Tagged: Ice Cream Helmets

Comerica Park: A Diamond In The Rough (7/3/11)

Welcome to the longest entry in the history of this blog.

So we woke up in Toledo, Ohio, on the morning of July 3, 2011, hopped into the car and headed off to…

…Detroit, Michigan.  The Motor City!

I’ve wanted to go to Comerica Park for a long time.  But I heard a lot of negatives about Detroit (the city, not Comerica Park), and I did not know what to expect.  As we approached the city on I-75, one of the first high-rise buildings that we saw (not yet in downtown) looked odd.  It was about 20-stories high (I guess), and I soon noticed it looked so odd because I could see right through it.  I’m not sure if it was burnt out or what, but there were no windows and we could see completely through the building.

That didn’t seem right.

When we exited I-75, there was a building right at the top of the exit ramp (or right near it) that was half ripped down and demolished.  It is pictured above below the “Pure Michigan” sign.

Yikes.  Detroit was not looking good.

The quick drive through downtown did nothing to help the situation.  Every other building was boarded up or burnt out.

As we approached Comerica Park, things started to look a whole lot better.  But then we pulled into a $25 parking lot directly across from Comerica Park’s batters’ eye.  Here is a photo of Tim standing in the parking lot with the stadium behind him:

The parking lot was a disaster.  Huge pot holes.  I mean huge.  Like pot holes that you could fit a smart car into.  That’s not an exaggeration…or much of one.  As we walked to the parking lot exit, Tim asked me the most hilarious and sad parking-lot-based question of all time:  “Was there an earthquake in this parking lot?”

I broke into laughter.  It really looked like there could have been an earthquake.

So…it was officially our worst ever introduction to a Major League stadium.

But you know what?  It was all worth it.  Comerica Park is essentially the definition of the old saying “A diamond in the rough.”

Comerica Park is AMAZING!  I loved it.  I loved it so much that Tim begged me to stop taking pictures at one point.  All-in-all, we got about 450 pictures.  And this entry is going to have a ton of them.

We arrived probably half an hour before the gates opened and we took a walk around the place.  We first approached the stadium at the RF
gate (Gate A):

The tigers lurking above the gates are awesome, but this is only the second coolest gate at Comerica Park.  After taking a handful of pictures at this gate, we made our way down the street to probably the coolest gate in MLB history – the first base gate (Gate B):

Tim was a little timid standing below that big tiger paw.  He felt a little safer tucked inside the tiger’s tail:

This gate is pure awesomeness.  It is actually so big and awesome that I failed to capture it in photos.  I would have had to back away across the street to get the whole thing,
and I’m kicking myself not for not doing it.

This gate is a built into a semi-circular cut out in the side of the stadium’s outer wall.  The actual gates and that huge tiger are right in the middle of the gate area.  On either side, there are more menacing looking tigers lurking above, seemingly ready to pounce on the fans below:

Both sides of the gate are also adorned by a gigantic baseball bat:

Note that Tim is standing at the base of that bat and he looks teeny-tiny…and the bat is so tall that I couldn’t even get the knob into the picture from across the street.

All along the outer wall of the stadium along the RF-1B side (hmm…I am not certain, but I don’t think they were on the other sides of the stadium) there were these big tiger head thingys:

Cool.

Maybe there is a good time to mention my general assessment of the stadium’s design.  It seemed to me like the architects/planners thought of every little detail.  They wanted you to know at all times that you were at the Tigers stadium.  In every ballpark you see lots of team emblems, etc.  But the Tigers did an awesome job *Tigerifying* Comerica Park.  If there was a little open space, they filled it with a Tiger, or a Tiger’s “D” logo, or the word “Tigers” or something cool and appealing to the eyes of the fans.  They did an awesome job and it was really cool walking around just taking in all of the sights.

After spending some time at Gate B, we turned the corner and walked down the home plate side of the stadium – click here to see a map of the stadium.  There were gates looking into the concourse and we could see we were right behind home plate…and there was nothing happening on the field.  We ran across the street and got this picture with the “Comerica Park: Home of the Detroit Tigers” sign in the background:

Further down the road, there was a set of double doors at the “Tiger Den” with another menacing looking Tiger designed into the door:

In the picture above to the right, there are there orange cones in the distance.  Those are set up in front of the doors where the Giants were entering the stadium.

Just past the Tiger Den, we rounded another corner (at the Beer Hall) and found a Ferris Wheel inside the stadium along the 1B side:

The 3B side of the stadium is situated along Brush Street and on the opposite side of the street Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions.

After walking down the street, we rounded the corner back onto Adams Street – where we had parked in the earthquake lot.  That street provides a clear view into the ballpark.  We took
some shots of the series of statues along the outfield concourse:

These statues seem to have been designed by the same artists who did the statues inside the LF gate at Nationals Park.

Gate time was approaching, so we headed back to the 1B gate and found a spot second in line at one of the turnstiles.  While waiting the final ten minutes before gates opened, Tim asked me to take a picture of these big “gold” bats…

…and I requested (to myself) that I take a picture of this plaque listing all of the people Michiganders have to thank for Comerica Park.  As we waited for the gates to open, I had already taken about 65 pictures.  And soon we were let into the ballpark and there was a whole lot more stuff for me to photograph.

When the gates finally opened, we headed down into section 116 and surveyed the situation.

  • No batting practice;
  • Two Giants playing catch in CF; and
  • Several Tigers gathering down the LF line to play catch.

As everyone was running over to LF to watch the Tigers’ pitchers warm up.  We headed over to section 101 in CF where this was our view:

It was Madison Baumgartner and Matt Cain who were playing catch.  After a while, Cain ran back to the Giants dugout on the 1B side of home plate.  Baumgartner’s work wasn’t complete just yet.  He headed into the bullpen to throw from the mound.  At that point, there was officially nothing happening anywhere near us, so we relocated to section 150 to watch Baumgartner continue his throwing routine:

A bunch of Giants fans joined us above the bullpen and when Baumgartner finished his routine, he tossed the baseball to a Giants fan.

With no BP, a big crowd around the Tigers pitchers, and no other Giants throwing on the field at this point, I was thinking it would be very difficult to end up getting a baseball at this game.  But I was really hoping we would beat the odds and come away with at least one baseball because we really wanted one from Comerica Park and it might be years before we ever get back to Detroit.

We walked over to the LF foul pole area, but there were tons of people gathered around just a few Tigers.  It was pointless to stay there.  Just then some Giants pitchers came out to play catch along the 1B line.  But it was packed by the time we got there.  So we gave up, and headed over to the dugout.

This was our view from the first row of section 121:

And the move worked out.  As a Giant (I am pretty sure it was Jeremy Affeldt) ran back into the dugout and tossed his warm up baseball into the crowd while he was still down the 1B line.  Then when he got right in front of us, he reached into his back pocket, pulled out his back-up baseball and tossed it up to us.

Success!  A baseball from Comerica Park:

It was officially time to explore!

Our self-guided ballpark tour started with a panorama from section 127:

Then we headed into a little nook on the side of the concourse on the 3B side.  It was the area where we had already seen the ferris wheel from outside the ballpark:

Check out the big baseball fountain to the right in that picture.  Cool, eh?

We didn’t ride the Ferris Wheel at this point.  Instead, he headed back into the 3B side concourse…

…in search for the carousel that I had heard about.  After a bit of wandering around and then finally asking an usher, we found the tiger-go-round tucked into a circular food court-type area:

You cannot really tell in that last picture, but all of the traditionally merry-go-round *horses* on this carousel are ferocious-looking tigers.

Tim wanted to ride both carousel, but the line was huge.  So I told him we could come back during the game when I suspected the line would be much shorter.  So we continued on our
tour.

We headed up the stairs next to the carousel and found ourselves here:

Looking to our left, we could see back down into the 1B side concourse:

Comerica Park has a bunch of these banners hanging with players from the past.  I’m not sure what the significance of the years are – they all seemed to be even decade years.  So maybe, for example, that 1980 banner in the foreground simply means that Jack Morris pitched for the Tigers in the ‘80s.  Between the Morris 1980 banner and the 1970 banner to the right, there is a weird contraption down below on the concourse floor.  You’ll notice it is resting on tires, stands pretty high up into the air, and is topped with “D” and a “1970.”  The Tigers have a bunch of those throughout the field level concourse as well.  Again, my thought is that they feature players and artifacts from the decade identified at the top of the display.

Heading out into the seating area, we got a panorama of Comerica Park from section 215…

…and another from section 210:

While behind the 200 level seats, we spotted something cool – the back side of those huge tigers lurking above Gate B (you can also see the tops of both of the huge bats rising from the ground in front of the gate):

Instead of seats, the second level in RF features a patio area (a/k/a the Pepsi Porch) and a long elevated walkway that runs all the way out to center field.  Most of the way toward CF, I took this picture from the elevated walkway looking down the stairs toward Gate A:

And then I turned around and got this panoramic view of the field (also featuring the Pepsi Porch):

When we walked all the way out to the end of the elevated walkway, we could see the top of the batters’ eye:

Detroit being the Motor City and all, the batters’ eye features two muscle cars.  We also noticed a lot of water on the top of the batters eye, which I original thought was pooled rain water.  But during the game we realized that there is a fountain on top of the batters’ eye that shoots streams of water high into the air.

On our walk back across the elevated walkway, I got this panorama that gives a better view of the Pepsi Porch form behind:

Remember how I said the Tigers filled every empty space with a Tigers logo or something Tigers-based?  While walking across the elevated-walkway, Tim found something that perfectly proved that point – a drain:

Look at that!  It has (1) crossed bats and a baseball, (2) the word “Detroit,” (3) the “D” from the Tigers’ jerseys, (4) the word “Tigers” in a ferocious tigers-ish font, and (5) baseballs circled with stars.  Awesome.  These are almost certainly the best drains in all of MLB.

While walking on the elevated-walkway, we also found a fan assistance booth where the worker-lady was happy to fill up Tim’s water bottle with some refreshing ice-water.  Then she laid this bad-boy on Tim:

Together, the certificate and Tim’s shirt combine to tell the story:  “Welcome to Comerica Park – Life is good!”

Next, we walked all the way out to the LF corner and took a bunch of panoramas.

First, section 219 (which is right above the tiger-go-round):

Switching over to the 300-level, we took our behind-the-plate panoramic view of Comerica Park from section 326:

Behind third base, we got this view from section 334:

Then we headed out into the concourse, where we found this awesome picture  (it was some sort of really big advertisement)…

…of Cecil Fielder walking on the roof of old Tiger Stadium.  Man, I wish I Tim and I could have visited Tiger Stadium.  From watching games on TV, it looked gloriously old-fashioned.  I was appalled when the closed it and opened this new-fangled Comerica Park place.  Well, if they had to replace (and then tear down…oh, no!) old Tiger Stadium, they couldn’t have done a better job replacing it.

Back out in the 300-level cross-aisle, we got this panoramic view of Comerica Park from section 342:

Finally, we reached the perfect spot to get Tim’s Comerica Park bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

Check out that awesome scoreboard with full-color Tigers on the prowl.  Outstanding!

When Tim and I were looking for the perfect spot for this picture, an usher came over and complimented me for wearing my baseball glove on my head.  He said it showed that I was really a baseball player.  I thought that was cool.  Thanks, usher guy!

Tim is not a big fan of heights, so you can see him sitting in the front row and waiting patiently for me in this panorama that I took from the top of section 344:

I just noticed that I can see our car in that picture.  Cool.

Anyway, it was finally time for the game to start, so we bought a hot dog and nachos and reported to our seats in section 144, where this was our view of the game:

The Tigers have a bunch of quality players, and we focused our action-shots on the big two – rightfielder Magglio Ordonez…

…who my mom roots for because she loves his name (“Magglio,” not “Ordonez”), and the baby-faced veteran slugger (who also hits for a mighty-fine average), Miguel Cabrera:

It was All-Star announcement day and the Tigers seemed to have a bunch of All-Stars (Cabrera, Valverde, Avila…).   Each time another all-star came to bat or entered the game, the PA announcer announced the all-star selection and the place went wild.

After eating our lunch and watching a few innings from our seats, Tim reminded me of those rides.  So we left our seats and headed toward the ferris wheel.  In several ways, Comerica
Park’s infield field level reminded me of Camden Yards.  It has the same type of umpires’ tunnel directly behind home plate and a similar cross-aisle that runs all the way around the place.
So we didn’t miss any of the action as we made our way along the cross-aisle and toward the Ferris Wheel snapping pictures.

First, we got this panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 141:

Another from the cross-aisle behind section 135:

And yet another from the cross-aisle behind section 132:

Going back to the Camden Yards comparison, there are actually two thing about Comerica Park’s infield that are even better than Camden Yards (which is hands down one of the best stadiums in MLB):  (1) the cross-aisle has a bunch of handicapped-accessible seating section that make the cross-aisle probably twice as wide (or more) as the Camden Yards cross-aisle
(which also features handicapped-accessible seating) and (2) (and this is a huge advantage in Comerica Park’s favor) it has an open concourse above the cross-aisle.  More specifically,
immediately above the cross-aisle is a section of really cool and unique seats…I don’t even know how to describe it, almost like huge, comfy lawn furniture (it is pictured below, way below)…and behind that section is seating is the field level concourse complete with standing room area where anyone with any ticket can watch the game.  The closed field level concourse, in my opinion, is really the one and only design error that they made at Camden Yards.  It is so nice to be able to walk from one section to another in the concourse without
having to miss any of the game.

Finally, we made it to the Ferris Wheel:

We were really lucky.  There was almost no line at all when we arrived at the Ferris Wheel.  But by the time we were up top inside the Ferris Wheel, the line reached almost all the way to the field level concourse.

Normally, you have to buy tickets for $2.00 to ride the Ferris Wheel (and carousel).  But Sundays are “Kids Days” and all kids ride the Ferris Wheel and carousel for free (parents still have to pay).  So we bought my ticket, made our way through the short line, and hopped into one of the little baseballs:

Before heading over to the carousel, we checked in on the game again.  Right when we made it back down to the cross-aisle, Brennan Boesch hit a homerun to tie the score up at 1-1 (the Giants had scored a run in the top of the fourth when we were in line for the Ferris Wheel):

We hung around a little bit and watched Mags and Miggy hit (or try to, they both got out):

On our walk over to the carousel, I took a picture of the “1980” display in the concourse:

When we reached the carousel, the line was semi-reasonable, it did not quite wrap all the way around the carousel.  We hopped in line thinking that tickets must be sold right up by the front of the line (like with the Ferris Wheel), but then I noticed a ticket sales booth off to the side.  We got out of line so I could buy my ticket and about 40,000 people took our place in line.  By the time we got my ticket, the line wrapped all the way around the carousel TWICE!

I told Tim we would have to come back later.  That line was going to take forever.

So we walked the field level concourse toward RF and all the way back around to our seats in section 144.  On the way, we got this panorama from the standing room area behind the “Kaline’s Corner” section:

This next one is from the standing room area in the walkway that runs behind the batters’ eyes and it was taken almost directly above where we were standing in the section 101 panorama (way above):

There was a little opening in the batters’ eye, and snuck our camera through and got this batters’ eye view panorama:

Here is another really cool feature of Comerica Park:

See the people all the way to the right on the opposite side of the fence?  They’re watching free baseball!  The walkway from LCF to RCF runs along Adams Street and people can stand along the Adams Street fence and watch the game.  I don’t know if the Tigers like that, but I think it is great.

Here is a look down into the bullpens:

The closer bullpen is the visitors and the one in the LF corner is the Tigers bullpen.

Standing in the same spot as the bullpen picture above, I turned toward the field and got this panorama from the walkway above section 151:

It was ice cream time.  We grabbed some helmets…

…and found some ice cream seats in our section.

Here’s a look at the one area in which Comerica Park has room for improvement:

The scoreboard has three screens.  A bit one in the middle and smaller ones on either side.  Only the smaller screen on the CF side of the scoreboard is a full-color screen.  The other two are the black background with yellow text type of screen that has been around for ages.  I assume that someday soon the Tigers will install a huge high definition screen.  Once they do that, Comerica Park may be almost perfect.

Here is a second panorama of Comerica Park from section 144 (better than the one from the beginning of the game):

Here’s another unique feature of Comerica Park:

It is a switch-back ramp for wheelchairs to descend from the field level concourse to the cross-aisle.  Pretty cool, idea.

I wasn’t surprised to see tigers designed into the arm rests of the seats:

After eating our ice cream, it was time to give the carousel line another shot.  Once again, we walked over there through the cross-aisle.  We stopped and hung out in the cross-aisle behind section 119…

…for a while because things were getting interesting in the game.  It was the seventh inning and the visiting Giants were leading by one run (3-2), but the Tigers loaded the bases…

…for Magglio Ordonez.  Maggs ended up ripping a liner right up the middle into centerfield…

…brining in the tying and go-ahead runs for the Tigers.  (Note:  right as I was about to  get a photo of Johnny Peralta scoring the go-ahead run, an ecstatic Tigers fan jumped up and
half blocked my shot, but you can still see some of the action).

With the rally still going, we headed over to the carousel.  The line only went about three-quarters of the way around it, so that was good.  We hopped in line and Tim modeled his give-away prize:

All kids got this Justin Verlander super hero cape!  Super V!  They were actually pretty cool.  Tons of kids (and even some adults…including the entire grounds crew) were wearing them throughout the game.

Finally, we made it through the line and Tim found a spot on one of the biggest and fiercest looking Tigers on the tiger-go-round:

The Tiger was angry, but Tim was happy:

The tiger-go-round was actually pretty cool.  The tiger *jumped* really high sending Tim high above me as I stood next to his Tiger’s sharp teeth.

By the time we finished up at the tiger-go-round, it was the bottom of the eighth.  We grabbed a nice standing room spot right behind home plate…

…and there was tons of room to run in case someone sent a foul ball our way (but no one did).

We had a great view into the Tigers’ spacious dugout along the 3B line:

As the game headed into the ninth inning, Tim and I grabbed some seats in the row directly above and to the 3B side of the umpires’ tunnel:

It was section 128, row 15, and it looked like this:

My one complaint is that the padding around the door to the umpires’ tunnel does a pretty good job of blocking the view of a portion of the batters’ box.  At Camden Yard, the entrance to the umpires’ tunnel is lower and less noticeable.  Still, these were some awesome seats and we were happy to get the chance to see 2011 All-Star Jose Valverde…

…close out the game for a save and a 6-3 Tigers win.

We were even happier that home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez tossed his final umpire ball of the day up to us just before disappearing into the tunnel below:

It is always great to get an umpire baseball.  And it we were pumped to get one at our first game ever at Comerica Park.

Thanks, Manny Gonzalez!

The game was over, but our day at Comerica Park was not.  It was Kids Run The Bases day!  Hooray!

On our walk to the long, long line, we snapped this picture of the funky seating section above the field level cross-aisle:

And then we took this panorama from the top of section 128:

It was a long and slow moving line, but it was cool to get to see the tunnel that runs from the batters’ eye…

…and down under the RF seats.  Of course, we touched the batting cage on our way by.

The Tigers staff was very cool during Kids Run The Bases.  Some teams rush you through there, others let you savor the experience.  The Tiger, who as far as we could tell have totally nailed the whole *fan experience* concept, were of the “savor it” variety.

We started our savoring with some photos with the 330’ foot sign on the RF wall (fair territory)…

…and with the Comerica Park sign (foul territory).

Tim then did his best Johnny Cash…

…he “walked the line” – the foul line, that is.  And it wasn’t just chalk foul line.  The Tigers have something (wood, hard plastic, or something) set into the ground.  These are some of the little things the fans get a chance to notice during Kids Run The Bases, and we greatly appreciate that opportunity.

Of course, no one tried to rush us along when we stopped on the foul warning track to get a father-son picture with the scoreboard in the background:

Then we approached the first base area.  There was a roped off chute to the right and the remainder of the warning track to the left, and there was a young ballpark attendant standing at the opening of the chute calling out “Kids to the right, parents to the left!”

When we approached, I directed Tim into the Kids chute and asked the gal, “Any chance I can chaperone him?”  She looked quickly left-right-left right, and fanned her hand toward the field, “Just go, just go!”

So I followed Tim out toward first base…

…we motored into second base where Tim called out, “Hi, Tiger!” and another young ballpark attendant answered, “his name is Paws!” just as Tim was getting ready to stomp on second:

As we past six-hole, I sped up and leaned down next to Tim to try to get a father-son-running-the-bases picture…

…but Tim thought I was trying to race him and he turned on the afterburners and I barely got us both in the shot:

We were running too fast to get a good picture at third base, but I got Tim running toward home…

…and then getting ready to (oh, no, illegal, illegal!) slide into home!

SAFE!  (“Hey, kids, no sliding!” called out the friendly guy manning the home plate area).

As we exited the home plate area, they had a lady stationed on the warning track whose sole purpose was to make sure everyone exited toward 3B and no one turned left (back toward
1B).  But when I asked her, “Can we go get his picture by the big “D?,” she did same quick left-right-left-right surveying of her surroundings and then looked toward home while he responded, “I don’t see you!  I don’t see you!”

Thanks!

So we were able to get this awesome picture by the big Tigers’ hat-style “D” painted behind home plate…

…, which is reminiscent of our picture of Tim with the big Pirates “P” painted behind home plate at PNC Park.

Hey, teams who hurry everyone through kids run the bases (I’m taking to you Mets, Nationals, Phillies), take a cue from the Tigers (and the super-West-Coast-relaxed Padres) and let the fans really enjoy the Kids Run The Bases experience.

On our way by the 3B dugout, a fan took our picture with Tim’s baseball from Manny Gonzalez:

Then we walked as far as we could down the LF line (past the first 2-3 exits) so we could maximize our time on the field.  Before leaving the field, I took a self portrait with Tim on my shoulders and the scoreboard in the background.  A friendly usher saw and ran over and offered to take this picture:

The Tigers staff are cool folks.

Thanks to everyone at Comerica Park!

Then, as if there was some sort of competition to see who could be the last person to be nice to us at Comerica Park, an usher approached us right as we left the ballpark and asked, “Is he a Tigers fan?”  With Tim up on my shoulders, I responded, “We’re Mariners fans!”  The usher dug into his pocket and pulled out a baseball.  Reaching up to hand it to Tim, the usher said, “We like Mariners fans too!”

Thanks!

I’m serious.  Comerica Park is awesome!  Well, done Tigers!

We were literally the first car parked in the parking lot.  When we arrived at our car, there were only about 4-5 other cars left.  We had a awesome, full day at Comerica Park.  And before hoping in the car, we took one more panorama as a parting shot:

In the famous word of the Terminator:  “[We’ll] be back!”

2011 C&S Fan Stats
16/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
16/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants and Tigers; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
12 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))
48 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 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, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
8/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica 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.

2010 Mariners Season Finale (10/3/10)

2010 was a long and fun season.  And, on October 3, 2010, we headed down to Safeco Field for the final game of our and the Mariners 2010 season.

The line-up was Tim, Kellan, Colleen, my folks, my buddy Paul, and me.  Although Paul joined us late, the rest of us headed down for non-existent batting practice.

We headed into Safeco Field and found ourselves in the standing room area in center field.  Nothing was going on yet.  So we just hung out for a few minutes.  We were ready for some good old-fashioned Mariners fun:


1 - three boys in CF.JPGSoon, a couple Cook & Son Hall of Famers made their way out to the bullpen:  Jason Phillips to the left…

2 - here come phillips and RRS.JPG…and finale starting pitcher, Ryan Rowland-Smith, to the right.  After a tough season where we never got to see him pitch live, I was excited for the opportunity to watch Ryan close out the 2010 season with a strong final outing.

The Mariners braodcasters do their pregame show from the centerfield standing room area.  After Tim hopped from my shoulders to grandpa’s shoulders, Kellan and I strolled over to watch the broadcasters preparing for their show.  All of a sudden, I saw a familiar face and, before I knew it, Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik…

3 - Zduriencik kisses Kellan.JPG…was kissing Kellan like a campaigning politician.

Despite the terribly disappointing season, I believe in Jack.  I think he has a good vision for the team.  And as GM’s go, Jack is the most visible the Mariners have ever had.  In two seasons, we’ve met him several times — like last season on the streets of Boston.

After saying hello to Jack Z., we watched Ryan Rowland-Smith warm up among a sea of mascots: 

4 - RRS and the mascots.JPGAcross the field from RRS, opposing starter Dallas Braden warmed up for the A’s.

My folks and Tim stayed in the outfield when Colleen, Kellan and I headed toward the Mariners dugout.  As we walked through the seats behind first base, we watched as the Mariners Moose jacked a homerun to win the mascot homerun derby…

5 - Moosebombs.JPG…while Bill Kruger and Brad Adam interviewed Jack Z. (who you can see sitting below the bright light).

I had a goal of getting either Luke French (Kellan’s first pitcher) or Rajai Davis (his first batter) to sign the picture of Kellan’s first pitch.  We hung out behind the Mariners dugout watching for French…

6 - watching some pre-game activities.JPG…but we never found him.  So instead, we just had another fan take our picture.

Eventually, a bunch of Mariners came out and started playing catch and stretching down the 1B line…

7 - mascots and mariners.JPG….you can see them in the background of this picture my parents took of some of the mascots.

When some of the Mariners started playing catch, I gave up on finding Luke French and we headed over by the guys who were playing catch.   Two games ago, Greg Halman had tossed Tim and me his pregame warmup baseball.  That day, we were practically the only people watching the players playing catch.  But on this day, the seats were crowded.  We were about six rows back and the first three rows were packed.  I was hoping we could get one more baseball this season and this was our chance, but there was a lot of competition and the odds weren’t looking good.

As the players started heading back to the dugout a ball or two got tossed to fans in the first row.  Finally, Halman and his partner finished playing catch and Halman ended up with the baseball.  He looked over to the crowd and I yelled, “Hey, Greg!!!!”  I was the only one to call out to him by name and he appreciated it.  He scanned around and found me and then tossed his baseball high over everyone else so they couldn’t intercept it on its way to me and Kellan.

The baseball was just a bit over my head level.  As I reached up to make the easy grab, Colleen yelled “No! NO!!!!”  She was scared I would miss the ball and it would hit Kellan.  It was pretty funny, really.  Her maternal instincts to protect our baby overrode her common sense about my abilities to catch a baseball lobbed to me.

The expression on Kellan’s face in this picture illustrates how difficult the catch was for me:

8 - kellans third baseball.JPGYep, it was pretty routine.  (That’s a yawn, by the way).

Thanks, Greg!

The Mariners cleared out and we never found Luke French.  But when I looked over toward LF, I saw Kellan’s first batter stretching and preparing for the game.  So we headed over there:

9 - watching Rajai Davis.JPGIn that last picture, Rajai Davis is the guy bending down and reaching toward the ground.

As we waited to see if Davis would come over to sign autographs on his way back to the dugout, we watched this guy…

10 - dont catch fair balls.JPG…walk down the fence and explain to everyone in the front row that they will be kicked out of the game if they interfere with a live ball in play.  His message was simple, “Foul grounders are fair game, but catching a fair grounder will get you ejected.

When Davis finished streching, he jogged straight into the A’s dugout.  No first batter autograph for Kellan on this day.  But don’t fret.  We’ll track down Rajai Davis some day.  You can mark my words on that.

Rajai Davis wasn’t the only A’s player walking straight lines, but not all of them were heading to the dugout.  After warming up in the bullpen, Dallas Braden exited the bullpen gate and walked in a laser straight line directly to us.  As I watched him approach, he displayed an odd expressionless face with his harms hanging unnaturally still as he walked…as I said…directly to us.  Confused, I looked at him standing two feet in front of me.  What’s going on here, I thought to myself.

Then Braden extended his arm, opened his glove, nodded to me to reach in and remove…

 

11 - thanks dallas braden.JPG…this baseball from the pocket of his glove.  Although it took me hundreds of games, it took Kellan only two games to get a baseball from a pitcher with a perfect game on his resume.

Thanks, Dallas!

With no first pitch autographs, but two new baseballs in our pockets, we reported to our seats along the first base line.  My mom took a picture of us (Paul was still en route to the ballpark):

12a - family shot at our seats.JPGWe were ready for some Mariners baseball!

At exactly 1:11 p.m., Ryan Rowland-Smith delivered the first pitch of the game…

13 - RRS first pitch and one11.JPG…for ball 1.  However, if you click on that picture to enlarge it, the pitch looks pretty good to me.  Davis ended up leading off the game with a single.  RRS’s body language wasn’t looking good after the single.  He sort of looked like, “Oh, no.  Here we go again.”

Kellan was ready to see some quality Mariners baseball…

15 - kellan over shoulder.JPG…after a 9-0 shut out loss in his MLB debut game.

Despite the early frustrated body language, it seemed like RRS started believing in himself.  And he should have because he had a good day.  After RRS induced a fly out to CF for the first out of the game, Josh Bard threw out Davis trying to steal second.  Then RRS struck out Jack Cust to end the first.

Yep, RRS was looking good…

14 - RRSMotion2.jpg…and he had one scoreless inning in the book.

As each Mariner came to bat for the first time, a picture drawn by a kid was displayed on the big screen.  Here are all nine of the M’s batters:

16 - line up drawn by kids.JPGFranklin Gutierrez took a couple mighty looking hacks in the bottom of the  first…

17 - Guti doesnt go yard.JPG…but both he and the Mariners came up empty handed.

Hey, guess who showed up?  It was Paulie!

19 - Tim and Paul.JPGPaulie, Tim and I had big plans for this game.  We bought tickets to this game at the very beginning of the season figuring that it would probably be Griffey’s final game.  We were hoping to see Griffey’s final homerun and Griff getting carried off the field and into retirement.  Sadly, we were Griffeyless on this day.

The A’s ended up scoring two runs off of RRS.  They got one run in the third when Mark Ellis doubled to score Rajai Davis.  In the fourth, Kurt Suzuki hit a lead off homerun to make it 2-0 A’s.

To this point, the A’s had scored 11 runs to the Mariners zero runs so far in Kellan’s first two games.  It was high time for the Mariners to get on the board for Kellan.

Michael Saunders led off the bottom of the fifth with a single.  Our buddy Greg Halman…

20 - Halman singles.JPG…followed Saunders with a single of his own on this swing.

Two batters and two outs later, Saunders was erased, Halman stood on second base, and Matt Mangini occupied first as Ichiro came to the plate.  In the hands down most exciting moment of Kellan’s young Marienrs fan career, Ichiro lined a double down the RF line on this swing…

21 - Ichiros RBI double.JPG…and Halman and Mangini scored Kellan’s first two Mariners runs ever.  We were all on our feet screaming and cheering.  It was a great moment.

After Ichi’s 2RBI double, the Ichi-Meter was changed to record Ichi’s 213th hit of 2010:

21a - Ichimeter at 213.JPGSo the score was all knotted up at 2-2.  I was excited for the possibility of Kellan witnessing his first Mariners win and RRS finishing off the season with a long-awaited second win of the season.

The excitement was contagious.  Tim and Paul had to practice some fist bumps:

22 - fist bumping practice.JPGAnd of course Tim had to get in some playing-with-Grandma time:

23 - fun with Grandma.JPGWith the Mariners on the board, Kellan sat up and took notice:

24 - colleen and kellan watching some baseball.JPGHe was ready for the possibility of a personally historical moment — his first ever Mariners lead??

My little family bunched together and cheered like crazy for a Mariners rally:

25 - family cheer.JPGI had to get a picture with my big boy and teammate:

26 - Todd and Tim.JPGAnd, of course, we had to celebrate the day with the season’s final ice cream helmet:

27 - last ICH of 2010.JPGUnfortunately, after Ichiro’s double, the rally ceased.  And after five innings, both teams went to their bullpens.

It should be noted that RRS actually had a slightly better line than Dallas Braden.  Both pitched 5 innings and gave up 2 earned runs.  But RRS gave up only 4 hits to Braden’s 5 hits, and he struck out 3 to Braden’s 2.  They both walked 1 batter.

Sadly, the Mariners bullpen turned Braden into a winner-in-absentia.  After Braden left the game knotted 2-2, Mariners reliever Anthony Varvaro promptly gave up a run on two hits in the top of the sixth.  He would pitch only one-third of an inning.

In the 8th inning, Garrett Olson gave up a homerun to Kevin Kouzmanoff.  That made the score 4-2 A’s.

In the bottom of the 8th inning, Ichiro notched his 214th and final hit of the 2010 campaign:

28 - Ichiros 214th and final hit.JPGHe then stole his 42nd and final base of the season.   He wound up on third base on a Jose Lopez groundout.  Finally, Ichiro scored his 74th and final run of the season on a Justin Smoak line drive single to left field.

Sadly, Ichiro’s run would be the final Mariners run to be pushed across the plate in 2010.  We lost our 101st game of the season, and 2nd of Kellan’s life, by a final score of 4-3.

Toward the end of the game, I snapped a picture of the Mariners mlb.com beat writer, Jim Street (in the OU hat):

29 - Jim Streets final game.JPGJim was closing out the final game of his career…although I recently read that he is only “semi-retired” so maybe we’ll still see him on mlb.com from time-to-time.

After the game, we got a final family-at-the-ballpark picture…

30 - Final Family Shot of 2010.JPG…and a final TJCs and Paulie picture:

31 - Tim Paul and Todd.jpgIt was so sad that our season was over so soon and that, as we exited the gates at Safeco Field, we would be entering a period of six months without (regular season) Mariners baseball.

I snapped one more panorama for 2010 on our walk to the CF gates:

32 - final panorama of 2010.jpgIn doing so, I noticed that the hand operated scoreboard was already set up for the 2011 home opener:

33 - ready for 2011 home opener.JPGThat was comforting to see.

Tim and I took a couple final pictures on our way out of the stadium:

34 - one last shot in 2010.JPGHe failed to smile in any of them.  But how could I blame him?

It was now officially the off-season.

Bummer.

2010 Fan Stats:

29 Games

20 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)


35 - halman and braden finish the season.jpg25 Ice Cream Helmets
(Mariners (3), Orioles (4), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

66 Baseballs (15 Mariners, 2 Angels, 5 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 10 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 2 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)

13 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)

18 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

16 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (3), Omar Vizquel, Jason Phillips, Chad Cordero, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Bobby Cramer, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)

8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)

Phathers’ Day in Philadelphia (6/20/10)

I really wanted to go to a Twins game this season so we could try to get one of those fancy “Target Field” commemorative baseballs.  We had tickets to the Friday, June 18th game, but it was too soon after our return from the roadtrip.  Finally, I found $12/ticket SRO tickets on Stubhub to the Sunday, June 20, 2010 game.

I didn’t realize (I am generally terrible at tracking “holidays”), but June 20th was fathers’ day.  What better way to spend fathers’ day than at a ballgame with your son, right?

Upon entering the stadium, we discovered there was no BP.  The The quest for a Target Field baseball was not looking good.   We headed to the LF foul corner in hopes of getting a toss up from one of the several Twins playing catch in LF.

The quest was looking a little better when we got the corner spot down the 3B line.  Perfect.  It looked like this:

1 - citz bank section 138 row 1 panorama.jpgBut the Twins weren’t in the toss-up mood.  Also, I could tell that none of them were using Target Field baseballs. 

Oh, well.

It was already hot, and Tim hates the sun, so we took off and headed over to the kids’ play area.

When we got to the play area, Tim modeled the Phillies “sarge” hat give away:

2 - sarge hat.JPGThen, like he tends to do, he set up his shop…


3 - buy something.JPG…where Tim will sell you almost anything (french fries, bananas, whatever) through those little holes in the plexi-glass.

Tim’s last MLB kids’ play area was at the Oakland Colesium where the play area is rather blah’ish.  But there is no blah in Philadelphia.  Check it out:

4 - fun time in phila.JPGBy the way, in the bottom right, Tim’s left hand is giving a thumbs up, but his right hand is actually pointing (with his thumb) at the little metal ball that he successfully maneuvered to the middle of the puzzle.

After some playtime, we headed out to RCF to watch Roy Halladay warm up…

5 - halladay vs pavano.JPG…Carl “The ‘Stache” Pavano was also warming up (in the middle picture ‘Stache is rubbing up his warm up baseball with some warning track dirt).

As Tim likes to point out, Halladay made some funny faces while throwing in the outfield:

6 - OF tossing.JPGAs we watched Halladay in the OF, some Twins player (I’m guessing a rookie reliever) walked by with a Monkey back pack…

7 - monkey pack.JPGExcellent, guy.  We loved it!

Soon, Halladay and Pavano reported to the tiered bullpens:

8 - halladay and pavano bullpen.JPGHalladay was looking strong:

9 - halladay motion.JPGActually, you should see it for yourself:

Pavano was looking good too on the upper tier:

10 - pavanostache.JPGHalladay finished up first and headed to the dugout:

11 - halladay ready.JPGWe headed up to the upper deck in deep RCF…

12 - citz pen from above.JPG…where we continued to watch Pavano warm up from above:

13 - pavano penwork.JPGIn all of Tim’s games at Citizens Bank Park, we’ve never hung out in the upper deck in RF.  Today, was the day.

We started out with nachos in the SRO area behind the seats in DEEEEEP RCF:

14 - nachos behind SRO Upper RCF.JPGThat is where we were in the top of the first when Joe Mauer hit this single…

15 - Joe Mauer singles off Roy Halladay.JPG…off of Roy Halladay.  Orlanda “O-Dog” Hudson had stolen second during this at bat and he scored easily on Mauer’s single to stake the Twins to a 1-0 lead.  That score would hold up until the fifth inning.

After the first, we aimlessly walked back and forth a bit in the OF concourse.  I took this random shot of the concourse…

16 - Citz Upper RF corner concourse.JPG…where the upper deck bends from fair to foul territory.

Eventually, Tim and I headed up into the upper deck seats in section 301, the deepest part of the ballpark.  This was the view from almost the very top of the stadium:

17 - citz bank section 301 panorama.jpgWhile up there, I took a shot of Tim…

18 - TJCs in Citz RCF Upper Deck.JPG…and then one of the “Fan Photos” camera people took a picture of both of us.  In that picture, I am wearing Tim’s hat on top of my hat.  While we were eating nachos, Tim took off his hat and I put it on top of mine for safe keeping.  However, after taking these pictures, I looked at Tim and became alarmed.  “Oh, no!  Where did your hat go, Tim,” I asked?  “Its on top of your head, silly daddy,” Tim replied.  I’m pretty sure I was wearing double hats for about 15-20 minutes.

Next, we decided to head to the lower level to cool off in the covered concourses and get an ice cream helmet.  Here are some (out of order views) from our walk from RF to home plate and over to 3B in the concourse:

19 - concourse funny faces and siren.JPGIn the left picture, that big photo of Roy Halladay hangs in the concourse just inside of the 1B enterance from Pattison Avenue.  The middle picture shows a John Deere mini-truck with flashing sirens, something we see wizzing through the concourse almost every time we visit Citizens Bank Park.  To the right, the photo of Brad Lidge and Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz hangs in the concourse behind home plate.

Finally we made it to the Old City Creamery down the 3B line.  If you are ever in Philadelphia and want the BIGGEST and most sprinkle covered ice cream helmet of all time, make sure that THIS LADY…

20 - Philadelphias best ice cream lady.JPG…around the side corner register at the 3B Old City Creamery makes your helmet.  She always goes crazy with the ice cream and just as crazy with the sprinkles — here is Exhibit 1.  And it was more of the same on this day:


20 - makeshift ice cream seats.JPGAs Tim ate his ice cream helmet (and I knelt next to him helping him), we had possibly the most unique view of the game that we’ve ever had at a big league ball park:

21 - view around old lady.JPGHalladay was looking good as usual.  But so was Pavano:

22 - Pavano working on No-No in 4th 6-20-10.JPGIn fact, the moustached one had a no hitter going into the fourth inning, until he came up against Placido “Here’s One For The Fathers” Polanco, who ripped a single on this one-handed swing:

23 - Placido Palanco singles in 4th 6-20-10.JPGChase Utley followed with a single of his own…

24 - Chase Utley fouls before single in 4th 6-20-10.JPG…but not on this swing.  But it didn’t matter.  Pavano stranded Polanco and Utley on 2B and 1B, respectively.

Halladay was still looking good in the fifth…

25 - Roy Halladay delivers a pitch.JPG…but that did not stop Denard Span from cranking a solo homerun to bring the score to 2-0 Twins.

After ice cream, we wandered down the 3B line and between innings ran down and Tim got his picture with Phillies ballgirl, Bridgette…

26 - Tim and Bridgette ballgirl.JPG…who also gave Tim an autographed ballgirl baseball card.  Tim was pretty bashful about getting his picture with the ballgirl, but after I pointed out how she’d run onto the field to get stray foul balls, he thought it was pretty awesome.  Now, he wants to get his picture with the ballgirls all the time.

After his first ballgirl picture, Tim requested a trip back to the play area.  While we were on our way through the concourse heading over to the play area, Phillies back-up short stop Wilson Valdez poked a solo homerun of his own:

27 - Wilson Valdez scores on homer.JPGBut his run was all the Phils could manage in the bottom of the fifth.  The score was 2-1 Twins.

The play area was PACKED:

28 - back to crowded playarea.JPGIn the sixth inning, the Twins tacked on another run on a single by Jason Kubel.  The run was unearned.

Carl Pavano meanwhile…

29 - Pavano still dealing.JPG…just kept on dealing.

In the top of the 8th, Justin Morneau hit a solo shot to take the score to 4-1 Twins.

That was the score when Shane Victorino grounded out weakly…

30 - Shane Victorino grounds out on a low pitch 6-20-10.JPG…to first base in the bottom of the 8th inning.

Its never a good thing for a team when the opposing starter gets an at bat in the 9th inning, and that is just what happened at this game.  Halladay’s relief, Chad Durbin retired Pavano…

31 - Pavano bats in the 9th 6-20-10.JPG…on a ground out to short stop.

Now, earlier in the game while Tim was eating his ice cream helmet, we got to talking to three guys.  A dad and his teenaged (or maybe young twenties) sons.  It was the usual discussion, they were admiring our Mariners jerseys and telling us they love Griffey.  Out of nowhere, a lady came up to us and handed over 4 tickets to the section immediately behind the 3B dugout.  The lady’s father was in a wheelchair and couldn’t get down to the seats so they were going to hang out in the handicapped area.

The other guys took three of them and said thanks.  I grabbed the fourth ticket knowing we’d never sit there.  But the ticket came in handy in the ninth inning.  They almost always check tickets in the fancy areas at Citizens Bank Park and this ticket would get us down there to try to get an umpire ball at the end of the game.

In the ninth inning, we headed down.  They checked our ticket and waved us down into the fancy seats.  We grabbed some seats in row 11 of section 130.  This was our view for the bottom of the ninth inning:

32 - citz bank section 130 row 11 panorama.jpgNot too shabby.

Tim had fun laying down in our empty row of seats:

33 - Tim lounges in the seats.JPGChase Utley couldn’t do anything for the Phillies cause…

34 - Chase Utley about to ground out in 9th 6-20-10.JPG…he grounded out for the second out of the inning.

Ryan Howard came to bat for the possible final out…

35 - Ryan Howard sets up in 9th 6-20-10.JPG…but he extended the game with a single:

36 - Ryan Howard singles in 9th 6-20-10.JPGHoward’s single was too little too late.  Carl Pavano got Werth to pop out to short LF to finish off a complete game victory.  Both Pavano and Halladay moved to 8-6 on the season.

On Werth’s swing, Tim and I scurried down to the first row as close to the umpires’ tunnel as we could get, but the home plate umpire never looked our way.

It was looking like a zero baseball day (and a zero Target Field baseball season) for us.  But as the Twins players and coaches streamed into the dugout, we noticed a guy throwing ball after ball after ball into the crowd.  It was Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra

37 - Joe Vavra Twins Batting Coach.JPG…and with only one baseball left in his hands, Vavra tossed Tim our first (and only) baseball of the day, which turned out to be our first (and most likely only) Target Field commemorative baseball.

Thanks, Joe!

A few minutes later, Twins bullpen coach and thirty year coaching veteran, Rick Stelmaszek

38 - Rick Stelmaszek bullpen coach.JPG…tossed me his official blue MLB Father’s Day wrist band.

Here is Tim showing off both of our prizes:

39 - goodies from Vavra and Stelmaszek.JPGBeing a father-son team like we are, Tim and I were pretty excited about getting the fathers’ day wrist band.  I’m pretty sure that Stelmaszek picked us out because he saw a boy and his dad together.

Thanks, Rick!

It was time to head out.  On the way to our car, Tim just had to get his picture (once again) with the statue of Steve Carlton:

40 - sitting under lefty.JPGTim is a sucker for a statue.  Can’t get enough of ’em.

On our way our of the parking lot, well, while waiting for the cars to finally get moving, I snapped a panorama of the sports complex parking lots:

41 - citizens bank parking lot panorama.jpgCitizens Bank Park, obviously, is to the far left.  In the middle (far in the back) is the Eagles’ home, Lincoln Fnancial Field.  And to the far right is the Spectrum.  You can’t see it, but behind the Spectrum is the Wachovia Center (I think they still call it that — it was formerly the Core States Center and First Union Center).

And that’s all she wrote.  It was a good fathers’ day.  We drove home and spent the rest of it with my lovely wife and Tim’s lovely mommy, Colleen.

2010 Fan Stats:

16 Games

16 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)

13 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)


42 - ball and wrist band.JPG35 Baseball
s (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 1 Twins)

10 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park)

11 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

8 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)

5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)

Outstanding News from Baltimore

You may recall that Tim and I started a grassroots campaign to bring Ice Cream Helmets (a food receptacle near and dear to our hearts) to Camden Yards (a stadium near and dear to our hearts as well).

20 - Camden Yards BYOICH.jpg

Tim enjoys a Mariners Ice Cream Helmet that we brought with us to Camden Yards in ’09.

For several months, we have planned to start our 2010 campaign in Baltimore at tomorrow’s game between the Blue Jays and Orioles — just like we ended last season.

For so many reasons, we have been excited for this game.  But my excitement quadrupled this afternoon when my wife forwarded the following email (from her friend) to me at work:

Thought you and Todd would like to see the email I got from Camden Yards:
 
Dear Ms. Werner, Thank you for contacting the Orioles. The Orioles are pleased to have ice cream helmets available at Camden Yards this season, sponsored by Carvel. They can be found at Carvel stands located around the ballpark. We look forward to seeing you at the Yard! 

Sincerely,
Carey Paytas
Communications Assistant
Baltimore Orioles

 

To say that I was excited would be a huge understatement.  I checked my own personal email account on my cellphone and found this waiting for me:

Dear Mr. Cook,

Thank you for contacting the Orioles.

The Orioles are pleased to have ice cream helmets available at Camden Yards this season, sponsored by Carvel. They can be found at Carvel stands located around the ballpark. We look forward to seeing you at the Yard!

Sincerely,
Carey Paytas
Communications Assistant
Baltimore Orioles

All I could say was, “YES!  YES!  YES!  YES!  YES!…HISTORY!!!!”

A Perfect Email!

But that wasn’t it.  I had an email from a certain Texas Baseball Fan, Brian Powell (who will get the privilege of seeing my Mariners beat his Rangers this weekend — hopefully):

 

Just received this email today! Good news for you!

— On Fri, 4/9/10, Orioles Customer Service <birdmail@orioles.com> wrote:

From: Orioles Customer Service <birdmail@orioles.com>
Subject: RE: bal – Other – None – Ice Cream Helmets
To: “Brian Powell”
Date: Friday, April 9, 2010, 3:59 PM

Dear Mr. Powell,
Thank you for contacting the Orioles.
The Orioles are pleased to have ice cream helmets available at Camden Yards this season, sponsored by Carvel. They can be found at Carvel stands located around the ballpark. We look forward to seeing you at the Yard!
Sincerely,
Carey Paytas
Communications Assistant
Baltimore Orioles
 

 

 Via a blog comment, word came in from Hawaii too:

Todd (PA)

Your efforts may have paid off for #18 –

Just got this e-mail this 15 minutes ago —-
Thank you for contacting the Orioles.
The Orioles are pleased to have ice cream helmets available at Camden Yards this season, sponsored by Carvel. They can be found at Carvel stands located around the ballpark. We look forward to seeing you at the Yard!
Sincerely,
Carey Paytas
Communications Assistant
Baltimore Orioles — Todd (HI)

 

My father-in-law had good news to report too:

 WE DID IT!!!!!!!

 
—– Forwarded Message —–
From: “Orioles Customer Service” <birdmail@orioles.com>
To: Kevin
Sent: Friday, April 9, 2010 4:59:41 PM GMT -05:00 US/Canada Eastern
Subject: RE: Ice Cream Helmets

Dear Fan,

Thank you for contacting the Orioles.

The Orioles are pleased to have ice cream helmets available at Camden Yards this season, sponsored by Carvel. They can be found at Carvel stands located around the ballpark. We look forward to seeing you at the Yard!

Sincerely,
Carey Paytas
Communications Assistant
Baltimore Orioles

The West Coast got into the action too:
 
Todd & Tim:

I saw your blog and figured I’d forward my notification, too!  Great work–power to the people.  🙂

~Matt

PS  Hope to see you when you’re in CA in June.

Matthew Jackson


Subject: RE: bal – Other – None – Ice Cream Helmets
Date: Fri, 9 Apr 2010 16:59:54 -0400
From: birdmail@orioles.com
To:
Matt Jackson

Dear Mr. Jackson,
Thank you for contacting the Orioles.
The Orioles are pleased to have ice cream helmets available at Camden Yards this season, sponsored by Carvel. They can be found at Carvel stands located around the ballpark. We look forward to seeing you at the Yard!
Sincerely,
Carey Paytas
Communications Assistant
Baltimore Orioles

(We hope to see you too, Matt.  Thanks for your help!)
 

 

So, you know what?  The people spoke and the Orioles listened!

How cool is it that this person’s job today was to email us this message.  I imagine a staff meeting this morning at Camden Yards:  Boss says, “Now, Carey, I want you to email these Ice Cream Helmet people and let them know the good news.  We’ll have Ice Cream Helmets for them this season!”  Carey responds, “No problem, boss.  But I have to finish that other project first.  I will email them this afternoon prior to the start of the game.  Don’t worry, everyone will know the good news!”

A huge, huge “thank you” to each and every person who helped out with this cause.  My solo comments to the O’s fan assistance office (which is staffed with a bevy of kind and helpful personnel) and emails to the O’s over the past several seasons couldn’t do the trick.  It took a team effort.  It took the help of people like Brian, Todd (HI), my wife’s friend, my father-in-law, and all of the folks who emailed the O’s or commented on the ‘Project Baltimore” entry.

Unless this is a huge and cruel hoax, Tim and I will be enjoying some chocolate ice cream in shiny new O’s ice cream helmets tomorrow.  We will report back with all of the details.

Big thanks and respect to the Orioles for addressing this important issue.  We are officially pulling for the O’s to win the AL East in 2010!

I’ll leave you with something unrelated (but related).  A glimpse into what Tim and I will do tomorrow morning before heading down to Baltimore in the afternoon:

Hello, 2010 Regular Season!

The 2010 regular season starts tomorrow.  We’re excited.  And we have lots of plans for making it a great season.  At a time like this, we can’t help but look back on where we have been and forward to where we are going.

 

Since Tim’s MLB debut on September 12, 2006, Tim has seen every team play live at least once.  With twenty-two games, he has seen our Mariners the most, followed by the Phillies (14) and Orioles (9).  Here are all of the teams with their record at games Tim and I have attended together (listed in the order in which Tim saw the teams for the first time):

 

Teams (win-loss record):


  1. trying4balls.jpgMariners  (10-12)
  2. Blue Jays (1-2)
  3. Mets (3-2)
  4. Phillies (9-5)
  5. Orioles (4-5)
  6. Twins (2-1)
  7. Yankees (1-3)
  8. Marlins (1-1)
  9. Rockies (1-0)
  10. Cardinals (3-0)
  11. Pirates (1-2)
  12. Cubs (2-1)
  13. Giants (0-1)
  14. Reds (0-3)
  15. Indians (5-0)

  16. 39 - final game final ball of 2009.jpgAngels (0-1)
  17. Nationals (1-4)
  18. White Sox (1-2)
  19. Diamondbacks (1-0)
  20. Rays (1-0)
  21. Padres (0-1)
  22. Athletics (1-2)
  23. Rangers (2-0)
  24. Braves (0-1)
  25. Dodgers (1-0)
  26. Tigers (1-0)
  27. Red Sox (1-2)
  28. Astros (1-1)
  29. Brewers (0-1)
  30. Royals (0-1)

Tim debuted at Safeco Field.  But through his fifty-four (54) games, Tim has visited 18 MLB stadiums.  Not surprisingly  Tim’s top three stadiums closely track his top three teams:  Citzens Bank Park, Safeco Field, Camden Yards.  Here is the complete list of Tim’s stadiums:

 

Stadiums (number of games):


  1. 16 - we love this place.jpgSafeco Field (11)
  2. Citizens Bank Park (12)
  3. Camden Yards (8)
  4. Yankee Stadium – ’23 (1)
  5. PNC Park (2)
  6. Great American Ball Park (1)
  7. Progressive Field (3)
  8. Shea Stadium (1)
  9. Chase Field (1)
  10. Citi Field (2)
  11. Nationals Park (2)
  12. Yankee Stadium – ’09 (2)
  13. Fenway Park (3)
  14. Wrigley Field  (1)
  15. H.H.H. Metrodome  (1)
  16. Miller Park  (1)
  17. U.S. Cellular Field  (1)
  18. Rogers Centre  (1)

So, after such a great 2009 season, where do we go from here?   Like last year, I have made a full Cook & Son Baseball Agenda complete with games to attend and goals to achieve.  Like last year, I won’t bore you with all of it.  But, like last season (when we achieve almost all of our goals), here are the highlights:

 

Season Goals:

 



8 - moyer bullpen motion.jpg1.  See Ken Griffey, Jr. hit another homerun.

2.  Witness final home run of Ken Griffey, Jr.’s career (assuming he retires after 2010 season).

5.  See Jamie Moyer win a game.

6.  Run the bases at 5 stadiums (Citizens Bank Park, PNC Park, Petco Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park).

7.  Catch a Target Field inaugural season ball.

8.  Catch a game homerun or foul ball.

9.  Get Gill and Kate (Tim’s cousins) to their first game.

10.  See the Mariners play at 5+ stadiums (Safeco (4), Camden (2), Yankee (2), Petco (2), Progressive (2)).

11.-14.  & 17. – Focus on pictures with players.  I won’t list them all, but I have a number of specific players we would like to try to get our pictures with and general “picture with players” goals.

15.  Third Annual Baseball Roadtrip – All California Stadiums.

16.  New Stadium and Teams for Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary.

18.  Eat an Orioles ice cream helmet at Camden Yards.

19.  Win MyGameBalls.com photo-scavenger hunt.

20.  Have fun and make memories.

Thumbnail image for tjc rounding third in DC.jpg 
6 - walking The Jake concourse.jpg

Goals aside, we plan to have another great season.  We will visit all five California stadiums (Oakland, Los Angeles, San Diego, Anaheim, and San Francisco) on the Third Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010, along with probably 8 more stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citi Field, Citizens Bank Park, Yankee Stadium, Progressive Field, and PNC Park).

It is going to be great.  And, we plan to end the season in Seattle, where we will be joined by a special guest and we hope to witness Griffey’s final home run of his career.

happy 2010.jpg

    United For Ice Cream Helmets: Project Baltimore

    Today, we become ice cream activists.  This is a call to arms, a grassroots movement.

    The Mission:  Convince the Baltimore Orioles to offer Ice Cream Helmets.

    The Plan:  Get as many people as possible to email the Orioles to request Ice Cream Helmets at Camden Yards in 2010.  To do so, click here, here or here.

    The Backstory:

    Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a true jewel of MLB.  If you have never been there, you are missing out.  It is a must see experience.  So book your trip now.

    But the good people of Camden Yards have gone without ice cream helmets long enough.  These are good and honest people, fans of the game of baseball.  But they just ate a delicious BBQ sandwich at Boog’s BBQ with a side of baked beans, and now they need dessert.  It is an extremely hot summer night with 85% humidity.  Only ice cream will do the trick.

    This is where things go horribly wrong.  There are no ice cream helmets to be found.  Not one in the entire stadium.  Fans are forced to buy ice cream on a popsicle stick, or in a plastic bowl or a stryrofoam cup.

    These alternatives give temporary relief inasmuch as ice cream is delivered.  But then it is gone, and the bowls and wrappers become garbage cluttering our landfills.  Plus, there is no souvenir to take home to remember your day at the ballpark.

    Now, let’s look at the alternative: 

    20 - Camden Yards BYOICH.jpg

    We brought our own Mariners ice cream helmet to our final game of 2009.  Tim can’t get enough of it.  But look, there is more.  Look how happy the lady behind Tim is to see Tim enjoying ice cream the way it should be enjoyed at the ballpark?

    Why Ice Cream Helmets, you ask?

    For many reasons.  First, they are the “green” alternative.  Instead of becoming garbage, they become collectibles:

    helmets and balls part 2.jpgDid you know that when we brought our Mariners ice cream helmet and had it filled at Camden Yards, they made us take a styrofoam cup, just to be thrown away.  They needed it to be gone so they could keep track of inventory.  Sorry, mother earth.

    Second, not only are they collectibles on their own, they also provide an excellent canvas for the autograph of your favorite player, as shown by MLBlog’s Howie on his blog (scroll down for a picture of an autographed Mets ice cream helmet).

    Third, they provide a roadmap of the ballparks you have visited:

    helmets and balls.JPG

    Tim and I have been to 18 stadiums (16 teams when you factor in that we have been to both Shea Stadium/Citi Field, and Old/New Yankee Stadium), and we have ice cream helmets from all but Camden Yards.

    FYI, the last two pictures were taken before we visited Rogers Centre:

    30 - blue jays ice cream helmet.jpgFourth, they are handy to have around.  Tim eats something (crackers, cereal, you name it) out of an ice cream helmet almost every single day.

    So What Can We Do About It?  That is the big question.  In 2009, we emailed the Orioles a couple times suggesting that they add ice cream helmets to the mix.  We received this response: 

    Dear Mr. Cook,

    Thank you for contacting the Orioles.
     
    We appreciate your suggestion, and I have forwarded your message along to Aramark, our concessionaire.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Communications Assistant
    Baltimore Orioles

     ————————————————

    Obviously, it didn’t work.  So, we made another effort today at the Orioles’ “help” page:

    Dear Orioles:

    Will Camden Yards have ice cream helmets in 2010?

    Please see this (at the bottom of the page):  http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com/archives/2009/09/so-tim-likes-to-eat.html

    Camden Yards is still the only stadium of 18 visited where we have been unable to get an ice cream helmet.

    Let’s fix this problem in 2010!

    By the way, I know a guy who got an Orioles ice cream helmet at the ballpark in Arlington in 2009!  Don’t let Texas be the only place that offers Orioles ice cream helmets!

    ————————————————

    That brings up a good point, did you realize that in 2009, you could get an Orioles’ ice cream helmet at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.  Check it out on Brian Powell’s blog.

    So, the plan?  I’d like to invite as many people as possible to join with us in letting the Orioles know that the public wants ice cream helmets at Camden Yards!  You can do so by clicking here, here or here.

    If you are interested in joining the cause, we have a couple suggestions.  If you’re from the Baltimore area and frequent Camden Yards, let the Orioles know you are a fan and think ice cream helmets would help enhance the already great baseball experience that Camden Yards provides.

    If you are from elsewhere, let them know where you are from and let them know if your home team has ice cream helmets.  I don’t know if it is the case, but if it is I’d love to let the Orioles know they are the only team who does not offer ice cream helmets to their fans.

    Based on first hand experience and the comments of our fellow MLBloggers below, we know they have ice cream helmets at the following ball parks:

    1. Safeco Field
    2. Citizens Bank Park
    3. Yankee Stadium (new and old)
    4. Citi Field (and formerly at Shea Stadium)
    5. Progressive Field
    6. PNC Park
    7. Great American Ball Park
    8. Wrigley Field
    9. H.H.H. Metrodome (no longer in operation for MLB)
    10. Miller Park (also featuring the excellent Cheese Fries Helmet)
    11. U.S. Cellular Field
    12. Rogers Centre
    13. Fenway Park
    14. Chase Field
    15. Nationals Park
    16. Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (Thanks, Brian Powell)
    17. Angel Stadium of Anaheim (Thanks, Warren)
    18. Oakland-Alameda County Colesium (Thanks, Warren)
    19. Dodger Stadium (Thanks, Heartruss)
    20. Coors Field (Thanks, Ranter)

    Where else?  Please help out.  Send an email to the Orioles.  I also invite you to leave a comment here identifying your home MLB park and if they offer ice cream helmets.

    A couple more comments before we close, we know that Orioles ice cream helmets exist.  A google search showed us that they exist — see here.

    And, we know that people are interested.  Specifically, we track our blog stats through www.statcounter.com.  Statcounter shows what people searched on google, bing, etc. to get to Cook & Son Bats’ Blog.  Just this morning, Statcounter showed that someone search google for “orioles helmet ice cream.”  In fact, not a day goes by without someone landing on our Ice Cream Helmet collection entry, and a portion of those people have been looking for Baltimore Orioles Ice Cream Helmets.

    So have we.  Hopefully we find them at Camden Yards in 2010.  Please help us in this effort.

    We will be attending a game at Camden Yards in early April 2010.  We will report back then (and periodically if required) regarding whether this movement has had any affect in Baltimore.

    Thanks.

    Tim’s Second MLB Anniversary (9/12/08)

    On September 12, 2008, my mom, dad, Tim and I headed to Chase Field for Tim’s Second MLB Anniverary.  Here was our first view of the stadium as we approached from the parking garage:

    1 - chase field.jpgWe were going to see the Arizona Diamondbacks face off against the Cincinnati Reds.  Early in the season, I picked this game for Tim’s baseball anniversary game for three reasons (i) if we cannot make it to Safeco Field for Tim’s anniversary, I plan to take Tim to a different stadium each year on his MLB anniversary game, (ii) the Mariners were on the road, and (iii) I wanted Tim to see Griffey.  As I said, we planned this early in the season.  By the time this game rolled around, Griffey had been playing for the White Sox for more than a month.

    Oh, well.  Still, it was a great game.  Brandon Webb pitched for the Diamondbacks and if he could earn the win, he would become the NL’s first 20-game winner of the season.

    My folks took a picture of me and Tim in front of these big bats in front of the stadium entrance:

    2 - chase field bats.jpgAs the security lady checked my bag, Tim was itching to enter the first domed stadium of his life…

    3 - let us in.jpg…I’m not counting Safeco Field as “domed” because the roof is really just a canopy, its always open-air at Safeco Field.

    We entered the stadium in the LF foul corner and made our way around the concourse toward the third base side.  I was happy to see a Randy Johnson poster as we made our way around the concourse: 

    4 - into chase field.jpgActually, I wanted to go to the game the next day too so Tim could see Randy pitch, but Tim and I took a long nap and my folks let us sleep right through the beginning of the game.  Its okay because Randy got a no decision after pitching 6 innings of 1-run baseball.

    Anyway, I love domes.  I have to, I grew up in the Kingdome.  But here is a bad thing about domes…

    4a - dark concourses.jpg…dark and boring concourses, no natural light.

    The grounds crew was readying the field as we made our way into the field level seats.  Here is a panoramic view of Chase Field as we crossed behind the 1B dugout:

    5 - chase 3B field panarama.jpgI liked Chase Field, but it did seem quite dark to me with the roof closed.  By the way, I’m not sure why the roof was closed.  It was beautiful outside and not so hot that we needed protection from the heat.

    Before the game, we toured around the park a little bit…

    6 - check out chase.jpg…here, we’re looking down at a special group seating area behind the RF fence.

    This picture says it all…

    7 - amazed by the dome.jpg…Tim was impressed by his first domed stadium.  The Kingdome must be in his blood.

    Eventually, the game started.  And I must apologize, I did a really poor job photographing it.  (Of course, in my defense, I didn’t have an MLBlog at the time…or even know that MLBlogs existed).

    Our seats were in section 111, row 7.  But Tim and I watched the first couple innings from the first row of section 111.  We were stationed right behind the ballgirl (or ball lady) down the RF foul line.  We discussed it with her before the game and she agreed that she would give Tim a foul ball if or when she got one.  Sadly, not one single foul grounder was hit down the 1B line.  It ended up being the first time in his 2.5 years that Tim did not get a baseball on September 12th.

    Eventually, someone came to claim our seats so we met up with my follks in row 7.

    The game was a pitchers dual between Webb and Aaron Harang.  By the sixth inning, there were a couple hits recorded on the scoreboard, but no runs.

    Of course, Tim got an ice cream helmet…

    8 - diamonback ice cream helmet time.jpg…and an ample amount of chocolate ice cream on his face.

    By the way, the Diamondbacks ice cream helmet is different than all of the other ice cream helmets Tim and I have collected to date.  Here are some photos showing a comparison with the holy grail of ice cream helmets, a Mariners helmet from Safeco Field:

    8a - dbacks helmet comparison.JPGHopefully the difference is decipherable in these pictures.  The Diamondbacks helmet is longer than other helmets.  Generally, ice cream helmets can be stacked on top of each other.  The Diamondbacks helmet can sit on top of a stack of helmets, but other helmets do not fit over the Diamondbacks helmet.

    Back to the game.  As the fancy scoreboard in CF showed…

    9 - chase field scoreboard.jpg…the Diamondbacks broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth inning.  The run was unearned due to an error by Aaron Harang who was also pitching a gem.  With one out, David Eckstein hit a weak grounder to Harang and Harang threw the ball into right field.  Eckstein made it all the way to third.  He then scored on a single by Chris Young.

    In the middle of the game, Tim got a little restless in the seats so my dad took him to the kids play area, which is behind the seats in the upper deck out in left field.  Tim had lots of fun sliding and generally monkeying around:

    10 - chase kids play area.jpgAmazingly, I took zero action shots at this game.  So here is a random picture of us enjoying the game…

    11 - 3 cook guys in arizona.jpg…I have no clue why I’m wearing my sunglasses indoors in that picture.  And here are some more pictures:

    12 - lap lounging.jpgAfter seven innings of an excellent pitchers dual, the Reds relievers entered the game in the bottom of the eighth and promptly stunk it up.  After giving up a lead off triple to the pinch-hitting Jeff Salazar and striking out Stephen Drew, the Reds relievers walked three consecutive batters.  The final walk scored Salazar making the game 2-0 in favor of the Diamondbacks.  Mark Reynolds then struck out.  Chad Tracy then strode to the plate and promptly watched the first pitch sail to the back stop.  Another run scored on the wild pitch.  Tracy then struck out.  For the Reds, it wasn’t the most impressive way of striking out the side.

    Next it was the Diamonbacks relievers turn to pitch terribly.  After 8 innings of scoreless baseball by Brandon Webb, the Diamonbacks bullpen gave up four singles in the bottom of the ninth.  But, alas, they were unable to blow Brandon Webb’s stellar performance.  The 3-2 victory was Webb’s 20th of 2008.  It was the first (and only) time Webb has won 20 in a season, and he was the only NL pitcher to accomplish that task in 2008.

    After the game, we stuck around for fireworks.  After a bunch of waiting…

    13 - waiting for fireworks.jpg…they opened the roof and the show began…

    14 - chase field fireworks.jpg…it was fine, but not all that impressive compared to the excellent fire works show we’d seen the prior month in Cincinnati.  Part of the problem was that the fireworks were shot off the top of a building (I think a parking garage) across the street from Chase Field and they barely made it above the framing of the roof.

    Nevertheless, despite no Griffey, no catching a baseball, and not overly impressive fireworks display, we had an excellent time spending Tim’s Second MLB Anniversary with my folks in Arizona.

    For see the rest of Tim’s MLB Anniversary games (through 2009), follow the links below: