Saturday, April 21, 2012, was a personally historic day for us. Our little 2-man father-son team has officially grown by one.
Up until this day, Kellan had been to 10 games, but I had only brought Kellan along with us if Colleen was also joining us. But, at a few months shy of his second birthday, I have officially deemed Kellan to be old enough join me and Tim at the ballpark without additional assistance. So Colleen got the day off and treated herself to a fun solo Saturday (shopping, eating out, haircut, etc.).
Meanwhile, the Cook Boys jumped in the car at 8:00 a.m. and headed south to the nation’s capital.
On the drive down south, Tim and I discussed the Marlins new logo, of which I am not a fan. Tim launched into a hilarious explanation of how the new Marlins logo is a Marlin jumping in the water at night with the various colors reflecting off of the water, etc., etc. Then he wrapped up with, “so, now you understand why you should like the new Marlins logo, right?”
Maybe you had to be there. But it was pretty hilarious how he explained his thoughts on the Marlins logo.
Watch out, there were some little Cook boys at the ballpark who were gloved and ready for some action!
Let’s hit the stands!
Now, a ton of Saturday games across MLB are scheduled as day games this season (for the record, I’m not a fan of it), and this was one of them. I was pretty sure that would mean no BP before this game. And when we entered the ballpark at approximately 10:30 a.m., the field was empty with no signs of BP to come.
We hit the restroom and then milled around a bit in LF. Eventually, Mark Buehrle (did I mention we would be seeing the Miami Marlins vs. the Washington Nationals?) walked out to LF along with Marlins bullpen catcher Jeff Urgelles and bullpen coach Reid Cornelius. Buehrle and Urgelles played catch for a while in LF…
…and then all three headed into the bullpen so Buehrle could throw from the mound. We were right behind the bullpen. Cornelius and Buehrle headed over to the mound and Urgelles set up shop at home plate, just below us. As Buehrle and Cornelius were in the middle of a discussion, Urgelles was just standing around waiting. I could see several baseballs inside his open equipment bag right behind him. I figured, “What the heck?”
Todd – “Hey, Jeff!”
Urgelles – (looking up with a sort of surprised and happy look on his face) “Yeah!?”
Todd – “Anyway you could toss one of those baseballs up to my boy?”
Urgelles – (Enthusiastically) “Yeah, no problem.”
(Urgelles goes over and grabs a baseball from his bag and looks back up at us.)
Urgelles – (to Tim) “But, you have to catch it! And you only gets one chance!”
Todd & Tim – “Okay”
He tossed the baseball up in such a way that it would fall back into the bullpen if Tim missed it:
Heck no! Tim gloved that sucker! And guess what —
It was a Marlins Park commemorative baseball!
Check out Kellan in that last picture, “Gimme that baseball!” (Actually, he just said, “Ball! Ball! Ball!”
We all went crazy! And we rained down the “Thank Yous!” on Urgelles, who seemed very happy for Tim. We chatted briefly, joking about Kellan wanting to throw the ball back down to Urgelles – which I have no doubt he would have done had I let him – and discussing our Mariners gear – Urgelles seemed to agree it was cool to show our team loyalty and at least we weren’t wearing Nationals or another N.L. team’s gear (no threat from the A.L.).
Urgelles’s smile told the story: the dude is definitely a cool guy. Very nice. Very happy to have made Tim’s day by challenging him and then watching him succeed. We talked about meeting up later during BP to get a picture with Urgelles, but it just didn’t work out. But I’m definitely going to try to reconnect with him later this year to try to get a picture of him and Tim together.
Oh, yeah, at some point Tim yelled down to Urgelles, “I like your new logo!” ha, ha…funny guy.
With our fancy new Marlins Park baseball in hand, we bounced up the stairs…
…and headed off to the play area.
There were ZERO other kids out there. Normally, you get three hacks at the whiffle ball air tee. Tim took about 15-20 hacks…
…before turning over the bat to his little brother. After 2-3 swings, Kellan turned around and tried to hit balls into the open concourse area. Luckily, no one was around.
You need proof? Here is proof that no one was around:
In the top left, that’s the lady running the kids’ play area climbing up the slide while holding Kellan like a sack of potatoes (not a good plan). Kellan flew down the slide and loved it. Then Tim and the lady running the play area did some crazy slides, including (as shown) head first belly sliding and backwards sliding.
This lady loved playing with Tim and Kellan and, if it was up to her, we would have just stayed there all day. We came back several times over the course of the day and she did more crazy sliding with Tim (despite there then being about 200 crazy kids running all around).
Unfortunately, Kellan is too young for most of the play area. You have to be 3-8 years old to go up in the play area *thingy*. So Kellan and I hung out in the little *net* room under the *thingy*.
Anyway, we headed back to the field after a sufficient amount of playing.
When we got back to LF, they were just finishing setting up the cage and screens for BP. That was a nice surprise. We headed down into section 106:
We chatted a little bit with a Phillies fan who decided to go “neutral” and wear an Oakland A’s hat. He offered to take our picture:
We hung out in LF until they opened the rest of the stadium at 11:30. Then we headed into foul territory and hung out behind a big protective net (don’t need my boys getting tagged by a batted ball).
Urgelles was over there for a bit, but we missed our chance to get a picture. As I said, we’ll keep trying.
It was getting pretty warm in the sun. So we decided to walk all the way around home plate and out to RF, which was nice and shady. I guess it would have been a shorter walk to head up to the concourse and circle the outfield. But had we done that, Ozzie Guillen would not have had the chance to go grab this baseball…
…and then toss it to us.
Sure, Ozzie is a controversial figure, but I like him.
Muchas gracias, Ozzie!
We hung out in RF foul territory for a bit. I took the opportunity to take off Kellan’s long sleeve undershirt. And then Steve Cishek tossed us a baseball:
RF was nice, but Kellan kept trying to climb down to the lower rows between the railing and the end-seat – despite Tim playing blocker.
I decided it would be easier for us out in RF homerun territory. You see, there is this funny little corner spot that would act as a natural *Kellan blocker*. We grabbed some seats by the corner spot…
…and the boys broke out our bag of snacks (or as Kellan says, “Nack! Nack! Nack!”).
If you scanned the ground after we left this spot, you’d have to seriously question if more snacks were consumed or more were dropped on the ground. Kellan was dropping “nacks” like it was going out of style.
We hung out for a while in this spot — nothing all that special to say about this picture, I just thought it was funny:
Shortly after this picture, Kellan dropped this big bottle of water…
…down into the Nationalbullpen – probably 20 feet below. Luckily, as’ bullpen attendant ran over and tossed it back up to us.
While chatting with a guy who works for Boeing in the Seattle area, Tim was excited to get a toss-up from a fellow number 55, all-star Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson:
We decided that we’d had our fill of BP and it was time to do some walking. We walked a TON during this game. In all, we circled the entire stadium 3+ times.
For some reason, we walked toward home plate (passing a group of Mariners fans!) and we kept walking and walking. I think we were on our way to get nachos in the LF corner. I thought the boys looked terribly cute walking through the concourse together:
We decided we needed to get some more play-time in before nachos. So we headed back to the kids’ play area. Tim went up top and did some more crazy sliding. Kellan and I went in the little net room and threw our cloth baseball off of the walls:
Then, we finally grabbed some nachos. Actually, first, we walked all the way around the ballpark AGAIN. I figured there would be nachos in the concourse down the RF line…but no. So we kept walking and walking (actually, I carried Kellan much of the time), and made it all the way back to the nacho place in LF.
Then we walked – with me holding Kellan and a whole bunch of nachos — to our seats in RF foul territory. Guess what? It was bring your dog to the ballpark day. As we passed by, I notied that the Nats had set up some grass in the CF concourse…
…so the dogs to relieve themselves during the game. Very thoughtful of you, Nats.
We reached our seats moments after the first pitch, and it was on! Yeah, the game was on too, but I mean “it” (nacho time!) was on:
It is official: The Cook Family Loves Nachos.
And rightly so. They are the world’s perfect food. And the Nationals offer some great chili cheese nachos down the LF line.
Anyway, the game was “on” too. This was our view from Section 137:
Our actual seats were in Row EE, between the “Bohvechkin” guy with his arm in the air (above) and the guy standing and shouting in the other red shirt. But we were hanging back a few rows so we could stay in the very refreshing shade.
This sort of famous young pitcher was on the hill for the Nationals:
Stephen Strasburg, have you heard of him? On that pitch above, he induced a ground out by Emilio Bonafacio.
Hanley Ramirez struck out (but not on this pitch)…
…to end the first inning. It was the first of six K’s Strasburg recorded on the day.
Sometimes a baseball game makes more sense when you watch it on TV instead of in person because there are no commentators in the ballpark. In the top of the second inning, Logan Morrison led off with a single to CF. And then *something* happened, but I have no clue *what* had happened. It looked like this:
First, it appeared that the ball got fouled off of the home plate umpire, or it just hit him on the live pitch. I’m not sure. Whatever happened, the umpire was somewhat hurt and needed attention from the training staff.
On the play, Logan Morrison took second. As you can see in the top left picture, the first base coach is standing on first, but Morrison is gone. The trainer talked to the umpire for a while. Strasburg threw some pitches to keep warm while this was happening.
Finally, the umpire was ready to go again. And then he called Morrison back to first. In the bottom left picture, you can see him standing on the bag (the middle head of the three pictured). That caused Ozzie Guillen and another Marlins coach to come out and argue with the umpires for a long time. In the end, LoMo was back of first.
On TV, I’m sure it all made complete sense what was going on. But in the ballpark, I had no clue…neither did Tim or Kellan, especially Kellan.
Speaking of Kellan, he copies just about everything he seeing me or Tim do. You might have noticed that I wear my glove on my head a lot during games. Well, at one point, Kellan put his glove on his head. So Tim followed suit and we got a picture (during which Kellan’s glove started to fall off his head) of the three glove-heads:
This was Kellan’s eleventh MLB game overall, and his second Marlins/Nationals game. Last season, we saw the *Florida* Marlins in DC and Kellan had a cool little exchange with Anibal Sanchez. At this game, Anibal was facing off against Strasburg:
And he was looking sharp, too.
Anibal retired the first four batters. The fifth batter was Jayson Werth…and Anibal retired him too:
Tim kept asking if we could go blow bubbles, which prompted Kellan to chime in “Bubbles! Bubbles! Bubbles!” I had no clue what Tim was talking about. But Tim led us right to the spot…
…and he blew a bunch of bubbles at an Autism Awareness booth in the LCF concourse behind the Red Porch. And then it was time to grab some ice cre…wait, Tim switched things up, it was time for Dipping Dots! So we walked almost all the way around the stadium looking for the dipping dots. During the walk, Tim climbed up into the Gecko’s arms (above) and acted like he was being captured.
Tim went for banana split dipping dots…
…while I picked mint chocolate chip for me and Kellan to share.
We grabbed some ice cream seats in the handicapped seating down the first base line and watched Strasburg deal it…
…while Kellan and Tim chowed down on their dots to reviews of *two thumbs up*:
Tim figured out the dots fit perfectly into the drink holder and he could eat his dots with his feet up on the railing. Ah…the good life.
I kept trying to get a good action shot of Strasburg, and I was finally satisfied with this one:
In the top of the sixth inning, Jose Reyes came to the plate with one out. All of a sudden, I decided I should get a shot of Reyes, but he knocked a base hit down the RF line right as I pulled my camera out of my cargo pocket. But I got him rounding first and then sliding in safe at second:
Reyes was FLYING! That guy has some wheels.
Two batters later, Hanley Ramirez stepped to the plate again. And on this pitch, he chucked his bat 4-5 rows deep into the stands and nailed the guy in the blue shirt in the elbow:
As the boys kept munching their dots, I decided to get a shot of Reyes scoring from second – all I needed was Logan Morrison to get a 2-out hit. But as Reyes started to turn on his afterburners, Morrison grounded the ball up the middle (you can see the ball directly behind Reyes’ left heal)…
…for an inning ending 6-3 ground out.
The score was still 0-0. Both pitchers were looking really strong. We decided to make one final trip to the kids’ play area:
While we were in there, Ian Desmond hit a solo homerun to put the Nationals up 1-0.
Kellan met up with another little guy who must have been right around 1-year-old. He was walking, but he was teeny tiny. Kellan walked up and hugged him (“oh, look at the cute baby”) and Kellan looked like Andre The Giant hugging this little guy. He then started crawling around after the little guy:
Before we left the play area, Jayson Werth hit another solo homerun for the Nationals. That made it 2-0 Nationals.
We left the play area and headed up to the second deck in CF. There is a standing room party-type area in CF – when you look at the seating map on the Nationals website, it doesn’t even show this area. So there is no “section” number. But here is the view from that area:
And here is a look at the busy SRO area with the packed Red Porch in the background:
Ozzie Guillen made a major gaffe when he put the line-up together – he gave Giancarlo “Mike” Stanton the day off. It was unfortunate for the Marlins because Stanton hits a monster bomb or two almost every time we ever see the Marlins.
Well, Giancarlo pinch hit for Anibal Sanchez. On the first pitch, Giancarlo seemed to get a hit:
But Ian Desmond made a diving stop on the ball and was able to just barely throw out Chris Coghlan at second base. Had Coghlan not been on base, Stanton probably would have been safe at first.
Anyway, we walked around the back of the Red Porch, which looked like this…
…and then we headed over to the upper deck in LF foul territory.
Since it was our first game of just the three guys, I wanted a good picture of the three of us and I didn’t think our first group shot was very good. Unfortunately, the pictures didn’t get much better in the upper deck.
Well, this one from section 306 turned out pretty good:
And this picture turned out okay…
…but for some reason, the usher who took it managed not to get any of the field in the background.
After that guy failed to get the field behind us, I took a test self-portrait, and Kellan gave me a no games, super-serious look:
He smiles and laughs constantly when he is not being photographed, but for 85% of all pictures and videos he goes ultra-serious.
Another usher did a much better job framing the shot, but Tim wasn’t looking in the picture:
Oh, well. We’ll get a better group shot next time…or the time after that, or after that, or after that.
The ninth inning crept right up on us. The Nationals were still winning 2-0, and Strasburg (who pitched six innings) was in line for the win. We headed down to the field level with the idea of trying to get in place for an umpire ball attempt.
We grabbed some seats about 20 rows back, just above the home plate end of the dugout.
Brad Lidge came in to close it down for the Nationals.
Oops…sorry, Strasburg, but Lidge walked Hanley Ramirez to start the inning and then Logan Morrison crushed a homerun into the second deck above the Nationals bullpen:
No win for Strasburg and, eventually, we were heading into extra innings!
Kellan fell asleep hugging me tight:
And then someone hit a foul ball that literally landed within five feet of us! It landed right across the aisle and one row below us. But I couldn’t even make an attempt on it because the little guy was sawing some serious logs. The ball came right to another dad and his son. Both had gloves ready on their hands. The ball smacked into the palm of the dad’s glove and then bounced out, skipped off the steps and bounced into the gut of an older guy running up the stairs.
Chances are that will be our one chance to catch a game foul this year. Oh, well. It was great having the little guy take a nap on my chest while Tim and I watched the game.
Actually, Tim wasn’t just watching the game, he was documenting it. After he took the picture of me and Kellan, he asked if he could take some pictures. I agreed and he started snapping away. As I watched him, it seemed like he was zoomed WAY in on everything and wasn’t getting anything he wanted to get.
But as our family watched a slide show of our game pictures later that night (which we do as a family on our TV after each game), I discovered that Tim took amazingly awesome pictures! I was shocked and so very proud of my little baseball photographer in training.
Check out Tim’s handiwork.
Donnie Murphy (pinch running for Greg Dobbs) leading off first base in the top of the ninth inning:
Joey Espada, who tossed us a baseball at Sun Life Stadium last season, coaching third base:
The Marlins relievers (Heath Bell and Edward Mujica) and Nationals reliever (Tom Gorzelanny, accompanied by Jim Lett) warming up in the bullpens:
Both teams’ bat boys in action:
Omar Infante getting ready for the next pitch as Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos fires the baseball back to Brad Lidge:
Ozzie Guillen encouraging Infante to get hit (while accompanied by Greg Dobbs and Marlins batting coach Eduardo Perez):
Here’s my favorite of Tim’s photos: a dejected Chris Coghlan walking off the field after Infante failed to deliver the go-ahead RBI hit:
Great job, Timsky!
Tim snapped Donnie Murphy warming up his arm before the bottom of the ninth inning:
And Marlins relief pitcher Edward Mujica:
Oh…time out, I took this one of Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez…
…who appear to peacefully co-exist on the left side of the Marlins in field.
In the top of the tenth, Tim asked to get the camera back because he had not got a shot he wanted: a Marlin running. He did a great job getting this picture of Hanley Ramirez running out a deep fly out to RF (I actually thought it had a chance to fly out of the park):
After catching the baseball from Jeff Urgelles, Tim really wanted the Marlins to win. He was a bit upset when the Nationals regrouped in the bottom of the tenth and won the game 3-2 on a sacrifice fly to CF by Ian Desmond. By this point, Kellan was awake again. On the crack of the bat, I could tell it was a game winner, so Tim and I (Kellan in my arms) hustled down the stairs to the third or fourth row. We slid into the row and were in the perfect spot when home plate umpire Greg Gibson walked by and handed us our final baseball of the day.
We tried to track down Jeff Urgelles on his walk in from the bullpen, but the crowd behind the dugout was tough to squeeze through and we got to 3B right as Urgelles passed by and entered the dugout. We’ll track him down later this season!
So, we called it a day and walked to the car. Tim entertained himself in the car by taking more pictures…
…while Kellan ate some “nacks” and relaxed.
It was a big day for the little guy. He was fast asleep about half an hour before we got home…
…and Tim capped off the drive watching some “Octonauts” on youtube on my cellphone.
Hey, it was a good day. Let’s do it again next weekend…
Okay, yeah, you got a deal. Let’s do it! We’ll see you soon, Camden Yards!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|2/1 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|4/2 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Nationals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals|
|1 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1|
|12 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 4, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 2|
|1 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park|
|2/1 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park; Kellan – Nationals Park|
|1/0 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones; Kellan – N/A|
As a result of growing up at the Kingdome, I’m a big fan of domes. Sure, I’d rather play ball at Safeco Field. I recognize it is objectively better than every domed stadium out there. But a domed stadium gives me a great sense of nostaglia for my long lost Kingdome.
In my book, the H.H.H. Metrodome was a first class domed baseball stadium. As you entered Minneapolis from some-or-other direction, the Metrodome’s bubbly white roof welcomed you to the city:
My dad, Tim and I visited the Metrodome on the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2009. Tim and I trudged all over that place and it was awesome.
Last November, I visited Minneapolis and enjoyed an outstanding view of the Metrodome (now displaying the name “Mall of America Field”):
Then on December 12, 2010, a massive snow strom resulted in the Metrodome roof collapsing and snow crashing down to the football field below:
The Twins were already relocated to Targe Field for the 2010 season, but the Vikings still called the Metrodome home at the time of the roof collapse. The collapse took the dome out of commission for the rest of the football season.
Last week, I found myself in Minneapolis once again. The once mighty dome was no longer visible from across town like it had been last November. So, I decided to walk over to the dome and see what it looked like.
I found that it looks drastically different these days:
I walked all the way around the outside and peered through the glass doors. The entry ways include two sets of glass doors. Across the concourse floor, a third set of glass doors closes off the concourse from the seating area.
As my camera and I peered through the layers of glass, the view was terrible but I could clearly see the roof hanging down into the middle of the dome:
That white stuff is the roof, and you can see two orange streamers hanging from the roof.
Oddly, I could also hear music inside the dome. I figured there must be workers in there working on the roof. And then, all of a sudden, a shadowy figure streaked across the windows inside the concourse
What the what-what?
The shadowy figure was clearly a person…on rollerblades…skating in the field level concourse.
I was thoroughly confused.
I was about half way around the dome at this point and I decided to keep walking and see if I could find an entry point into the dome. When I was two-thirds the way around, I found it. One of the doors at Gate D was open, and there was a big sign on either side of the door that simply said “Rollerblade.”
I walked through the open door and through the revolving inside door. I was now *inside* the collapsed Metrodome. I saw a little kid down the concourse to the right playing around by what looked like a concession stand. To the left, there was a makeshift barrier keeping me from entering the main area of the concourse and there was a table further blocking my access. I could see a guy standing about 150 feet down the concourse to my left, far behind the table blocking my way. He had to notice me, but he didn’t look my way at all.
I decided to squeaze past the table blocking my way and walk down to the guy. When I reached him, there were several younger guys (20s’ish) sitting around with him.
Todd: “What’s going on here?”
Younger guy: “Rollerdome! Rollerblading!”
Todd: “So anyone can rollerblade?”
Younger guy: “Yep.”
Todd: “Do you have rollerblades for rent?”
Younger guy: “Yep.”
Todd: “Well, I’m in if it will get me in to look at the dome.”
Older guy: “It will but you can’t stop at the windows to look down into the stadium because that’s a high speed area. You can stop on the opposite side of the concourse and look across.”
I was told Rollerdome doesn’t start until 5:00 p.m (check out their website). I had about half-an-hour to wait. I really just wanted to see into the dome. So I asked if I could go look in the window into the stadium now. The younger guy said sure. After I peered into the first window, he asked me if I wanted to see something really cool. Of course, I said “yes.” Eventually, he took me all the way around the field level concourse so I could take pictures looking into the field area.
Before sharing those pictures, let’s look at a couple pictures for context:
This is a map I got of the Metrodome concession stands when we visited the dome in 2009. I approached the dome from Seventh Street. Essentially, it leads right into Gate G. I then circled the dome clockwise. The picture above looking through the windows is at Gate A. I saw the first rollerblader through the windows at Gate C and then I entered through Gate D.
At our game in 2009, we sat in Section 100 in left field. On our self-guided tour around the stadium, I took this picture from section 224; high above and behind home plate:
I took this picture at the top of the upper deck. Note a couple things that I have circled (from top to bottom) — (i) a huge speaker hanging directly behind home plate high above the second deck, (ii) a large American flag hanging above the second deck and the scoreboard above sections 100 and 200 in left field, and (iii) our seats in section 100 in left field.
Here is another picture from our trip in 2009:
Again, this picture shows our seats and the American flag above sections 100 and 200. The other yellow circles show the entrance ways to the seating area. Those entrance ways lead to the field level concourse. I took all of the following pictures (well, the following post-collapse pictures) through these field level entrance ways.
Another pre-collapse picture:
Again, that is the same speaker circled up top. I’ve also circled the Twins dugout on the 3B line and more field level entrance ways to the field. The fifth (counting from either direction) circled entrance way is section 122, just to the left of 122 is section 121.
Finally, (last pre-collapse picture for now), here is a look toward the baggy:
Okay, let’s get to the present day photos. The first photo is looking into the stadium through section 121:
In the foreground, you’ll see the “really cool” thing my guide offered to show me; the home plate area had been emptied out and it is a big pool of water. The roof is so low that you can hardly see any of the upper deck. Finally, note how far the big American flag has dropped; its now below the upper deck hanging just above section 100 (again, our seats from 2009 are circled).
Here is a view from section 122, more directly behind home plate:
Again, home plate is a big pool of water. In this picture, I’ve circled the spot out in CF where a Twins pitcher tossed a baseball to Tim and me in 2009 (the commemorative baseball pictured above to be exact). I didn’t circle it in that last picture, but just above the folded sections of seats, check out the lights hanging below the upper deck.
Here is a shot looking in through section 125:
Hanging down right in the middle of that picture is the speaker that is circled in the two pre-collapse pictures above. The two orange signs way out across the field is the big party suite that I enclosed in a yellow box in the pre-collapse picture above.
Here is a shot from a little further toward 3B:
In case you cannot tell, those cement highway dividers are connected to roof by big metal lines. I guess the purpose is to keep the roof from blowing up and down in the wind. Check out how low that speaker is hanging.
Even further down the 3B line (into the outfield foul territory), you can see a big circle roped off on the playing field:
My guide told me that circle is where the big splash of snow came crashing down onto the field in the famous collapse video (above). Above the circle, you can see some torn parts of the roof hanging down, along with some yellow ropes (or something).
In the LF foul corner, I took this shot looking down at the top of a speaker that used to hang high above the surface of the playing field:
Here is another picture from the LF foul corner where you can see the big party suite above the baggy (or where the baggy used to be):
More LF corner — right along the foul line, still in foul territory:
In the next picture, we are behind section 100 and you can see the big American flag hanging down above section 100, a lot of rips hanging down above the snow splash zone, some lights dangling below the upper deck, and tons of stacks of something-or-other across the field by the 1B dugout:
Although the picture to the right is zoomed in further than the picture on the left, its a good comparision to show how far down the roof is hanging. Note that the entire upper deck is hidden behind the sagging roof in the picture to the right. Also, check out how the lights are at the very top of the picture to the left, high above the second deck, but they are hanging below the second deck in the picture to the right.
Here’s a look in through the RF corner in foul territory…
Here’s a close up looking into the Twins dugout with more speakers hanging down:
I did not catch his name, but a big huge THANK YOU to the guy from Rollerdome who so kindly led me around the Metrodome. It was a one-of-a-kind experience that I will never forget. If you’re in Minneapolis, go check out Rollerdome.
For a while, I’d been wanting to go back to Citi Field for a second game. We’d gone in April when the Stadium was just two weeks old. I wasn’t a huge fan of it then. It was too crowded and I felt like we couldn’t get anywhere near the field.
Well, a few weeks ago, I found a pair of $25/ticket upper deck tickets on Stub Hub for $3 each. We couldn’t pass it up.
I was excited to see Citi Field again, not only because I knew it would be far less crowded due to the Mets poor performance but, because it would be our first game ever in the month of October. Plus, I was hoping we’d get a ball — our first ever in Queens.
We started out early by driving to New York (or as Tim says “You Nork”) and, as the picture below shows…
…we headed through the Lincoln Tunnel, parked in the Upper West side, hopped on the C-Train at 81st Street, transferred to the 7-Train at 42nd, watched all of the graffiti go by in the rooftops of Queens, and arrived at Citi Field at about 11:40 a.m.
We entered the stadium through the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and headed up the escalator toward LF to see if there would be BP taking place. After getting denied access to the field section behind the 3B dugout, we headed down the line and grabbed a spot on the railing by LF. The Astros were hitting and this was our view:
There were two Astos pitchers shagging balls down in the LF corner and Tim was watching them like a hawk:
In the picture above to the left, the middle guy is Samuel Gervacio and the guy on the right is Wilton Lopez. Lopez was having a grand old time toying with the crowd. On every ball he caught, he faked like he was going to toss into the stands and then he’d turn around with an ear-to-ear smile and throw it in toward the bucket. Eventually, former Astro and current Astros coach Jose Cruz (above to the far left) walked out to LF with his fungo bat.
As by strolled by, I asked him, “Hey, coach, can you fungo a ball up here for my son?” He nodded “yes” and pointed at Tim as if to say, “Is that him?” I nodded, “Yes.”
Meanwhile, Lopez was taunting the crowd with yet another ball. Quitely but very authoritatively, Cruz called out to Lopez and motioned for the ball. Lopez’s face instantly turned from playful-kid to serious-and-respectful. He toss the ball to Cruz without hesitation.
Cruz turned around and tossed me this:
“Thanks, Mr. Cruz!”
Tim was a little upset that he did’t catch it himself. He got bit by the catching bug, I guess, after meeting up with Ryan Rowland-Smith in Toronto the previous weekend.
At this point, Tim was just wearing his socks and his shoes were in my backpack. I told him to put on his shoes so we could head out to the OF and poke around. He wasn’t too interested in his shoes. So, I popped him up on my shoulders and we walked to the LF seats. On our way, I heard, “Hey, Todd!” I looked up and it was Alex K. from “Riveravenue.” We’d met Alex in Chicago at Tim’s 30th MLB team milestone game. We’d exchanged some emails and knew we might run into each other at this game.
As we went over and started chatting with Alex, I heard another voice call out, “Hi Todd and Tim.” It was Joe from “Baseballexperiences.” I’d never met Joe before, but I’d read about him on Zack Hample’s Blog and, through Zack, on his own blog.
Joe introduced himself and said he reads our blog. Its always cool to meet people from MLBlogs. And these guys would turn out to be extremely cool and fun to roam around the stadium with at several points during the day. They were absolutely great with Tim and he couldn’t get enough of them.
We started by chatting and then a picture:
Joe is on the left and Alex is holding Tim on his lap as he reclines on the back of a seat in LF. Note that Tim is holding his shoe. We pulled the old Billy Madison “everyone my age __________, its the coolest!” trick on Tim (we filled in the blank with “wears shoes”), and it worked like a charm. Tim was happy to wear his shoes after seeing that Joe and Alex were also wearing shoes.
Tim then showed off his first Citi Field ball to his new “guys”:
After a few minutes, one of the guys asked if Tim and I wanted to go over to the dugout. I said we couldn’t because we had upper-deck tickets. They both assured us it was no problem. Joe had an extra ticket on him — maybe it was his dad’s, I’m not sure. Anyway, we were up for checking out the restricted area so we followed Joe:
The guy standing a couple sections in front of Joe in the green jacket asked “do you guys have tickets over here?” Joe flashed his ticket and the guy responded, “Yep, you do, head on in, guys.” I think he automatically assumed we all had the right tickets. He didn’t seem too concerned about checking the rest of our tickets, but I showed our loaner ticket anyway.
And that easily, we were behind the dugout where there was hardly anyone in the stands. This was our view:
…and it worked. Alex and Joe both called out, “Hey, Stech,” to Astros bullpen coach Strech Suba (I think he’s the bullpen coach, at least). I think Suba threw three balls over. Tim and I got one. Joe got one. And, I think (but am not positive) that Alex got one as well. A big time assist and thank you to Alex and Joe for that ball.
Tim was looking the other way when Suba threw us the ball. As I caught it, he turned his head to look toward Suba. My glove was above his head and I instantly transferred the ball from my glove to my bare hand and from my bare hand to Tim’s glove. I then erupted with, “Tim, you just caught that ball!” Joe and Alex followed suit with a lot of enthusiasm. Tim was fooled, and was happy to have “caught” another ball himself.
All of a sudden Astros pitcher LaTroy Hawkins was standing right by us (and was photographed by Tim):
Joe and Alex, along with some other people, went over to see if he was autographing. But he announced to everyone in the section that he wasn’t signing. He was chatting with his friends who he doesn’t get to see much because (he said) he doesn’t get to NYC much. He stood there and chatted with some people for a long time.
BP ended and Alex and Joe suggested we head out to the kids’ play area — they were always thinking about what would make the day more fun for Tim.
When we got there, Tim and Alex posed by the fence showing off the auto-repair slums across the street from Citi Field…
We waited through the line for the whiffle ball field. Before hitting, Tim cycled through the OF:
By the way, the auto-slums are just to the left of the 3B line of the whiffle ball field.
Next, Tim had his chance at bat. You only get a couple hits before you round the bases. But Tim loved it:
In the top left, we see Tim taking a hack on the whiffle ball field’s jumbo screen. Top right, two fielders make an effort for the ball but Tim shots it between them for a liner off of the LF wall. Then it was time to round the bases.
Tim loved the whiffle ball field.
Next, we parted ways with Alex and Joe. They went to watch the Astros play catch down the RF line. Tim and I went into the second deck to look down at the field and the home run apple:
Then it was time to grab an ice cream helmet and some seats in section 122 (I still had the ticket Joe gave me — he told me to keep it):
To the left, you see our view of the plate. To the right, Alex took a shot of us as Tim scarfed down his chocolate ice cream with sprinkles. By the way, I just mentioned Alex again. He and Joe saw us in our seats and came and sat by us in the first inning.
This was our field view:
Remember how I said we got $3 tickets because people were disenchanted with the Mets by this point in the season? Well, check out the empty seats to our left and right:
I took my only action shots in the first inning. Miggie Tejada laced this pitch up the middle for a line single to CF:
In the bottom of the first, the third out was made at first. The Astros first basemen (who is that, Berkman?), ran over to the dugout and a cluster of kids gathered in the first row to ask for the third out ball. Alex said, “hold on, I have to run down there.”
As he left our row, Berkman launched the ball over all of the kids. It was like it was in slow motion. Alex left us at the perfect time. It was like he was a wide receiver being led by a deep bomb. He and the ball converged just as it reached head level. And then he ran back up showing off the third out ball:
After the second inning, Tim was getting restless. I asked him if he wanted to go see the Pepsi Porch in RF (second deck)…where I told him he could see the train passing back-and-forth. He did.
On the way, we stopped by the Jackie Robinson Rotunda to get pictures with the big 42 (Tim took the picture of me and the 42):
Here is a panaramic view from the bridge leading out to the Pepsi Porch:
Here was the view from the top:
We continued touring around the upper deck. I decided to head back to the home plate area of the upper deck. On the way, I took a panaramic view into the stadium from the back side of the upper deck concourse:
See all of the glass on the second deck across the stadium — behind the LF foul pole? That’s a restaurant. I asked Alex and Joe if they’d ever gone there. One of their dad’s had been and wasn’t impressed. There is a deck at the bottom of the restaurant (outside the glass), but apparently they won’t let people out on the deck because they made the railing too short and fear that people will fall into the field level.
Back to the tour. Here is the view from the upper deck behind home plate:
Due to the Sterling Club and suites that close-off the main concourse from the field behind home plate, and the railings and ushers that keep the commoners from getting into the seats behind home plate, this is the best view most people will ever get from behing home plate at Citi Field.
As you approach Citi Field from the subway, you will notice that the upper deck seating behind home plate is set way back from the front of the Jackie Robinson Rotunda entrance. Well, in the upper deck there is a huge circular concourse area above the Rotunda and behind home plate. The ground has a huge baseball design built into it, which I thought looked nice. Along the outside of the concourse (the outer edge of the Rotunda roof), there are food stands, a team store (one of at least 3-4 at Citi Field). In the middle, there are standing tables where you can stand, eat your food and watch the game on yet another jumbo screen — this one hanging from the back of the upper deck seats:
I gotta admit, that’s pretty cool. They have a similar picnic area behind home plate and above the main enterance at Safeco Field, but people up there have no clue what is going on with the game. Nice touch, Mets. They have another one of these jumbo screens on the back of the CF scoreboard for the parents standing in the play area with their kids.
Speaking of CF, that was our next stop. This is the view from the concourse in deep CF:
With that, our touring was concluded and Tim wanted to take some hacks in the soft toss cage. There are two cages. One for little kids with soft toss or a batting tee (depending on the kid’s choice). The second has a slow pitching machine. Here is Tim in the soft toss cage:
Right after Tim hit in the cage, the rain started to pour down. It was the end of the fifth inning (an official game), and the umps called for a rain delay.
Tim and I trudged around in our rain gear until we eventually found ourselves back in the Rotunda. Tim saw some teenagers climb half-way up the “2” in Jackie Robinson’s big blue “42.” Tim wanted to do it too, but (a) it was too high and (b) dad was having none of it. By this time, it was about 2:30 or 3:00 pm, and Tim was ridiculously tired (no nap) and he lost it when he wasn’t allowed the scale the wet, slippery and tall 42.
As I tried to calm him down a bit, Alex and Joe found us. They tried their best to cheer him up but he was whiney and crying up a storm. Then, Alex asked him, “Tim do you want to go upstairs and play catch?” Instantly, Tim’s crying stopped on a dime. “Yes!!!,” he responded. “Ahh, HA!,” I said to Alex and Joe, “you’ve witnessed some of Tim’s classic fake crying!” One of them asked, “You were faking it, Tim?!” Tim responded, “well, I was a little sad.” Classic Tim, the actor!
We had time to kill. So next, we went and looked at all of the “game used” stuff the Mets had for sale in the field level concourse.
After looking at that stuff for a bit, Alex and Joe asked if we want to go into the Sterling Club. Now, the Sterling Club is the ultra-exclusive and pricey luxury club level area for all of the people with the big railed-off cushy seats behind home plate. Alex’s dad had got tickets somehow. After paying $3 per ticket, how could I pass up an opportunity for Tim and I to see the Sterling Club.
Joe and Alex entered the club. Safely inside, Alex passed off his ticket to Joe and came and passed it off to me. Joe then re-entered on his own. Tim and I strolled around a minute in the Rotunda and then headed up the Sterling Club escalator and into the club.
The lighting in there wasn’t friendly to my camera, all of my pictures came out blurry somehow. But he is some of what we saw:
In the top left, there is a ridiculously fancy looking restaurant, which looked out of place (and was totally empty) at a ballpark. See the red arrow in top middle of the restaurant? Its pointing to floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the visitors’ practice batting cage, which are pictured at the top right. For perspective, the restaurant is to the left as you enter the Sterling Club and it is located roughly behind the 3B dugout. As you view them in both of the top pictures, the field is to the left of the restuaurant and the visitors’ batting cage.
At the bottom left, there is a fancy bar (and Joe’s head). For perspective, the restaurant is behind me as I took that picture and home plate is behind the left side of the bar.
In the bottom right, we are sitting in a little nook in the far opposite side of the Sterling Club next to a bunch of windows overlookign the Mets batting cages (they have two cages, the visitors have only one). For perspective, the Mets (1B side) dugout is just behind and to the right of me as I took this picture.
At this end of the Sterling Club, there is another fancy bar. This one is more of a lounge style bar. The bar is across the back wall (opposite the field) and the rest of the room has scattered seating.
In that picture, we are drinking delicious FREE MILKSHAKES. It was the best chocolate milk shake I’d had in a long time.
Here is the view from the cushy Sterling Club seating behind home plate:
This lasted about 10 minutes before an usher shut us down.
Next, we decided to go check out the old home run apple from Shea Stadium. It is behind the bullpens in deep, deep, deep right CF. On our walk out there, it started to rain hard again. Here is a picture of Tim, Alex and a little girl staying dry under the top hat:
After spending some time by the bullpens and in the RF concourse (where Tim clanked Cow Bell Man’s cowbell, Tim and Joe ran several races and Alex and Joe swung Tim around by his feet and hands), the rain stopped!
We headed toward the 3B dugout just in time to witness the removal of the tarp:
Tim and I decided to hang out in LF. Almost everyone else decided to sit in the infield. As a result, if anyone was going to hit a homerun to LF, there would be great odds that we would collect our first ever home run ball. Check out how empty the OF was (heck, check out the whole stadium!):
In the top of the 9th inning (with the Mets winning), we moved to the infield and sat by the tunnel where we knew the umpires would leave the field after the game. Here was the excellent view:
Although we’d already got two balls on the day (our first ever in Queens), I wanted to get a ball from the umpire because it would be a commemorative Citi Field inaugural season ball — this would be our last and best opportunity to get one of those balls. Soon, Alex and Joe both turned up. They had the same idea.
Tim was ready to catch a foul ball (below to left)…
After chatting with Alex and Joe a little bit more, we said our good-byes (we’ll be keeping our eye out for those guys next season) and Tim and I headed to the 7-Train platform.
On the way out, I took the following night-time photo of Citi Field:
And that’s the story of our final national league game of the season. After this game, I have a much better feeling about Citi Field. I still don’t like the closed-off concourse behind home plate or the design of the standing room areas (no standing counters), but we had a great day in Queens. The following day, we’d be in Baltimore for the final game of the season.
Season Fan Stats:
32 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
1 Ken Griffey, Jr. Homerun (Career Homerun No. 624, August 23, 2009 in Cleveland)
13 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, “Jacobs” Field, and Rogers Centre)
25 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
27 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (5), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees (2), Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, Indians, and Blue Jays (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
35 Baseballs (20 Mariners, 3 Astros, 2 Rangers, 2 Umpire, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Royals, 1 Indians, Yankees/Orioles 1)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
6 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Perry)
5 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Ryan Rowland-Smith, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)