On August 14, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and hit the road to meet up with our Mariners in…
…the “Mistake on the Lake” — Cleveland, Ohio!
As of this morning, we had seen the Indians play 5 times and they were 5-0 (3 wins over the Mariners, and 1 win a piece over the Twins and the Angels). We were hoping to witness our first Indians loss today (hint, hint: see the title of this entry).
Cleveland is about a 6 hour drive for us so we made a weekend of it. We stayed at the Doubletree. Here was the view from our room on the 12th floor…
Our hotel was a mile from Progressive Field and Tim was happy to ride on my shoulders for the whole walk to the ballpark. As we approached the CF gate (Gate C), we passed through a little park area with rock monuments for the Indians and the LeBron-less Cavaliers…
We pulled up to Gate C half an hour before it opened. In fact, not even the ticket windows at Gate C were open yet. So we got a picture…
We still had plenty of time before the gates opened, so before buying our tickets we headed over to the home plate entrance…
And then we headed back to the main ticket office and bought tickets for this and the next game. Across the street in the little courtyard-type-area between The Jake and Quickens Arena, the Indians were all set up for Kids Fun Day:
So we headed over toward the LF gate and looked inside the stadium…
About ten seconds after peaking into the stadium, the rain started coming down. It was light rain, but we decided to head back over to Gate C where we could stand undercover and out of the rain. By the time we got there, it was absolutely pouring rain and the “cover” did not help because it was blowing in and soaking everyone.
It was massive, massive rain.
They ended up opening the gates a few minutes early because they felt sorry for us poor folks getting drenched in the rain. We headed into the concourse in RF to take cover.
Tim and I were standing in the concourse in deep RCF just watching the rain when I got a bright idea. No one was in the RF stands. No one at all. I decided to run down to the front row to check for something that I had only ever read about on other MLBlogs, but never myself witnessed in real life — easter eggs.
Well, after three separate trips down into the seats, I was ridiculously soaked but we had these guys tucked into our backpack:
Seven (7!) easter eggs, including a smudged Target Field baseball. Four of the baseballs were under random seats between the first to third rows in RF to RCF. The other three were found inside folded chairs a good 10-20 rows up in CF. The balls were SOAKED. However, they have dried nicely and are quite normal now.
Soon, the rain stopped and the grounds crew started working like mad to ready the field for the game, particularly the Lake Erie-esque centerfield…
At the Jake, the fans are confined to RF/RCF until 6:00 p.m. for a 7:05 game. So we couldn’t go into the infield to watch the M’s warm up. The guys were having fun as they did their work. As you can see to the right above, Chris Seddon has both arms over his head. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but the song that was playing kept saying to put your hands up…or something like that. Each time, Seddon and several others would hold their arms up until some other trigger in the song permitted them to lower their arms. Some of them would continue playing catch with their arms held straight above their heads. There were some pretty hilarious straight armed throws.
As the M’s started filing into the bullpen, this guy tossed us a baseball…
Well, soon enough, this number 50 starting pitching in the bullpen.
“Hmmm…,” I thought again, “I guess Adam must have changed his number.” I texted my lovely wife, and moments later she responded, informing me that Tim and I owed a big “thank you” to Mr. Jamey Wright.
(And it turns out that Adam has changed to number 10, possibly in honor of former Mariners catcher Dave Valle. Who knows?)
Anyway, all of a sudden, we had 8 baseballs in our backpack. We’re not big numbers guys when it comes to getting baseballs — our goal is just to get one at a game — but I gotta admit that I was intrigued by the prospect of hitting double digits (even if aided by 7 easter eggs).
Soon, everyone was gone except Felix Hernandez and Jason Phillips…
I should mention that I had a brief but nice chat with Jason. I congratulated him on his recent marriage (the wedding ceremony was held at Safeco Field after a Mariners game).
While we were chatting, Tim yelled down to Jason, “My Daddy found four baseballs under the seats!” I thought that was pretty hilarious. But I later told Tim its better not to announce something like that to a player on the field.
The next picture tells two stories:
First, before everyone headed back to the dugout, John Wetteland (who is pictured in the middle) took a big crow hop and fired a ball against the RF wall right in front of the Mariners bullpen from about 100 feet out. Tim and I were standing in the corner spot at the front of the bullpen (where we had stood while chatting with Phillips). A few minutes after Wetteland fired the baseball against the wall, Felix Hernandez walked over, grabbed the ball and tossed it to us.
We’ve never got a baseball from Felix (although we have got one very dirty baseball from Erik Bedard after he and Felix used the baseball to warm up before a game in Boston), and I was really excited to get one from a guy who could someday become the most winningest pitcher in Mariners history.
Second, as illustrated by the other red arrow, Felix uncorked a wild throw to Jason Phillips that ended up about 20 rows up into the stands. They didn’t have another ball and the crowd hadn’t been let into the rest of the stadium yet, so Jason just hopped into the stands and walked up the stairs until he found the baseball.
Finally, the tarp came off of the field…
It was close to 6 o’clock when Tim crashed…
Finally, the rest of the stadium opened up…
At this point, with the baseball from King Felix, we were sitting on 9 baseballs. We visited the home plate area to scout out the umpire exit. We figured they would exit through the door right in the middle of that last picture and then walk down the stairs just to the left. We were hoping the home plate umpire might help welcome us to double digits for the first (and most likely last) time.
Soon, the guys were back on the field getting ready for the game. And as the Mariners relievers made their backwards facing walk out to the bullpen, we spotted the pink backpack for the first time this season…
The 2010 Mariners bullpen…
…doesn’t look much like the 2009 Mariners bullpen. But they seem to have a lot of fun just like the guys did in 2009.
When the game started, we found ourselves sitting at the back of section 144. That is where we were when Ichiro connected for his 149th hit of the season leading off the game in the top of the first inning:
We went and grabbed some nachos for dinner and came back.
This was our view as we enjoyed our dinner and the beginning of the game:
We were still absolutely soaking wet. Particularly our feet. I took off Tim’s shoes and rung out his socks. His poor little toes looked like he’d been swimming for the last 3 hours. We had to do the unspeakable. We headed to a kids’ oriented team store in the concourse in the RF corner and bought Tim some new socks…Indians socks. I got him short socks so the Indians logos would be hidden under his shoes. All you could see was the navy and red stripes around the top of the socks.
In the third inning, the M’s were still winning 1-0 when Ichiro came to bat again. Tim decided to get his picture “with” his favorite player…
By the way, Ichiro grounded out.
Tim decided to do a lot of thumbs upping and thumbs downing…
One of the Mariners best stories of the year, Jason Vargas, was on the mound for the M’s…
Tim kept mentioning some flags on top of a building way out in the distance. We couldn’t tell what the bottom flag was, so I tested out my zoom…
In the top of the fourth inning, the Mariners took a 2-0 lead when Mitch Talbot walked Ichiro with the bases loaded.
Unfortunately, the Indians came back to tie it 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning on a double by Jayson Nix and a single by Andy Marte.
I felt bad for Marte. I know nothing about the guy. Literally, nothing. But they sure seemed to dislike him in Cleveland. There was all sorts of negativity being spewed at him from the stands, which is too bad. I’m not a big fan of fans trashing their own players. Maybe you trash a player at home among like-minded friends or family. But if you are a fan of a team, what good does it do to loudly yell derogatory comments at the player while he is trying to help your team win? It doesn’t make any sense.
With the score knotted at 2-2 moving at the end of fourth, we decided to *quickly* run to the ice cream stand for some ice cream helmets. Somehow we didn’t notice the fancy ice cream stand with helmets almost directly behind where we were sitting. Instead, we headed to the concourse behind home plate where we have gotten ice cream helmets in years past.
Here is a view of the concourse as we headed toward home plate:
This *quick* ice cream helmet run was a total debacle. They no longer had ice cream helmets behind home plate, so Tim had to get a waffle cone, which he loved but created a huge mess. And it took forever to get the waffle cone. While we were in line, the Mariners went crazy and all we could do was watch it on big flat screen TVs.
Russell Branyan hit a solo bomb to lead off the fifth innning.
Jose Lopez followed with a single, and then Gutierrez and Kotchman both grounded into E5’s courtesy of…uh, oh…fan unfavorite, Andy Marte. That did not help his cause.
It also didn’t help Marte’s cause that Josh Bard followed his two errors with a grand slam to run the score to 7-2, still with no outs.
Finally, we made it back into the stadium, just in time to see the Indians record 3 outs to end the inning.
We relocated to the standing room area in LF. Tim was able to sit on the cement base of the railing as I stood above him watching the game…
Actually, we did see one Mariners hit in the fifth inning before the Indians finally recorded the third out. And it was Ichiro’s 150th hit of the season:
While in the OF, I decided to take some shots of our outfielders right as Vargas was delivering a pitch. Interestingly, Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders were up on their toes ready to get a jump on any swing…
In the top of the sixth, the Mariners tacked on two more runs on a 2-run homerun by Casey Kotchman:
Not even Slider with his flame throwing electric guitar…
Well, maybe Slider helped a little bit. Jayson Nix hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 9-3. But that homerun would cap the scoring for both teams.
In the late innings, we moved a little further out into LF. We hung out during the seventh and eighth innings in the handicapped accessible seating area at the front of the LF bleachers.
This was our view:
In the top of the ninth, we found ourselves behind home plate, but at the very top of the field level seats, above the cross aisle.
Here was our view:
By the start of the bottom of the ninth inning, we found ourselves in the first row directly behind home plate:
It also gave us a nice view of the Mariners dugout:
Before we proceed, lets make sure we focus on the important stuff:
It would turn out that seemingly 1,000 people converged on the umpire exit after the final out. So the odds were low of us getting an umpire baseball. But it turned out that the odds were irrelevant becaues home plate umpire Mike Reilly sailed by everyone and didn’t unload give out a single baseball.
Oh, well. It seemed our chances are getting that 10th baseball were all but expired. Which was just fine with us. We decided to head over by the Mariners dugout to be close to the post-game celebration as our victorious Mariners cleared off of the field.
And guess what? Mariners third base coach (and former Mariners outfielder) Lee Tinsley spotted us (Tim was on my shoulders) and tossed us our previously unimagineable TENTH baseball of the day:
Our day was still far from concluded. For the second year in a row, we were treated to the Indians annual post-game “Rock’n’Blast” fireworks show. It is a big fireworks show set to music. I’m not sure if this is standard or not, but all of the music in the show was by bands inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, which is in Cleveland.
As they prepared the field, Slider shot tons of shirts and other stuff into the stands. Deep into the stands. Tim was all excited to try to catch one…
Soon, it was time for one of the coolest (maybe *the* coolest) fireworks show we’ve ever seen.
Here is a little taste of it that shows (i) awesome fireworks and (ii) Tim’s unbridaled excitement:
After the fireworks, Tim hopped back up onto my shoulders and I walked us the mile back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.
It was awesome to see our first Indians loss ever, and even better to see our third Mariners win of the season.
2010 Fan Stats:
18 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox and Indians; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)
16 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)
50 Baseballs (9 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs)
11 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field)
13 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
9 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
6 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards)