We woke up at the downtown Miami Hilton on the morning of Saturday, September 1, 2012, with 8 hours of kill before our second and final game of the weekend at Marlins Park. We threw on our beach clothes, hopped into the Crown Vicky, and headed off to nearby Miami Beach.
We parked along Ocean Drive. As I was paying for parking people were taking pictures in front of the building right across the street from our car. Turns out that it was Gianni Versace’s house (left below):
Some bad stuff happened on the sidewalk in front of that house back in the 90s. Check out that Versace Wikipedia link to read about it. After Colleen got a picture with the Versace mansion, we had some fairly unimpressive breakfast at a sidewalk restaurant. That big thermometer (above right) was right across the street from our breakfast table and people kept getting pictures in front of it. So after breakfast, Colleen and the boys joined in the fun.
And then it was off to the beach:
I am not a beach person at all. But South Beach is awesome! The water is warm and there are hardly any waves at all. Lots of fun.
I splashed around a bunch in the water with Kellan, but Tim spent most of his time searching for sea shells…
…and then he posed with a rescue waver runner before we headed out.
After we had our fill of the beach, we headed back to the hotel so Kellan could get a quick nap. But he had no interest in it. So we headed to our hotel’s rooftop pool:
The pool at the Miami Hilton is really cool. And you can see Marlins Park from the deck.
Around 3:45, we packed up and headed out to Marlins Park. This time, the Cook Family was at full strength. And, for the record, Marlins Park was Colleen’s 14th MLB stadium (old Yankee Stadium, Memorial Stadium, Veterans Stadium, Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, PNC Park, Fenway Park, Citi Field, new Yankee Stadium, Nationals Park, Progressive Field, Rogers Centre and Marlins Park).
We parked at the CVS again. In fact, the parking attendant remembered us and intentionally had us park in the exact same spot as the night before. These pictures should be flipped, but here are a couple views of the Marlins parking garages as we approached the stadium:
The picture above to the right is the view across NW 7th Street as we approached the mid-block crosswalk. The picture above to the left is the end of that same parking garage from the little street approaching the ballpark, and that is a big art piece on the side of the parking garage.
The day before we turned to our right and walked toward the home plate gates. At this game, we turned left, and headed toward the left field corner. As we circled the corner, we walked by a “Boletos” window…
…and found some bamboo trees around the corner.
There is a big side walk area behind the LF side of the ballpark, and the sidewalk is littered with the artistic *remnants* of the words “ORANGE BOWL” sunken into the sidewalk. Tim and Kellan decided to pose with ever letter that was accessible to foot traffic:
Along the left field outer wall of the stadium, there is an entrance for the Clevelander Night Club:
If we had Clevelander tickets, we could have entered the ballpark already, but we didn’t. The sad thing is that we could see the Marlins inside taking BP. Only the select few with Clevelander or certain other “premium” tickets ever get to see the Marlins take BP in Miami. That’s too bad.
As we approached what I will call the Centerfield gate, I turned around and took a picture of the boys and Colleen with several of the sunken letters behind them:
Amazingly, while there were a lot of people milling around outside of the Clevelander, there were zero people in line at the CF gate. So I hopped in line, and Tim and Kellan played with some green lights set into the sidewalk:
I didn’t realize this until working on this blog entry, but the gates are colored (signs, etc.) and feature lights set into the ground. And those colors all match the colors of the concourse corresponding where you will enter the stadium. For example, Tim and Kellan were playing with green lights and the signs on the CF gate were green, and when we ran into the ballpark, we entered the green section of the ballpark. And if you look at our last entry, you’ll have to take my word for it that we exited the ballpark in the yellow section of the ballpark and there were yellow lights on the ramp down to the ground level outside. That’s pretty cool. Well thought out, Marlins. Good job!
We had ten or so minutes to kill, so Tim and I played catch at the gate:
Check out this nice catch by Tim:
He’s chalk-full of good catches these days.
As we stood at the front of the line, this was our view through the gates:
This is a much better entrance than the RF gate. In RF, you have to slowly wind your way up a spiral walkway (sorta spiral, at least). The CF gate gives you a straight shot right up some those steps and into the CF concourse.
So, Tim, Kellan and I headed right down into section 36. Almost immediately, a groundskeeper walking through the outfield tossed a baseball up to Tim.
And just a few minutes later, another baseball was hit to the warning track near us. Tim got Josh Edgin’s attention and Edgin tossed the ball up…
…and Tim made a great grab. The ball from the groundskeeper was thrown over Tim’s head and we picked it up off of the ground. But Tim gloved the ball from Edgin cleanly, and it marked the very first Tim that Colleen had ever seen Tim catch a baseball completely on his own at a baseball game. By the way, she had stayed up at the top of the section and took three of those pictures from behind us.
Right after Tim caught the baseball from Edgin, Kellan got all excited and stood on the wall with his glove over his head yelling for more baseballs:
It was pretty cute.
We had only been in the park for a few minutes by this time, ten at the most. During that time, one of the Mets hit a homerun into section 40 along the RF line. Section 40 was completely empty and I thought it might be a good spot to go to try to catch a BP homer on the fly, so we all headed over there.
As Tim, Kellan and I walked into the section, there was an usher standing on the stairs right along the foul line…
…he pointed to two different spots in the empty rows of seats and lo-and-behold there were two baseballs just waiting to be found. We grabbed them and then headed down to the front row to watch more BP. I thought that was really cool of the usher, and quite fan friendly. We have found very few “easter eggs” at MLB games. It seems like most teams have their ushers clear out easter eggs before fans can find them. So it was really cool that this usher kept tabs on the baseballs and then pointed them out to us.
In addition to pointing out the baseballs, the usher was a really nice guy. He chatted with us a little more as we hung out in his section.
Colleen followed us into the section and several other fans, maybe 10 or so, followed her. There actually ended up being a decent little gathering of fans down there.
Several Mets pitchers were running from the RF foul line to CF and Kellan was still hoping that someone would toss him a baseball:
Ready for the blurriest picture I’ve ever posted on this blog? Here we go:
This shot was taken during possibly the 3 most interesting seconds of BP. A Mets batter hit a homerun to our right (closer to the bullpen). It was going to land 10 feet to our right and a row or two behind us. There were several fans right where it seemed like the homer was going to land. I didn’t even make a move for it. There was no chance of me getting over there. But then, magically, it slammed untouched into a folded up seat between all of the fans and took a crazy ricochet toward the foul pole. I flung my hand up and – BOOM! – barehanded the baseball as it tried to whiz by my head. Immediately upon catching the baseball, I turned around (as shown in the picture above) and looked at the ball and another baseball whizzed by me. As you can see in the picture above to the left, right as I barehanded that homerun ball, Tim was calling out to Jon Neise. Neise tossed a ball up to Tim but threw it over his head. It hit the seats right in front of me. The ball rattled around on the floor for half a second before we scooped it up.
So, we very quickly got four baseballs in section 40. I figured that was good enough. So we did a little exploring.
First, we took Colleen up to the upper deck seats above section 40. Colleen though the “concourse” up there was quite bizarre so she snapped our picture:
We took a stroller through the upper deck seats. Here is what Marlins Park looks like from section 140:
While we were up there, I noticed something I had not noticed the day before – there is a “Marlins Park” sign above the RF upper deck seats:
I found out later that Colleen took our picture as me and the boys walked across the upper deck seats:
Before heading down from the upper deck, I got a panorama from the SRO behind the seats in section 134:
After we got our fill of the upper deck, we headed down and over to the SRO area behind the homerun statue. There were three Mets standing down below us but we only recognized one of them, Chris Young. Like Tim in t-ball this season, Chris Young wears number 55. So that made Tim happy. Tim decided to try to get Young to toss a ball all the way up to us. But it was clear it wasn’t going to happen. So we swung around to the LF seats.
Here was our view from the end spot in the first row of section 32:
We were right above the Clevelander, but you wouldn’t really know it. All we could see below the LF bleachers were a bunch of blue awnings:
We were still relatively close to Chris Young and Tim was still hoping that Young would toss a baseball up to him. But Eric Langill beat Young to it:
Young did eventually *try* to toss Tim a baseball…
…but things were a bit complicated. First off, where we were in the front row it was only about two feet deep. We were past the last seat and there is just a little extra space that is…just sorta *there* The point is, there was a big bright lime green wall directly behind us. Plus, most of Tim’s body was behind the front wall of the section – you know, the wall that keeps people from falling down into the Clevelander.
All this meant that Tim was a really small target for Young to hit. Add to that fact, the fact that Tim really likes to makes catches on his own. He doesn’t like me swooping in to make a catch when he thinks he can make it on his own. So, when Young air mailed the ball over Tim’s head, although I could have easily stepped forward and caught it right above Tim’s head, I hung back and hoped Tim could reach the ball. When it flew over Tim’s outstretched glove, I tried to play the ricochet off the wall, but it bounced oddly off the wall and the family a couple seats down from us snatched up Tim’s Chris Young baseball.
Tim was pretty bummed out about it because he really wanted to catch a baseball from Young. I felt bad for Tim not being able to catch the baseball from a fellow number 55. But, assuming Tim was going to catch the baseball from Young, I was going to give the Langill baseball to that family anyway. So at the end of the day, missing the baseball was a wash.
As BP started to wind down, we headed over to the LF corner. It looked a little like this over there in section 29:
There were a couple BP homers scattered in the Marlins bullpen. I figured we would hang out there until someone wandered out to the bullpen. As Randy St. Clair made his way down the LF line, an usher came through and told everyone they had to leave unless they had tickets for that section. I pointed out St. Clair and mentioned we were hoping he would toss up one of the baseballs in the bullpen. The usher gave us the blessing to stay put.
And when St. Clair passed by below…
…he stopped and tossed the one baseball right below us to a kid just down from us. He then disappeared and five seconds later reappeared holding up a baseball and calling out to Tim. It took St. Clair a couple attempts to get the baseball up to us. His first toss wasn’t high enough and actually bounced out onto the foul warning track. But St. Clair ran over and grabbed it and made a better toss.
Before heading out, I snapped a picture of the smaller scoreboard behind section 29:
An usher had told Colleen that some Marlins would be signing autographs behind the LF seats prior to the game. We had noticed them doing this before the game the night before. Unless it was Mike Stanton…I mean, Giancarlo Stanton, I had no interest in waiting around on them. We never did end up seeing any Marlins signing autographs over there, but we did see these guys:
Those guys were hanging out taking photos right by the “Taste of Miami.” Colleen wanted to check out the T.o.M. While doing so, we noticed that there was a door leading out to a little landing outside. We headed out there to get a picture of Colleen and Tim with the city behind them:
And then we headed up the big escalator…
…to the upper deck.
We were essentially just walking around so Colleen could see the stadium and we could kill some time before the game started. But I did have one thing I needed to do up in the upper deck. I had not got a panorama all the way out by the RF corner. So we walked all the way around the upper deck so I could get this panorama from section 302:
We were getting really close to game time. Colleen and Tim wanted to grab some food and Tim wanted to show Colleen the bobblehead museum so we split up. While they did those things, Kellan and I headed to our seats.
As I surveyed the area and took some photos, Kellan snuck some of daddy’s diet pepsi and guarded my seat:
Here was our view of Marlins Park from section 3, row E:
By the way, I should point out that row E is the third row off the field in section 3. The front row (row C) has only two seats. Row D is four seats wide. And Row E is eight seats wide. We had the four seats right on the aisle (seats 8, 7, 6, and 5). The face value of these tickets was (I believe) $35/ticket, but we picked them up on stub hub for $13/ticket. I could have actually got the seats directly one row behind us for $11/ticket, but I opted for being a little bit closer to the field.
The was one reason and one reason alone that I picked these seats: they were the closest we could get (well, closest without spending a lot of money) to the ball boy. My goal was for Tim to get a live game foul tossed up to him from the ball boy.
Here’s a nice view of the Marlins homerun statue:
Colleen got some food at the Taste of Miami and Ti got a big trough of fries, and then they headed over to the Bobblehead Museum:
When they reached our seats, Tim shared his fries with Kellan and Colleen took tons of pictures of it:
For the second day in a row, Tim was pulling for the Fish. On the hill for the Marlins was Tim’s number counterpart, Josh Johnson:
Johnson pitched a gem for eight innings. And this was our view from section 3:
Colleen took lots of pictures during the game, like this…
…, and this:
The Marlins took the lead in the bottom of the third inning when Bryan Peterson hit an RBI double – 1-0 Marlins.
Around the fourth inning, Tim wanted to explore a little bit. So we all took to our feet and hit the concourse. Heading toward home plate through the 1B side concourse, we past a Guest Services booth and a bank of escalators leading up to the club level:
Just past the Guest Services booth there was a random bar…
…and some equally (nee…more) random art on the wall above the concourse.
Remember those buried “Orange Bowl” letters outside the stadium? Well, in the concourse down the LF line, the Marlins pay tribute to the Orange Bowl on one of the stadium’s support beams:
You know what else they have on lots of the support beams circling the field? Marlins Park signs:
Down the LF line, we found an escalator heading down below the field level concourse. I asked the usher guarding the top of the escalator what it was all about, and she explained it was the entrance to the Clevelander. You need a Clevelander ticket to enter the Clevelander, but not simply to ride the Clevelander escalator. This is what the Clevelander entrance looks like from the escalator:
When we resumed our walk around the field level concourse, we saw something hilarious:
Aye, aye, aye…
We continued walking single file from LF toward CF:
In that last picture, Colleen is wearing Kellan’s hat.
We stopped in RCF so I could get a panoramic shot from the concourse behind section 35:
Before returning to our seats we stopped by several concession stands, and all of them had computer error dialogue boxes displayed on the menu boards:
Most of the menu boards had that error box and no prices for any of the food. I guess that is one potential drawback of technology; an old fashioned manual menu board never has an error that prevents it from doing its one and only job.
Anyway, the menu board errors did not prevent us from getting some tasty ice cream for the boys:
There was some more scoring in this game. In the top of the fifth, the Mets tied the game up at 1-1 on a Josh Thole groundout.
In the bottom of the sixth, Jose Reyes and Carlos Lee hit singles and then Giancarlo Stanton followed with a single of his own, but his single was of the RBI variety. So that put the Marlins up 2-1.
Stanton got stranded on base, but that didn’t prevent me from getting some Giancarlo base running photos…
… while he was making a mad dash for 3B as Donovan Solano flew out to CF for the third out of the bottom of the sixth inning.
Before the top of the seventh inning, I noticed that the Marlins employ a umpire-look-a-like usher whose job it is to run out to shallow CF to deliver between-inning water to the actual umpires:
Lucas Duda led off the top of the seventh with a ten pitch at bat, which included five foul balls. This, I believe, was the first of those five foul balls:
Duda hit that foul ball right down the 1B line. It evaded the fans down the line and was snared by the ball boy in fair territory right down below us. The ball boy no-look tossed the baseball into the crowd and I just barely caught it while reaching up as high as I could over my head.
I won’t lie. I was pretty darn excited about this foul ball toss-up. I bought these specific seats with the specific goal of getting a foul ball tossed to us from the bat boy, something that we’ve never got before. I actually could have got the seats immediately behind our seats for $2 less per seat. But I went for the slightly more expensive seats that were just a little closer to the field, and it paid off big time. It is doubtful we would have got this foul ball if we were one row further back from the field.
And, hey, bonus! Since the baseball was used in the game at Marlins Park, it was a Marlins Park inaugural season commemorative baseball! Hooray!
Thanks, Lucas and Ball Boy!
Here’s a random picture for you:
Throughout our two games at Marlins Park, I kept wondering what the heck that yellow line was for on the LF foul wall. The line is ten feet into foul territory. If a ball hits just behind it on the green wall, its foul, not a homerun. I just don’t get it.
Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, things were looking pretty good for the Marlins. Josh Johnson had given up only three hits all night and the Fish had a 2-1 lead. But they weren’t satisfied.
With one down in the bottom of the eighth, former-Met Jose Reyes drew a walk off of Ramon Ramirez. While Carlos “El Caballo” Lee stood in, Reyes swiped second. And then El Caballo dinked a little hit into RCF:
Neither Mike Baxter nor Andres Torres could come up with the ball, and Reyes motored right around third and crossed home for a seemingly valuable insurance run:
Everyone was happy about the Marlins’ lead, including Colleen and Kellan:
I was stilling waiting for a Giancarlo Stanton long ball…
…unfortunately, he followed Lee with a double-play grounder, instead.
The Marlins win was seemingly in hand. So many of the Marlins *faithful* headed for the doors, which was nice because almost the whole row behind us opened up for Kellan:
Here’s another random shot:
How weird is it that you can see the legs of the people in the front row through the fish tanks?
At 105 pitches for the night, Ozzie Guillen (who we never really noticed while we were at Marlins Park) in decided Josh Johnson had done enough. He turned the game over to his non-Heath Bell closer, Steve Cishek. Unfortunately, it was not Cishek’s night.
Daniel Murphy lead off with a single to RF. David Wright followed with a single to LF. After Ike Davis struck out swinging, Lucas Duda hit a single to CF.
All of Josh Johnson’s hard work was erased: Murphy and Wright both scored on Duda’s single and the score was all knotted up at 3-3.
I missed all of that nice action with my camera. Instead, after the Mike Baxter fouled out, I got an action shot of Cishek pitching to Andres Torres:
It looks like Lucas Duda is stealing 2B on that pitch, but he’s not. He waited for Torres to collect four balls, and then he walked to 2B.
And that brought Kelly Shoppach to the plate. On the second pitch he saw from Cishek…
…, Shoppach sent a hard grounder back up through the box. The ball quickly made its way out to Marlins CF Justin Ruggiano who was running hard ready to scoop the ball up and throw home, but…OOPS…Ruggiano ran right by the ball and it kept rolling DEEP into CF.
I thought it was going to result in an error-assisted in the park homerun. But Shoppach doesn’t have the wheel, he only made it to 3B. But Duda and Torres had no trouble finding the plate.
Ruggiano’s body language told the story:
Aye, aye, aye…
The Marlins were two outs from a 2-run win, and now they trailed the Mets 5-3.
Randy St. Clair came out to deliver the bad news to Cishek:
“Hit the showers, kid!”
And in sprinted former-closer, Heath Bell:
Bell struck out the only batter he faced (Scott Hairston).
As the Mets warmed up for the bottom of the ninth inning, I took this picture of Mike Baxter playing catch with the ball boy:
I took the picture because that is essentially right where the ball boy was standing (although he was running in the general direction of the 1B dugout) when the ball boy tossed the Lucas Duda foul ball up to us.
Speaking for foul balls, the ball boy got another during the bottom of the ninth and he flipped it up to no one in general. It was going to land right on the other side of the railing between section 3 and section 4 (to our left). Tim hopped up and reached over the railing. I thought he had a chance to catch it…that is, he had a chance until a 20-ish year old fan sitting in the front row completely leaned over Tim…
…and crushed Tim’s arm against the railing. Amazingly, (although he too missed the ball) this guy was totally oblivious to the fact that he crushed Tim’s arm on the railing (and, just in general, smashed into Tim).
Way to go, cool guy!
Frank Francisco took over for the Mets in the bottom of the ninth and he set the Marlins down 1 (Greg Dobbs), 2 (Donovan Solano), 3 (John Buck).
Game, set, match: Mets.
After the game wrapped up, we made our way down to the front row corner spot and got a nice family picture:
But our night wasn’t over.
We relocated over to the front row behind the 1B (visitors) dugout…
…and watched Billy the Marlin entertain the crowd a bit.
Then the Marlins opened up the roof…
…and BOOM GO THE FIREWORKS:
It was a decent little fireworks show (nothing compared to an Indians Rock’N’Roll Blast) with a really strong finale.
After the fireworks wrapped up and we prepared to head for the exits, I snapped a picture that I had meant to take earlier in the day:
See how that green wall comes down to a point just past the visitors’ bullpen in RF? Well, it looks like the aisle running up the left and right sides of that wall connect at the point of the wall. Yeah, it *looks* like that…but looks can be deceiving.
In fact, the aisles to meet at the point of the wall, but a railing blocks off the passage way. So to get from one section to the other, you have to go up to the concourse and then walk 50 feet or so down to the next stair case.
Anyway, it was finally time to leave.
People were heading up the stairs to the concourse. But I sensed an opportunity for one last Marlins Park exploration. I noticed there was a tunnel leading down below the field level seats at the back of the moat (between sections 5 and 6). So we stayed in the first row and walked across toward section 6).
We were the VERY LAST fans to leave the seats down there in the moat, and an usher rewarded Tim for this accomplishment in the form of our final baseball from Marlins Park:
We headed into the tunnel under seats and it looked a whole lot like this:
That tunnel took us back to the main tunnel that circles under the ballpark. We turned right in that main tunnel and found a bunch of big colorful pictures of (mostly) current Marlins:
Tim posed with the best of them – Giancarlo Stanton!
And then we were funneled out of the ballpark through a little bar area that is open (I think) to people with 1B-side premium seats:
When we finally made it outside the ballpark, there was a concert in progress (just like the night before):
I gotta give credit to the Marlins. They’ve created a very fun post-game atmosphere with these little outdoor, post-game concerts.
As we walked toward our car, I noticed an entrance to the main Marlins Team Store. The “team store” (and that really has to be put in quotes) at Sun Life Stadium was light years beyond pathetic.
But the team store at Marlins Park is a legit Major League TEAM STORE (worthy of all caps):
Not wanting our Marlins Park experience to end, I continued to take pictures as we walked toward our car. Here is Tim and the Marlins Park roof:
Here is a view from the northwest corner of the ballpark:
And, finally, a night time shot of Marlins Park from the CVS Pharmacy parking lot showing the roof rolled back over in the *open* position:
Here is my official assessment: Marlins Park is an 80,000,000,000% improvement over Sun Life Stadium.
Good job, Marlins!
We really had a great time at our two games in Miami.
BUT WAIT! OUR WEEKEND TRIP WASN’T YET COMPLETE. SCROLL DOWN FOR A FEW BONUS PICTURES.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|23/21 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves|
|37 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 4, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|129 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 7, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1|
|22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2|
|12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird|
|7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney|
On 9/2, we spent a bunch of time in South Beech, where we did some swimming at the beach and saw some cool birds:
And some more cool birds and a Lambourghini:
On 9/3, the big event of the day was our trip to the Miami Seaquarium, where we got to hold some really cool birds:
But best of all, we hung out with a dolphin:
Hooray for dolphins!
On Sunday, May 1, 2011, Tim and I set off for Philadelphia and our first non-doubleheader game of the season. Just like last May 1st, the Phillies would be taking on their division rivals, the New York Mets. Unlike last season, this game was a night game. In fact, it was the ESPN Sunday night game.
We arrived before the gates opened. But there was a problem: we were staring down 2.5 hours of batting practice, but while still in the parking lot we discovered that both Tim and I forgot to pack our gloves. Oh, no!
But on this date, baseball gloves were not necessary. With five lifetime baseball at Citizens Bank Park, we were about to have an unprecedented day.
Immediately upon entering the stadium, he headed to the LF corner and ran into former-Mariner, Raul Ibanez:
After a few minutes, we abandoned LF and headed to the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye. We checked out the empty bullpens (and noticed a Phillies BP baseball down below in the entrance way to the bullpen area), peered around the batters eye to watch some BP…
While behind the batters eye, they opened up the rest of the stadium. So Tim and I headed to the corner spot in RCF (section 101, row 1, seat 1). There is some extra space in the corner pasted seat 1, Tim literally “hung out” there:
Phillies back-up catcher, Dane Sardinha, was shagging baseballs right in front of us. While we were trying to figure out who in the world Sardinha was, Antonio Bastardo ran down a fly ball in straight away CF and then tossed us our second baseball of the day:
The Phillies’ “Four Aces” (minus the day’s starting pitcher, Cliff Lee) were hanging out in front of Section 103…
At one point, this groundskeeper walked by…
…and grabbed that baseball out of the bullpen entrance way. He walked over toward us (by the way, RF was filling up, but for some reason, not a single person joined us in section 101), and tossed the baseball up to us. Amazingly, without any gloves that was our third baseball of the day, in all of the games we’d attended with glove-on-hand, we’d never got three baseballs at a Phillies game before.
Eventually, the Phillies vacated the field and the Mets started taking their hacks. Mets third baseman, David Wright, was putting on a show. He jacked homer after homer into the bushes behind the CF fence. In fact, we watched so many baseballs fly into the bushes, Tim found this little birdie in the bushes:
By the way, this was our view of Citizens Bank Park from section 101, row 1, seat 1:
While hanging out in the corner spot, there was one close call with a BP homerun. Some unidentified Mets batter hit a homerun directly over our heads. It sailed about 5 feet over our heads. In seat 1 of section 101, there is no second row and it was not possible to back up to try to bare hand the homer. It sailed into the Phillies bullpen, bounced off of the back wall, and came to rest in the middle of the bullpen grass.
A little bit after 7:30, Cliff Lee headed out to the bullpen flanked by pitching coach Rich Dubee and bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo:
As Lee started stretching, Dubee headed into the bullpen and grabbed some baseballs out of the baseball bag. Tim asked Dubee if he could have a baseball. Dubee motioned/shrugged as if to say, “sorry, we need these baseballs to warm up Cliff Lee” (it was a highly communicative shrug). Dubee made eye contact with me and I pointed toward that Mets homerun ball that had flown over our heads. Dubee nodded as if to say, “yep, that one is all yours.” He then called to Tiamo and pointed to the Mets homerun baseball and then to Tim, “Give it to that little boy.”
After Tiamo carried out Dubee’s instructions, I snapped this picture of the two coaches:
The fastest of Tim’s three pitches clocked in at 26 blazin’ fast miles per hour. He loved the speed pitch. On his way out, they handed him a ticket (everyone gets one). He was sure it was some sort of award for pitching so far. We wrote “26 M.P.H.” on the back so he’d remember how fast he tossed the baseball.
Just outside the speed pitch, Tim posed for this picture with the Tiamo-Dubee-Mets-homerun baseball in front of the Liberty Bell Citizens Bank Park sign:
It was a great pitching match-up for this game: Cliff Lee vs. Chris Young. Both pitchers were on their game.
After Jimmy Rollins drew a walk in the bottom of the first, Ryan Howard came to the plate ready to get the Phils offense going…
During the break in the action, Tim posed with his Raul Ibanez baseball and the Citizens Bank Park sign:
During the game, Tim spent a bunch of time agonizing over his All-Star picks:
The game was 0-0 through the first four innings. Then, with two outs in the top of the fifth inning, David Wright (another guy who Philadelphians really seem to dislike) hit a single and then scored the first run of the day on Carlos Beltran’s RBI double.
Between the top and bottom of the fifth, Tim and I ran over to section 138 so Tim could get his picture with Emily, the Phillies ballgirl:
Between innings (not sure which innings), the Phanatic was ripping his way around the ballpark on his four-wheeler. I got this cool picture where the Phanatic is in focus and pretty much everything else is blurred a little:
He was giving up some hits, but Cliff Lee…
After a lot of work and careful consideration, Tim finished his All-Star ballot:
Still training 1-0, the Phillies missed an opportunity in the bottom of the seventh when Ryan Howard was left on base. The inning ended in a bizarre fashion. With Howard on 3B and Ben Francisco on 2B, Phillies catcher Brian Schneider seemingly checked his swing to work a full-count with two outs. Finally, about 5 full seconds after the pitch, home plate umpire Jim Wolfe checked with his colleague over at 3B and Schneider was rung up.
It was the most delayed strike out call that I have ever seen.
And it was followed by the quickest ejection call I’ve ever seen.
Charlie Manuel came charging out of the Phillies dugout to argue with 3B umpire Lance Barksdale, I don’t think Charlie had even reached the pitchers’ mound when Barksdale tossed him from the game. Charlie continued on his way to Barksdale and got his money’s worth out of the argument:
In the top of the eighth, a Mets leftie (I think Ike Davis) hit a foul ball that skipped around in the crowd before being grabbed by a lady within 10 feet of our seats. Here is a picture featuring my shoe for perspective:
Right around this time, something odd happened. I got a text from Avi Miller:
“In case they didn’t tell you at Phils game: Obama making announcement tonight unscheduled. Related to national security.”
Then a second text:
“Was supposed to be 10:30, but they’re still setting up so it could be any minute. Speculation is it could involve anything like Gadhafi, Osama [bin Laden], or even Libya in general. Who knows. Has to be big to do a Sunday night sudden announcement.”
Then a third text:
“Multiple sources saying Osama is dead and in US control. Will let you know. Obama hasn’t spoken yet, but that’s what all the news sources are saying.”
While I was exchanging texts with Avi, fans all around the stadium were apparently receiving similar texts from their friends and family. What an odd place to be, I thought, to learn big international news like this.
Meanwhile, life and the game went on.
It was getting late in the game and the Phils were down 1-0. I was thinking about relocating over by the 3B dugout soon so we could try to get our first ever umpire baseball at Citizens Bank Park. First, I needed a picture of us in our seats. A guy sitting behind us was happy to help:
Then things go really interesting. It started in LF, but soon the whole stadium was chanting “USA! USA! USA!” I missed most of the best and loudest chanting, but I was able to capture a few seconds of it:
Obviously, something was up. I texted Avi to see what Obama had to say. His response:
“that’s why. Officially announced and confirmed. Osama dead. Killed by bomb about 10 days ago, they were waiting to confirm body.”
Of course, we have learned over the course of the last week that a lot of the initial news about this event were incorrectly reported. But the gist of Avi’s message was accurate: President Obama had announced that U.S. Forces had killed Osama bin Laden.
Every once in a while, the chants came back: “USA! USA! USA!” A very memorable way to learn this news, indeed.
We decided to head over toward the 3B dugout. It can be hard to get down into those seats because the ushers usually patrol it pretty rigorously. But we slipped into the back row of section 130 with no trouble. It was really windy in the concourse (it always is at Citizens Bank Park), and Tim was instantly freezing. There was no one sitting in the last row of section 130. So we slid by the usher, sat in the last row, and I instantly took off Tim’s shoes and helped him pull a pair of sweatpants over his shorts.
It must have looked like we belonged, because the usher never said a word to us. Here was our view in the ninth and tenth innings from the back of section 130:
In the bottom of the tenth, Ryan Howard crushed a fly ball to the warning track in deep CF field. I was sure it was a walkoff homerun, so I grabbed Tim and we ran down the stairs toward the umpires tunnel. But Howard’s hit died and was caught on the warning track.
We pulled up and grabbed some new aisle seats at around row 10. Here was our view for the rest of the tenth and part of the eleventh innings:
Finally, in the twelfth inning (at 12:01 a.m.), we made our way to the penultimate seats, second row behind the home plate side of the dugout (Section 129):
The game just kept going and going. No one could score. Both teams seemed capable of advancing baserunners to third base, but that was it. Inning after inning, third outs erased all of the would-be winning runs.
The Phillies fans needed something to inspire them to inspire their Phils to do something special.
Enter the Phillie Phanatic. He hopped onto the 3B dugout and started running down the length of the dugout toward us giving everyone high fives:
Inside my head I thought, “What was that!?”
I scan the field and wondered, “Are they throwing t-shirts into the crowd?”
I saw the guy immediately in front of me bend over toward the empty seat to his right, like he’s grabbing for a t-shirt on the ground or something.
But I didn’t see anyone throwing t-shirts! “What’s going on!?,” I thought.
The Phanatic stopped at the end of the dugout and looked down at us…or, more precisely, at the guy bending down toward the empty seat:
The guy was not happy. The Phanatic bent over, put his arm around the guy, and said something to him. He (the Phanatic) then walked over to an usher about ten feet away, and said something to him.
The guy sat down holding his bleeding face. I could tell he was fuming mad and...
An usher got someone in the Mets dugout to throw up a towel to clean up the guy’s face. Another usher brought a bag of ice. A medic-type-guy arrived and convinced the guy to leave the seats and go get checked out at the first aid station. The guy reluctantly left.
Oh, by the way, he was a Mets fan. After he left, the Phillies fans made numerous jokes at his expense.
Oh, by the way, while all of this was happening, Mets pitcher Taylor Buchholz struck out Phillies back-up catcher Dane Sardinha…
Now, back to the bloody guy. The big question: what the heck happened to him!?
I honestly don’t know. I was literally the closest person to him when whatever happened to him happened to him. But I didn’t see it because I was looking toward the Phanatic advancing from the 3B side of the dugout. All I saw was “something” red whiz by (something that I initially thought was a t-shirt being tossed into the crowd).
I heard people muttering something about the Phanatic kicking the guy. I don’t know what that means. The Phanatic was running down the dugout giving out high fives. Could he have accidentally got too close to the edge of the dugout and ran into the guy (who I believe was standing up at the time) at full speed? I don’t know. Was the Phanatic’s red leg the “something” that whizzed by me as I reached up for a high five (and was left hanging)? I don’t know.
Bottom line, I have no clue what happened except that this dude was standing their one second, and the next second he was dripping blood all over the front row and the top of the dugout. I did a search for news articles that might have mentioned the fan getting hurt and found nothing. I guess I’ll never know for sure what happened.
For the rest of the game, these two guys were on hand-and-knee sterilizing and cleaning the area:
Tim kept asking me why the guys were pouring *sugar* on the blood (they said it was an absorbing powder/gel substance that sucks up the blood) and telling me to point out to the guys that there was a peanut shell full of blood on the ground under the seat. Tim is very observant when it comes to peanut shells.
Anyway, soon after Paulino tossed us the third out baseball, he hit the game winning RBI hit in the top of the fourteenth. It was almost 1 o’clock in the morning.
It seemed as if the Phils were folding up shop for the night when they sent Cole Hamels in to pinch hit with one out in the bottom of the fourteenth:
Tim was really, really tired:
But soon, John Mayberry, Jr. struck out to end the game. Tim was so tired that I was holding him as umpire Jim Wolfe approached the umpires’ tunnel. I called his name. He looked up and saw us. He grabbed a baseball, and tossed it right to us. But an extremely large adult fan in the diamond club section leaned over a railing, reached in front of us with his bare hand, and deflected the baseball right into Tim’s face.
That was all the half asleep boy needed: he burst into tears. The guy didn’t even notice what he’d done as he scrambled for the loss baseball on the ground. Jim Wolfe, on the other hand, saw exactly what happened. And he hollered at me, held up a second baseball and tossed it to me and Tim.
After we caught the second umpire baseball, the guy who had knocked the ball into Tim’s face had learned what he’d done from some other fans (generally everyone around was very sympathetic to poor little Tim getting nailed in the face) and he came over and apologized.
As we headed up the stairs to the exit, I asked Tim to hold up the replacement umpire ball so we could get a picture…
The picture and our little exchange about the memory actually helped a lot. I think Tim was more stunned (and exhausted) than he was hurt. After our exchange, he dried his tears and reverted to his usual happy little self.
Wow, what a day. Our first non-doubleheader of the season ended up going 14 innings (and until 1 a.m.), we witnessed a memorable crowd reaction to the announcement about Osama bin Laden, we got a third out baseball, our first umpire baseball at this stadium, and 6 total completely gloveless baseballs (more than doubling our lifetime total of 5 previous baseballs at Citizens Bank Park), and we witnessed the mysterious fan injury as the Phanatic ran by giving high fives and all of the “biohazard” clean-up that followed.
2011 C&S Fan Stats
5/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
6/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets; Kellan – none]
2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles, Nationals)
15 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets)
3/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – none]
10/6 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan – Mariner Moose]
*includes Spring Training