With Kellan still less than a year old, most of our games this season will be just me and Tim. Essentially, I have planned out one game at each of our “local” stadiums (i.e., northeastern United States minus Boston) for our entry family to attend. On June 18, 2011, it was Kellan’s and Colleen’s first game at Citi Field. And we made a weekend of it.
Lots of “firsts” for Kellan on this trip. First NL stadium (Citi Field). First NL team (Mets). First Inter-league game (vs. Angels). First trip to New York. First hotel room (Club Quarter’s Wall Street). First sub-river tunnel (Holland). First subway ride (I can’t remember if it was the A, C, B, or D, but it was from 86thto Columbus Circle). First trip to the big FAO Schwartz….
…and to Central Park (FYI, this list isn’t in chronological order). First New York Pizza…
…(from Ray’s on 82nd & Columbus). First elevated train (the 7 Train…Queens portion). And first picture with a gigantic apple…
…or maybe I should say a “Big Apple.” Yep, lots of firsts.
I thought the stadium would already be open when we arrived, but it was not. So we got to stand in a fairly big line for about 10-15 minutes. I snapped this picture of Tim and Colleen as we waited:
Not only was this Colleen’s first game at Citi Field, it was her first home Mets game, period. She never joined me on any of my handful of trips to Shea Stadium. So was it was good to finally get her out to Queens.
By the time we made it to the seats, there were already a lot of people in the stands. But deep LCF was open. So we headed out to the corner spot by the even “Bigger” Apple:
Kellan is a humungous baby for a Baby Bjorn, but it is still the most convenient way to get him around the ballpark. Even then, Colleen had to lug the stroller along the way.
There were two “Mets” right in front of us…
…and another “Met” about 75 feet over toward left field. All three of them had “OO” and their first names (Anthony, Travis and Jimmy) on their backs. I guess they are bat and/or ball boys. Tim was pretty confused about why there were multiple people wearing “OO,” but he promptly forgot about the confusion and rained down a loud “THANK YOU” on Travis when he
tossed us a baseball:
Colleen thinks the ball is in my glove and she should know best since she took the picture. But, to me, it looks like I’m still watching the flight of the ball on its way up to me. Who knows?
Right when Travis tossed us the baseball, the Angels pitchers all reported to the LF foul line for stretching and throwing. I apologized in advance to Colleen and explained that we needed to relocate over there because I was hoping we could get a baseball from the Angels, and that it would be an Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball (which is the reason I picked this particular game for Kellan’s first at Citi Field).
Us three boys grabbed a spot along the railing behind Scott Downs (among others), as Tim pointed out airplanes passing over head:
And what do you know, Downs tossed us his baseball when he finished playing catch:
Although it was not a commemorative ball, we were mighty appreciative.
Colleen was hanging out in some seats about 15 rows back from the field. We lingered a few minutes after getting the baseball from Downs, and then we raced over to her:
And , upon arrival, Colleen snapped this picture of Tim’s big cheesy grin:
Of course, we are competing in the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt, so we needed a Citi Field *bonus* picture. Colleen snapped two of them and I love them both. This is the one we submitted on mygameballs.com:
I picked that one because it shows Kellan more clearly and it clearly shows that he is trying to eat the baseball like an apple.
But I also love the funny face that Tim is making in this one:
After those pictures, Colleen headed to the family restroom to change Kellan. Tim and I headed back down to the front row while we waited for them to return. It was extremely obnoxious down there. We were surrounded by a group of young boys (maybe 10-13 years old…its hard to judge). They were flat out screaming at every player who touched a baseball. “THROW ME THAT BASEBALL!” They also mixed in a smattering of foul and derogatory language. You know, the kind of stuff that just *really* makes a ballplayer want to give a kid a baseball (yeah, that’s sarcasm).
While those kids were ensuring that no baseballs would be tossed into our section, the strangest thing happened. We got a *hit* baseball! It was so unlike us. An unidentified Angels lefty sliced (or is it hooked) a ball right down the LF line. I ran a full section over down a completely empty row. I was certain the ball was going to fall 10-15 feet (and 3-5 rows) below me and I was hoping that it would hop up in my direction. But lo-and-behold, the ball hung in the air and made it all the way to me. I was so surprised that it hung up that I botched the play as I turned my glove over in slow-motion to make the backhanded attempt. Luckily, it hit the pinky of my glove and fell into the seat right there. All I had to do was bend over and pick it up.
It was our first ever hit ball in Queens.
Colleen and Kellan were literally walking down the aisle toward us when we got the hit baseball. I picked it up, gave a kid a high five, and Tim and I went back up to where Colleen and Kellan were sitting.
We decided to skip the rest of BP and instead head out to the kids play area.
When we reached our destination, Mr. Met was out there taking photos with fans so we got a family shot with him:
Two notes: (1) I am attempting to catch Mr. Mets’ head and (2) all of us Cooks (except Kellan) are looking at our camera while Mr. Met is looking at the Mets fan photos photographer.
A few minutes later, Tim was manning the field…
…in the whiffle ball Citi Field. Like Jack Black and Kyle Gass, Tim has got some “Tenacious D.”
After a little hitting…
…and a little baserunning…
…it was time for dinner. We walked almost all the way around the stadium in our quest for food. It was took crowded in the large eating area above the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. So we headed out to the Pepsi Porch in RF. On the walkway out to the Pepsi Porch, I got this shot of Tim with *muffler city* in the background:
By the way, that’s just my name for it. It is basically a big eye-sore composed of dingy car repair shops.
We decided on an all-Nathan’s Famous hot dog dinner:
A corn dog for Tim. Spicy vegetarian dog for Colleen. A big sloppy hot dog with mustard, onions, relish and sauerkraut for me. And cut up hot dog bits (no condiments) for Kellan. Tasty.
While we ate, we were serenaded with the National Anthem by Roy Hobbs’s girlfriend, Glenn Close:
Mrs. Hobbs totally botched the second to last line of the anthem. Well, she sang all the right words, but her voice totally broke on the high note (“…land of the free-eeeeeee”). She rolled with it, gave a big laughing smile and the old college try as she belted out that cracking “freeeeeee,” and, in the process, she really won the crowd over. She got a huge ovation after she finished.
We sat in section 523 for almost the entire game. When Tim, Kellan and I climbed to the top, we took this picture of Colleen that shows a fair representation of our view (although, we were obviously closer than the camera view):
Obviously, we were hoping the Mets would win because that would be better for the Mariners. And at the end of the day, that’s what happened.
I was mighty pleased when native-British Columbian and Gonzaga University alum Jason Bay…
…came to the plate to Pearl Jam’s “Alive” off of their smash-hit debut album “10,” which was released during my freshman year of high school and was, of course, HUGE at my school.
I was quite pleased to hear Mike Pelfrey representing the Seattle Grunge era with his batting intro song: Nirvana’s cover of the Meat Puppet’s “Lake of Fire.”
It was also nice to see that Russell Branyan…
…had found a place to fit in this season. That guy can mash the ball! Luckily, he did not do so at this game.
In fact, the Angels didn’t do much mashing at all at this game. Mike Pelfrey pitched a complete game, giving up only five hits and 1 run.
The Mets had a good day at the plate. It started in the third inning, when Jose Reyes hit a single, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and then scored the first run of the game on a single by Carlos Beltran.
In the third, Tim and I went to grab an ice cream helmet, and Tim spontaneously busted out in an in-stadium statue pose:
When we returned to our seats, Kellan was conked out on Colleen’s lap:
The Mets got right back at it in the fourth inning. Angel Pagan led off with a single. He then stole second and scored on a Jason Bay single.
Meanwhile, Bay didn’t look like he was long for first base:
Within seconds of taking that last picture, Bay swiped second base.
I should mention that Dan Haren was pitching:
It wasn’t his night.
Soon after stealing second, Bay scored the third run of the game…
…on a Russell Branyan error.
Both the ice cream and the Angels deficit were keeping us happy. Actually, Tim was focusing more on the ice cream at this point:
Here is a random picture of Citi Field and Kellan as he sits on my lap:
It should be noted that Kellan is wearing a hand-me-down Mariners t-shirt that he received (with love) from his big brother. It should also be noted that this was Kellan’s fourth Major League Baseball game and Tim wore the exact same shirt to his fourth MLB game.
Most of our pictures from this game are random smiling Cook Boys pictures. Here is one of them:
In our four previous games at Citi Field, we had never seen a Met hit a homerun and raise the Big Apple. Well, Carlos Beltran finally did it for us:
High fives for Carlos:
Beltran’s blast made it 6-0 Mets (Reyes had scored on the batter before Beltran’s homerun) at the end of the fifth inning. In the top of the sixth, the Angels got their sole run on a Mark Trumbo homerun. And that was all the scoring in this game.
Here is one of Tim’s standard silly faces that I never tire of:
I also never tire of playing with Kellan…
…or feeding him a bottle while taking in a ballgame. (Although Kellan will soon graduate from the bottle stage of life).
In the seventh inning, Tim asked to do some exploring. So, we walked through the CF area where the “Shake Shack” was all lit up in Mets blue and orange:
And we spent some time behind the bullpens watching relievers warm up for both teams:
At the very end of the game, we scooted back over toward the 3B side and positioned ourselves in the concourse above the umpire’s tunnel. With two outs in the top of the ninth (when they were still checking tickets), Vernon Wells hit a towering pop up for the final out of the game. As the ball ascended, I scooped up Tim and we started to scurry down the stairs towards the umpires’ tunnel. But a voice from above called us back. An usher told us, “you can’t go down there.” He did not realize the game was going to be over in literally 2-3 seconds. When he
realized it, he stuck to his guns, “the game is over, you can’t go down there.”
Oh, well. No umpire ball attempt for us at this game.
We slowly made our way out of the stadium, and we ended up sitting on some benches outside for a while so the traffic on the 7-train could die down a bit. While we were waiting, I got this picture of Tim with Citi Field lit up at night:
We then made our way back down to Wall Street and our waiting hotel room beds. The next morning, we trooped around the downtown area a bit before heading home. We got Tim’s picture with the famous bull:
And we checked out lady liberty from a far:
All-in-all, it was a nice little trip to New York City and Citi Field.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|13/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs and Angels; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]|
|8 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1))|
|41 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 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, 2 Angels)
|6/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden
Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark
in Arlington, Citi Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
|11/7 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; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; 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]|
|1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|
On Sunday, April 25th, Tim and I took to the road at 9am for another baseball adventure: our first trip to the Mets’ new home, Citi Field. We live about two hours from Manhattan. Tim is a huge fan of trains so we drove to the upper west side and parked at 84 & Amsterdam, where my friend, Davlynn, used to live. From there, we walked over to Central Park West and down three blocks where we caught the A Train at to Times Square where we walked a bit underground and eventually caught the 7 Train to Shea…I mean, Citi Field.
Ahh, there is no finer way to see Queens than by elevated coach:
The view was decidedly better when we arrived at Willets Point and followed the well-marked route toward “Mets Baseball” (all three of these pictures are taken from the subway platform):
Without even asking, a nice guy offered to take our photo in front of the new stadium:
Next, we headed to an automated kiosk where our online purchased tickets were printed up and spit out at us. It was time to enter the stadium. So we headed to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.
I have mixed thoughts on the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. It is a nice looking, and quite grand, entrance. There are interesting photos and nice quotes of Jackie Robinson on the walls. And, he certainly is a man worth honoring. It just seems a little odd to me that the Mets made the rotunda such a focal point of their new stadium when Jackie Robinson was neither a Met nor did he play for a team located in Queens.
So it was time to check out the field. Here is our first view of the field:
Shea Stadium, like most of the old stadiums, didn’t have a lot of unique features (or, well, at least intentionally unique features). What it did have, however, was the famous home run apple, which reminds the spectators that they are in the big apple each time a Met player hit a home run (Note: in the 5-7 games I saw at Shea, I do not believe a Met ever hit a home run). So, I wanted to check out the classic apple and its updated replacement. The old apple is now resting in a somewhat unceremonious corner of a picnic-ish area behind the bullpen and under the main concourse (pictured below on the right). The new apple is much larger and is in CF. Interestingly, they ditched the top hat for the new apple:
Going to games with Tim, two things are very important to me: (i) the snacks available at the park and the (ii) quality of the standing room areas. In these two important areas, I give Citi Field a thumbs up and a thumbs down, respectively. Check out this picture and then I will explain my thinking:
I will take them in reverse order. My thumbs down for the standing room factor is really more a thumbs at a downward 45 degree angle. Its not terrible. In fact, there is a lot of standing room available. However, I rank from the perspective of a father and 3-year-old son watching a game. At Safeco Field and Citizens Bank Park (and I would assume others), there are standing room areas with counters looping the field. They are great for Tim to sit on while he eats his ice cream helmet and I watch the game, and because there are no dividers people cram in and lot of people can have front row standing areas (for example, see my pictures from last weekend during the 8th and 9th innings of the Phillies come-from-behind win against the Padres).
At Citi Field, instead of counters they just have railings with drink holders spaced about 3 feet apart. In the picture of Tim with his lollipop above, you can see a drink holder next to the lady-in-red’s hip. Not kid friendly. Also, Tim bashed his head on one of the rails while goofing around toward the end of the game. Now, instead of counters throughout the stadium, some of the standing room area in RF has tall, wobbly green metal tables. There aren’t many of them and they are set back behind the railing. So, you are (at least) in the second row of standing room. Plus, the wobbling is never good when you have a 3-year-old eating chocolate ice cream with sprinkles out of a helmet sitting on top of the structure. Finally, because of the spacing of the cup holders, only one person stands every three feet and tons of prime front-row-standing room is squandered. Poor design choice in my somewhat experienced Standing Room Only opinion. This is all made even worse by the fact that security seeks out any kids sitting on their father’s shoulders (where Tim spends tons of time at every game) and makes the kids get down. Therefore, at the standing room areas, there is virtually no way (other than on the few tall wobbly tables) for a 3 year old to see the game from most standing room areas. Again, poor planning.
As for the food, prices were pretty much in line with other stadiums, unlike what I have heard about new Yankee Stadium. I also found it interesting that the menu boards have the price and calories for all food items. We had Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, which were good. Tim had his usual ice cream helmet, and a lollipop from a little “Market” that is set back in the RF corner. With respect to the helmet, the Mets should be commended for providing this classic ball park treat, with sprinkles and hot fudge no less (we passed on the hot fudge). However, I was disappointed (and at the same time somewhat amused) that the Mets logo on Tim’s helmet was added on top of the “Shea Stadium 1964-2008″ logo. Obviously, they are using left over helmets from last season with an amateur cosmetic f”ix”:
I’ll blame this on the Wilpon family losing money in the Madoff ponzi scheme and I’ll forgive them for it. Again, it was somewhat amusing, so not all bad.
A couple more notes about the food picture above. I understand from Zack Hample’s blog that the skyline above the CF food stands is from the top of the old scoreboard at Shea…I’ve just checked my own picts from last season, by golly, Zack is right (I’m not posting a picture, you’ll have to trust me…or Zack…on this one).
Speaking of the old scoreboard, here is the new scoreboard from front and back. The “front” picture is taken from a bridge in the RCF area. I’m not sure what the point of the bridge is. It was crowded with standing room only people the whole game. One feature that I really liked about the back of the scoreboard is that is had a smaller big screen in it. So, when your kid(s) are playing back behind the scoreboard (where they have videos, two batting cages and a full whiffle-ball stadium complete with jumbo-tron screen), you can still see the game on the back-of-the-scoreboard screen (in this picture you can see that Omir Santos was batting in the bottom of the first):
As we usually do, we circled all around the inside of the stadium. Here is a panoramic view from the third-base side:
We even decided to head up to our actual seats (for the first time in 3 games this season). Here is the view from Section 526, Row 9, Seats 14-15, where we sat for one inning and ate our hot dogs:
See how the second level juts out straight up from the Mets on-deck circle? It juts out like that on the 3B side as well. All of the lower level seats between the “just” are sectioned off with rails. I imagine that security is tight to get in there. Plus, those people are the only people who can ever get a view from behind the plate at field level. The concourse behind home plate is a tunnel set back from the stands. Its dark and offers no view of the field whatsoever. This was a terrible idea. If during the game you want to walk from the 1B side of the stadium to the 3B side on the main level concourse, you’re gonna miss a minute or two of action while you walk the long closed off concourse to the other side.
With the bad, of course, comes the good. Note that in this picture you can see a large airplane coming in to land at LaGuardia, the airport is really close to the stadium. At Shea, you could hear 747s flying over head all game long. At Citi Field, I saw tons of airplanes coming in to land, but I didn’t hear a single one. I’m not sure why that is.
Another plus about the stadium (from our perspective) was that you can see the 7 Train going back-and-forth from the 500 level (probably from below as well). Tim loved that. In fact, he is pointing to the 7 Train in the hot dog picture above. Here is what he was pointing at:
While in our assigned seats, I took this picture of Jose Reyes taking a pitch (a strike I believe) – the ball is right next to his front leg in this picture:
We then went down below and took a couple more pictures of batters while we circled the stadium again. Here is Omir Santos about to pop this pitch up to 2B (the ball is circled in red):
Here is former Mariner Jeremy Reed flying out to LF. He has already hit the ball, which I have again circled in red:
That concludes my game pictures. Not that I cared really, but the Mets won 8-2. Then, the real fun began. It was kids run the bases day! After waiting through a HUGE line outside the stadium, we snaked in by the bullpen:
We were led onto the warning track in RF/CF:
We duplicated our Progressive Field picture from last year down the RF foul line:
(Note, extremely low wall, perfect for robbing home runs). Tim then sprinted toward the infield:
Then he stepped on first and bolted for second:
Touching second safely, he made the turn for third and then home. He then decided he wanted to do it again (not allowed) and he dashed down the first base line and into the infield grass (not allowed) before this lady caught him:
She escorted him to home plate, where he wanted to stay for a while:
Eventually, I ran out and grabbed Tim (and touched home myself). I then snapped this picture of us at the visitors’ dugout:
…and this additional picture showing the unique layout of the dugout. Then he walked through underbelly of the stadium and headed outside down the leftfield line where I took one last picture of the exterior of the stadium because I wanted to capture this image of Darryl Strawberry in the Mets collage:
And then, another fine day of baseball and another fine stadium under our belts, we began the long, slow process of commuting home…and stopping for Ray’s pizza in Manhattan.
Season Fan Stats:
3 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field)
6 Teams (Orioles, Rays, Phillies, Padres, Mets, Nationals)
2 Ice Cream helmet
3 Awesome Days of Baseball