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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
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|
|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)|
For months, we had been looking forward to the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Our Mariners were scheduled to take on the Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The original plan was that my folks would come out for the series and my wife would join us too. But through a series of plan squashing issues, neither my folks nor Colleen could end up making the trip. My folks were out weeks in advance, but Colleen was going to join us right up until July 3rd. We picked out our hotels and bought our game tickets with her input…but then something more important came up that she had to attend to and had to drop out.
On very short notice, we were happy to have Avi Miller…
…join our traveling roadtrip caravan.
The plan was to see the M’s in Cincinnati on July 5-6. We headed to Pittsburgh around 11:00 a.m. on the Fourth. There was a big “Regatta” party-thingy going on in Pittsburgh. We started out by playing some catch in the park:
We cooled off in this big fountain:
We watched a pretty cool BMX show:
For the record, that guy jumping above is traveling from left to right…and Avi wasn’t impressed until the very end when the last two bikers did back flips.
Next, we met up with famous Pittsburgh couple, Matt Peaslee and Erin Wozniak, and watched a boat race on the river. This guy captaining the No. 10 boat easily won the race:
Next, it was off to Moe’s for dinner:
And then we finished off the night with some fireworks:
The next morning, July 5, 2013, we were off to Cincinnati. Neither Kellan nor Avi had ever been to Great American Ball Park (or Cincinnati in general). While both of them loved the ballpark, Avi contained his enthusiasm while Kellan couldn’t even stand still for a quick picture:
Oh, by the way, this game marked Kellan’s 50th MLB game and Great American Ball Park his 16th MLB stadium.
The Reds have an extra early BP “tour.” You pay some extra cash at the Reds Hall of Fame (which is an awesome Hall of Fame that you should definitely check out), and you get in to BP super-duper early. You also get a pass into the Reds HOF and a cool Ted Kluzinsky statue.
After buying our tickets, the boys posed for some pictures with Reds Mickey Mouse…
…and Reds Statute of Liberty.
Just outside the Reds HOF, we found this excellent statue of Johnny Bench:
(Note: Tim is using a brochure as a catcher’s mitt in that picture).
Around 4:21’ish, our BP tour guide took us inside the stadium…
…and told us what would happen once we went out to the field. Essentially, for the first half hour we would be confined to right field. Then the first base line would open up for us (and I think all Reds season tickets holders. At that point, we could stay in RF or we could head down to the Reds dugout in search of autographs. Eventually, the gates would open to the general public and we would be able to go anywhere.
When we headed out to RF, Joe Saunders was throwing a bullpen session:
We watched Saunders while Avi went off to watch BP. After Saunders wrapped up his throwing session, Saunders flipped his warm up ball up to Tim between the narrow gap between the seats and the net over the top of the bullpen.
For the rest of Reds BP, we hung out here:
You can’t tell in that picture, but we were in a little partial row pressed up against the batters’ eye. Spots like that are always ideal for us because the natural barrier on one side helps keep Kellan from trying to wander away.
Reds BP was interesting. As far as I could tell, they hit a grand total of two homeruns. I might have missed some…but who knows. I truly only saw two homeruns the entire time. Meanwhile, all of the Reds were wearing BP pullovers and I had no clue who most of them were…
…but then I saw a familiar face, Mariners bullpen catcher Jason Phillips. I hadn’t seen him in the bullpen when Saunders was throwing. He must have been hiding in the corner. We exchanged our customary tip of the caps as he walked across the field with Saunders.
Eventually, I recognized two Reds in the outfield. First, I noticed Shin-Soo Choo shagging balls in CF. When Choo made a catch on a sinking liner in CF, I called out an extended “CHOOOOOOOO!” He turned around and fired the ball to me. About thirty second later, he shagged another ball and it tossed it to Tim.
Double thanks, Shin-Soo!
The boys posed with their Choo-Balls and the Great American Ball Park sign for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
Nearby in RCF, MyGameBalls.com 2013 top ten snagger Rocco Sinisi was toiling away and doing his thing. Rocco is the MyGameBalls.com career leader for Great American Ball Park and a photo with him was good for scavenger hunt bonus points. Although we’d been chatting a bit off and on during BP, we decided to get a photo with Rocco early in BP just in case we forgot to or didn’t get a chance to do so later. So here is our first attempt at the Rocco/GABP bonus photo:
Over the past several years, I haven’t really followed but have admired Aroldis Chapman from afar. He seems like a good guy and, heck, he throws balls at crazy fast speeds.
Amongst the sea of unrecognizable Reds in the outfield, I eventually noticed that Chapman was hanging out in straightaway right field. When I spotted Chapman way over there in RF, I shouted out a loud, “AROOOOOOLDIS!” This prompted Aroldis to look over and exchange waves with us.
See where Aroldis was:
He was way over there. Carter Capps was “way over there” too – way over across the field from this throwing partner out on the LF. Capps was firing seeds across the field. It was impressive.
A little while later, someone hit a grounder through the infield and into somewhat shallow RF. Aroldis sauntered over and grabbed the ball. I called out his name again (you know, we were buddies after that exchange of waves) and he threw the ball all the way from RF to my glove waiting in CF.
Hey, remember those two BP homeruns I mentioned? Jay Bruce…
…hit one of them right to me and I made the catch on the fly. Thanks to Rocco for identifying Bruce for me later in the day based on that last photo.
See that bat laying on the ground in the photo above to the right? When Reds BP ended, we headed around the RF foul pole and toward home plate. On the way, I took a photo (that photo) of a bat (that bat) sitting on the ground in the Mariners’ bullpen. I took the photo for the sole purpose of zooming in on the picture to see whose name was on the bat. So click on that photo and check it out: it was Jay Bruce’s bat. That’s odd.
As we approached the infield, the Reds grounds crew removed the cage and screens from the field. What was this all about? It was very confusing. It was also a bit of a bummer because this was only our second Mariners game of the season and the Mariners didn’t take BP before our first game either.
Anyway, we decided to grab some food for the boys and head over to the third base side…
…where the Mariners’ position players were stretching. As I took some photos, Tim munched down a hot dog and Kellan worked away on a big soft pretzel:
Funny side note: Kellan ate part of that pretzel while sitting on my shoulders. When he finished, I had to pick big grains of salt out of my hair for the rest of the afternoon.
The lack of BP was actually kind of cool because the Mariners did a modified version of the old fashioned “taking infield and outfield.”
While we were watching our M’s, a Reds employee with a camera came over and asked if he could take our picture. “Sure,” I responded. After he snapped the pic, I asked why he wanted the picture. “It’s for the Mariners,” he responded. Later in the day, we found out that the Mariners tweeted the picture to over 130,000 people. Here’s the M’s tweet, and here’s another look at it:
After playing catch with Hisashi Iwakuma, Felix Hernandez signed a bunch of autographs:
Tim got him to sign the Jay Bruce homerun ball.
Thanks, King Felix!
I asked Felix why the M’s weren’t taking BP. He said they had got into Cincinnati around 2:30 in the morning after playing a road game in Texas the previous night and decided not to take BP.
Following the M’s warm ups, we got a better photo with Rocco:
And then we wandered around a bit and got some pictures with the Reds piggy bank…
…and a big bobblehead burger guy.
Before the game, the Reds honored Homer Bailey…
…for throwing a no-hitter against the Giants three days earlier.
Here was our view for most of this game, about three rows from the top of section 402:
In the couple of games Tim and I had previously attended at Great American, we’d sat in RF and lower LF. We once visited the upper deck in LF, but never watched game from up there. I’ll tell you though, I loved it. For an “upper deck,” it’s not very high up there and the view is great. Plus, we had a nice view of Kentucky across the river and a great breeze. As an added bonus, at the back of the upper deck, there are covered seats to either shade you from the sun or keep you dry in the rain. The LF upper deck at Great American Ball Park definitely gets my seal of approval.
The pitching match-up was Aaron Harang vs. Mike Leake. I wasn’t a big fan of the match-up. But sometimes a struggling pitcher can pull out a better-than-normal performance when facing his old team. That’s what I hoped for from Harang.
We dropped our stuff at our seats and watched the first pitch from Leake to Brad Miller:
And then Kellan and I headed down the stairs on our way to get some ice cream for the boys. As we walked down the upper deck stairs, Miller laced the ball down the RF line and coasted in for an easy triple. A great start for the M’s!
As Kellan and I ducked into a men’s restroom, Nick Franklin stepped to the plate and blasted a 2-run homer. Kellan and I had no clue this had happened. But when we got back to the ice cream place we saw the score – 2-0 Mariners!
When we got back to the seats…
…, Avi informed us about the Franklin homerun.
Harang pitched a scoreless bottom of the first. Then, Michael “The Condor” Saunders hit a leadoff bomb in the top of the second:
Here’s one of the reasons I like Brandon Phillips:
Check out that big smile clearly visible from the top of the upper deck in LCF! That’s how I like to see guys playing the game, like my favorite player, Ken Griffey, Jr.
In case you were wondering, here was the Mariners outfield for the day:
Michael Saunders in RF, Dustin Ackley in CF and Rauuuuuul Ibanez in LF.
Here’s a funny picture with no backstory, just a bunch of funny guys:
And a couple loving brothers:
Tim and Kellan either spend their time trying to annoy one another or hugging and telling each other how much they love the other. Generally, they act like wonderful loving brothers while at baseball games and reserve their annoying each other for play time at home.
Much to my delight, Harang was, indeed, putting a strong performance together against his old squad:
Multiple times before the game and once during the game, I took the boys here…
…for a little kid fun. That table looks like it is covered in sand, but it is really a mixture of different colored bits of rubber chopped up into little grains. There were digging tools and dinosaur skeletons that the kids could dig up. The two big dinosaurs standing behind the boys in the picture above to the left felt real’ish and they moved around every couple minutes. The one on the right also laid eggs. The boys couldn’t get enough of this little dinosaur display.
Before the game started we were hanging out in dinosaur area and another guy wearing Mariners gear asked me if he’d seen us at Pittsburgh. We chatted about it and, indeed, he had seen us in Pittsburgh. His name is Greg. He’s a NW Mariners fan transplanted to Detroit. We’ve kept in touch a bit since running into each other several times this weekend. Good guy, and good Mariners fan.
Last time we were in Cincinnati we failed to get a good picture of the batters’ eye boat. So, we got this one:
Back up in section 402, the ballpark looked even better as the sun went down:
Avi agreed, this place is beautiful:
Tim and Kellan both took a bunch of pictures during this game and weekend. Here’s Kellan’s funniest picture:
I should mention that the Mariners took a 4-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning when Michael Saunders hit a sacrifice fly to LF scoring Kyle Seager.
In the top of the fifth inning, Brad Miller made some Great American Ball Park history when he hit his second triple of the game. In over 800 games, it was the first time that a player had hit two triples in a game at GABP. Pretty cool.
In the bottom of the fifth, Shin-Soo Choo hit an RBI-double to put the Reds on the board.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Reds capped the scoring for the day when Joseph Votto blasted a leadoff homerun to CF. That made the score 4-2 Mariners.
Late in the game, we got split up from Avi for a while. When we connected on the phone, he said he was in a SRO area near home plate with Rocco. We decided we should go over there. Thinking (correctly) that we might not make it back to section 402, we got a picture of Tim at the bottom of 402 on our way out (Kellan didn’t want to get off my shoulders to get in the picture):
This was our view in the SRO area:
When we arrived at the SRO area, Avi was nowhere to be found. Ends up, we’d left section 402 to meet up with him and he left the SRO area to meet up with him in section 402.
Eventually, we did all meet up at the SRO area. They make you stand at the top of the stairs. Eventually, we move down the stairs at stood at the corner of the cross aisle. The ushers didn’t really do anything about it so we stayed there a bit.
Heading into the bottom of the eight, the Mariner brought in Charlie Furbush who blew away Zack Cozart, Joey…
…Votto, and Brandon Phillips, 1-2-3.
When Rocco came by, he headed down the cross aisle toward the outfield. We all followed him and ended up here for the ninth inning:
Check out that guy’s Johnny Bench jersey. That’s sweet.
Ollie Perez nailed down a great Mariners Win!
We ended up in near-perfect position for a umpire ball, but didn’t get one. But when we moved to the other end of the M’s dugout, Jaime Navarro tossed this one to Tim:
Avi, the boys and I pulled up some from row seats…
…for the post-game firework show:
The very first fireworks show of Tim’s life was at Great American Ball Park and it was awesome. However, since then, we’ve seen a fireworks show at Progressive Field, and absolutely nothing stacks up to the Indians’ fireworks shows. They are incredible But this was a nice show for the boys. They love all fireworks shows.
After fireworks, we got one more picture with Rocco…
…, one more group shot of us four roadtrippers…
…, some mire image shots with these awesome mosaics…
…, and one with this cool thingy inset on the floor of the concourse behind home plate:
And then we headed off to the team store so Avi could buy a bunch of bobbleheads. In the team store, Tim posed with a huge World Series trophy:
Finally, we walked back to our hotel a few blocks away…
…where Kellan hid under a pillow, both boys acted silly for a while, and then we all called it a night.
2013 C&S Fan Stats
|17 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers|
|28 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 2|
|72 Baseballs – Mariners 8, Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 1, Umpires 7, Reds 8, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6|
|10 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park|
|32 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge” Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith|
|10 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo, Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez|