Tagged: ice cream helmet

Todd & Tim in Philadelphia: Reprise of a 2-Man Team (6/23/12)

Our plans for Saturday, June 23, 2012 changed several times leading up to the day of the game.  After several years of just me and Tim going to games together, Kellan had been to the last 11 in a row with us.  I was thinking it would be good for Tim to get some one-on-one time and do an old school Tim-and-Dad game.  We were going to go to see the Rockies and Phillies mid-week and then bring Kellan with us again to this weekend game.  Then Tim got sick.  The mid-week game was out and I thought I would just take Kellan to the weekend game.  Then Tim gave his germs to Kellan and started feeling better, although he still had the remnants of a rash that went along with his sickness.  So the final plan was to just take Tim to the weekend game while Kellan stayed home with mommy and rested up and recovered.

So that is what we did.

It was interleague play and the Phillies were hosting the Rays in an afternoon game set to start at 4:05 p.m.  We headed down in time for the gates to open.

We were probably 15-20 people back in one of three lines at the LF gate, but somehow when we stepped down into the LF seats, we were literally the first fans in the OF.  It was pretty strange.  Probably 45 people beat us into the stadium, but I had no clue where they’d all gone.

We ran down to the first row and did two things.  First, I asked Juan Pierre if he could toss a baseball to Tim when he eventually got one.  He said yes.  And he tossed the very next ball he got to us…although, for some reason, he threw it to me instead of Tim.

Second, we got Tim’s picture wearing a Justin Bieber shirt during BP:

He is doing a little “heart” shape with his hands.  Apparently, Justin Bieber does that.  Although, I should note that I only know that from watching Jimmy Fallon’s hilarious parody of Bieber.  Big thanks to Dan Sauvageau in Denver.  He got Tim this shirt for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt while we were in Denver.  But there was no BP the day he gave it to Tim so we didn’t get the picture.  I have carried this shirt to every game since that day and always forgotten to get the picture.  To stop that trend, Tim put the Bieber shirt on at home before leaving for this game so we wouldn’t forget again.  We covered up that shirt within minutes of getting the picture.

Big thanks, Dan!

No knock on Kellan, I love going to games with that little guy.  But, wow, it is so much easier to do BP (and the entire game) with just me and Tim.  For starters, I don’t have to carry Tim at all.

After getting the baseball from Juan Pierre and getting the Bieber picture, we headed out to RCF.  I wanted to see if Michael Stutes was around – frankly, I don’t even know if he is still on the Phils rosters.  I didn’t see him.  Most of the Phils pitchers were still running in RF.

Eventually, Joe Blanton broke off from the pack and walked along the warning track retrieving baseballs that had been hit out there while no one was there to shag them.  There were 2-3 baseballs on the track directly below us.

Blanton grabbed the first and tossed it to a Phillies fan to our right.  Then he grabbed the second ball and threw it in to the bucket.  But the third ball?  He tossed that one up to Tim…

…and Tim gloved it with no problems.

Thanks, Joe!

It was time to find some shade.

We headed to the back of section 140 where some shade was reaching the seats.

At our last game at Citizens Bank Park, we headed over to section 140 and an usher (who I am told is named Bernie) gave Tim a baseball.  Well, as we were a full section away from section 140, I could already tell that the exact same thing was going to happen at this game.

And, sure enough, it did:

Thanks, Bernie!

So, I just got a new camera because my last camera was *almost* destroyed on the GFS Baseball Roadtrip.  Our new camera has a “sweeping” panorama feature.  Here is my first use of the new panorama feature:

Not too shabby.

So we had three baseballs already and tons of time left during BP.  Tim wanted to stay in the shade and I didn’t have Kellan to hold or try to keep him safe.  So I decided to put on Tim’s 10 inch glove…

…and try to catch a homerun on the fly (something I have never done at Citizens Bank Park) while Tim sat in the shade at the back of the section taking pictures:

Tim LOVES taking pictures.  I gave him my old camera to use since I had the new one.  And he snap, snap, snapped pictures…until he finished the job of sending that camera to the junk heap.

I stood in the aisle next to Tim (sitting in the second seat) and ran around trying to catch a homerun.  But nothing came anywhere near us.

When the rest of the stadium opened to the public, we headed over to the pizza wedge:

Nothing came near us during the rest of Phillies BP.

While not much was going on, Tim noticed this camera:

I wondered if it was an MLB Network ballpark cam.

I noticed something interesting when the Phils cleared the field, three of the Phillies pitchers walked into the tunnel in the RF foul corner instead of walking to the dugout:

The transition from Phillies BP to Rays BP was odd.  The Rays were still stretching by the dugout when the Phils headed to the clubhouse.  They just kept stretching and stretching.  There was a lot of dead time before the Rays really started hitting.

Before the Rays started hitting in earnest, a sole batter started hitting.  It was Rays starting pitcher, James Shields…

…and one of his hits rolled to a stop directly below Tim (and directly below the “399” sign on the wall).  There were zero people in the OF shagging baseballs.  I had a feeling that we would end up getting that baseball once the Rays took to the field.

And we did.  Eventually, Hideki Matsui’s interpreter, Roger Kahlon (thanks to Josh Leuke identifying Kahlon for me on Twitter), walked out into RF and tossed a few baseballs back to the bucket.  He didn’t see the baseball all the way out by the dugout.  But I waved at him and pointed and the baseball and Tim.  That did the trick.  He turned and walked toward us…

…and tossed the baseball up to Tim.  Again, Tim made a nice catch.

Thanks, Roger!

After getting that baseball from Kahlon, we decided to resume the picture taking and homerun-catch-attempting.  We moved over to section 103.  Tim sat in the shade toward the back of the section and I stood in the aisle a couple seats down from Tim.

I had one near perfect chance to catch a homerun.  It landed about 15 feet from where I was standing when it was hit.  All I had to do was move down the stairs about 5 rows.  It was hit right to the aisle.  But…

…this guy with no glove standing in the aisle completely boxed me out as I tried to walk past him.  He didn’t realize he was doing it.  The ball was hit to the RF side of the aisle.  He moved to that side right as I was trying to pass him.  He literally pushed me right into the row and made it so I couldn’t pass.  He made no effort to walk down a few rows to make the catch.  While I was trapped in the row, another fan ran over and caught the ball on the fly.

That was my chance.  I didn’t come anyway near another homerun.

Toward the end of BP, we went over to the bullpen again.  Tim and I both noticed this plaque on the wall in the Phillies bullpen:

I’ve never notice that before.  Right after BP ended, Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo grabbed a baseball out of his equipment bag and tossed it up to Tim.  But he tossed it too high and I had to catch it, in Kellan’s tiny glove.  This is what the scene looked like:

As you can see, we also did a little sub-amateur birding in the bullpen.

Thanks, Jesus!

After Tim took a few more pictures, we headed for the upper deck to do some stadium exploring.  The first thing we noticed, right upon exiting the field level seats, is that the speed pitch from past seasons…

…is gone and a Chickie’s and Pete’s is no in the location of the old speed pitch area.  Chickie’s and Pete’s used to be in the concourse above the RF end of the bullpens.  This Chickie’s and Pete’s was not here at the first game we went to this season (neither was the speed pitch).  It’s too bad.  That speed pitch was pretty cool.

Our original post-BP plan involved getting some pizza and heading to the upper deck above the “pizza wedge.”  But then Tim asked if we could pull the old switcheroo – one of his favorite moves of the season – where we get ice cream first and dinner second.  So, we just walked around for the time being.

We headed up to the second deck and got two panoramas from section 206.  The first was using my camera’s sweep panorama function…

…and the second was an old-fashioned stitched panorama:

I like them both, but I prefer the old-fashioned method.

We ended up taking a long, round-about path to our favorite ice cream spot.  We traversed the upper-deck from the RF foul pole to third base.  Along the way, we ran into the Liberty Pig:

We found the other Phanatic pig (shown out of sequence) down by the kids’ play area during the game.

We ended up taking a flight of stairs down to the field level to find Tim’s ice cream.  At the top of the stairway, we stopped to get this panoramic photo of (what I have always considered to be) the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park:

While heading down the stairs, we stopped off at the Hall of Fame suite level.  The guys guarding the door let us pop inside to get Tim’s picture with the wall of baseballs:

That wall of baseball runs almost all the way from foul pole to foul pole on the Hall of Fame suite level.  It is a whole lot of baseballs!!!

When we reached the field level, we grabbed Tim’s ice cream helmet, exchanged some tickets to a future game, and then walked to our seats for the start of the game.

Along the way, we stopped to get Tim’s picture with a card board cut out of the Phillie Phanatic:

The top of the first was just about ending when we got to our seats in section 104.  When the Rays took the field in the bottom of the first, Hideki Matsui was stationed almost directly in front of us:

Unfortunately, our seats were in direct sunlight.  I was fine with it, but Tim was not a fan.  He crouched down on the floor beneath our seats to eat his ice cream helmet:

While I watched Hunter Pence at the plate and Juan Pierre swiping second…

…, I knew we had to find somewhere else to sit.  Our seats were awesome.  But they just wouldn’t work for Tim.

I quickly spotted some seats that would work in the upper deck:

After Tim finished his ice cream, we ditched RF.

On our way to the upper deck, we stopped by the kids’ play area.  While we were there, the Rays scored 3 runs on a Ben Zobrist single, Jose Lobaton walk, Jeff Keppinger 2RBI double, Elliot Johnson walk, and James Shields RBI groundout.

After the play area, we headed up the escalator…

…stood in front of some mist-blowing fans in the second deck, and then headed up to the upper deck.

While walking over to section 427, I noticed that the pub in the upper deck has an incredibly apt pun-laden name…

…the High & Inside Pub.

While we were en route to our new seats, Jimmy Rollins hit a 2-run homerun to bring the score to 3-2 Rays.  We couldn’t see the homerun from where we were walking, but we could hear the crowd going crazy for J-Roll.

We ended up sitting in the back row of section 427, right under one of the light stands:

If we moved over a bit to see around the light stand, it looked sort of like this:

Directly behind us, there was a chain linked fence that looks out over the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park:

It was pretty nice and relaxing up there in the shady upper-deck.  We kicked back and ate our pizza dinner.  Here was my beverage-eyes view of the game during our dinner:

The upper deck is often times a good spot for action shots.  In the bottom of the fourth, I captured Jimmy Rollins hitting a single to RF and then taking second on the throw to 3B:

Juan Pierre followed J-Roll and I captured him hitting the 17th homerun of his 13-year career:

It was a 3-run jobber that gave the Phils a 5-3 lead.

We were having a great time in the upper deck.  I took a couple self-portraits to capture the moment, but they didn’t turn out too good.  Here is the best of them:

And here is a random shot of BJ Upton at bat:

Tim was using my old camera to take a bunch of ballpark photos.  At one point, he turned around and started shooting photos outside the stadium…

…we saw a cute father-son scene going down out front by the Michael Jack Schmidt statue.  Pretty cool scene.  The funniest part was that this father-son combo were leaving the game in the fourth inning!  But they were obviously have a great time together, so it was pretty cool to spy on their good time for a few seconds.

I got another cool action sequence of James Shields pitching:

So we were having a great time in the upper deck.  The shady seats were really great.  But we couldn’t stay put for too long.  At one point, I noticed that the shadow of the upper-deck was reaching across the field from LF all the way behind home plate.

We stood up and tried to see if we could find ourselves in the shadows on the field.  But we couldn’t.

Then I realized how we could find ourselves in the shadows.  We had to go to the far end of the upper deck out by the LF foul pole.

As we approached the last section, we could already see our shadows out in LF:

Then we got one of my favorite pictures we have ever got at a MLB stadium:

Check out Tim’s shadow on the LF foul pole.  My shadow is in the LF grass just to the right of the shadow of the foul pole.

The view down by the foul pole is pretty good too.  Here is what it looked like while J-Roll grounded out to end the sixth inning:

Before heading back down to the field level, I snapped a picture of Tim with Center City Philadelphia in the background:

And then we headed down the switch-back ramp to the field level.  From the ramp, we stopped and took two panoramas using my new cameras *sweep* function, this one…

…and this one:

After running down the first two parts of the ramp, we stopped on the 200-level and took the big escalator back down to the field level:

We hung out and watched the action from the SRO area for a bit.  We saw Matsui fly out to LF to end the top of the 7th:

The kids’ play area closes at the end of the 7th inning.  So quickly headed over there so Tim could play for about 5 minutes.  And then headed back to the SRO area behind the 3B side.  We wanted to make an attempt at getting an umpire baseball.  It was going to be near impossible because the seats were still packed behind the 3B dugout and, of course, we weren’t even down there.

In the top of the ninth, we ended up finding some nice seats in about the 7th row.  It looked sort of like this as Jonathan Papelbon pitched to BJ Upton:

After retiring Upton, Papelbon gave up a single to Matsui:

Papelbon had not blown a single save opportunity this season…until this game that is.  Starting with a 2-run lead, Papelbon twice had the Rays down to their final strike.  The crowd was on their collective feet.  We were inching down toward the third row where there was a decently clear path to the umpires’ tunnel.  And twice Papelbon gave up RBI singles instead of recording the final out of the game.

The save was blown.  And we were heading to the bottom of the ninth.

The bottom of the ninth did not last long.  Jim Thome…

…pinch hit to lead off the inning.  And he hit a walk off homerun to end it.

I hate when closers blow a save and are then awarded the win minutes later when his team picks him up.  Well, that’s what happened with Papelbon.  He vulture the win from his teammate, Raul Valdez.

I should note that Thome’s homerun was a historic blast.  It was his 609th homerun, bringing him into a tie with Sammy Sosa at seventh on the all-time career homerun list.  Let’s hope Thome passes Sosa, but doesn’t climb any higher on the list (next would be the undisputedly better than Thome, Ken Griffey, Jr.).

But that’s not the sum total of the historic value of the Thome blast.  It was also his 13 career walk-off homerun, breaking a tie with Mickey Mantle and making Thome the undisputed all-time career leader in walk-off homeruns. (Note: Like Griff, Mickey Mantle was also undisputedly better than Jim Thome).

Anyway, we got into pretty decent position for an umpire baseball, decent for a non-Diamond Club attendee at Citizens Bank Park.  But Jim Joyce tossed all of his extra baseballs into the Diamond Club.

But we didn’t leave empty handed.  As the Rays relieves and bullpen staff made their way into the dugout, Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi tossed Tim our final baseball of the day.

Thanks, Scott!

By the way, in an interesting side note: we have been to two Rays games this season.  The Rays lost both of them on walk-off homeruns in the bottom of the 9th.  And Scott Cursi tossed us a ball as he entered the dugout both times.

So, thanks again, Scott!

Before we headed out, we had two different ushers take pictures of us:

It was a great reprise our 2-man team for this game.  Kellan will be back with us for our next game.  But I think I’ll definitely do at least one more *just Tim and Dad* game this season.  We’re a great 2-man team!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

13/11 Games (Tim/Kellan)
17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates
20 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3
75 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3
11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park   1
10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

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2012 Cook GFS Game 3 – Cubs vs. Cardinals (5/15/12)

On Tuesday, May 15, 2012, we were right back at it for another Cubs-Cardinals rivalry game, the third game of the 2012 GFS Roadtrip.

The game was an odd 12:45 start.  My dad and I debated what to do with regard to attending *BP* or just showing up for the game.  We both suspected there would be no BP.  In the end, my natural sense of “its-just-wrong-to-show-up-at-game-time” prevailed.  We decided to take our chances with there not being BP.

As we approached the stadium, I pointed out a bunch of statues to Tim and mentioned that we should go check them out after the game, since there would still be plenty of day light after the game.  Tim decided he couldn’t wait.  He wanted to check them out ASAP.

My Dad and I agreed that he and Tim would go check out the statues while Kellan and I went to check out *BP* — or, more likely, pitchers’ pre-game warm ups.

Tim got creative and my dad took some wonderful posing-with-statues pictures at Busch Stadium’s LF entrance:

Meanwhile, Kellan and I headed into the stadium to find, in addition to several Cubs pitchers warming up down the LF line, the batting cage was set up for BP!  We headed down the LF line.  When the first set of pitchers finished throwing…

…super tall, Cubs pitcher Chris Volstad tossed us his warm up baseball.

Thanks, Chris!

Outside the stadium, Tim and my dad continued with some more serious statue poses:

Cut back to the field, there were still two sets of Cubs pitchers warming up along the LF line.  There were a couple autograph seekers camped out down the foul line, but no one else seemed all that serious about catching a baseball.  I figured our odds of getting another warm up ball were decent, provided that the pitchers didn’t notice that we got the ball from Volstad.  To avoid that scenario, we moved about 10 rows back and walked over to the next section further away from the pitchers.

When Casey Coleman finished throwing with his Rafael Dolis…

…(he is the Cubs pitcher on the left)…I called out, “Hey, Casey!?” and I gave him a solid glove-flap when he looked at me.

BOOM – he chucked us his warm up baseball.

Thanks, Casey!

Back outside, Tim and Grandpa wrapped around the 3B side of the stadium and got a few more statue and other memorial pictures:

Meanwhile, Kellan and I (well, really, it was just my decision) decided to head out to RF where there was a tiny patch of shaded seats.

By the way, I ought to mention that I was fearful of the sun all day.  The sun is Tim and Kellan’s kryptonite.  Kellan seemed to like the relief from the sun:

This is what Busch Stadium looked like from our temporary spot out in section 127:

Before long, Tim and my dad met up with us in RF.  Not soon after that, Shawn Camp…

…made a long toss to us after fielding a ball in RCF.

Thanks, Shawn!

And he wasn’t done with us just yet.

The sun was still creeping in on us.  So we retreated to the back of section 130:

Eventually, my dad and Tim headed down to the first row in the RF corner.

Kellan and I (again, really it was my decision) decided to head out to CF.  Before I could even take a panorama, Tony Campana…

…tossed us a baseball.

Hey, thanks, Tony!

So, it was on to LF for us.  On our way, we ran into Fredbird:

Kellan and I landed in section 172:

But it was just too sunny.  We gave up pretty quick there.

Meanwhile, my dad and Tim were still in the RF corner…

…and so was Shawn Camp.

Tim remembered Camp’s name from ten minutes earlier when he’d thrown a ball to us.  So when a ball was hit into an opening in the RF wall and Camp (for some odd reason) went after it, Tim waited for him to return with the ball.  And then my precious, wee-little Tim called out, “Hey, Shawn, can you toss me the ball, please!?” (NOTE:  I was 300 feet away and have no clue of the actual words, so I’m paraphrasing here).  Camp responded in the affirmative.

And Tim gloved this baseball (and he and Grandpa went behind home plate so he could pose with it):

Thanks, again, Shawn!

And congratulations to my big boy, Tim, for getting this baseball 100% on  his own!

Meanwhile, out in brutally hot and sunny LF, our main activities consisted of me taking pictures of the visitors bullpen…

…Kellan trying to run up the stairs to the concourse.

I took Kellan’s hint – he wanted out of the sun.

We walked the concourse toward CF where there is a “Welcome to Busch Stadium” sign…

…past the concession stands and tables in the deep CF concourse…

…and into the nice, completely shaded little-kids’ play area:

Kellan was the ONLY kid in there for a while.  Eventually, Tim and Grandpa met us there and Tim and Kellan were the only kids in the play area, which was good for Tim.  But the second another little kid showed up, the attendant told Tim he was too big for the play area.

So, while I took a panorama from the field from the play area…

…Grandpa took Tim to the speed pitch:

His best throw was 26 m.p.h., which he beat last year.  But, hey, it is early in the season.  He’s still getting “stretched out.”

The previous day, my dad hadn’t explored the upper deck at all.  So we decided to explore up there as the game drew near.

We headed up the switch-back-ramp.  On the second deck, I popped into the stairway between two suites and sections 230-229 to get this panoramic view of Busch Stadium:

We then got a picture of Tim and my dad with a “Busch Stadium” sign, which is on the back of the scoreboard:

And a partial panorama from the upper deck concourse:

Kyle Lohse’s first pitch of the game to David DeJesus???

It was a ball.  His second pitch resulted in a line drive single to CF.

By default, we decided to watch the first inning unfold from the upper deck concourse in RF.  As Tony Campana strode to the plate…

…Kellan practiced hanging from a railing.

Lohse’s first and only to Campana also resulted in a single to CF:

While all of this unfolded, our view from the concourse behind section 428 looked like this:

Lohse threw four pitches to the next batter, Starlin Castro.  But Starlin turned that fourth pitch around for a third consecutive single to CF:

DeJesus scored on the play:

The Cubs followed Castro with a run-scoring double play (LaHair), double to CF (Alphonso Soriano), an RBI single to CF (Ian Stewart), and a fly out to RF.

Three outs and five hits to CF into the game, the Cubs led 3-0.

While the Cards muddled through the top of the first, I got a nice picture of Tim and Busch Stadium:

In their half of the first, the Cardinals scratched out three hits and plated two runs of their own.  But we didn’t really see any of it because, after the top of the first, we walked around the upper deck a little bit so my dad could check it out.

My dad took this shot of Tim…

…with another St. Louis arch.  This one was notable because it was the only “Pujols” I saw displayed in the ballpark.  I am sure there are others somewhere, but they did a pretty good job of removing his presence around the stadium.

The fans were not quite as good.  Many of them were still wearing Pujols jerseys and t-shirts, and at least a handful of those fans had used magic markers to put a big “X” through the “Pujols 5” on their backs.  It’s too bad.  The guy will undoubtedly go down as one of the best baseball players ever and he did incredible things for these guys while wearing a Cardinals jersey.

By my dad’s and my standards, it was a hot day, but no big deal.  By Tim’s standards, it was like we were walking on the surface of the sun.  Our seats were down on the field level in section 167.  They were really nice tickets that I never should have bought for this day game.  They were in the direct sunlight.  I knew Tim would be miserable if we went down there.  So we did just the opposite of what happens every day at MLB ballparks, we put our nice field level tickets away and we *snuck* up to the very last row of the upper deck down in section 440, which is down the 1B line.

This was our view:

It was actually really nice.  Great view AND completely shaded.

It was made even a bit cooler by some nicely timed ice cream helmets:

Since we had eaten a nice breakfast not too long before coming to the game, I told Tim we could do a “switcheroo” and get ice cream first and lunch second.  He was all for the switcheroo plan.  In fact, he has suggested it at some other games since this one.

While we were eating a group of about 15 college gals came to claim their seats in the last row.  So we had to move up to the second to last row.

The Cardinals scored again in the bottom of the second to knot up the score at 3-3.

Eventually, I asked Tim who he wanted to win.  He was *crushed* the night before when he had picked the Cardinals and then they lost.  He had a new plan today.  He would wait to see the outcome of the game and THEN he would decide who he was supporting.  Ah, a fool-proof method.  He had to win!

While the boys chomped on their ice cream, I decided I should get some action shots.  Here is one of the most interesting action shots I have ever captured:

I was completely confused about what happened on the play.  So were the Cubs.  They argued.  The umpires deliberated:

But eventually they stuck with their initial call: Campana tried to pull back, but bunted the ball foul for strike three.  He was out of there!

With two down in the top of the third, I was all set to capture another LaHair homerun.  But after hitting a couple foul balls…

…he grounded out to Cardinals first basemen Matt Carpenter.

In the fifth inning with the score still tied at 3-3, we decided to grab some pizza for lunch and give our actual seats a try.  They were beautiful:

But Tim just could not hack it.  He was miserable.  He couldn’t even last a half inning in the sun.  I was fine leaving our seats mere minutes after sitting down in them because the lady directly behind me (who I will estimate was approximately 24 years old) literally dropped 2-3 f-bombs in every single sentence that came out of her mouth.  I’m not easily offended…and I guess I wasn’t really offended here either, but this lady was ridiculous.  In a ballpark full of kids and with two of them sitting literally 2 feet in front of you, an adult should know that they should note drop 100-200 f-bombs in a span of 10 minutes.  I’m not joking with that number.  Without any exaggeration, she dropped an f-bomb about every 5 words or so AND she talked constantly AND really loudly.

So, yeah, the seats were great, but I was fine getting my boys out of the pounding sun and profane atmosphere.

We needed shade, so we took refuge here…

…in the concourse just inside of Gate 4.  It was a nice time and place for to call home and chat with mommy a bit.

Oh, I should mention that Matt Holliday hit a tie-breaking solo homerun in the fifth to put the Cardinals ahead 4-3.

After thwarting my efforts to capture his tenth homerun of the season a few innings earlier, Brian LaHair hit a blast in the top of the sixth that tied up the score, once again, at 4-4.

After eating and chatting with Colleen, we ended spending the rest of the game in the shady little kids’ play area in CF:

In Cardinals and Cubs swapped runs again in the seventh inning to make it 5-5.

While Kellan played, I was able to watch the action over the front wall of the play area enclosure.  I was standing there in the eighth when Matt Carpenter put the Cardinals ahead 6-5 with this homerun:

If you click on that picture, you can see the homerun ball on the very top edge of the picture, directly above the catcher’s glove.

All the while, Kellan kept playing, sometimes in a manner that made him look like he is made of plastic:

After Carpenter’s homerun, Tyler Greene hit a triple and then Carlos Beltran pinch hit for the pitcher and drew an intentional walk.

That set up another cool action shot.  Rafael Furcal followed with a hard hit grounder to 3B:

Greene got caught too far off the bag, there was a brief run down, and the Starlin Castro eventually tagged out Greene:

During some of the action, Grandpa took Tim to one of the big kid attractions – a cage where you could hit baseballs hanging from a metal arm.  Tim had a great time taking some hard whacks at the ball and making it spin around the arm over-and-over-and-over:

And Kellan, he just kept playing in the play area:

Leading off the top of the ninth, Alphonso Soriano stepped to the plate.  The announcer on the flat screen TV just above us commented that “Fonzie” can turn around a pitch pretty quick so Cardinals closer Jason Motte better pitch him carefully.

Well, he apparently did not, because “Fonzie” turned around the second pitch he saw for a deep, game-tying homerun to RF.

So it was 6-6 going into the bottom of the ninth.

For a dad who wants to watch the game, but has two kids who cannot stand the scorching hot sun and want to play around, this covered play area really was idea.  I got tons of great action shots from my little spot on the play area wall.

But then some oblivious fan ruined my best one of the day:

It was a walk off double by Yadier Molina that scored Matt Holliday from second.  As you can see, I captured Yadier a fraction of a second before he made contact with the game winning hit and right at the same time as this lady walked into my shot.  (Queue the Debbie Downer sound effect).

Tim didn’t care about my photographic misfortune.  By the end of the game, he was again set on the Cardinals winning.

Moments after the game ended and the other kids started to clear out, Tim leapt to the top of the big baseball glove toy and claimed victory as his:

ALL HAIL KING TIM!

Before leaving the stadium, I took one last Busch Stadium panorama from section 505:

And a nice lady who ended up asking us about our Roadtrip and as quite happy we had the opportunity to see a Cardinals win in St. Louis took our picture:

On our way out, I snapped this picture of a little baseball field in the bricks way out behind CF:

I’m not sure if it serves a purpose or is just nice to look at.  It definitely is the latter, but it seemed like whenever we walked by it during these two games at Busch Stadium they had booths or some type events taking place on here – as opposed to having some kids playing whiffleball (which would have been better).

On our drive out of St. Louis we were heading West and would not pass through town again.  So I got a last photo of the Gateway Arch…

…and then we drove off into the sunset.

The next day we would hop in the car and drive to Kansas City for our one and only game at Kauffman Stadium.  More good times were definitely on tap, as we’ll see in our next entry.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

7/6 Games (Tim/Kellan)
11/10 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals
9 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3
33 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1
3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2
6/5 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak

 

Father-Son Baseball? Yes, Please! (4/14/2012)

It has been a long and busy off-season.  On Saturday, April 14, 2012, Tim and I kicked off our 2012 baseball season with a game between the Mets and Phillies in Philadelphia.  I had been looking forward to this game like crazy.

I had originally planned to take both boys to Baltimore on Saturday, April 7th, but I didn’t realize it was Easter weekend and we had a house full of family.  So we had to wait a whole week to get our first taste of major league baseball for the season.

I’ve been extremely busy at work this off-season.  And our house has been crazy.  Having two boys is awesome.  But it is way harder than having one boy.  Tim and Kellan get along great most of the time.  But they also create non-stop action, tons of brotherly competition, a healthy dose of yelling and chaos, and they require a lot of discipline…or at least a lot of correcting.  Don’t do this, that, or the other thing.  Stop doing this, that, or whatever.

Baseball season provides something that the rest of the year generally does not.  Something I really needed.  Extended periods of father-son time in an environment that Tim and I just really enjoy.  No chaos.  Tim and I have gotten so good at attending games.  We’re an amazing team.  Hardly any discipline is needed.  It is just fun and relaxing days connecting with my boy and sharing our mutual love of baseball.  So let’s get to it.

The morning started with opening day of Tim’s first year of little league (which is the newest chapter of Tim’s life, extremely exciting, and will be up next on this blog).  After opening ceremonies, we hopped in the car, grabbed a happy meal from McD’s…

…and headed toward Philadelphia.  I was loving baseball season within the first fifteen minutes of our drive.  It was a completely unchanged experience despite the six month break.  Tim and I had great conversations the whole ride down, except of course for during the 15 minutes that we spent battling each other to see who could sing the best Gotye “Someone I Used To Know” (Tim’s favorite song).  Tim won!  As my wife will tell you, I’m a horrible singer.  By the way, Tim’s best comment during our drive was his description of what college is:  “college is where there are lots of boys and lots of girls and you find out who you are going to marry.”

We pulled into the stadium – paid our $15 to park.  Pulled on Tim’s new Ichiro jersey…

…and sized up our destination:  Citizens Bank Park!

Bring on the baseball.

We grabbed a spot second in line.  We started up a nice conversation with the guy behind us, another guy excited to be back at the ballpark for another year.  And within a few minutes, a young man approached and asked, “Are you Todd?”

It was a 12-year-old boy named Harrison who was at the ballpark with his father, Seth.  Another father-son having a great day with the sport they love.  Harrison reads our blog and leaves comments from time-to-time under the name “Philadelphia45.”  It was great to get to know Harrison and Seth a little bit.

Tim loves hanging with older kids, and Harrison was no exception.  Here they are hanging out at the gate – timed exactly when Tim blinked (oops):

When the gates opened, we went our separate ways, but we’d meet up again with Harrison and Seth.  Tim and I headed to left field.  We were among the very first people into the seats.  And within a few minutes, a Phillies batter lined a foul ball into the roped off seats down the 3B line.  An usher grabbed it and spotted Tim from a long way off.  He siliently (so Tim didn’t realize it) called us over to the “chain” and handed Tim his very first baseball of 2012:

Thank you, Sir!

We have somewhat of a routine for the BP at Citizens Bank Park.  First, we set up shop right down the line, in the very small piece of foul territory that is open at the beginning of BP.  Here was our view:

There was a Mets player…I think he was a player, although he was wearing shorts and no jersey…hanging out below us.  And I notice something very odd…

…he had a glove with “Todd Helton” embroidered on the thumb.  I asked him why he had a Todd Helton glove and he responded, “Because he gave it to me.”  “Oh, that’s really cool,” I responded.

Soon (as pictured above), Johan Santana showed up and started running from the foul line to CF.  At one point, he was approaching the foul line when a Phillies batter hit a long grounder right to him.  I called out, “Hey, Johan!”  When he looked up, I pointed at Tim and he started to motion like he was going to throw it to Tim.  But Tim was holding his glove in his throwing hand for some reason.  So, Johan pointed…or maybe he nodded…at Tim and then threw the baseball to me.  I handed it over to Tim and we both called out a loud and excited:

Thank you, Johan!!!

Wow, Johan Santana.  That’s a great toss-up.  Very exciting for our first toss-up of the season.  But in retrospect, our next toss-up would be about ten times more exciting.

We hung out in the same spot until they opened the rest of the stadium.  We watched Cliff Lee do some running…

…and we chatted with Harrison and Seth who had joined us shortly after the toss-up from Santana.  They had also caught two baseballs already – one from Michael Stutes who I really want to connect with some day on a toss-up because he once heckled my softball team while he played for the Reading Phillies.

Normally, when the rest of the stadium opens, Tim and I head out to the “pizza wedge” in RCF.  But the Mets have a commemorative baseball this season that I was really hoping we could get from one of the Mets pitchers warming up down the line.  So we relocated (along with Harrison and Seth) to the corner spot down the LF line:

We ended up standing right behind Tim Byrdak.  I was excited.  I have wanted Tim to get a baseball from another “Tim” ever since we got one from umpire Todd Tichnor.  Maybe this would be the day!?

When Mets coach Ricky Bones (I love that name!) walked by, Harrison asked for a picture.  Bones told Harrison to hold on and when he returned about 10 minutes later, Tim was a co-beneficiary of Harrison’s request:

Thanks, Mr. Bones!

And then things got REALLY exciting!  Tim Byrdak and his partner finished up playing catch.  A Mets batter had hit a grounder that rolled to a stop about five feet from Byrdak’s feet.  As he grabbed the ball to throw it in, while pointing at Tim, I shouted out, “Hey, Tim, how about throwing a ball to another Tim!?”

It worked.  Byrdak turned around and tossed the ball at Tim.  Tim has made amazing progress with his catching skills over the last two months, but I was nervous and anxious and excited all at the same time as the ball sailed toward Tim.  What would happen?

Without hesitating, Tim reached out and made a nice one handed grab with his glove.  A clean catch with zero assistance from his dad:

When the ball stuck in Tim’s glove I was ecstatic.  I literally jumped in the air and shouted, “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!”  I was so happy and proud of my no-longer-so-little guy.  All offseason, we’ve been talking about how he’s going to catch a baseball (or baseballs!) on his own this season, and we’ve been talking about trying to get a baseball from a Major League “Tim” for years, and it all came together in one moment and sheer awesomeness.

It was truly perfect and completely made my day.

Some of our hugest “thank yous” ever to Mr. Timothy Christopher Byrdak!

We’ve been fortunate enough to get a nice collection of baseballs at MLB games, but this one definitely ranks right up there at the tippy top of the list as one of the best.

On the natural high of the toss-up from Mr. Byrdak, Tim and I decided to report to the pizza wedge.

Here’s a tip.  When relocating to another section of the ballpark, walk through the seats, not through the concourse.  That’s what we did and…

…Mike Pelfrey rewarded us with a baseball in deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep center field.

Before hitting up the pizza wedge, we visited the Phillies hall of fame area so Tim could grab the different metal baseballs that have finger grips for different types of pitches, and then spit some seeds down…

…into the bushes in the batters’ eye.  And then Tim called Richie Ashburn “saaafe!” in our first MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt picture of the season.

The pizza wedge was dominated by a family a four with two 13-14 year old’ish girls who got some love from the players (as did “mom”), before Mets coach (and former player for numerous MLB teams) Tom Goodwin hooked Tim up with our first pizza wedge ball of the season:

Note: the balls from Pelfey and Goodwin followed the more traditional, point at Tim and throw to Dad method…although, Tim made an attempt at the Pelfrey ball, but it was too high and sailed over his glove and into mine.

There was still more BP, but we were done.  Tim wanted to play some games.  The speed pitch, for some reason, wasn’t open.  But we played the trivia game and the running in place game…

…in the deep LCF concourse.  This season, instead of handing out slips of paper that say you played one of these games, you collect stamps in the little booklet that Tim is holding in the above picture.  I’m not sure what you get when you fill it up with stamps.  We’ll see later in the season.

After some game time, we headed up the steps toward the upper deck.  We got this picture of Tim on the second deck with a view of the bullpens and Ashburn Alley behind/below him:

And then we headed to the back row of section 302 for what we determined must be the farthest seat from home plate:

Yep, make that two pictures checked off the 2012 Photo Scavenger Hunt list!

While up there, of course, I got a panorama from section 302:

And then we headed back down to the second deck for our first father-son picture of the season:

Thank you to a nice usher who snapped the photo.  As my Little Grandma would say, “Jiminy, Tim is gotten huge!”  Remember when he used to look like this?  It is fun looking back at game photos and seeing him grow up before my eyes.

Actually, he’s done some much growing that I was concerned he would be too tall for the kids’ play area.  But fear not…

…plenty of growing still to do before he is shut out of the play area.

Tim was excited after posing for that picture, he told me “I can even come back and play when I am seven!”

The game started while we were at the play area.  Soon, we grabbed some nachos…

…and our seats in section 104:

The Mets were already winning 1-0 on a David Wright homerun to LF.

We spent a lot of the game (we’re mobile so not all of the game) sitting behind this dude…

…named “Duda,” Lucas Duda, and this other dude named….

…Hunter “Ugliest Mechanics In Baseball But Monster Power” Pence.

After nachos, it was time for Tim’s first ice cream helmet of the season.  We took the scenic route to our favorite ice cream lady at Citizens Bank Park…

…that’s the view from Section 242¸by the way.

Most of the teams in Tim’s little league are sponsored by local businesses, but one is sponsored by today’s Phillies starter, Vance Worley (who used to play for the Reading Phillies):

Big thanks to Vance for supporting our league, but this, unfortunately, was not his day.

On this pitch, Vance got Jason Bay to ground into a double play…

…but a run scored making it 2-0 Mets.  Duda was up next and he clubbed a 2-run homer to make it 4-0 Mets.

How about a random shot of British Columbian-born, Gonzaga University-alum Jason Bay:

Guess what?  Tim still likes ice cream hemlets…

…and our lady still makes a huge helmet.

The Phillies have not started strong this season.  And I noticed something…the fans do not seem to believe in them as much as in the last couple years, at least at this point with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both on the DL.  Check out the patch of empty seats with the Phils losing 4-0 in the top of the sixth inning:

I never saw that last season at Citizens Bank Park.

Tim wanted to visit the team store.  On our walk around the stadium, we noticed this nice mosaic art piece in the concourse:

While Tim and I were talking about the little Phanatic in the mosaic, the real Phanatic’s mom showed up on the scene.  I pulled our my camera and it refused to fire when the Phanatic’s mom patted Tim on the head.  Instead, the flash delayed the shutter and it didn’t take a picture until the Phanatic’s mom stuck her hand in my face with an exaggerated “Hi, Dad” wave:

So I got a rare close up of the Phanatic’s mom’s hand!

Shortly thereafter, Tim became the owner of a new stuffed Phanatic:

We stopped by the play area on our way back to RF, but it was just closing down.  Sad news.  So we headed back to the now hardly half-full RF seats.  Between innings, an usher took this shot of me and Tim:

By the way, Tim’s eyes were starting to look puffy because he was battling serious hay fever, which has been a daily battle for the last couple weeks.

The Phillies really did nothing offensively in this game.  Well, next to nothing.  They did get a single on this pitch to Juan Pierre:

If you look closely, you can see the baseball heading toward RF in that picture.

It is almost impossible to get an umpire baseball in Philadelphia (it would be easier if you had seats in the Diamond Club), but it was our first game of the season so, heck, we were up for the challenge.

We relocated to the concourse behind section 130.  For a while, we stood behind the camera man…

…where we saw Ruben Tejada drive in pinch runner Mike Baxter…

…off of Michael Stutes:

And then we watched David Wright…

…and Ike Davis…

…make outs for the Mets.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Tim and I slid into nearly ideal seats for making the umpire ball attempt:

The umpire Alfonso Marquez (shown in the background) would enter a tunnel at the home plate end of the dugout, just to the right of the guy in the light blue Phillies t-shirt in that last picture.

We had a great view of Jimmy Rollins, as he grounded out:

And a great view of Hunter Pence, while he struck out:

There were tons of empty seats in RF as Jon Rauch pitched to the day’s final batter John Mayberry:

Mayberry ended the game in the ideal umpire attempt manner – a high pop up that allowed us to get into position while the umpire had to stay at home plate.

We slid all the way into the second a row and stood at the little railing separating the really nice seats (dugout) from the ridiculously nice seats (Diamond Club).  Tim and I both called out “Alfonso” when he stopped on the grass just short of the warning track to wait for his colleagues.  He heard us call his name and fired an absolutely beautifully rubbed up baseball to us:

And then he left.

We lingered for a bit and then headed toward the LF corner on our way to the exit.  Tim was tossing the umpire ball into his glove over and over while we walked.  I noticed that there were two ballgirls down the LF line and I asked Tim if he wanted to get a picture. He said yes, and then yelled and started running.

I thought he was running to the ballgirls, but he had missed his glove and fired his new umpire ball under some seats and it disappeared.  We couldn’t find it anywhere, but fortunately, a nice fan pointed it out and we retrieved it from a tray of peanuts (or some type of food).

Fifteen seconds later and we would have missed getting this double ballgirl picture, which was taken mere feet from the spot where Tim caught the baseball from Byrdak about 4-and-a-half hours earlier:

A pose with his umpire ball and Citizens Bank Park sign…

…and with the Harry Kalas statute…

…and then we were “outta there!”

It was an incredibly awesome first day being back at the ballpark.  I can’t wait to fold Kellan into the mix for our first 3-guys game next weekend.

I know why Ernie Banks always wanted to *play two* — hip, hip Hooray for Baseball!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

1/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
2/0 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets; Kellan – N/A
1 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1
6 Baseballs – Mets 4, Phillies 1, Umpires 1
1/0 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – N/A
1/0 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones; Kellan – N/A

The Ohio Cup (7/2/11)

I’ve been trying to get Tim and I to Comerica Park for a couple years now.  It has never seemed to work.  My original plan this season was to work it  into our Texas trip back in May, but the flights just wouldn’t work.  So we came up with a new plan:  Fourth of July weekend road trip to Cincinnati and Detroit.

Cincinnati was up first.  We hit the road in the evening on Friday, July 1st and drove to a hotel in Pittsburgh.  On Saturday, July 2, 2011 we headed off to Cincinnati to take in a game in the “Ohio Cup” series – Cleveland Indians vs. Cincinnati Reds.

But the game wasn’t until 4:05 p.m., and it was only about a four hour drive to Cincinnati.  No matter what, we were going to get there before the gates opened.  So, when we were about 50 miles out from Cincinnati, I called Colleen and asked her to look up the address for Moeller High School – Ken Griffey, Jr.’s high school (and, oh, yeah, Barry Larkin’s too)!

First, we pulled up to the scruffy looking practice baseball field (The Tom Fitz Athletic Fields) behind the school…

…where I imagined Griffey playing ball as a teenager.  We ran the “bases” (there weren’t really any bases) and took some lefthanded hacks (without a bat) at the plate.  Ah, it felt just like we were “The Kid” himself.

Up above a hill out in right field, there were really (really!) nice looking soccer and football fields.  It made me think that there must be other baseball facilities somewhere else.

Anyway, we pulled around to the front of the school and got a few pictures:

In the picture above to the right, Tim is pretending he is Griffey walking into school.

Just as we were able to leave, a guy exited the main doors (where Tim is approaching in that picture above) and started packing some stuff into a van.  I ran over and asked him if he knew where the baseball team plays.  He was very nice and we ended up striking up a 10 minute conversation.

It was probably obvious since we were wearing Mariners clothes and I was asking about the baseball fields, but I felt compelled to explain to him, “We’re ‘Griffey people.’”  His reply was priceless:  “So are we!”

It ends up that the guy was Griffey’s U.S. History teacher back in the mid-1980s.  He shared a handful of Griffey stories with us that were incredibly awesome to hear.  Nothing overly important or exciting.  Just tidbits about Griffey the high schooler and Griffey the man returning home after being traded to the Reds in 2000.  It was a cool behind the scenes glimpse at my all-time favorite ballplayer.

The least shocking story was that Griff wasn’t exactly a model student.  He apparently gave a lot of “I’m gonna play professional baseball” responses when prompted by his teachers to take his schooling more seriously.  They would remind him, “You know, lots of people say that, but it doesn’t work out for most.”  And as his teacher told is, Griff would always assure the, “but it IS going to work out for me.”

If were really the discussions (and I have no reason to doubt it), it certainly looks like Griff proved himself right.

One other story I thought was cool to hear is that Moeller used to use a baseball field a couple miles away that was behind a Thriftway store.  It had no fence and Griff would jack bombs over the outfielders that would roll and roll forever.  He was so good at it that his teammates referred to the field behind the Thriftway as the “Griffway.”

Oh, yeah.  And he mentioned that Griffey spent some time practicing on that scruffy field behind the school, but that’s it.  He never played games there.

And with that, lets continue on to Cincinnati.

Great American Ball Park is interesting.  Downtown Cincinnati (as far as I can tell) is essentially situated on a hill that runs down to the Ohio River.  Route-71 comes into downtown
and cuts across downtown at 3rd Street – at the bottom of the hill – just above the river.  The big downtown buildings are up the uphill side of 3rd Street and Great American Ball Park is tucked into the little space right between the buildings/3rd Street/Route-71 and the Ohio River.  If you park in downtown, you have to walk across the bridge…

…to get to the stadium.  (Those pictures were actually taken after the game…so everyone is walking away from the park instead of to it.)  In the picture above to the right, you can see that the ballpark is tucked between two buildings.  The building to the left the Reds front office and the building to the right is the main team store and the Reds (very cool) Hall of Fame.

Here is a look as you get closer to the stadium…

…and that picture to the left is a huge engraving (I guess that’s what you would call it) on the end of the front office building.

This approach leads you to the gates right behind home plate.  There are a bunch of statues in the area in front of the home plate gate:

In the picture above to the right with Tim facing the statue of the pitcher, Tim explained that he was being the catcher and he was telling the pitcher what pitches to throw.

When we arrived, it was still about 20 minutes before gate opening.  And it was really hot.  We scooted around to the third base gate, where it was somewhat shady, and we hopped in
line.  While in line, we spotted our first (of many) Griffey jerseys of the day:

After entering the ballpark and stowing our two new Dusty Baker bobblehead/toothpick holders, we headed to section 109:

The Reds were hitting, but they were almost finished, and the Indians pitchers were starting to report to the LF line to warm up and do some throwing.  BP got packed quick.  My hunch was that we wouldn’t come away with a baseball from GABP.  But after the Indians pitchers finished up throwing, an Indians batter hit a ball behind 3B that veered over into foul
territory where an Indians pitcher fielded it right in front of us.  When I asked if he could toss it up to Tim, he walked over and handed it directly to Tim.

As he walked away, I called out, “Wait!  What’s your name!?”  He reply, simply, “Tony!”  I thought that was pretty funny.  We’re on a first name basis, you know?  I later checked the roster and found that Tony’s last name is Sipp.

Here is a picture of Sipp walking away from us…

…and Tim smiling for the camera with his baseball:

Thanks, Tony!

Okay.  We had a ball from GABP and that was enough for us.  We’d only been to this ballpark once before so it was officially time to do some exploring.  We started by heading behind home plate, where we got this picture of Tim (again posing with his Tony Sipp baseball):

Tim looks pretty sweaty in that picture, but it is really water.  It was so hot that we kept dousing Tim’s head with cold water.

Here is a panoramic view of Great American Ball Park from the cross aisle right behind section 121:

Next, we headed down into the seats behind the third base dugout and got this panorama from the second row of section 117:

Although no one checked our tickets when we headed down into the seats behind the dugout, I got the feeling that someone was supposed to have done so.  There was hardly anyone in the seats behind dugout, but lots of people down the foul lines and in the outfield.

They definitely were checking the tickets of anyone who dared stand in the front row behind the dugout.  But they did let Tim stand there long enough to get this picture:

There is a big steamboat looking thing above the batters’ eye in CF and Tim requested that we go out there and check it out.  So that’s what we did…well, we tried to.  You can’t actually get out onto that steamboat unless you are part of the group that has the steamboat for the game.

So we just stood around in upper deck next to the steamboat for 10-15 minutes.  Here was our view:

One Indians player in CF was clearly having more fun than anyone else on the field.  I had no clue who he was.  The last group of hitters was only two guys and I am pretty sure they were pitchers preparing for their final interleague games.  They hardly got the ball out of the infield.

But they did get one ball out to the “fun guy” in center field.  He was way out there in CF.  After gloving the baseball, he started walking toward another player in LCF.  I didn’t say a word, but I held my glove up.  As he walked, he noticed us and he threw a laser to me.  It was an amazing throw considering the height and distance the ball traveled.

Here is “fun guy” and Tim with our first ever upper deck toss up:

I took pictures of the guy and tried to get a close up of his glove…where it appeared that his name was embroidered.  In the best photo, I could tell the first name was “Cade” and the last name looked like it started with “Dur.”  The roster told me that Chad Durbin now pitches for the Indians and Wikipedia told me that Durbin has a son named Cade.  So there you go, thanks are due to Mr. Durbin.

Thanks, Chad!

This picture taken later in the day illustrates Durbin’s impressive throw:

Interesting side note, the baseball that Durbin threw up to us is a minor league baseball.  It is so scuffed and dirty that it is impossible to read which MiLB league it is from, but it clearly appears to have the MiLB logo instead of the MLB logo.

Next, we headed over to the LF corner of the upper deck and got this panorama from section 406:

And then we got a picture of Tim from the same spot:

After running up to the top of the seats, we got this panorama from the top of section 406:

Next, we headed over into the infield.  We headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium and found a nice spot where we could get a good picture of Tim with his Chad Durbin baseball and the Great American Ball Park sign for the MyGameBalls.com scavenger hunt:

After climbing up to the top of section 510, this is what it looked like:

Zooming in, here is a look at the batters’ eye steamboat:

Tim was not feeling the tippy-top of the upper deck.  Too high.  So we headed down to the upper deck concourse.  I kept dousing Tim’s head with water.  When we visited the restroom after leaving section 510, Tim noticed his wet hair in the mirror.  Before leaving the restroom, he asked me to help him spike his hair up into a mohawk.  When we headed back
into the concourse, this is what Tim’s hair looked like:

Speaking of the concourse, this is what it looks like in the upper deck behind third base at Great American Ball Park:

It was time to circle the upper deck and take some more panoramas.  First, section 516…

…section 423…

…a picture of the two of us between panoramas…

…section 430…

…and finally a panorama from the cross aisle above section 436:

That was enough of the upper deck for us, so we headed down to the field level and got this panorama from behind section 139:

Section 139 is right next to the visitors bullpen.  This is what the bullpen looks like:

The bullpens were actually pretty interesting to me.  A lot of stadiums where the bullpens are not side-by-side seem to put the visitors’ bullpen out in the direct sunlight and the home bullpen in a shady area.  The Reds, however, did the opposite.  Pretty early in the game, the visitors’ bullpen was in the shade while the Reds relievers were still in the direct sun.

There is a great standing room area in CF just to the RF side of the batters’ eye.  Here is a panorama that I took from that SRO area just behind section 146:

We were in the SRO area when someone-or-other sang the National Anthem.  Just behind the plate, Mr. Redlegs and Rosie were standing with hands over hearts:

Mr. Redlegs is very similar to Mr. Met.  But if you ask me, Mr. Redlegs is hands down the superior mascot.  The Rollie Fingers ‘stache really sets him apart…as does his retro Reds hat.

We had seats in the direct blazing sun in RF so we started hearing that way.  As we walked behind the Reds bullpen, we noticed something interesting:

Aroldis Chapman was down there signing autographs.  Of all of the players at this game, Aroldis is the player with whom I most wanted Tim to get his picture.  While that was out of
the question, we were hoping Chapman would sign Tim’s baseball from Tony Sipp.  Soon after we arrived at the stairs up above Chapman, he called it quits and walked into a door opposite the bullpen.  We waited patiently.  And then he reappeared.  I called his name and I’m pretty sure that he only stopped because he saw Tim.

When Chapman stopped below us, he was holding a Gatorade-type bottle in one hand and he motioned for me to toss the Sipp baseball down to him.  At this point, he had the drink in one hand and the baseball in the other hand, he motioned for me to toss down our pen.  I figured he would just let it hit the ground and then pick it up.  But he showed some major hand-eye coordination by catching the pen at hip level with his index finger.  It was very impressive.

After he signed the ball and tossed us the ball and pen, I shouted out a big “Gracias, Aroldis!”  That put a huge smile on his face.  During this interaction (and while previously watching him signing autographs), we were probably 10 feet above Chapman’s head and it was impossible to chat with him.  Nevertheless, it was clear that the guy conveys a ridiculously warm/nice/pleasant attitude.  He really seemed like a great guy.

Here is a picture of the Chapman autograph.

Finally, it was time for the game to start.  We headed to the Skyline Chili stand right behind section 103 and grabbed some nachos and a cheese coney…

…and then we headed down to our seats in section 103.  This was our view from section 103, row C, seats 13-14:

It was crazy hot in our seats.  I could tell that we wouldn’t be able to stay in these seats for too long, which was unfortunate because they were great seats.  But I knew we’d last at least a couple innings because Tim was going to town on our big pile of nachos:

It was good to see the Reds play again.  We haven’t seen them since 2008, Griffey’s last year with the Reds.  During his time in Cincinnati, I watched tons and tons of Reds games.  They have a lot of new players since then, and a lot of players that were there in 2008, but have really matured over the past several years.  Like this guy…

…2010 N.L. MVP Joey Votto.  In that at bat, Votto is about to ground out in the first inning.

This was a low scoring game.  The pitching match-up was Fausto Carmona vs. Homer Bailey.  We sat in our assigned seats through the second inning and the score was 0-0.

We were overheating (well, Tim was), so we headed to the standing room area in RCF which is set up as a big misting station.  It really felt amazing in there.  We stayed under the
mist-sprayers for a long time and we got soaked:

Meanwhile, former-Mariner Mickey Brantley’s son Michael Brantley hit a 3-run homerun in the top of the third inning.  That would be all the runs that the Indians would score during this game, and it was all they would need to win.

While we were interested in the game, we were just as interested in seeing as much of Great American Ball Park as we could.  After we were thoroughly misted, we decided to head in the opposite direction of our seats and keep exploring.

As we headed toward the 3B side concourse, we looked up and took this shot of the big toothbrush-style light stands:

We lingered in the SRO area behind section 118 for a while.  It looked like this:

And then we cut through the concourse and found a nice standing room spot behind section 130:

Aside from the Brantley bomb, Homer Bailey was looking pretty good:

An inning after the homerun, Bailey had no problem retiring Brantley on a weak pop up to short stop:

We decided to wander aimlessly around the ballpark and it quickly paid dividends.  We ran into both Slider (the visiting Cleveland Indians mascot) and Gapper (the “B-list” Reds mascot…or at least that is how I would rank him compared to Mr. Redlegs):

In the concourse behind home plate, there is a really cool looking Reds logo set into the floor:

And some cool (and really big) mosaic pictures on the wall…

…check out Ken Griffey, Sr. in the mosaic to the left (of course, Sr. (wearing number 30) was an instrumental part of the “Big Red Machine” back in the day).  Junior has got the Hall of Fame stats, but Senior has got the rings (2 of them).

Behind section 119, there is a big staircase that is mostly blocked off and is used as a SRO area:

That’s where we were standing in the bottom of the fourth inning when Jay Bruce…

…flied out to CF.  I would have got a great action shot of the Grady Sizemore and Austin Kearns running into each other just before Sizemore made the catch, but a lady walked into my pitch and totally ruined it.  Booo!

We decided to stop by at this little bouncy house/slide thingy…

…on our way to the very impressive Reds team store:

Two notes: in the upper right picture, that is a game-used Dusty Baker jersey Tim is pointing to with his thumb and in the bottom right picture Tim is throwing a one-seamer on the
baseball seams on the floor of the team store.

Upstairs in the game-used area, we found this cool old Big Red Machine black-and-white photo on the wall…

…which again features Ken Griffey, Sr. (wearing number 30).  Lets see if I can name the rest of the Big Red Machine (from left-to-right):  Pete Rose, Ken Griffey Sr., Joe “Everyone’s Favorite Broadcaster” Morgan, Tony Perez, George Foster, Johnny Bench, Cesar Geronimo, and Dave Concepcion.

After perusing the team store, we headed over to section 126…

…but just for a minute.  We had our sights on ice cream helmets.  So we headed toward the first base side concourse where we had got our ice cream helmets back in 2008.  As we approached the ice cream place, Mr. Redlegs was approaching walking in the opposite direction.  I asked Mr. Redlegs if he could pose for a picture with Tim.   Mr. Redlegs’ handler
shut us down explaining, “we’re in a rush to get somewhere.”  But Mr. Redlegs was having none of it.  He leaned in and gave Tim a big hug:

Awesome!  Thanks, Mr. Redlegs!

The ice cream helmet line was ridiculous.  It was as if every fan at the game was in line.  We were in line for at least a full inning.  But when we got to the front of the line, it was worth the wait.  They had about 6 (maybe 8) toppings, and they were free and unlimited!

We both got twist soft serves.  Tim got smashed up M&M’s with whipped cream and a cherry (which he got specifically to give to me) and I got smashed up Reese’s pieces.  Delicious.

We reported back to our seats (well, our section at least) to eat our ice cream in the hot sun:

Just for kicks, we got this shot of Tim smiling with a belly full of ice cream:

It was still too hot to stay in our seats for too long.  So we headed back to the misting SRO in RCF.  On our way, we noticed that the Reds had a reliever warming up in the bullpen:

As I watched the game from the front of the SRO area, Tim whipped a wet wipe (from ice cream face clean up) around in the sunny mist trying to make rainbows in the mist:

It is pretty interesting watching the game from this SRO area.  Sometimes it looks like you are watching the game on a HD television.  But at other times, it looks like you are watching it through a thick fog (or mist) or a light fog:

That’s our buddy Tony Sipp pitching in those last two pictures.  He gave up a solo homerun to Joey Votto, but still earned a “hold.”

Here is what it looked like in the SRO area behind section 145 when the mist was blowing in the opposite direction:

We were going to stay at a hotel 3.5 hours north in Toledo, Ohio after this game.  So we decided to head over to the SRO areas behind home plate to watch the end of the game.  The plan was to make a quick exit once the game ended.

Here was our view, once again, from the concourse behind section 126 (or so):

With the score at 3-1 Indians, it was still anyone’s game as the Reds pitched to the Indians in the top of the ninth:

While we were in position, I figured I better get a shot looking into the Indians dugout.  Here is what it looked like:

The Reds needed two runs in the bottom of the ninth and they had the heart of their order coming to the plate.  With one out and one on base, Brandon Phillips couldn’t get anything going:

Phillips struck out for the second out of the inning.

Joey Votto batted next and lined a single to leftfield on this inside-out swing:

With the tying runs on base, Scott Rolen came to bat with two outs as the potential winning run.  But he struck out to end the game.

Indians win 3-1.

On our way out the of the ballpark, Tim did a “rounding second” pose on the “statue” base near by the Ted Kluszewski statue:

We also got a couple fake batting poses to try to recreate a picture that we took outside Great American Ball Park in 2008:

Although we missed a lot of the game because of all of the exploring we did around the ballpark, we had a great time.

And the great time didn’t stop just because we had a 3.5 hour drive ahead of us.  It was the night of July2nd and people were out in full force lighting off their own fireworks demonstrations.  Tim had a great time watching the fireworks and didn’t fall asleep until after 11:00 p.m., right we pulled up to our hotel.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
15/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians and Reds; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
11 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1))
45 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, 2 Indians)
7/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park; 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]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; 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.

Cook Family In The Citi (6/18/2011)

With Kellan still less than a year old, most of our games this season will be just me and Tim.  Essentially, I have planned out one game at each of our “local” stadiums (i.e., northeastern United States minus Boston) for our entry family to attend.  On June 18, 2011, it was Kellan’s and Colleen’s first game at Citi Field.  And we made a weekend of it.

Lots of “firsts” for Kellan on this trip.  First NL stadium (Citi Field).  First NL team (Mets).  First Inter-league game (vs. Angels).  First trip to New York.  First hotel room (Club Quarter’s Wall Street).  First sub-river tunnel (Holland).  First subway ride (I can’t remember if it was the A, C, B, or D, but it was from 86thto Columbus Circle).  First trip to the big FAO Schwartz….

…and to Central Park (FYI, this list isn’t in chronological order).  First New York Pizza…

…(from Ray’s on 82nd & Columbus).  First elevated train (the 7 Train…Queens portion).  And first picture with a gigantic apple…

…or maybe I should say a “Big Apple.”  Yep, lots of firsts.

I thought the stadium would already be open when we arrived, but it was not.  So we got to stand in a fairly big line for about 10-15 minutes.  I snapped this picture of Tim and Colleen as we waited:

Not only was this Colleen’s first game at Citi Field, it was her first home Mets game, period.  She never joined me on any of my handful of trips to Shea Stadium.  So was it was good to finally get her out to Queens.

By the time we made it to the seats, there were already a lot of people in the stands.  But deep LCF was open.  So we headed out to the corner spot by the even “Bigger” Apple:

Kellan is a humungous baby for a Baby Bjorn, but it is still the most convenient way to get him around the ballpark.  Even then, Colleen had to lug the stroller along the way.

There were two “Mets” right in front of us…

…and another “Met” about 75 feet over toward left field.  All three of them had “OO” and their first names (Anthony, Travis and Jimmy) on their backs.  I guess they are bat and/or ball boys.  Tim was pretty confused about why there were multiple people wearing “OO,” but he promptly forgot about the confusion and rained down a loud “THANK YOU” on Travis when he
tossed us a baseball:

Colleen thinks the ball is in my glove and she should know best since she took the picture.  But, to me, it looks like I’m still watching the flight of the ball on its way up to me.  Who knows?

Right when Travis tossed us the baseball, the Angels pitchers all reported to the LF foul line for stretching and throwing.  I apologized in advance to Colleen and explained that we needed to relocate over there because I was hoping we could get a baseball from the Angels, and that it would be an Angels 50th Anniversary commemorative baseball (which is the reason I picked this particular game for Kellan’s first at Citi Field).

Us three boys grabbed a spot along the railing behind Scott Downs (among others), as Tim pointed out airplanes passing over head:

And what do you know, Downs tossed us his baseball when he finished playing catch:

Although it was not a commemorative ball, we were mighty appreciative.

Thanks, Scott!

Colleen was hanging out in some seats about 15 rows back from the field.  We lingered a few minutes after getting the baseball from Downs, and then we raced over to her:

And , upon arrival, Colleen snapped this picture of Tim’s big cheesy grin:

Of course, we are competing in the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt, so we needed a Citi Field *bonus* picture.  Colleen snapped two of them and I love them both.  This is the one we submitted on mygameballs.com:

I picked that one because it shows Kellan more clearly and it clearly shows that he is trying to eat the baseball like an apple.

But I also love the funny face that Tim is making in this one:

After those pictures, Colleen headed to the family restroom to change Kellan.  Tim and I headed back down to the front row while we waited for them to return.  It was extremely obnoxious down there.  We were surrounded by a group of young boys (maybe 10-13 years old…its hard to judge).  They were flat out screaming at every player who touched a baseball.  “THROW ME THAT BASEBALL!”  They also mixed in a smattering of foul and derogatory language.  You know, the kind of stuff that just *really* makes a ballplayer want to give a kid a baseball (yeah, that’s sarcasm).

While those kids were ensuring that no baseballs would be tossed into our section, the strangest thing happened.  We got a *hit* baseball!  It was so unlike us.  An unidentified Angels lefty sliced (or is it hooked) a ball right down the LF line.  I ran a full section over down a completely empty row.  I was certain the ball was going to fall 10-15 feet (and 3-5 rows) below me and I was hoping that it would hop up in my direction.  But lo-and-behold, the ball hung in the air and made it all the way to me.  I was so surprised that it hung up that I botched the play as I turned my glove over in slow-motion to make the backhanded attempt.  Luckily, it hit the pinky of my glove and fell into the seat right there.  All I had to do was bend over and pick it up.

It was our first ever hit ball in Queens.

Colleen and Kellan were literally walking down the aisle toward us when we got the hit baseball.  I picked it up, gave a kid a high five, and Tim and I went back up to where Colleen and Kellan were sitting.

We decided to skip the rest of BP and instead head out to the kids play area.

When we reached our destination, Mr. Met was out there taking photos with fans so we got a family shot with him:

Two notes:  (1) I am attempting to catch Mr. Mets’ head and (2) all of us Cooks (except Kellan) are looking at our camera while Mr. Met is looking at the Mets fan photos photographer.

A few minutes later, Tim was manning the field…

…in the whiffle ball Citi Field.  Like Jack Black and Kyle Gass, Tim has got some “Tenacious D.”

After a little hitting…

…and a little baserunning…

…it was time for dinner.  We walked almost all the way around the stadium in our quest for food.  It was took crowded in the large eating area above the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.  So we headed out to the Pepsi Porch in RF.  On the walkway out to the Pepsi Porch, I got this shot of Tim with *muffler city* in the background:

By the way, that’s just my name for it.  It is basically a big eye-sore composed of dingy car repair shops.

We decided on an all-Nathan’s Famous hot dog dinner:

A corn dog for Tim.  Spicy vegetarian dog for Colleen.  A big sloppy hot dog with mustard, onions, relish and sauerkraut for me.  And cut up hot dog bits (no condiments) for Kellan.  Tasty.

While we ate, we were serenaded with the National Anthem by Roy Hobbs’s girlfriend, Glenn Close:

Mrs. Hobbs totally botched the second to last line of the anthem.  Well, she sang all the right words, but her voice totally broke on the high note (“…land of the free-eeeeeee”).  She rolled with it, gave a big laughing smile and the old college try as she belted out that cracking “freeeeeee,” and, in the process, she really won the crowd over.  She got a huge ovation after she finished.

We sat in section 523 for almost the entire game.  When Tim, Kellan and I climbed to the top, we took this picture of Colleen that shows a fair representation of our view (although, we were obviously closer than the camera view):

Obviously, we were hoping the Mets would win because that would be better for the Mariners.  And at the end of the day, that’s what happened.

I was mighty pleased when native-British Columbian and Gonzaga University alum Jason Bay…

…came to the plate to Pearl Jam’s “Alive” off of their smash-hit debut album “10,” which was released during my freshman year of high school and was, of course, HUGE at my school.

I was quite pleased to hear Mike Pelfrey representing the Seattle Grunge era with his batting intro song:  Nirvana’s cover of the Meat Puppet’s “Lake of Fire.”

It was also nice to see that Russell Branyan…

…had found a place to fit in this season.  That guy can mash the ball!  Luckily, he did not do so at this game.

In fact, the Angels didn’t do much mashing at all at this game.  Mike Pelfrey pitched a complete game, giving up only five hits and 1 run.

The Mets had a good day at the plate.  It started in the third inning, when Jose Reyes hit a single, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and then scored the first run of the game on a single by Carlos Beltran.

In the third, Tim and I went to grab an ice cream helmet, and Tim spontaneously busted out in an in-stadium statue pose:

When we returned to our seats, Kellan was conked out on Colleen’s lap:

The Mets got right back at it in the fourth inning.  Angel Pagan led off with a single.  He then stole second and scored on a Jason Bay single.

Meanwhile, Bay didn’t look like he was long for first base:

Within seconds of taking that last picture, Bay swiped second base.

I should mention that Dan Haren was pitching:

It wasn’t his night.

Soon after stealing second, Bay scored the third run of the game…

…on a Russell Branyan error.

Both the ice cream and the Angels deficit were keeping us happy.  Actually, Tim was focusing more on the ice cream at this point:

Here is a random picture of Citi Field and Kellan as he sits on my lap:

It should be noted that Kellan is wearing a hand-me-down Mariners t-shirt that he received (with love) from his big brother.  It should also be noted that this was Kellan’s fourth Major League Baseball game and Tim wore the exact same shirt to his fourth MLB game.

Most of our pictures from this game are random smiling Cook Boys pictures.  Here is one of them:

In our four previous games at Citi Field, we had never seen a Met hit a homerun and raise the Big Apple.  Well, Carlos Beltran finally did it for us:

High fives for Carlos:

Beltran’s blast made it 6-0 Mets (Reyes had scored on the batter before Beltran’s homerun) at the end of the fifth inning.  In the top of the sixth, the Angels got their sole run on a Mark Trumbo homerun.  And that was all the scoring in this game.

Here is one of Tim’s standard silly faces that I never tire of:

I also never tire of playing with Kellan…

…or feeding him a bottle while taking in a ballgame.  (Although Kellan will soon graduate from the bottle stage of life).

In the seventh inning, Tim asked to do some exploring.  So, we walked through the CF area where the “Shake Shack” was all lit up in Mets blue and orange:

And we spent some time behind the bullpens watching relievers warm up for both teams:

At the very end of the game, we scooted back over toward the 3B side and positioned ourselves in the concourse above the umpire’s tunnel.  With two outs in the top of the ninth (when they were still checking tickets), Vernon Wells hit a towering pop up for the final out of the game.  As the ball ascended, I scooped up Tim and we started to scurry down the stairs towards the umpires’ tunnel.  But a voice from above called us back.  An usher told us, “you can’t go down there.”  He did not realize the game was going to be over in literally 2-3 seconds.  When he
realized it, he stuck to his guns, “the game is over, you can’t go down there.”

Oh, well.  No umpire ball attempt for us at this game.

We slowly made our way out of the stadium, and we ended up sitting on some benches outside for a while so the traffic on the 7-train could die down a bit.  While we were waiting, I got this picture of Tim with Citi Field lit up at night:

We then made our way back down to Wall Street and our waiting hotel room beds.  The next morning, we trooped around the downtown area a bit before heading home.   We got Tim’s picture with the famous bull:

And we checked out lady liberty from a far:

All-in-all, it was a nice little trip to New York City and Citi Field.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
13/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs and Angels; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
8 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1))
41 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels)
6/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden
Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark
in Arlington, Citi Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

Deep In The Heart Of Texas (5/29/11)

On May 29, 2011, Tim and I were back for a second helping of baseball at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.  After the blistering weather for the previous night’s game, I was fearing this 2:10 p.m. afternoon start.  Fortunately, the weather decided to have a little bit of mercy on us.  It was hot, but not unbearably hot like the day before.

We reported to the ballpark about two hours early.  As we approached the third base gate, I snapped this picture of Tim:

It is definitely a nice looking ballpark, inside and out.

When we entered the seating around in foul territory down the LF line, we found an almost empty field and no batting practice.  It was not a shock, but it was a little sad.

The only players on the field were a bunch of Rangers pitchers playing catch down the RF line.  The first 2-3 rows were packed all the way down the RF line behind the pitchers.  There was no reason for us to join the crowd.

So, we wandered down to the first row along the LF line.  There were no Royals warming up, but there was…

…four baseballs and a little cone (like a training cone to run around or something like that) laying on the ground.  We had about two hours to explore the ballpark, so we figured we had a little time to relax.  So we just grabbed some railing and looked out upon the field.

Our patience paid off, within a couple minutes a couple Royals pitchers and coaches exited the visitors bullpen and headed toward the 3B dugout.  One of the coaches (strength and conditioning coach Tyrone Hill) veered off to his right, doubled back about 30-40 feet, grabbed one of the baseballs, walked over and handed it to Tim (as represented by the red arrow in the last picture).

Thanks, Ty!

Meanwhile, new Royals pitcher Felipe Paulino started signing autographs down the line near third base.  Tim and I walked over and Felipe signed Tim’s new baseball for him.

While we were waiting for Paulino, a lady (probably about 40-45 years old) ran up with a Rangers program.  She was all giddy.  Then, she cursed at herself for forgetting her pen.  She asked if anyone had a pen, and I told her she could use ours.  She was very thankful.  Then, when I noticed she was going to get her program signed, I told her to hold on and I’d get her
a sharpie out of my backpack.

She was very excited.  When she handed her program and my pen to Paulino, the following exchange ensued—

Lady:  “I love to watch you pitch!”

Todd (thinking):  “Whoa, why does this lady like a Royals pitcher so much!?”

Lady (accompanied by various giddy-squealing noises):  “I LOVE MY RANGERS!!!”

Paulino (with a huge “ROYALS” emblazoned across his chest):  “Thanks.”

It was hilarious.

Enough with that lady, it was time to explore this ballpark.  First, we headed over to the 3B dugout and got this excellent picture of Tim:

It was a day for panoramas.  And this was our first, from half way up the seats looking out at Rangers Ballpark from Section 26:

A lady was sitting nearby, and she kindly agreed to take this photo of us:

Next, we headed to the outfield and got this shot of the visitors bullpen:

The Rangers bullpen is situated parallel to the outfield wall in RCF, and is almost always in the shade (or at least the chairs along the back wall of the Rangers bullpen are shaded).  In contrast, the visitors’ bullpen is situated perpendicular to the outfield wall and is almost always in the direct sun.

And lest the visiting relieves might forget who they are facing, the Rangers threw a big Texas “T” logo between the mound and home plate of the visitors’ bullpen.

We walked behind the bullpen and circled around toward the seats in section 54.  Just behind the seats, I got this fairly unique looking panorama from the concourse:

As that last picture shows, there is a shady bench in the visitors’ bullpen.  So, sure, the visiting relievers can sit in the shade…of course, from that bench they won’t be able to see the game.

We headed down into the seats and got this panorama of Rangers Ballpark from the first row of section 54:

While we were down there, we noticed several stray baseballs lying on and around the bullpen mound (a couple of them can be seen in the picture above from the back of the bullpen).  I figured those baseballs would eventually become souvenirs, but no one was around at this point.  So we continued on our tour.

Here is a view from the concourse behind section 47 in RF:

And then we went way up high and got this panorama from section 345:

From the concourse above the first base gate, we could see the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium out in the not-so-distant distance:

And this was the view from above the home plate gate:

Before heading to the top of the upper deck, we found an usher who was happy to take this shot of us in the upper deck behind home plate:

And from the back row Section 326, Rangers Ballpark looks a lot like this:

The inner workings of Rangers Ballpark are pretty interest too.  Check out this weird little landing at the middle of a stairway down  from the upper deck:

The usher who took this next photo back in the field level…

…, was quite nervous that I would trip and send Tim crashing to the ground.  But she still took the photo and did not ask me to take Tim down.

We decided to head back to center field.  There was a parade of dogs going on around the warning track and Tim loved watching it:

NOTE:  In the bottom right picture above, the guy who is holding the big snow shovel (not full of snow on this day) is the same guy  who pitched to Tim in Rangers (whiffleball) Park the day before.

When a couple Royals moseyed on out to the visitors’ bullpen, Tim and I walked over to the railing at the bottom of the section.  Royals’ bullpen catcher Bill Duplissea walked over and tossed Tim one of the baseballs that we’d previously seen sitting on the bullpen mound.

Normally, players toss baseballs to me (because Tim usually is not wearing his glove) or they had them to Tim.  But Duplissea just grabbed the ball and tossed it directly to Tim (unsolicited) and Tim reached up and made the barehanded grab – his first barehanded grab ever at the ballpark.

Thanks, Bill!

As Duplissea walked away, I got this shot of Tim and his new prize:

He was very excited about making the barehanded catch and demonstrated his technique for me numerous times – i.e., his technique was to put his hands together like a bowl.

In that last picture, you can see the official line-up card taped to the wall of the bullpen.  Tim and I watched a coach (Foster) tape it up there few minutes before Duplissea tossed Tim the baseball.  I’ve heard it is somewhat easy to get line-up cards from the Rangers Ballpark visitors’ bullpen, so I asked Tim if he wanted to come back after the game to see if we could get it.  He did.

And then we continued on our tour.

Here is a shot of Rangers Ballpark from section 42 as Alexi Ogando (I just made up that spelling, hopefully its correct) warmed up in RF:

And another view from Section 36:

We’d seen enough of the ballpark, so we decided to go grab out seats out in CF.  On our way, we stopped by a little make-shift ice cream stand just inside the first base gate.  Walking by earlier, I had seen that they had novelty ice creams for only $1.00.  So Tim and I plunked two $2.00 and each enjoyed one of these:

As the umpires met prior to first pitch, we noticed the Rangers mascot (whose name I do not know) standing behind home plate with a little girl:

That’s a good looking mascot.  But I’m sure the Mariner Moose could take him in a battle of overall entertainment value.

Before we knew it, it was game time.

With two outs in the top of the first, Eric Hosmer strode to the plate.  I don’t follow the Royals closely, but it seemed like Hosmer is supposed to be some hot shot rookie or something, so I
figured I ought to take his photo.

Although my camera didn’t focus properly, I captured a very blurry shot of Hosmer right after he snapped his bat off at the handle in the course of flying out:

From our seats, I continued our stadium tour.  These windows, from what I understand, are the Rangers Diamond Club:

And just above the windows, are the Rangers retired numbers:

Note: both the Rangers and the Astros have retired Nolan Ryan’s “34.”

Early in the game, we dined on nachos and…

…placed a call to Colleen/mommy to check in.  In the picture of Tim on the phone, he is in the process of asking Colleen the same question over-and-over-and-over-and-over.  He was getting a little frustrated that she wasn’t answering him.  Noticing his frustration, I grabbed that phone and saw that he has unknowingly hung up on his mother.  No wonder she wasn’t answering his question!

This picture…

…shows the inning-by-inning scoreboard behind home plate.  Most stadiums don’t have a scoreboard like that behind home plate, but they should.  It was very convenient.

One of my main observations about Rangers Ballpark at this game is that its construction seems  to create a swirling wind in the centerfield grass.  It must blow right out of the stands and into center.  The result:

Massive amounts of garbage on the field.  That is actually right fielder Nelson Cruz with and at least four pieces of garbage in his area.

Almost every half inning, a bunch of guys in blue shirts would run out into the outfield and collect the newly deposited garbage:

So, anywhere, in addition to our stadium observations, food and cellphone calls, there was a game going on too.

As shown above, it was 2-2 in the top of the fourth.  The Rangers scored one run in the second on a Mike Napoli double that plated  Michael Young.  In the third, they went up 2-0 on a Ian Kinsler solo homerun.  But the Royals wouldn’t settle for just two runs in the fourth.  Instead, they scored five on back-to-back doubles by Wilson Betemit and Mitch Maier, which was promptly followed by a homerun by Brayan Pena.

The Rangers got back one run in the bottom of the fifth on a Napoli homerun.  But Ian Kinsler struck out to end the frame, and was then tossed out of the game:

Another somewhat unique feature of Rangers Ballpark is that the right fielders warm up between innings with the 1B line ball girl:

They do that same thing in Milwaukee – or at least they did when we visited Miller Park in 2009.

I got a cool action shot in the top of the sixth inning as Billy Butler grounded out to second base:

As should be evident from the angle of all of the above game photos, we were once again sitting in section 50 in centerfield.  In fact, we were sitting in the exact same seats as the day before.  Here is a shot of Tim as he stood and watched the action below in the bullpen:

To Tim’s left in that picture the chain link fence ends at a point where the bullpen wall bends.  At the end of the fence, there is a little open space where stuff can drop down inside the wall.  Someone had crammed a plastic cup down into the open space and it was filled it all sorts of nasty looking junk.  We figured we should join in on the fun, so Tim and I both contributed a few sunflower seed shells to the cup full of nasty junk.  In that last picture, Tim has his left hand up to his mouth while he is working on cracking a seed open — he’s still a seed-eating-rookie and needs to use his hand.

Just for kicks, I got this shot of Josh Hamilton at the plate — before he grounded into a double play:

Despite the pre-game dollar novelty ice cream, Tim still had plenty of room for a mint chocolate chip ice cream helmet:

At some point, former-Mariner Mark Lowe warmed up in the bullpen…

…, but he never came into the game.

In the eighth inning, we relocated to some aisle seats that had opened up along Greene’s Hill.  I as hoping for a chance to run out into the grass in chase of a homerun.  This is what it looked like out there:

But no homeruns came our way.  One did, however, land in the gap in right field:

It sailed into the gap around where the white shoe is sticking out over the gap in the above picture.  It was a two run shot off the bat of Michael Young that tied the game at 5-5 heading into the ninth.

Everyone was excited about the new life the Young homerun brough to the Rangers.  These gals (Rangers employees) showed their excitement in the form of in-unison flag waving on Greene’s Hill:

I would guess that Rangers Ballpark has more Texas state flags that any other ballpark has of its respective state flag.

While we were out by Greene’s Hill, Tim was making funny faces at this little kid…

…and it was cracking the kid up.  In fact, Tim was exciting the kid so much that his dad handed him off to his mom — “you deal with this honey.”  I felt a little bad about it.  But what was I supposed to do, tell Tim not to have fun and make other kids have fun at the ballpark?  Nah, the ballpark is about having fun.  So I let it continue.

The Royals quickly dampened the Rangers mood once again.  In the top of the ninth, they scored an unearned run off of Rangers closer Neftali Feliz.  The inning started off with Chris Getz hitting a double to RF.  He got to third when Nelson Cruz bobbled the ball.  Cruz’s error is the reason Getz’s run was unearned when he scored on a Alcides Escobar’s sacrifice fly.

While everyone else in the stadium was upset with the situation, I was quite happy.  A Rangers loss would be good for the Mariners.  But the Rangers still had other plans.  And they started with the would-be goat, Nelson Cruz.  Fresh off of his costly error, Nelson led off the bottom of the ninth by blasting a homerun into the gap in LF.  Tie game.

Tim and I decided to run over there to see if we could see the ball at the bottom of the gap.  But the lady who jumped to the side to avoid being hit by Cruz’s homerun ball told us that a guy (Rangers employee) had walked through the bottom of the gap and retrieved the ball.

Anyway, we ended the game with this view from section 6:

I would like to report that the Royals stormed back to take the lead again and win the game.  But they did not.  Instead, they lost the game on a ridiculous play.  After the Cruz homer, the non-fleet-of-foot Mike Napoli hit a single.  Joakim Soria (who blew the save when he gave up the Cruz homer) struck out Mitch Moreland and David Murphy.

That brought Elvis Andrus, who had replaced the booted Ian Kinsler, to the plate.

Elvis slapped a single by the first baseman and into right field.  It was a nice little hit that should have advanced Napoli to third (and no more than third).  But for some unknown reason, Napoli just kept running toward home plate.  Right fielder Mitch Maier relayed the ball to first baseman Eric Hosmer.  Hosmer turned and fired a strike to catcher Brayan Pena.  Napoli was dead to rights.  Napoli had not even made it to the dirt around home plate.  He was a good five strides and a slide away from home plate!  But instead of coming out in front of the plate to meet Napoli, Pena STEPPED BACK and opened up the plate for Napoli to slide in safe while Pena tagged him on the shoulder.  It was, perhaps, the worst bit of *catchering* that I have ever witnessed.

And it led to this unwelcome sight:

Another Rangers win.

Oh, well.  (The silver lining is that former-Mariner Arthur Rhodes got the win).

Anyway, there was still plenty of fun to be had at the ballpark.

Our post-game fun started off with a visit back to the visitors’ bullpen.  He went down to about the third row of section 54 and waved at a Rangers employee who was working in the bullpen.  As she walked over to see what we wanted, I asked if we could get the line-up card that was still taped to the wall.  As she went to retrieve it, I heard a voice from our right say, “Hey, I read your blog!  You’re Todd and Tim, right?”

Indeed, we were, I confirmed as I said hello to Frank.  Although we’d never met, I recognized him from a cameo Frank had made the previous month on Zack Hample’s blog.  Tim and I have only been *recognized* a handful of times and it is always a funny experience.  It was great to briefly meet Frank, and he very kindly offered to take this photo of us with our first ever line-up card:

Two show our appreciation (for the picture and for reading about our adventures), I *rewarded* Frank with two free taco certificates Tim and I had *won* at the previous nights game when someone-did-something (got a hit or an RBI or a homerun or something).

Hope them tacos were tasty, Frank!

After parting ways with Frank, it was time to go get in line for *FANS* run the bases day.  Yes, FANS run the bases.  Kids of all ages were invited to circle the bases, and I was quite happy about it.

As we walked toward the line circling up the ramps in the first base concourse, I turned back and got this shot of the RF concourse:

There are definitely a lot of interesting views of all types inside Rangers Ballpark.  And here is another of them:

It’s an extra-wide tunnel into the RF foul seats.  And I got this shot of the stars in the steel framing up high above the walkway along the outer part of the 1B side concourse:

When we entered the seating area again, the game had been cover for a while.  The CF trash collectors were off duty, but the wind was still working hard.  This was the result:

Unluckily, the infield was trash free, and that was where we were running:

A couple more bonus Fans Run The Bases pictures:

It is always great to run Major League bases.  I believe this is the 10th set of Major League bases that Tim has run, including (in no particular order) Progressive Field, Miller Park, Rogers Centre, PNC Park, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citi Field, Petco Park, Citizens Bank Park.

As we always do, we got the traditional post-run shot of the third base dugout…

…and the father-son on field shot:

Finally, it was time to leave Ranger Ballpark.  It had been a lot of fun.  On our way out, we got this shot (actually two shots put together) of the third base entrance and a big Rangers logo on the ground outside the entrance:

And just like in Houston, we ended it all with a fire hydrant shot, this time a nice shiny silver hydrant outside of the third base entrance:

2011 C&S Fan Stats
11/1 Games (Tim/Kellan)
12/2 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros and Royals; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles]
6 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies, Rangers (2))
35 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals)
5/1 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington; Kellan – Camden Yards]
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.

C&S’s Opening Day: Let’s Play Two  (4/9/2011)

Tim and I celebrated our own personal MLB Opening Day on April 9, 2011 at Camden Yards in Baltimore.  Due to a rain out the night before, we were treated to a single-admission doubleheader.  The match-up:  Rangers vs. Orioles.

We met up with national news reporter and MLBlogs Top 50 blogger, Avi Miller, on the sidewalk in front of Camden Yards. (Read Avi’s game update).  As the three of us walked toward the gates, Tim spotted Brooks Robinson’s “5” statue and had to get a picture with his “favorite number”:


1 - First picture Tim's favorite number.JPGFYI, Tim always wants to sit in seat number 5.

We met up with a bunch of Camden Yards regulars and waited for the gates to open.  There was one problem, no one, including the gate workers, knew when the gates would be opening.  We thought it would be 2:30 – two hours before game time – but at 2:30, we were told the gates would not open until 3:00.  And the word was there would be no batting practice.

When we entered the stadium at 3:00, we were happy to discover that the Rangers were, in fact, taking BP.  We headed down to the first row in RF foul territory with the intent of walking around to left field.  Before we could even begin the walk, a Rangers righty hit a looping foul ball down the RF line.  It hit the warning track and bounced right over our heads.  As I turned around, the baseball smacked off of a seat in the second row and flew straight into my glove.  There we go, baseball no. 1 of 2011:


2 - first baseball of 2011.JPGWe circled around toward the LF foul pole and stopped along the brick wall in foul territory.  Moments later, Rangers strength and conditioning coach Jose Vasquez, fielded a batted ball, spotted Tim on my shoulders (fyi, he’s way too big to be on my shoulders these days!), shouted to me “take the boy down! (fyi, players/coaches are always scared of hitting Tim with a baseball when he’s on my shoulders), and tossed the baseball to us:


3 - first toss up of 2011.JPGThanks, Jose!
  (Fyi, that is Jose in the blue sweatshirt just to the left of Tim’s head in that last picture).

One of our goals for this game was to get a picture of Tim wearing his Mariners hat with a Ranger for the 2011 mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt (we are going to do our best to defend our title!).  I made a list of three ex-Mariners who now play for the Rangers:  Mark Lowe, Arthur Rhodes, and Adrian Beltre.  Lo-and-behold, it wasn’t long before Tim got an autograph from and picture with Mark Lowe:


3a - Mark Lowe division rival and former Mariner.JPGThanks, Mark!
  We enjoyed having you in Seattle, and wish you good luck in Texas (provided that, after you get a hold, the closer comes along after you and blows all of the Rangers saves).

So, the day was going great already.  It was time for a snack break.  “Mommy” had packed a big bag of snacks.  Tim chomped down granola bar number one before we left the LF foul line:


4 - first snack of 2011.JPGSoon, a group of Rangers ran in toward home plate to take their turn in the cage.  For some reason, we were fooled.  It seemed like BP was concluding.  So we headed over toward the Rangers dugout.  But it was soon plainly evident that BP was still in full swing.  So we headed out to left field…where Tim did some gymnastics…


5 - BP gymnast.JPG…and then had another snack…


6 - second snack of 2011.JPG…, this time it was peanut butter crackers.

After Tim finished his crackers, we worked our way into the first row in section 86, the closest section to centerfield.  Mark Lowe and Authur Rhodes were shagging balls together – nice to see former- Mariners sticking together!  When Lowe shagged a ball about 75 feet from us, I called out to him.  He turned around and saw Tim and me in the first row and hit us with a perfect strike.

Thanks, again, Mark!

A few minutes later, BP wrapped up (for real this time).  I took our first panorama of the season from an essentially empty section 86:


7 - camden yards section 86 and avi panorama.jpgFYI, that’s Avi tossing his glove in the air in that panorama.

If you click on that last panorama to enlarge it, you’ll see three baseballs in the grass by the batters eye.  Tim and I decided to get some dinner and eat sitting in section 90 next to the batters eye to see what would happen with those baseballs.

We found a nacho stand in the concourse by the kids play area.  So we grabbed some nachos and


8 - first nachos of 2011.JPG…enjoyed them in section 90 as planned.  Our first nachos of the season did not disappoint.  And soon enough, a couple bullpen attendants came by and one of them tossed one of the baseballs up to us.

Thanks, bullpen guy!

While eating our nachos, I got a panorama of Camden Yards from the back of section 90:


9 - Camden Yards section 90 panorama.jpgAs we ate our nachos, we watched the starting pitchers warm up in CF and then in the bullpens:


10 - Orioles Rangers bullpen activity.JPGAs the national anthem ended, I got a picture of the bullpen attendant who had tossed the baseball up to us in section 90:


11  - thanks orioles bullpen guy.JPGAvi pointed out the new retired number markers hanging from the upper deck in LF:


12 - orioles retired numbers.JPG20 is Frank Robinson; 5 is Brooks Robinson; 4 is Earl Weaver; 22 is Jim Palmer; 33 is Eddie Murray; 8 is Cal Ripkin, Jr.; and 42 is Jackie Robinson.

Finally, the first game started.  It was Tim’s first single-admission doubleheader (we did, of course, do a two-city doubleheader last season) and only my second (this was my first – game 1/game 2).

I got a shot of Josh Hamilton playing catch in CF before the bottom of the first inning:


13 - Josh Hamilton playing catch.JPGAnd I figured I ought to get a shot of the Rangers relievers since we were sitting right by them:


14 - Rangers bullpen at Camden Yards.JPGTim and I were sitting in section 86 with Avi, Matt and Zevi, plus a couple of their friends, so I got this somewhat candid shot of Tim with 3-mygameballs.com members for the scavenger hunt:


15 - mygameballsdotcommers.JPGSpeaking of Matt, he was over in the Flag Court in RF during the bottom of the first and came close to snagging Nick Markakis’s homerun off of Colby Lewis.  That put the O’s up 1-0, and that was all they’d need in game one.

Another shot I needed for the scavenger hunt was a picture of Tim with a baseball we caught at the game with a Camden Yard’s sign in the background.  Here was out first attempt:


16 - baseball and distance OPACY sign.JPGA great shot of Tim, but the Camden Yards sign was way too far away.

We were excited to see the O’s new acquisition, Vlad Guererro.  Its nice to see that guy get out of the A.L. West where we won’t do as much damage against the Mariners.  In his first at bat of the day, I caught him as he hit a single off the very end of his bat:


17 - Vlad gets a hit.JPGIn the bottom of the second, Mark Reynolds hit his first homerun as an Oriole.  The ball landed about 2 sections over from us – in straight away left field.  Avi was off with the crack of the bat, but got tripped up and hit the deck en route to the ball.  And that put the O’s up 4-0.

The scoring in the first game concluded in the bottom of the third inning when Adam Jones hit a RBI single to put the O’s up 5-0.  The O’s lead was good for our Mariners, so we were happy with the way the game was going.

Around the fourth of fifth inning, Tim asked if we could get ice cream.  So we went on a little walk.  The concession stands at Camden Yards are all different this season.   It looks good.  Here’s a look at the new Orioles Shirt Shop on the 3B side of the concourse:


18 - Orioles shirt shot.JPGTim and I bought our first chocolate ice cream helmet (with rainbow sprinkles) of the season and grabbed some ice cream seats down the 3B line:


20 - first ice cream helmet of 2011.JPGThe Rangers have a lot of impressive hitters these days.  I snapped this picture of one of them, Nelson Cruz, because he looked like a punk high schooler with his untucked jersey:


19 - untucked Nelson Cruz.JPGCome on, Nellie, tuck it in!

We gave another shot at the “baseball with Camden Yards sign” picture, but we were still a bit too far away:


21 - baseball and slightly bigger OPACY sign.JPGOur handicap accessible seats behind section 58 were great for taking action shots.  Here is a shot of Elvis Andrus grounding out:


22 - Elvis Andrus grounds out.JPGThe ball is the little white blur on the far left side of the picture (vertically, right in the middle of the dirt).

Josh Hamilton singled to center on this swing:


23 - Josh Hamilton singles to CF.JPGHere’s Vlad again, getting ready to pop out:


24 - Big Daddy Vladdy.JPGIn the 8th inning, we headed behind home plate to set up for an umpire baseball attempt.  From the cross aisle behind home, we got another shot of Josh Hamilton as he hit another single…


25 - Josh Hamilton singles to LF in 9th.JPG…this time to left field.

When some patrons left the fancy seats, an usher let us take their seats behind home plate.  It’s a pretty sweet view from down there.  Here is a shot of the final batter of the game, Michael Young:


26 - Final batter Michael Young.JPGAnd here is a screen shot from the TV broadcast showing where Tim and I were sitting as the game ended – Tim is sitting on my lap in this shot:


26a - behind home plate in game 1.jpgAfter Jason Berken put Michael Young away to end the game, home plate umpire Marty Foster awarded Tim his first umpire ball of the season:


27 - Umpire baseball and OPACY sign.JPGAnd we finally got the perfect shot of Tim, his umpire baseball, and the Camden Yards sign.

Between games we hung out in the kids play area.  It was essentially unchanged from last season.  Tim did some jumping in the bouncy house…


28 - first kids play area of 2011.JPG…, which Tim loves.  He also played on the wooden fort-thingy.  Finally, before heading toward Eutaw Street, we got Tim’s picture with one of three big Oriole Bird bobbleheads:


29 - Jumbo Orioles bobblehead.JPGYes, that big thing is a bobblehead.

This was the first Saturday of MLB baseball in Baltimore.  Eutaw Street was packed.  I think a lot of people skipped the first game of the doubleheader and they were all showing up for the nightcap.

Tim played in the picnic area behind the batters eye before we headed back into the stands.  As we made our way back into the LF stands, we passed by the MASN crew who, I imagine, were busy talking about the upcoming game:


30 - MASN Orioles crew.JPGI have no clue who this lady is, but as we passed by, some dude yelled really loud, “YOU’RE HOT, WHATEVER-HER-NAME-IS!!!”  Classy, sir.  Classy.

We spent most of game two with Avi, Zevi and Andrew in section 86.  This was our view:


31 - Game 2 view.JPGA lot of players were shuffled around in both line-ups, but big Josh Hamilton was still patrolling center field for the Rangers:


32 - Josh Hamilton roams CF.JPGTim was excited for game two:


33 - Tim set for game 2.JPGIn fact, he was so excited, that he put on a display of his super-rad dance moves:


34 - dance party.JPGIn the picture above, that is Andrew sitting behind Tim in the black sweatshirt.  Tim had great fun “sitting” next to Andrew.   Tim laughed so much he got the hiccups twice during game 2.  When we got in our car after the game, he told me, “That guy who gave me the hiccups was funny!”

The Game one “fan of the game” was standing nearby in his zany outfit, so I snapped  a shot of him:


35 - game 1 fan of the game.JPGThis game was all Rangers.  ALL RANGERS.  In fact, it was 13-1 Rangers.

Actually, the Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the second on an Adam Jones solo shot.  This ISN’T the homerun swing:



36 - Adam Jones foul ball.JPGNote, the Orioles were wearing black jerseys for this game.

But the Jones homer was all the O’s could muster.  Meanwhile, the Rangers scored six in the third inning on the strength of 2RBI singles by Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton, and a 2RBI homerun by former-Mariner Adrian Beltre – his first as a Ranger.

I was happy to see former Mariner, Chris Jakubauskas warming up in the Orioles bullpen:


37 - Welcome back Chris Jakubauskas.JPGWhen he entered the game in relief, it was his first MLB action since getting drilled in the head with a pitch in the first inning of his first game in 2010.

Here is Jak in action, facing off against Josh Hamilton…


38 - Jakubauskas sends Hamilton to Ksville.JPG…and striking out the reigning A.L. batting champ.

Did I mention that Jakubaukas is officially the only MLB player Tim has ever invited to hang out in our hotel room?  He is (scroll all the way to the bottom).

Unfortunately, things did not go great for Jak in his Orioles debut.  He pitched the final three innings and gave up 5 runs (four in the 9th inning).

In the 8th inning, we headed behind home plate to make an attempt for Tim’s second umpire baseball of the day.  Amazingly, we got down to the same exact seats as at the end of the first game.

Tim asked me to take this picture of him hiding in his glove:


39 - hiding behind home plate.JPGThen I got this shot of Big Daddy Vladdy warming up for his final at bat…


40 - Vlad the Impaler.JPG…and this picture of former Mariner Mark Lowe pitching to Jake Fox:


41 - Mark Lowe to Jake Fox.JPGOnce again, a screenshot of the TV broadcast showed our final seating position of the night:


42 - behind home plate in game 2.jpgTim was in perfect position to get another umpire baseball, and the usher even lobbied homeplate umpire, Jeff Nelson, on Tim’s behalf, but the ump gave out only one baseball and it was to a kid on the other side of the umpires’ tunnel.

Not to worry, it was a great day of baseball.  Great father-son time.  A great time hanging out with the Camden Yards regulars.  And it was great to be back to live-and-in-person Major League Baseball.

Before we headed out of the park, a kind usher took this picture of two happy baseball fans:


43 - Todd and Tim complete the doubleheader.JPGHooray for Baseball!

2011 C&S Fan Stats

 

2/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)

2/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers; Kellan – none]

1 Ice Cream Helmet(s)

5 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 1 Umpire)

1/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards; Kellan – none]

10/6 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]

3/1 Management Photos [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]

1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)

1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)

1/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose; Kellan – Mariner Moose]

*includes Spring Training