We woke up on August 21, 2011, with the final game of the 2011 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip on tap for the early afternoon. As a bonus, it was Kids Run the Bases day at Tropicana Field. After the game, Tim and I would be hopping a flight back to Pennsylvania.
After packing up our hotel room, we were off to Tropicana Field. I’m not sure if we were in the first 100 into the stadium parking lot because we were advised that it was family day at the ballpark and we were all free. I got the feeling it was only the “families” that were free because there were people there taking money. But, whatever, for the second game in three days, we parked at Tropicana Field free of charge.
My mom took a grandfather-father-son picture of our march through the parking lot to the final game of the Roadtrip:
When we entered the ballpark, some kids were taking BP on the field. There weren’t any players on the field…well, maybe a Rays pitcher or two out in RF.
Tim and my mom hopped in line for the rays tank and I headed toward the Mariners dugout to see what, if anything was going on. The game wouldn’t start for a couple hours, but the workers were already setting up the snack buffet in the group seating area down the RF line:
As I passed behind the Rays dugout, I got a picture of something cool that I had noticed the night before:
Season ticket holders at Tropicana Field get their names affixed to their seats on little black placards.
I had not really been down behind home plate yet over the last two days, so I got a panoramic shot from section 102 as I passed behind the plate:
I decided to pass some time behind the Mariners dugout in section 111:
I was hoping the Mariners would take BP after the kids, but when they finished up the groundskeepers immediately started disassembling the batting cage:
Soon, I noticed that Mariners G.M. Jack Zduriencik was standing below me in front of the dugout. He was just standing around alone so I said hello. We chatted a little and then I asked him if he signs autographs. He said “sure thing,” so I tossed him a baseball that I have had in my backpack all season (a fan gave it Tim at Spring Training) with the plan of using it for autographs. Since nothing was really going on, I decided to see if I could get a bunch of autographs on that baseball.
Eventually, the Mariners pitchers started trickling out onto the field and into LF.
One of the first guys onto the field was Dan Cortes. I got him to sign the baseball and complimented him on his tiny pink lunch box that he’d been carrying out to the bullpen each game during this series. That made him chuckle. I asked what he keeps in there: “just some snacks for the game.”
Josh Lueke signed the ball next on his way out to LF. And the final on-the-way-out-to-LF autograph I got was from extreme nice guy Jamey Wright. I told Jamey that we needed to
get a win today, he responded in a frustrated tone, “You’re telling me!!?” I asked Brandon League on his way out to LF, but he said he’d sign on his way back to the dugout after throwing. That was actually a good thing because Tim soon showed up.
As the pitchers were throwing, Tim, my mom and I moved further down the line behind the Mariners bullpen to watch the throwing. At one point, Jamey Wright was walking around in the bullpen after finishing his warm up routine. I thought he had his warm up ball so I asked him if he’d toss it to us. He held up his hands and said he didn’t have a ball. I pointed to a couple balls sitting on the foul line (extra balls in case someone lost their ball in the crowd or threw it out into CF). He jogged over, grabbed a baseball and threw it to us.
On his way back into the dugout, I snapped a couple pictures as Tom Wilhelmsen signed the baseball for Tim:
When Brandon League wandered by, Tim got his autograph and a picture with our 2011 All-Star closer:
One of the last guys throwing in LF was Josh Lueke. As he headed toward the dugout, I called out, “Hey, Josh!” And that was all it took to get our second (and final) baseball of the day.
The last guy hanging out in the bullpen was Blake Beavan. When I called out Blake’s name, he leaned straigh back and looked at us over his back. I asked if he’d sign the baseball for us. Sure he would, but I couldn’t get over to him because of the fancy seats and big empty space blocking my way. A fan in those seats came over and ferried the baseball over to the bullpen so Beavan could sign the ball.
With nothing else happening in the bullpen, we relocated back to the dugout where Mariners coaches Jaime Navarro and Carl Willis signed the baseball.
Meanwhile, Tim passed time playing with his David Price (and Price’s dog) superhero action figure:
Zduriencik was still down by the dugout. At one point, we saw a guy walking through the crowd who looked like Jack and was communicating with him with finger points, etc. He then was led down onto the field and gave Jack a big hug:
My mom, dad and I were predicting that he must be Jack’s son. After chatting with Jack, the guy hopped back into the crowd and ended up having seats exactly where we were standing.
So I asked him if he was Jack’s son. Close, but no cigar. The guy reported that “Jackie” is his cousin – actually, Jack is a first cousin of this guy’s mother (I believe).
Meanwhile, a bunch of Mariners position players had started stretching and throwing in shallow LF. On his way back in to the dugout, new Mariner Casper Wells signed our baseball.
The last Mariner on the field after stretching was Brendan Ryan. He signed autographs for a good 20 minutes solid out by the bullpen. He signed so long that we decided to head out to see him. After signing the final autograph on our baseball, Ryan posed for a picture with Tim:
Immediately after the picture, Tim remarked, “His hands are really warm!”
That was it for pre-game. It was fun getting autographs for a change. This is the most autographs we’ve ever gotten on one baseball. Here it is:
Upper Left: Jamey Wright (50), Jack Zduriencik, and Carl Willis;
Upper Right: Dan Cortes (57), Josh Lueke (31), and Blake Beavan (49);
Lower Left: Brandon League (43), Jaime Navarro (94), and Brendan Ryan (26); and
Bottom Right: Tom Wilhelmsen (54) and Casper Wells (33).
Tim was all excited about wearing his *glow-up* glasses, but we realized that I left them in the car. So we decided to go back the carnival game area to try to win a new pair. The day before, we were the only people playing the games so there was no competition to win a prize. But at this game, a bunch of other people joined us. There were 5-6 people in the racing game. But luckily, I guided my Ben Zobrist racer to the checkered flag. We also played some whack-a-mole and bashed the Yankee mole a bunch.
The guy gave us two prizes today – more *glow-up* glasses AND a Johnny Damon bobblehead. Tim didn’t care about the bobble head. He was all about the glasses:
We had seats in LF (section 141) in the second row. Check out how low the OF railing are at Tropicana Field:
We reported to our seats and watched Mariners starter Michael Pineda warm up in the outfield:
At the beginning of the game, settled in with some nachos…
…ready for our first Mariners win in 6 games this season.
The game started out great! Franklin Gutierrez and Dustin Ackley hit singles. Mike Carp followed with an RBI groundout. And then Casper Wells hit a 2-run bomb…
…to put the Mariners up 3-0 in the first inning. Doug Fister is a quality pitcher and he’s doing great things for the Tigers, so it was good to see Casper making a contribution for the Mariners.
Speaking of Casper Wells, he was stationed in LF just below our seats:
The Mariner added a fourth run in the top of the second inning.
Pineda pitched well:
But he had a little hiccup in the bottom of the second. He gave up two runs on a pair of RBI singles by Matt Joyce and John Jaso.
Of course, Tim wanted to go see the rays tank. On our way over there, we took a picture of the Ray breaking through the wall in the RCF concourse – Tim loved that thing:
When we reached RF, Ichiro was going to be up soon. So we headed over to straight away RF (section 144)…
…, just in case Ichiro wanted to hit a homerun to us. As we were waiting for Ichiro to hit us a homerun, I took this hilarious picture of Tim and his glasses:
And I got this picture of Tim telling me that Ichiro is No. 1:
Sadly, Ichiro did not hit a homerun, to us or to anyone else. But Franklin Gutierrez followed with an RBI single, making the score 5-2 Mariners.
After Ichiro’s at bat, we headed over to section 150 to watch the sea life in the rays tank:
On the right (above), that is a baby horseshoe crab hitching a ride on his parent’s tail.
We decided to go up to the top of section 150 to check out of few things. On our way up there, I got a cool picture:
It sort of looks like a picture of the rays tank from above (and it is, I guess), but just above the rays tank you can see Franklin Gutierrez reaching up to make a catch on drive by Ben Zobrist to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning.
During this game, I checked my twitter feed on my phone and found a cool message on there. This seems like as good of place as any to insert this story. While I got this message while we were out in RF, the picture that is featured in this twitter conversation is actually from the game on August 19th. Check it out:
At the back of section 150, the last two rows of seats are missing. I took this panorama from the corner spot at the highest point of the seating area in RCF:
In that last panorama, you might be able to tell that Tim is standing at the far left side of the picture and he is standing under a brick-looking part of the scoreboard. Those are fake bricks. From where Tim was standing, we could see up behind the scoreboard – to a random storage area:
Upon returning to our seats, Tim feasted upon his last ice cream helmet of the Roadtrip:
And we watched this dancing guy on the field:
The day before the dancer guy was a dancing grounds keeper. He seems to be the Rays’ go-to dancer guy.
Things took an unfortunate turn in the later innings. In the sixth, the Rays scored an unearned run (following an error by Dustin Ackley) on a sacrifice fly by Ben Zobrist. That made it 5-3 Mariners.
Jamey Wright replaced Pineda in the seventh inning and things quickly got worse. The Rays made it 5-4 Mariners on an RBI groundout by John Jaso. And then they loaded up the bases without one out for Johnny Damon.
Ichiro, Gutierrez and Casper Wells gathered together in CF…
…while Jeff Gray warmed up on the mound after replacing Wright.
Five pitches later, Damon hit what the umpires called a grand slam to RCF:
The ball plain as day clanked off of the yellow railing at the top of the OF fence and bounced high in the air and back onto the field. While it was initially called a homerun (a grand slam), I was 100% certain that it would be reviewed and reversed.
And it was. Damon was called back onto the field…
…and he had a little chat with 2B umpire Mike Winters before taking his spot at second base. Despite the ground rule double call, all three runners scored. So the play still resulted in the Mariners trailing 7-5.
After intentionally walking Evan Longoria, Wright was replaced by Dan Cortes…
…who quickly struck out Ben Zobrist and retired Casey Kotchman on a flyball to LF.
So the Mariners were now down by two, but not for long. In the top of the eighth, Casper Wells led off with a single and then Wily Mo Pena crushed a 2-run homerun…
…to tie up the game at 7-7.
Dan Cortes pitched…
…around trouble in the eighth. And it was a lot of trouble. He ended up loading the bases with two outs setting up a show down with Johnny Damon. Damon had already hit a ball on inch from being a grand slam. But threw some kind of ironic miracle, Cortes got out of it. Actually, it wasn’t his pitching at all. He ended up air mailing the second pitch to Damon all the way to the back stop. Matt Joyce came charging hard from third, but Josh Bard was able to get the ball back to a diving Cortes just in time to cut Joyce down at the plate:
In that picture, Cortes is in the process of slamming the ball down in frustration after making the out on the crazy play.
After three quick Mariners outs in the top of the ninth, Cortes was back to try to shut the Rays down in the bottom f the ninth. My mom was dismayed that Cortes was still in the game.
I thought she should have some faith – Dan could do it! But it turns out her dismay was warranted. Cortes only threw one pitch in the bottom of the ninth, and Johnny Damon hit it into
the seats in RCF for a walk off homerun.
It was a particularly gut-wrenching way to have the Rays complete the series sweep against our Mariners. With the loss, the Mariners record 2011 fell to 0-6 with me and Tim in attendance, including three walk off losses (two of which we entered the bottom of the final inning with the lead) and that crazy Adam Kennedy-induced loss in the series opener.
We are going to see the Mariners three more times this season and we just HAVE to avoid going 0-9. That would be unbearable.
After treating our team so poorly over the last three days, the least the Rays could do was let Tim (and all of the other kids) run the bases after the game. We got in a long line…
…and then Tim bolted around the diamond as I followed along “chaperoning” him:
After running the bases, we got a series of pictures before leaving the field and Tim decided to do macho cool guy poses (my least favorite pose) in all of them. He must have been feeling like a real macho cool guy after running so quickly around the bases.
We started with the cool guy and Dad behind the plate pose:
Then I got an extreme close up of the Rays fancy fake grass:
Then it was time for a solo macho cool guy shot:
And then a cool guy with Dad and grandparents shot (the usher told me people weren’t supposed to come down from the seats and enter the field area, but he let my parents do it
anyway for this picture):
And then we said our good-byes to Tropicana Field…
…and headed to the airport so Tim and I could fly home to mommy and Kellan. Before leaving my folks, we got an end of Roadtrip picture…
…to bookend the trip with our beginning of Roadtrip trip picture taken the previous weekend.
Overall (and despite the three Mariners losses), it was an incredibly great trip. And it will likely be the last with the original Cook Grandfather-Father-Son line-up because Kellan should be joining the fun in 2012.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|26/4 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]|
|21 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3)).|
|72 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 5 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
|12/3 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, Turner Field, Tropicana Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
|15/9 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, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan; 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]|
|17 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke,
Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells)
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field,
Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); 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.***2011 All-Star|