For months, we had been looking forward to the Fourth of July holiday weekend. Our Mariners were scheduled to take on the Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. The original plan was that my folks would come out for the series and my wife would join us too. But through a series of plan squashing issues, neither my folks nor Colleen could end up making the trip. My folks were out weeks in advance, but Colleen was going to join us right up until July 3rd. We picked out our hotels and bought our game tickets with her input…but then something more important came up that she had to attend to and had to drop out.
On very short notice, we were happy to have Avi Miller…
…join our traveling roadtrip caravan.
The plan was to see the M’s in Cincinnati on July 5-6. We headed to Pittsburgh around 11:00 a.m. on the Fourth. There was a big “Regatta” party-thingy going on in Pittsburgh. We started out by playing some catch in the park:
We cooled off in this big fountain:
We watched a pretty cool BMX show:
For the record, that guy jumping above is traveling from left to right…and Avi wasn’t impressed until the very end when the last two bikers did back flips.
Next, we met up with famous Pittsburgh couple, Matt Peaslee and Erin Wozniak, and watched a boat race on the river. This guy captaining the No. 10 boat easily won the race:
Next, it was off to Moe’s for dinner:
And then we finished off the night with some fireworks:
The next morning, July 5, 2013, we were off to Cincinnati. Neither Kellan nor Avi had ever been to Great American Ball Park (or Cincinnati in general). While both of them loved the ballpark, Avi contained his enthusiasm while Kellan couldn’t even stand still for a quick picture:
Oh, by the way, this game marked Kellan’s 50th MLB game and Great American Ball Park his 16th MLB stadium.
The Reds have an extra early BP “tour.” You pay some extra cash at the Reds Hall of Fame (which is an awesome Hall of Fame that you should definitely check out), and you get in to BP super-duper early. You also get a pass into the Reds HOF and a cool Ted Kluzinsky statue.
After buying our tickets, the boys posed for some pictures with Reds Mickey Mouse…
…and Reds Statute of Liberty.
Just outside the Reds HOF, we found this excellent statue of Johnny Bench:
(Note: Tim is using a brochure as a catcher’s mitt in that picture).
Around 4:21’ish, our BP tour guide took us inside the stadium…
…and told us what would happen once we went out to the field. Essentially, for the first half hour we would be confined to right field. Then the first base line would open up for us (and I think all Reds season tickets holders. At that point, we could stay in RF or we could head down to the Reds dugout in search of autographs. Eventually, the gates would open to the general public and we would be able to go anywhere.
When we headed out to RF, Joe Saunders was throwing a bullpen session:
We watched Saunders while Avi went off to watch BP. After Saunders wrapped up his throwing session, Saunders flipped his warm up ball up to Tim between the narrow gap between the seats and the net over the top of the bullpen.
For the rest of Reds BP, we hung out here:
You can’t tell in that picture, but we were in a little partial row pressed up against the batters’ eye. Spots like that are always ideal for us because the natural barrier on one side helps keep Kellan from trying to wander away.
Reds BP was interesting. As far as I could tell, they hit a grand total of two homeruns. I might have missed some…but who knows. I truly only saw two homeruns the entire time. Meanwhile, all of the Reds were wearing BP pullovers and I had no clue who most of them were…
…but then I saw a familiar face, Mariners bullpen catcher Jason Phillips. I hadn’t seen him in the bullpen when Saunders was throwing. He must have been hiding in the corner. We exchanged our customary tip of the caps as he walked across the field with Saunders.
Eventually, I recognized two Reds in the outfield. First, I noticed Shin-Soo Choo shagging balls in CF. When Choo made a catch on a sinking liner in CF, I called out an extended “CHOOOOOOOO!” He turned around and fired the ball to me. About thirty second later, he shagged another ball and it tossed it to Tim.
Double thanks, Shin-Soo!
The boys posed with their Choo-Balls and the Great American Ball Park sign for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
Nearby in RCF, MyGameBalls.com 2013 top ten snagger Rocco Sinisi was toiling away and doing his thing. Rocco is the MyGameBalls.com career leader for Great American Ball Park and a photo with him was good for scavenger hunt bonus points. Although we’d been chatting a bit off and on during BP, we decided to get a photo with Rocco early in BP just in case we forgot to or didn’t get a chance to do so later. So here is our first attempt at the Rocco/GABP bonus photo:
Over the past several years, I haven’t really followed but have admired Aroldis Chapman from afar. He seems like a good guy and, heck, he throws balls at crazy fast speeds.
Amongst the sea of unrecognizable Reds in the outfield, I eventually noticed that Chapman was hanging out in straightaway right field. When I spotted Chapman way over there in RF, I shouted out a loud, “AROOOOOOLDIS!” This prompted Aroldis to look over and exchange waves with us.
See where Aroldis was:
He was way over there. Carter Capps was “way over there” too – way over across the field from this throwing partner out on the LF. Capps was firing seeds across the field. It was impressive.
A little while later, someone hit a grounder through the infield and into somewhat shallow RF. Aroldis sauntered over and grabbed the ball. I called out his name again (you know, we were buddies after that exchange of waves) and he threw the ball all the way from RF to my glove waiting in CF.
Hey, remember those two BP homeruns I mentioned? Jay Bruce…
…hit one of them right to me and I made the catch on the fly. Thanks to Rocco for identifying Bruce for me later in the day based on that last photo.
See that bat laying on the ground in the photo above to the right? When Reds BP ended, we headed around the RF foul pole and toward home plate. On the way, I took a photo (that photo) of a bat (that bat) sitting on the ground in the Mariners’ bullpen. I took the photo for the sole purpose of zooming in on the picture to see whose name was on the bat. So click on that photo and check it out: it was Jay Bruce’s bat. That’s odd.
As we approached the infield, the Reds grounds crew removed the cage and screens from the field. What was this all about? It was very confusing. It was also a bit of a bummer because this was only our second Mariners game of the season and the Mariners didn’t take BP before our first game either.
Anyway, we decided to grab some food for the boys and head over to the third base side…
…where the Mariners’ position players were stretching. As I took some photos, Tim munched down a hot dog and Kellan worked away on a big soft pretzel:
Funny side note: Kellan ate part of that pretzel while sitting on my shoulders. When he finished, I had to pick big grains of salt out of my hair for the rest of the afternoon.
The lack of BP was actually kind of cool because the Mariners did a modified version of the old fashioned “taking infield and outfield.”
While we were watching our M’s, a Reds employee with a camera came over and asked if he could take our picture. “Sure,” I responded. After he snapped the pic, I asked why he wanted the picture. “It’s for the Mariners,” he responded. Later in the day, we found out that the Mariners tweeted the picture to over 130,000 people. Here’s the M’s tweet, and here’s another look at it:
After playing catch with Hisashi Iwakuma, Felix Hernandez signed a bunch of autographs:
Tim got him to sign the Jay Bruce homerun ball.
Thanks, King Felix!
I asked Felix why the M’s weren’t taking BP. He said they had got into Cincinnati around 2:30 in the morning after playing a road game in Texas the previous night and decided not to take BP.
Following the M’s warm ups, we got a better photo with Rocco:
And then we wandered around a bit and got some pictures with the Reds piggy bank…
…and a big bobblehead burger guy.
Before the game, the Reds honored Homer Bailey…
…for throwing a no-hitter against the Giants three days earlier.
Here was our view for most of this game, about three rows from the top of section 402:
In the couple of games Tim and I had previously attended at Great American, we’d sat in RF and lower LF. We once visited the upper deck in LF, but never watched game from up there. I’ll tell you though, I loved it. For an “upper deck,” it’s not very high up there and the view is great. Plus, we had a nice view of Kentucky across the river and a great breeze. As an added bonus, at the back of the upper deck, there are covered seats to either shade you from the sun or keep you dry in the rain. The LF upper deck at Great American Ball Park definitely gets my seal of approval.
The pitching match-up was Aaron Harang vs. Mike Leake. I wasn’t a big fan of the match-up. But sometimes a struggling pitcher can pull out a better-than-normal performance when facing his old team. That’s what I hoped for from Harang.
We dropped our stuff at our seats and watched the first pitch from Leake to Brad Miller:
And then Kellan and I headed down the stairs on our way to get some ice cream for the boys. As we walked down the upper deck stairs, Miller laced the ball down the RF line and coasted in for an easy triple. A great start for the M’s!
As Kellan and I ducked into a men’s restroom, Nick Franklin stepped to the plate and blasted a 2-run homer. Kellan and I had no clue this had happened. But when we got back to the ice cream place we saw the score – 2-0 Mariners!
When we got back to the seats…
…, Avi informed us about the Franklin homerun.
Harang pitched a scoreless bottom of the first. Then, Michael “The Condor” Saunders hit a leadoff bomb in the top of the second:
Here’s one of the reasons I like Brandon Phillips:
Check out that big smile clearly visible from the top of the upper deck in LCF! That’s how I like to see guys playing the game, like my favorite player, Ken Griffey, Jr.
In case you were wondering, here was the Mariners outfield for the day:
Michael Saunders in RF, Dustin Ackley in CF and Rauuuuuul Ibanez in LF.
Here’s a funny picture with no backstory, just a bunch of funny guys:
And a couple loving brothers:
Tim and Kellan either spend their time trying to annoy one another or hugging and telling each other how much they love the other. Generally, they act like wonderful loving brothers while at baseball games and reserve their annoying each other for play time at home.
Much to my delight, Harang was, indeed, putting a strong performance together against his old squad:
Multiple times before the game and once during the game, I took the boys here…
…for a little kid fun. That table looks like it is covered in sand, but it is really a mixture of different colored bits of rubber chopped up into little grains. There were digging tools and dinosaur skeletons that the kids could dig up. The two big dinosaurs standing behind the boys in the picture above to the left felt real’ish and they moved around every couple minutes. The one on the right also laid eggs. The boys couldn’t get enough of this little dinosaur display.
Before the game started we were hanging out in dinosaur area and another guy wearing Mariners gear asked me if he’d seen us at Pittsburgh. We chatted about it and, indeed, he had seen us in Pittsburgh. His name is Greg. He’s a NW Mariners fan transplanted to Detroit. We’ve kept in touch a bit since running into each other several times this weekend. Good guy, and good Mariners fan.
Last time we were in Cincinnati we failed to get a good picture of the batters’ eye boat. So, we got this one:
Back up in section 402, the ballpark looked even better as the sun went down:
Avi agreed, this place is beautiful:
Tim and Kellan both took a bunch of pictures during this game and weekend. Here’s Kellan’s funniest picture:
I should mention that the Mariners took a 4-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning when Michael Saunders hit a sacrifice fly to LF scoring Kyle Seager.
In the top of the fifth inning, Brad Miller made some Great American Ball Park history when he hit his second triple of the game. In over 800 games, it was the first time that a player had hit two triples in a game at GABP. Pretty cool.
In the bottom of the fifth, Shin-Soo Choo hit an RBI-double to put the Reds on the board.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Reds capped the scoring for the day when Joseph Votto blasted a leadoff homerun to CF. That made the score 4-2 Mariners.
Late in the game, we got split up from Avi for a while. When we connected on the phone, he said he was in a SRO area near home plate with Rocco. We decided we should go over there. Thinking (correctly) that we might not make it back to section 402, we got a picture of Tim at the bottom of 402 on our way out (Kellan didn’t want to get off my shoulders to get in the picture):
This was our view in the SRO area:
When we arrived at the SRO area, Avi was nowhere to be found. Ends up, we’d left section 402 to meet up with him and he left the SRO area to meet up with him in section 402.
Eventually, we did all meet up at the SRO area. They make you stand at the top of the stairs. Eventually, we move down the stairs at stood at the corner of the cross aisle. The ushers didn’t really do anything about it so we stayed there a bit.
Heading into the bottom of the eight, the Mariner brought in Charlie Furbush who blew away Zack Cozart, Joey…
…Votto, and Brandon Phillips, 1-2-3.
When Rocco came by, he headed down the cross aisle toward the outfield. We all followed him and ended up here for the ninth inning:
Check out that guy’s Johnny Bench jersey. That’s sweet.
Ollie Perez nailed down a great Mariners Win!
We ended up in near-perfect position for a umpire ball, but didn’t get one. But when we moved to the other end of the M’s dugout, Jaime Navarro tossed this one to Tim:
Avi, the boys and I pulled up some from row seats…
…for the post-game firework show:
The very first fireworks show of Tim’s life was at Great American Ball Park and it was awesome. However, since then, we’ve seen a fireworks show at Progressive Field, and absolutely nothing stacks up to the Indians’ fireworks shows. They are incredible But this was a nice show for the boys. They love all fireworks shows.
After fireworks, we got one more picture with Rocco…
…, one more group shot of us four roadtrippers…
…, some mire image shots with these awesome mosaics…
…, and one with this cool thingy inset on the floor of the concourse behind home plate:
And then we headed off to the team store so Avi could buy a bunch of bobbleheads. In the team store, Tim posed with a huge World Series trophy:
Finally, we walked back to our hotel a few blocks away…
…where Kellan hid under a pillow, both boys acted silly for a while, and then we all called it a night.
2013 C&S Fan Stats
|17 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers|
|28 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 2|
|72 Baseballs – Mariners 8, Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 1, Umpires 7, Reds 8, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6|
|10 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park|
|32 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge” Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith|
|10 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo, Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez|
For months, we planned to go see our Mariners at PNC Park on Tuesday, May 7, 2013. But then something came up at work and Tim had a Little League game scheduled that evening so our plans were foiled. This was only the second time the M’s had ever played in Pittsburgh, and the first time since Tim was born. I really wanted the boys to get to see the M’s play at PNC Park. And I just generally really wanted to see a Mariners game. The only other game in the Pittsburgh series was Wednesday, May 8, 2013. It was a *early* day game with a 12:35 start time. We had to do it.
We live 4 hours from Pittsburgh. The early game time meant we needed to leave the night before. So at 8:47 p.m. on May 7th, after my business dinner and the rain out of Tim’s Little League game, the boys and I hopped in the car…
…for a late night drive across the Pennsylvania turnpike. The boys fell asleep around Harrisburg, PA, and then I listened to some “Master of Puppets” by Metallica and chatted with my dad on the phone for about 2 hours.
We arrived at our hotel around 1:00 a.m. and had no trouble making it a complete mess by the *following* morning:
After a decent free breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road and made it to PNC Park before 10:00 a.m.
It was #FelixDay and we predicted…
…complete Felix domination.
I knew there would be no BP so I didn’t feel compelled to go get in line at the CF gate. So, instead, we walked around to the other side of the stadium and hung out by the autograph collectors where the players arrive for the game:
In that last photo, that’s Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez wearing a stylish suit (NOTE: baseball players shouldn’t wear suits) and listening to an mp3 player.
The first person we witnessed arrive at the players/employees entrance was our buddy Jason Phillips. All of the autograph collectors were on the other side of the entrance from us. Jason saw us as he exited his cab, signed one or two autographs, and then told the autograph collectors that he had to go chat with us.
Jason and I shook hands and chatted for a minute or so. He confirmed there would be no BP. He asked if we’d ever been to PNC Park. He told us that he’d *opened* PNC Park with the Mets back in 2001. And then he headed into the ballpark, after showing his official MLB credentials to the people guarding the entrance.
Jason Phillips is a cool guy. It’s always good to get to chat with him, and it was nice to begin our 2013 in-person Mariners season with a brief on-the-street chat with him.
After a while, I asked a guard if we could get around the stadium on the river side before the stadium opened. He confirmed we could so we headed toward the river. On our way, the boys posed with the new (in 2012) Bill Mazeroski statue:
Then we walked along the river toward the CF gate:
When we arrived at the CF gate, PNC Park regular Zac Weiss was already there. After setting our bags down in line behind Zac’s bag, I took Tim’s photo with the Roberto Clemente statue (Kellan was avoiding the camera):
Before the gates opened, Zac busted out a baseball and we all headed out to the Roberto Clemente Bridge to play catch:
I played catch with both Zac (real baseball) and Tim (soft, practice baseball) at the same time, alternating throws between them. I almost threw Tim’s baseball into the River!
Zack Hample was in line next to our bags when we finished playing catch. He was there with Neal Stewart from Bigs Seeds and the two of them were on another leg of Zack Hample’s BIGS Baseball Adventure.
The CF gates opened at 10:30, but that just let us into the Riverwalk. Zac, Zack, Neal, Tim, Kellan and I all gathered at the inside gate behind the bullpens…but we were stuck. Normally, season ticket holders, such as Zac, can get into the field before regular fans, and they can take guests with them. But the Pirates don’t do the early access for day games. So we were stuck on the Riverwalk until 11:00.
We passed the time by posing for some fist bump photos…
…and trying hot sauce seed sample packs that Neal had in his seed satchel. They were tasty.
I was excited when we saw our first uniformed Mariner of the season:
I think it was Hector Noesi.
Several Mariners joined Hector to play catch down the LF line. Nothing was happening in CF. So the boys and I headed over to LF to see if there was a spot where we could watch the M’s playing catch. There wasn’t.
So we headed to the kids play area instead:
When the rest of the gates finally opened, Oliver Perez and his partner (who I didn’t recognize at the time, but am pretty sure it was Yoervis Medina) had just finished playing catch and the only other pair of M’s out there at the time were Hisashi Iwakuma and Lucas Luetge:
Perez and Medina has been doing a little post-throwing running. On their way back toward the dugout, Perez grabbed one of the several baseballs sitting on the ground and walked over and handed it to Tim. I took the opportunity to ask him for a photo:
FYI, Kellan was still on my shoulders at the time and didn’t want to get down.
When Perez and Medina left, they were replaced along the baseline by Brandon Maurer and Carter Capps.
When Kuma and Luetge finished throwing, Lucas tossed his baseball to Tim and then he posed for pictures with both boys:
Meanwhile, Kuma had started signing autographs a little further down the LF line. We ran over there and he was happy to sign his and Lucas’s warm up ball in both English and Japanese…
…and to pose for a picture with the boys.
、ミスター岩熊をありがとう！ (Thank you, Mr. Iwawkuma!)
Some Mariners had run out to the bullpen, but the only action left in LF was Maurer and Capps playing catch:
When they finished, Carter tossed the baseball to Tim, and then followed the ball so we could autograph it and pose for a picture with Tim:
With nothing else going on down the LF line, we headed out to LCF near the bullpen. On our we stopped to get a PNC Park bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
Just as we approached the LF seats, a group of about 20 people ran through the seats from LF to LCF and filled almost the entire section right next to the bullpen. That foiled our plan to get a close up look at the action in the bullpen. So we hung back in the shady cross-aisle behind the LF seats and had a nice chat with an usher. She took our only family photo of the day for us:
Tim was spitting his BIGS seeds all over the place and we ended up talking about seeds for some reason. She mentioned that her co-worker gave her some pickle flavored seeds. When she pulled them out, she realized she didn’t have the pickle seeds today, she had BIGS Salt & Vinegar seeds:
We still had about 45 minutes until game time and nothing was happening on the field. We ended up meeting up with Zack, Zac, Neal and PNC Park regular Robbie “Scoonz” Sacunas for lunch in the Hall of Fame Club:
We’d never been in, or knew anything about, the Hall of Fame Club so it was great to experience it. As our food was being prepared, Kellan and I walked around and took some pictures of the club:
The Hall of Fame Club is right behind the LF upper bleachers. There are big windows that look at over the field. As Kellan and I walked around, we saw King Felix warming up out the windows:
Zack, Neal and I all tried the new, off-menu novelty meal, the donut burger:
The burger is a bacon cheese burger with a fried egg on a donut bug. I find eggs to be incredibly disgusting so my burger was eggless. I would recommend everyone try the donut burger so you can say you had one. But it doesn’t rank near the top of my best burgers list…in fact, if I really had such a list, it would be way down on the list. More than like eating a donut, the weird combination and texture of the burger made it seem like I was eating meat filled french toast.
The boys split a footlong hot dog. Tim smothered his in ketchup and mustard, most of which seemed to find its way onto the front of his mostly white Mariners t-shirt. Luckily, Kellan has no condiments on his half of the hot dog because he ate his dog while sitting on my shoulders.
Before leaving the club, I got this panorama out of the front windows:
When we got back down to the field, King Felix warming up in the bullpen. We headed over there to watch. The bullpen set up is pretty interesting at PNC Park. It’s not very good watching a pitcher warm up from the bleachers. Here’s what it looked like:
Just before the game started, Felix headed toward the dugout…
…and the members of the Mariners bullpen gave each other a bunch of high fives. See that baseball sitting on the garbage can in the last photo? Jason Phillips ended up tossing it to us (after giving it a thorough rubbing). It was thoroughly dirty and beautiful.
Here is where we were sitting for first pitch:
Those were our real seats. They were pretty awesome – section 31, row C, seats 1-3. It was a three row section. To our left was the aisle and then LF:
The seats were pretty amazing. They are regularly priced $36/ticket, but I found them on stubhub for $17/ticket. Gotta love below face value tickets!
The tough thing about day games is that Kellan still takes a nap in the afternoon most days. For a night game, I work his nap into the drive to the game. But for a day game, there is no good nap time. At this game, that actually played to our benefit.
When we reached our seats, Kellan was sitting, totally relaxed on my shoulders. I tried to take him down, but he was very fussy. Sometimes he refuses to get off of my shoulders, and this was one of those times. I realized there was no one behind our third seat in. In fact, there was no one behind that seat in the entire section. So I figured there was no one whose view would be blocked if I sat there with Kellan on my shoulders. That’s how we started that game.
It didn’t take long for an usher to stop by and tell me that Kellan needed to come down off of my shoulders. “No problem,” I responded, “it’s just that it’s his nap time and he’s a little cranky and didn’t want to get off of my shoulders.” When I took him down, he protested by crying, yelling and kicking.
Upon seeing the little tandrum in process, the usher came back and told Kellan that we could move to some other, even better seats in the third inning if Kellan behaved now. Lucky for us, he did.
The M’s didn’t score in the first. And then King Felix took the mound:
With the dominating King Felix on the hill, I felt pretty safe leaving our seats to go get ice cream in the first inning. My plan actually wasn’t too good. The very first Pirates batter of the game, Starling Marte, hit a ground ball right past third base and down the LF line for a double. That happened just as we started to walk up the stairway toward the concourse.
Felix struck out the next batter. But Andrew McCutchen hit an RBI single as we walked through the concourse toward the ice cream place.
After twos innings, the Pirates still led 1-0. The boys were still eating their ice cream helmets when the last out of the second was recorded. I immediately stood up and waved at the usher who had mentioned the seat upgrade in the third. I pointed at the seats and he gave me a confirming thumbs up. And then we moved here (essentially) for the rest of the game:
Is that beautiful or what? Here is what our view looked like from the front row:
That picture above with Tim and Kellan sitting by the ballgirl is actually way out of order (it was just the best picture I got showing our seat location). In the third inning, this…
…is the ballgirl who was sitting right next to us. She was quite nice. While Kellan finished his ice cream…
…I chatted her up a bit. She is a former college softball player. And guess what happened when King Felix induced Andrew McCutchen into hitting a foul ball to the ballgirl in the bottom of the third? Here’s a hint:
Yep, she gave it to Tim!
Thanks, Felix, McCutchen and Ballgirl!
These seats were the absolute best seats possible for us. Tim and Kellan do pretty good sitting in the seats when we have my dad or Colleen or some four person with us. But when it’s just the three of us, for some reason, they really want to roam around and be on the move a lot. But there was so much room to move in this seating section that we stayed put and I got to watch the entire (awesome) Mariners game! Yes!
One of those in-seating-section activities included playing with the dirt and bugs:
Into the fourth inning (aside from Michael Saunders who kept drawing walks), the Mariners batters, including Kendrys Morales…
…, couldn’t find any success against Pirates starter A.J. Burnett.
In addition to showing Tim spitting seeds onto the warning track, this picture sets the scene for what happened next:
Let’s examine that photo closer. Upper left corner, the small scoreboard shows the score is 1-0 Pirates in the top of the second with two outs (Morales, above, was the second out of the inning). Also, notice that the Mariners have no hits on the day. Next, Mariners centerfielder Michael Saunders is standing on 3B after drawing a leadoff walk, advancing to 2B on a wild pitch and to 3B on Morales’s groundout. Finally, the ribbon board shows that Dustin Ackley is about to step to the plate (he hadn’t seen a pitch yet because the count is shown as 0-0).
Five pitches later, Saunders scored the tying run on a Burnett’s second wild pitch of the inning! One pitch later, Ackley struck out to end the inning.
So, while being no hit by A.J. Burnett, the Mariners were all tied up 1-1 with the Pirates after 4 innings.
The Mariners finally broke through with their first hit of the game in the top of the fifth inning. With Burnett pitching so well, it was a good thing we had King Felix on the hill…
…throwing a dominating game of his own. In fact, it was as if mother nature was behind Felix and the M’s during this game – she even set an all-natural crown worthy of a king right above Felix:
Nothing could stop the Mariners fair and just King Felix.
Well, almost nothing, A.J. Burnett did a competent job of shutting down King Felix at the plate:
But, obviously, hitting isn’t Felix’s thing.
The boys lost interest in the dirt and bugs and played a little grounders/bouncing balls catch behind our row of seats:
Despite numerous warnings from me only to *roll* the ball, the kids kept bouncing them…
…and, every once in a while, Kellan was throw the ball in the air to Tim. This resulted in two different incidents, one good and one bad.
On the good front, Kellan tossed a ball to Tim that hit the railing behind our handicapped accessible section, rolled along the top of the railing, and then fell right into a cup holder handing from the back side of the railing. When it happened, the entire section behind us erupted in applause for Kellan – they were all apparently watching the boys play catch rather than watching King Felix and A.J. Burnett playing catch with their catchers.
On the bad front, Kellan threw another ball that bounced off of the head of the lady in the black Pirates jersey:
I didn’t actually see this happen. However, given the facts that (1) the boys were using a cloth/foam-y-ish ball (that incidentally looks exactly like a ROMLB), (2) Kellan is only 2 and (3) the ball bounced before it hit her, I’ll go out on a limb here and say there is zero chance this incident actually hurt the lady. But she was very mad about the situation. I thought we were going to get kicked out of the section and sent back to our regular seats. I immediately put the kids’ ball away and sincerely apologized to her and she just glared at me with complete and utter contempt.
We let this incident bother us for about 30 seconds and then we let it go. We have better, fun things on which to focus. Like the pierogies race:
And the shirt cannon/slingshot/toss, which resulted in Kellan coming up with this prize:
And, most importantly, Jesus Montero’s go-ahead homer to RCF in the top of the seventh inning:
2-1 Mariners after 7!
Kellan’s shirt was tied up with balloons, which the boys used to sling shot seeds on the warning track:
Felix was dominating and he was getting solid defense behind him. In the bottom of the eighth, Clint Barmes hit a shallow fly ball to CF that Michael Saunders grabbed with no problem:
The next batter was pinch hitter Jose Tabata, and he hit a low liner to RF and Endy Chavez made a great play on it. Starling Marte then singled, but was thrown out by Jesus Montero when he tried to swipe 2B. Starling no swiping, Starling no swiping, STARLING NO SWIPING!
At the end of the 8th, we left our wonderful seats, took a bathroom break, walked through a small team store behind home plate, and then found ourselves here for the bottom of the ninth:
FYI, Kellan refused to get off of my shoulders so I crouched on the ground in front of the seat so he wouldn’t be too tall for the fans behind us.
Although Felix Hernandez was out in the on deck circle at the end of the top of the ninth, Tom “The Bartender” Wilhelmsen…
…came in for “closing time” in the bottom of the ninth.
Wilhelmsen got a quick ground out by Travis Snider for the first out. He then has a 10 pitch battle with Andrew McCutchen, which included a foul ball that landed two rows in front of us, that ended with a fly out to deep LCF.
Garrett Jones made things more interesting by hitting a 2-out single. But Michael McKenry hit another deep fly ball for the final out of the game.
It was truly a beautiful thing.
During the post-game celebration…
…, Aarong Harang tossed a pearly white baseball to Tim.
As the celebration died down and the interviews with the heroes began…
…, Robbie Thompson tossed a muddy (game-rubbed?) baseball to Tim.
After the game ended and all the Mariners took off, we met up again with Zack, Robbie and a few other guys where Kellan was too tired and cranky to give another fist bump:
We had noticed the Pirates pig statue earlier in the day and wanted to get a picture with it on our way out of the ballpark. As you can see below on the left, an usher wouldn’t let us go over to the pig for a picture and then wouldn’t get out of our view when we tired to get a picture with the pig from a distance:
Luckily, he didn’t follow us out to block our picture with the Willie Stargell statue.
When we hopped in the car, Kellan fell asleep almost instantly and slept for at least three hours.
All around, this was a near perfect baseball experience. It was awesome seeing our Mariners. It was fun to see them in a new park (for Tim and Kellan). And it was even better to see King Felix bring home the win in a great pitchers’ duel.
2013 C&S Fan Stats
|12 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates|
|12 Ice Cream Helmet – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2|
|35 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 9, Rays 2, Orioles 1, Dodgers 1, Umpires 2, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1|
|6 Stadium – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park|
|14 Player Pictures – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen|
|5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo|
The offseason and January 1st are for remembering the past and looking forward to the future.
As far as remembering our baseball past goes, here’s a video that I made in 2010 that I absolutely love:
I really need to put together Volume 2 soon.
That’s all for now. Go Mariners!
It’s sad to be in Pennsylvania while my parents are in Arizona with the Mariners and are sending us pictures like this one of Ichiro…
…, this one of new Mariner Jesus Montero…
…, this one of Felix (the catcher)…
…, this one of Smoak, Carp, Ichiro (with pink-lined shoes), Rick Griffin and Guti…
…, this one of Dustin Ackley…
…, this one of Hisashi Iwakuma…
…, this one of King Felix pitching…
…and this one of a foul ball my dad caught today and then got signed in Japanese by Ikawuma:
As explained by our friend Nao: “top, “岩” (IWA=rock); 2nd, “隈”, (KUMA=corner, shadow); 3rd, “久” (HISA, eternity); bottom, 志（SHI, will).”
Okay. That’s a lot of fun in Arizona.
But, while we don’t have any Mariners here in Pennsylvania, we do have baseball!
This past weekend, Tim and I headed to our favorite local ballfield with our buddy Greg for some catching, throwing and hitting. Tim focused on the hitting.
He had a lot of fun with his new baseball bats. Here is a single to right:
A little fun with photo editing resulted in this picture of Tim’s batting motion:
Near the end of our practice, I got two two pictures that did not require any photo editing (although they may look like they did). Tim took a mighty swing but came up empty on this pitch from Greg:
FYI, that is a cloth Rawlings training ball so it did not hurt when it nailed me behind the plate (I was using a camera only, no glove).
And I saved the best for last. Tim’s wicked 6-year-old bat speed made his new metal bat look like a flimsy piece of swing cheese on this swing:
While we are quietly longing to be in Peoria with our Mariners (and Grandma and Grandpa), an afternoon playing baseball at the park is a great alternative!
On the morning of August 19, 2011, we woke up at our hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida. Our game wasn’t until 7:00 p.m. So we dined on some free breakfast at the hotel, and then relaxed and played at the pool for a while…
…before heading to the beach for some more relaxing and playing.
At 4-something o’clock in the afternoon, we headed to Tropicana Field. One thing that I didn’t know about, but stands out prominently when you see Tropicana Field is that the dome is tilted. Our first thought was that the high side of the roof was the outfield where homeruns and outfield fly balls would reach their apex. On second thought, we contemplated that the
high side of the roof might be home plate where baseballs would be hit straight up from home plate.
Anyway, we would find out soon enough. First, we had to pay $15 to park in the ballpark lot:
Wait, wait…turns out we were among the first 100 cars with four-or-more passengers and, therefore, we parked for free! Cool. None of us had ever experienced anything like that before at an MLB game!
Walking through the stadium parking lot toward the main entrance, we stopped for a photo in front of a big Rays *twinkle* — I don’t know what else to call that thing. So I’ll call it a *twinkle*:
Oh, lookie there, its our Roadtrip guest: my mom!
Tim was super-psyched to have his grandma join us for some baseball and other fun in the Tampa Bay area. She is, hands down, one of Tim’s favorite people in the world.
We arrived before the doors (they were, in fact, doors, not gates) opened. So we hung out below some palm trees outside of the CF entrance:
Upon entering Tropicana Field, Tim and I closed out the A.L. East stadiums. We have now been to Camden Yards, old Yankee Stadium, new Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, and Tropicana Field. This is our final new stadium of 2011. To date, Tim and I have been to 29 stadiums together (I have also been to the Kingdome and Veterans Stadium) and
there are only three teams (the Cardinals, Royals and Rockies) that we have not seen play a home game. We will finish those teams off in 2012 – although we will also have to back track to Minnesota (Target Field) and Miami (new Marlins ballpark) before we can say we have been to games at all current-MLB stadiums.
Back to this game, I was under the impression that fans would be confined to the outfield concourse during the first half hour after the doors opened. So the first thing we did was head upstairs to a little lookout above the rays tank:
I had told him about it and Tim was super-excited about the rays tank. And the excited did not fade through the weekend. Here is a view of the field from the lookout above the rays tank:
I immediately noticed something: there were fans in the outfield stands. This was a Friday night game. I guess they must not do the confined-to-the-concourse thing for weekend games. Anyway, there was no reason to be at the lookout if the stands were open. So we headed down to the RCF seats right next to the rays tank:
Check that out. Rays are swimming by literally three feet away from those seats. How awesome is that? These are officially Tim’s favorite seats at any MLB ballpark. (And, as I type this, he reminds me that he didn’t love them just for the rays, he loved the horseshoe crabs too!).
About seven minutes after gates opened (according to the time stamp on the following photo), Jake McGee…
…welcomed us to Tropicana Field with a toss-up. FYI, David Price is the guy running to the left, McGee is the guy acting like he is about to make a backhanded catch.
About five minutes later, we all circled around the stadium to the Mariners dugout on the 3B side. Ichiro was playing catch…
…with Chone Figgins along the 3B line. My Dad was hanging out above the dugout (where Miguel Olivo tossed him his warm-up baseball). My mom and Tim headed over to hang out with my Dad, and I relocated down the LF line where the Mariners pitchers were just starting to play catch:
Unless you have these super-fancy tickets along the foul line, fans cannot get down to the field by the bullpens. Its not as bad as in Miami where normal fans cannot get to the field anywhere in fair territory. At Tropicana Field, any fan can get down to the front row on the field between the dugouts and the bullpens, but then these big party areas set back the normal fans about 20-30 feet from the field.
As would become a recurring theme of this weekend, Tim wanted to go back out to the CF seats so he could watch the rays in the rays tank. My mom took him out there and my Dad and I hung out by the Mariners bullpen.
I went to section 137…
…by the foul pole, and my Dad hung out in…oh, probably…section 133 or so by the bullpen mounds. My Dad’s positioning paid huge dividends: Michael Pineda tossed him a baseball. Pineda has had a rougher go of it in the second half of the season, but I think he is going to develop into a dominating MLB pitcher.
A few minutes later, Dan Cortes (who is standing above and slightly to the left of the bald security guard in the last picture) finished playing catch with Josh Lueke. When I called out his name, Cortes happily tossed me his unofficially rubbed up and dirty baseball.
I’ve chatted with Cortes a few times this season. He seems really nice. He’s at the stage that he’s excited to be in the big leagues and he is ready to spend a little time chatting to fans who recognize him.
When the pitchers finished playing catch, they disbursed across the outfield. I spend a few minutes hanging out in LF, but it was somewhat crowded and I was alone. I figured it would be more fun to go meet up with Tim and my mom in CF. I started toward a tunnel to run out to the concourse, but then I figured I might as well walk to the LCF side of the batters’ eye in the seats. I could then run down into the concourse and head over to the RCF seats. The decision paid off.
In deep LCF, Tom Wilhelmsen was all by his lonesome shagging baseballs. Wilhelmsen is in a similar place as Cortes – happy to be in the major leagues. But add to the mix that fact that he was out of baseball for about 6 years. Two years ago, he was a bartender in the Phoenix area. Now, he is a Major League baseball player. What wouldn’t he have to be happy about?
As I passed behind Wilhelmsen, a ball was driven into the deepest part of LCF. I called out Tom’s name and flashed him my glove. He then disappeared from sight for 3-4 seconds and returned ready to fire me a strike.
When I reached the rays tank, Tim was excitedly watching (and “oooh’ing” and aweing about) the rays and, to my surprise, he was holding a baseball. Turns out that Justin Smoak spotted Tim and my mom in the seats watching the rays and tossed up a baseball. It was the first baseball Tim’d ever gotten outside of my immediate presence! Oh, my young boy is growing into a man. *weep* *weep*
And then it was time for one of the most exciting BP moments or our season. My Dad was in straight away right field. I relocated to RF after Jason Vargas tossed him his warm up ball in LF. We all decided to go hang out over there when we saw that Ichiro was shagging fly balls out there.
You can only go in the front row in the outfield during BP if you have front row tickets – my guess is that it is a safety issue. The railings are ridiculously low. Anyway, we couldn’t get into the front row. So Tim and I were standing together in the second row directly behind Ichiro. Oddly enough, Tim was actually standing directly in front of me – i.e., we were both standing in front of the same seat in the second row.
One of our lefties spanked a ball over Ichiro’s head. It ended up on the warning track directly in front of us. As Ichiro came back for it, Tim and I both called out to him and politely asked for him to toss the baseball to us. As he grabbed the baseball, he looked up right at us. He saw Tim decked out in Mariners gear. Our eyes connected. And he tossed the baseball right to us.
But there was a problem. There were grown men on either side of me in the front row. For us to get the baseball, one of two things would have to happened. The first option was if, noticing that the baseball was plainly for a little kid (Mariners fan) who had asked for it, the two guys would just let it sail between them so we could catch it. That option was a no go. Both seemed intent on depriving Tim of the baseball that his baseball hero had decided to toss right to him.
The second option was for me, without the ability to enter the front row, to someone beat out two grown men standing closer to Ichiro and catch the ball before them. And that’s what would have to happen. As the ball sailed to me, the guys crashed in from both sides. Luckily, neither guy reached out toward the field for it, they just moved laterally. Their gloves came together like a curtain trying to shut us out. But I leaned WAAAAY forward (Tim slid to the side so I didn’t smash him into the seat in front of me) and my pushed through the narrow opening between their gloves. The two guys essentially caught my wrist, and on the other side, my glove caught the baseball.
I pulled my glove back really having no clue if I got it or not. I opened my glove and we found the baseball inside. We were ecstatic! We yelled out a huge:
“THANK YOU, ICHIRO!!!”
And I held the ball up for my parents to see. Two seconds later, handed the ball to Tim and he posed for a picture with Ichiro (and one of the would-be Ichiro-ball interceptors) in the background:
After our initial celebration, Tim ran up to his grandma and I headed to the back of the section where I got a second picture showing Tim, the Ichiro baseball, my mom and my dad (blue hat and green backpack):
This was already one of our best batting practices ever. To cap it off, I caught a Kyle Seager (I am pretty sure it was Seager) homerun on the fly at the back of the section. It was pretty exciting since I almost never catch balls on the fly (in fact, this was my first of the season). The ball was hit about 10 feet to my left. I ran over there and it was coming directly to two guys (probably 22’ish years old). Neither had a glove, but both hopped up and made a quarter-hearted attempt at catching it. But in the end, I think both were scared to try to catch it bare handed. So they let it sail directly between them and straight into my glove.
It was pretty cool and my Mom gave a big cheer from the bottom of the section. So that was cool. Seager really got a hold of that one. The ball ended up mildly lopsided from the force of the hit.
And that was it for BP.
Then, Tim had a great idea…
…“Let’s go see the rays tank!”
On the walk to the rays tank (or to the line for the rays tank), we passed under this interesting lamp:
That’s the arm of “Raymond,” the Rays’ mascot. Although many people are down on domed-stadiums (not me, I love ‘em!), no one can credibly say that the Rays haven’t done a great job making their concourses interesting for fans (particularly kids). There are tons of things to see and do in the various concourses that circle Tropicana Field.
It took awhile, but we finally made it to the front of the rays tank line:
Oops…we forgot about the upstairs waiting area. What is this, the Empire State Building line?
In the second floor waiting area, Tim posed (quite hilariously) with some rays painted onto a bench:
We were sure to obey all of the “Rays Tank rules”:
Anyone can go in and pet the rays for free. But for $5 (that goes to the local aquarium), you can feed the rays too! Tim preferred the “drop it and let them find it” method of feeing the rays:
Mostly, he just wanted to watch them from close up:
If you had food, the rays would flock to you and stick their faces and wings above the water. Meanwhile, the horseshoe crab and its baby walked around the bottom of the tank and didn’t bother anyone. Of course, I had to keep an eye on the field to see if my Mariners would reappear.
And they did. While we were in the rays tank area (you only get 8 minutes in there, something I did not yet know at this point), Felix Hernandez came out to warm up. I entrusted Tim to his grandparents’ care and headed off to watch Felix.
After the rays tank, but before meeting up with me down the LF line, my parents took Tim to play in the RF concourse:
And soon enough, this picture showed up on my phone (via text from my mom):
That is Raymond, the Rays’ mascot. But interestingly, it isn’t the normal Raymond. The normal Raymond is fuzzy, like most mascots. This Raymond was a big inflatable guy.
This was my view of Tropicana Field from section 127…
…as I watched Felix run through his pre-game routine. By the way, at Tropicana Field, odd numbered sections are on the 3B/LF side and even numbered sections are on the 1B/RF side.
During the singing of the National Anthem, Felix looked like a true all-star…
…complete with stars shaved into the side of his head.
In recent history, the Mariners bullpen has featured a rookie with a pink back pack. Well, for this series, I featured two pink back packs, another silly kids’ backpack (that will be shown later), and a tiny little pink lunch box…
…carried by Dan Cortes.
We sat in section 129 at this game. This was our view:
And this is what we looked like (or at least three of us) at the beginning of the game:
Although we sat in section 129, we were supposed to sit in section 131. But there was a problem. This big dude in the Hawaiian shirt (row K) was sitting in our seats:
Going into this game, the Mariners were 0-3 for me and Tim this season with two walk-off losses. We yearned for a Mariners win like nobody’s business. We were hoping that Ichiro…
…would start it off hot for the Mariners. Unfortunately, he popped out foul to the catcher.
We were in need of food. So between innings I headed out to the concourse. The field level concourse is interesting at Tropicana Field. It is split between an inner concourse – primarily just for walking from here to here – and an outer concourse that doubles as a food court of sorts. Here are two pictures of the food-concourse on the 3B side…
…where I found our nachos…
…and a all-you-can-drink diet coke (actually, it was probably diet pepsi). And I drank a whole lot of diet pepsi to make sure I got my money’s worth.
While we were eating our nachos, the Rays’ mascot, Raymond, made an appearance about two sections down from us. I asked Tim if he wanted to get his picture with Raymond and, of course, he did. So we put the nachos down and sprinted down to sections toward home plate and got this photo with Raymond:
Two minutes later, Raymond was standing two rows behind our seats taking pictures with fans. Oh, well. The chase was part of the fun.
One of the newest and most exciting young Mariners, Trayvon Robinson…
…, was playing LF and was standing directly out from our seats most of the game. After the Mariners failed to score in the top of the first. Robinson made a brilliant diving catch on a liner to LCF to retire the first Rays batter of the game in the bottom of the first.
The game was scoreless through the first and second innings. Robinson then led off the third with a double to RF. He took second on a groundout by Ichiro. Trayvon then scored the first run of the game when Franklin Gutierrez grounded to short stop Sean Rodriguez who threw the ball way (also allowing Gutierrez to take second).
It was time for Tim and I to go on a little adventure. He wanted to go see the rays tank and I wanted to go take Tim’s picture with his Ichiro baseball and the Tropicana Field sign for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.
On our way to the sign (or what I thought was the sign), we stopped off in section 144 to take this panorama:
I thought that the *Tropicana Field* sign was really cool looking, with a big orange and straw logo. Tim decided on a catching-the-Ichiro-baseball pose and I thought the picture turned out great:
At the time, it did not occur to me at all that the sign did not say “Tropicana Field.” No, not at all. Of course, it is plain as day, it is just a Tropicana juice sign! Aye, aye, aye…
As we continued on our way toward the rays tank, we took some pictures of the interest set up at Tropicana Field. First off, the RF seating section is really small. Tons of batters were hitting BP homers to the very back of the seats because there just are not many rows of seats in RF. One reason there aren’t many seats is because they have this cross-aisle behind some of the sections in RF (close to the foul pole):
I have no clue what the blue risers are behind the cross-aisle.
We stopped in the cross-aisle behind section 135 to get this panorama:
In foul territory down the 1B line there is a party area similar, but not identical, to the party area down the 3B line:
Once you get to the scoreboard and big screen in RF, the cross-aisle ends, and the blue risers turn into black risers:
But enough of that. There were rays to watch:
And Tim had blast watching them:
If you happen to have tickets in section 150 next to the rays tank, if you are able to look away from the rays, this is what your view of the field would look like:
As we were circling back around the cross-aisle toward home plate, it was the top of the fifth and King Felix had yet to give up a single hit to the Rays. With the Mariners still leading 1-0, Ichiro led off the fifth with a single:
With Ichiro still on first, we got this panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 116:
But then Franklin Gutierrez grounded into a double play. An Adam Kennedy strike out later, the top of the fifth inning was history.
We headed out to the concourse and bought some ice cream helmets. As we walked the inside concourse around home plate toward our seats, we got a shot of the weird tunnels into the seating area behind home plate:
Very odd, indeed.
Back in the seats with Grandma and Grandpa, the ice cream was quite tasty:
Unfortunately, the Rays tied it up 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth with a run manufactured by B.J. Upton. After singling on a weak grounder past Adam Kennedy at third, he stole second, stole third, and scored on a bunt by John Jaso. The worst part about it is that Upton should have been out at first. Adam Kennedy didn’t get in front of the ball. Instead he ole’d it right into a single. Unfortunately, this would not be Kennedy’s only botched play on the day…so stay tuned.
The Mariners reclaimed the lead in the top of the seventh on a lead-off homerun to RF by Kyle Seager:
That *should have* been all the support that Felix needed for the win. He was, as usual, dominating:
In the eighth, Tim and my Mom headed back to the rays tank…
…and then things fell apart for the Mariners.
More precisely, things fell apart in the bottom of the eighth when Johnny Damon stepped to the plate with two down and a runner on first:
One more out and the Mariners would head to the ninth with the 2-1 lead intact. Felix pumped strike one and strike two over the plate. One more strike and the Mariners could stick a fork in the eighth.
But then Damon hit a grounder between third and short stop. Kennedy moved like a slug over to get it. He double or triple or…I don’t know…infinity-clutched the ball. I yelled, “AAAAAAHHHHHHH, GET RID OF IT!!!!!!” And then Johnny Damon crossed first base safe.
I could not believe it.
Any other day, Kennedy makes that play. Kyle Seager, Chone Figgins, Jose Lopez, Adrian Beltre, Scott Spiezio, Jeff Cirillo, David Bell, Russ Davis, Mike Blowers, Edgar Martinez, Jim Presley, Jamie Allen, Manny Castillo, Dan Meyer, Ted Cox, Bill Stein, and anyone else who has ever played a single game at 3B for the Mariners would have made the play. In fact, they would have made the out at either 2B or 1B.
But this was this day, and it was Adam Kennedy (who had already cost Felix a run) was at third, and the play was not made.
As great as King Felix is, he does not always respond well to boneheaded misplays. And he did not respond well at this game. So Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist both followed with RBI singles. A few minutes later, game over. Mariners lose.
It was a tough, tough loss.
As the relievers headed back to the dugout, I got this picture featuring a pink backpack and the new R2D2 backpack:
As the ninth inning was playing out, I realized something – the Tropicana sign wasn’t the Tropicana Field sign. And Tim was way out there in CF by the rays tank. I texted and called
my Mom to ask her to come back to meet up with us. But her phone was in his bag and she didn’t hear it. So, just in case we didn’t get another baseball at Tropicana Field, my Dad took a Tropicana Field bonus picture of me…
…and when my Mom and Tim finally arrived (and the lights had been turned down), I got a bonus picture of Tim.
And then we got a group photo with the lights out:
Tim requested that it be a *thumbs up* photo.
See all of those people on the field? On Friday nights, the Rays turn off the main lights, turn on some disco lights and dance music, and let fans leave the game by walking across the field to an exit in CF.
We headed down to the field and got a picture of Tim on the warning track with the dugout behind him:
We got another picture of Tim standing on the LF foul line:
And then Tim started to dance like crazy. It was all I could do to get him to stop dancing long enough to take this picture behind second base (doing an 80s b-boy pose)…
…and this on-field Tropicana Field bonus picture (this is the official photo we submitted to the scavenger hunt):
Then, as Tim went back to throwing his hat in the air and dancing, I took a 360 degree panorama from behind 2B:
If you click on that picture to enlarge it, you can see Tim dancing on both sides of the panorama.
I took this same picture, but my Dad did a better job of it – a worm’s eye view of the center of Tropicana Field’s roof:
After Tim did a bit more dancing, including some break dancing on the big screen…
…we called it a night.
We’d be back again the next day (August 20, 2011) hoping for our first Mariners win of the season.
I have to say, despite the crushing Mariners loss, I really liked Tropicana Field. I grew up among rumors of the Mariners moving to St. Petersburg to play in this very building. Because of that, I’ve always had negative feelings about Tropicana Field. But I grew up going to and absolutely loving the Kingdome. And like the Metrodome in 2009, I felt right at home at Tropicana Field, a great little domed stadium.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|24/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]|
|19 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (1)).|
|68 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 5 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)|
|12/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]|
|13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]|
|2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|
When the 2011 season scheduled was released, I was extremely excited to see that the Mariners would be making their first trip to Nationals Park. The downside was that the three game series was mid-week, with one game being a day game. I really wanted our whole family to attend one of the games so both Kellan and Tim could see the Mariners in only their second trip to D.C. But real life was not cooperating.
As the series approached, it was certain that we could not attend the second or third games the series because I would be on a brief business trip. The first game looked like it was effectively out too. But something happened during the day of the game that all of a sudden made the game possible. It was such a late call, however, that Colleen (and therefore Kellan too) wasn’t prepared to make the trip down. So around 3:30 p.m. on June 21, 2011, Tim and I hopped in the car hoping we could at least catch the tail end of BP.
And that is exactly what happened. We walked in and saw literally two minutes of BP before the Mariners cleared the field. In fact, it was so quick that we didn’t even get a single BP picture!
With the field empty, we headed into the infield to see if any Mariners were milling around over there. They weren’t.
So, we hung out down the 3B line and watched the field for a bit. After a while, the one and only Jason Phillips popped out of the dugout and headed out to the bullpen. We said our hellos and how-you-doings as he passed by on his way to the bullpen.
Once his colleagues joined Jason out by the bullpen, we snapped this picture of Doug Fister and Chris Gimenez stretching out:
Soon, Adam Kennedy made an appearance down the 3B line:
Kennedy gave Tim a friendly wave, which is always cool to get from a Mariner.
Soon some more Mariners joined Kennedy, including Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley. This was the first road game of Ackley’s career. And when a guy in a Mariners fan called out his name and asked for an autograph, he came over…
…and signed for a few minutes. We didn’t have a baseball yet so we didn’t ask for a signature. And for some bizarre reason, I didn’t even think of asking Ackley if he would pose for a picture with Tim. Man, I must have been off my game!
Anyway, before the game started, we headed out to the LF and sat behind the Mariners bullpen. Actually, before sitting down, we peered down into the bullpen. Bullpen coach Jaime
Navarro walked by just then, saw Tim, and motioned to us as if to say “hold on, stay right there.” He then disappeared and reappeared with…
…this lovely Rawlings Official MLB baseball, which he tossed up to Tim.
Okay. It was game time and we were primed for our first Mariners win of the season. This was only our second Mariners game of the year, and they lost the first game 2-1 to the Orioles in the 12th inning. It was part of Brandon League’s stretch of losing 4 consecutive games. Ouch. So, we needed a win in a big way.
Things started out beautifully. Tim’s favorite player, Ichiro spanked a single into LF:
Tim then told me to take a picture of Ichiro on first base. So I did:
Ichiro then took second on a weak ground out by Brendan Ryan. As Ichi stood on second, Tim told me to take a picture of Ichiro scoring. And a few seconds later, Adam Kennedy singled
to CF and Ichiro scored:
FYI, Ichiro is directly behind Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos in that picture. His left leg is visible to the immediate right of Ramos.
Things were going great so far!
The Mariners scored a second run in the first inning when Dustin Ackley …
…singled to RF in this career debut road at-bat.
Doug Fister then came in and shut down the Nationals in the first. In the process of Fister shutting down the Nats, I got this picture of Ichiro playing RF.
After one inning, the Mariners led 2-0. We liked it.
We also liked this huge pile of chili nachos that we got before the top of the second inning:
Although it resulted in a nice action shot…
…Ichiro grounded out in the top of the second. But the Mariners tacked on a third run in the third inning on a Dustin Ackley RBI ground out. And this is what the scoreboard looked like after three innings:
Not only was the 3-0 score a happy sight, but it was nice to see “Seattle Washington” on the board as well.
Between innings, Screech rolled by on his lazy guy walking machine:
Between innings, we were also happy to find A.L. MVP candidate Larry Bernandez sitting nearby:
Larry Bernandez is an instant Mariners legend that hit the scene this scene. Great to see him in the OF at this game. Also, check out the cool 3D effect as Larry’s face matches up with his sign holder’s face!
During the bottom of the third inning, we needed to go on a water run. As we strolled through the 3B side concourse after filling a bottle with water, Ian Desmond hit a deep fly ball that
Franklin Gutierrez caught to end the third inning. We were in the concourse above the Mariners dugout, so we scurried down the stairs and nearly caught the ball after Guti flipped it about six rows deep into the crowd.
There were about 8 empty seats right where Guti flipped the ball, so we decided to sit down and give it one more shot at a third out ball. But before we knew it, we ended up spending five innings sitting in those empty seats.
On this pitch, Franklin led off the top of the fourth with a solid single into CF:
Franklin then stole second and Chris Gimenez…
…, shown here with all-round good guy Greg Halman, struck out swinging. That led to an 8-pitch at-bat by Mariners pitcher Doug Fister:
On the 8th pitch, Fister bounced a singled into RF and Gutierrez came around to score the fourth Mariners run of the game:
Ichiro and his classic pre-pitch pose…
…followed Fister, but grounded into an inning ending double play.
I don’t know what’s going on in this picture, but Tim looks hilarious:
See all the Mariners fans and people wearing baby blue behind us? More on them later.
Fister was pitching lights out all night. I was thinking he could pitch a complete game shut out:
In the top of the fourth inning, Adam Kennedy hit in yet another run. At that point, the Mariners lead 5-0. What a game! We were having a great time!
In the middle innings, I shot a bunch of pictures of Tim in our seats. Here are a couple of them:
And then I decided to take one with my cellphone to post on Twitter…
…and a couple minutes later the @Mariners replied: “What a handsome young man.”
The Nationals finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth inning when Ian Desmond crossed the plate following a Roger Bernadina single.
On this swing, Ichiro led off the top of the sixth with his second hit of the night:
But he was stranded on base after stealing second base.
Inning-after-inning Justin Smoak tossed third-out-baseball-after-third-out-baseball to the same people:
I’m not sure if he was tossing them to the older gentleman under the red arrow or the younger girl under the red arrow. Either way, it didn’t matter. The younger guy under the yellow arrow leapt high in the air and intercepted three of the baseballs (and his dad intercepted another when the yellow-arrow-guy was out of the seats).
Over the course of several innings, I struck up a little conversation with the guy right behind me. That whole row had super thick southern accents. I asked the guy behind me how all of those folks became Mariners fans with such thick southern accents. Turns out, they were Dustin Ackley’s friends and family visiting from North Carolina.
The three girls behind us looked like sisters and my understanding is that they are Ackley’s cousins. The guy also pointed out Ackley’s father sitting nearby. His mom and grandparents and a whole slew of other Ackley-people were sitting around us too. And the Mariners knew it because they were trying like crazy to get a third-out ball to these guys. One of the balls, in the bottom of the sixth inning, was a double-play ball started by Ackley. But the Ackley-people got robbed by the guy in front of them every time, and they went home empty handed.
Aside from watching their quest to get a third-out ball, the most interesting thing about sitting by these folks is that they all called Ackley “Dusty” the whole time. Here’s hoping that Dusty* has a long and stellar career as a Mariner.
Late in the game, Tim got a scrumptious ice cream helmet:
In the top of the ninth, Tim posed with Ichiro:
We were bursting with excitement for the Mariners win that was only three Nationals outs away in the bottom of the ninth.
As the Mariners were warming up for the bottom of the ninth, Tim and I slid into some seats right behind the 3B end of the Mariners dugout. When Justin Smoak tossed the infield warm up ball in toward the dugout, it bounced off of the netting and back into the middle of the warning track. But Michael Pineda hopped out of the dugout and grabbed the baseball. I called out “Hey, Pineda! Michael!” He looked up, saw Tim and me above the dugout, and flipped the extremely dirty infield warm up ball to us:
It was the ninth and the end of a long day, but Tim was still choke full of silly faces:
As things got started in the ninth, King Felix looked our way and gave us a little nod:
A few drops of rain started to fall, and Tim laid back in his seat to track the rain on its way down to earth:
As for the game, even though it was not a save situation and Fister had thrown only 99 pitches and given up 3 hits, Brandon League game came in to attempt to finish out the game. Jason Werth led off the inning and reached first on an error by Justin Smoak. Then League walked Roger Bernadina. Not a good way to start the ninth, but I felt okay with a four run lead.
Ryan Zimmerman then grounded into a double play sending Werth to third with only one out to go in the game. I was feeling good at this point.
And then I had a stupid, stupid idea. League worked Jerry Hairston to a 2-strike count. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to take a picture of Hairston striking out to end the game for the Mariners win?” I snapped this picture:
Then I quickly started thinking that trying to take a picture of the final out of the game was a great way to jinx the Mariners. But it was too late. The jinx was on.
Harrison singled to center to score Werth (unearned run number 1 of the inning). 5-2 led Mariners.
Former Mariner Michael Morse then drilled a line drive off of Brandon League’s leg. League had to leave the game:
No one had been warming up at all. David Pauley had to jump up and head to the mound cold. Even though he would get unlimited warm up pitches, it seems like pitchers who come in following an injury to the previous pitcher always struggle. Pauley was no exception.
Danny Espinosa singled to RF scoring Harriston (unearned run number 2 of the inning).
Wilson Ramos (who??) crushed a walk-off home run deep into the RCF seats (unearned runs 3, 4, and 5 of the inning).
Mariners lose. We sat there stunned. It was painful. As I sat with my head hung in disbelief, the Mariners looked equally dumbfounded. Most of the team just stood there for a minute. Then Adam Kennedy slowly walked off of the field and his teammates started to follow him.
Such a great day of Mariners baseball turned so ugly at the end.
It had truly been a great evening at the ballpark with Tim…right up until the 26th out was recorded. Aye, aye, aye…
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|14/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs and Angels; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]|
|9 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1))|
|43 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels)|
|6/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]|
|11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]|
|1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|
After a brief detour through the Metrodome, its back to Spring Training. We still have a few more reports to go from the desert. This one has no real *story* per se, its just a bunch of pictures. It does, however, have a theme: practice. We took a bunch of nice pictures of Mariners doing the hard work of preparing for the 2011 season and its time to share them.
Each morning, the entire Mariners major league camp would report to practice field M3 for a big stretching routine:
The Mariners coaching staff hits hours of fungo to the Mariners infielders during Spring Training. Here, Justin Smoak gloves a grounder on the first day of full team workouts on M2:
This next picture is hilarious to me. This was the first day of full squad workouts and the coach (cannot remember which one) said, “First grounder of the season!” and then hit this ball to King Felix Hernandez a/k/a Larry Bernandez:
Erik Bedard has been a pleasant surprise this Spring. He is flat out pitching like a stud and finally looking like he might live up to the original hype. Here he is getting in his work in the mega-bullpen between M3 and M4:
What makes this next picture cool was unintentional and hard to decipher. However, if you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see that I captured two balls in the air — Figgy gunned a ball to Justin Smoak that appears in the upper lefthand corner of the photo and Brendan Ryan his underhanding a second baseball to 2B:
One day, the guys all came out to practice and the outfielders reported to M6. Ichiro was all set to play catch with Milton Bradley when he realized he’d forgot his glove in the clubhouse. Ichiro’s interpreter, Anthony Suzuki, bolted off to the clubhouse and came cruising back with Ichiro’s glove:
…Tim took the other three from close range.
So there you go, a look behind the scenes at Spring Training practice. For my money, practice is where the fun is at Spring Training.