the 1B side to see if he could get Mike Cameron’s autograph after the game. I assumed he meant on the Mike Cameron foul ball he had caught earlier in the game. With the Marlins losing, I knew that the only way he would even have a chance to get Cammy’s autograph after the game was if (1) the Marlins came back to win the game or (2) the game ended with Cameron on base so he had to walk back to the dugout.
Well, on the Mike Cameron front, the stars were perfectly aligned for my Dad on this day. In the bottom of the ninth, Cameron singled up the middle on this swing:
He would eventually make it to second base.
Jeremy Affeldt was warming up in the Giants bullpen…
…and eventually came into the game (instead of Brian Wilson) even though it was a save situation.
Tim was fully committed to the Marlins winning this game. He gave his best “GO MARLINS” chant:
But his youthful exuberance was not enough, and the Marlins fell to the Giants by a final score of 5-2.
The game ended with Mike Cameron on second base, and the former-Seattle fan favorite (it is amazing how well Cameron fit in as a Mariner, particularly considering that he was replacing every Mariners fan’s favorite player, Ken Griffey, Jr.) stopped to sign a baseball for my Dad on his way back to the dugout:
I was slow on the camera trigger and only caught the above photo after Cameron had tossed the baseball back up to my Dad. But I had a good excuse. We were busy getting the third and final umpire ball tossed into the stands by Angel Hernandez. That makes two years in a row that Angel Hernandez has given Tim a baseball on the GFS Roadtrip. He might get a lot of flack for his actual umpiring work, but Angel is a-okay in our book!
After the game, an usher took this (would be excellent) photo of the three of us behind home plate:
Unfortunately, a single drop of rain landed directly on my lens. The guy took two photos to make sure we got a good one, but both are marred by the rouge rain drop.
And our picture wasn’t the only thing the rain ruined. The scoreboard in RF in the following panorama from the top of section 150 tells the sad story…
…Kids Run the Bases cancelled due to inclement weather. Shortly after we got in the car and hit the road, the skies opened up and dumped a near-Biblical flood’s worth of water all over Florida.
So, with no Kids Run the Bases to cap our day at the ballpark, we simply took a follow-up photo for our myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt Sun Life Stadium bonus picture…
…and then we hit the road.
Thanks, Sun Life Stadium! Despite your many flaws, we had a lot of fun.
On to Atlanta and Turner Field!
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|21/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]|
|16 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (1))|
|58 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)|
|10/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]|
|13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|7/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami); Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]|
|2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|