Tagged: Ichiro

A Sunny Day At Safeco Field (7/19/08)

In 2008, we only spent parts of two days in Seattle.  In July, we went on an Alaskan cruise with 25 family members to celebrate my grandparents’ 65 anniversary.  Our ship docked back in Seattle in the morning on July 19th, and a few hours later we were at Safeco Field for our only Mariners home game, and our final Mariners game, of 2008.

Aside for the final score of the game, it was a beautiful day.

1 - welcome to safeco field.jpgIt turned out that it was turn back the clock day.  I think we were turning back the clock to 1988, as you can tell from this fake picture of Ichiro…

2 - 80srific Ichiro.jpg…it was definitely sometime in the 1980s.  Do you think Ichiro looked like that in the 80s?  I’m doubting it.

My dad, my uncle Tom, and Tim and I entered the ballpark right as the game started.  We grabbed some snacks and watched the top of the first inning from a standing room counter behind section 145: 

3 - popcorn behind section 145 at safeco.jpgWe had great seats in the field level down the 3B line in the shallow outfield foul territory.  My mom, aunt Barb, and my parents friends and co-season ticket holders, Lynn and Steve, met up with us.  But it ended up that Tim and I spent most of the game on our own, away from our excellent seats.

We first split off from our family and friends so Tim could get a delicious Ben & Jerry’s chocolate ice cream helmet.  But we ended up never returning to our normal seats because the Mariners went down 9-2 by the third inning, and the two people circled in this picture (of Ichiro stepping into the box in the top of the third)…

3a - fuzzy ichiro and red circle.jpg…ended up leaving early.  The lady saw Tim sitting on my shoulders and thought we were just an adorable father-son combo so she approached us and gave us their ticket stubs.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Indians scored three runs in the top of the first on the “strength” of terrible pitching by Miguel Batista.  The Indians first inning was highlighted by a homerun by former Mariner Shin-Soo Choo.

In the top of the second, I took this picture of Brian LaHair’s first career at-bat…

4 - brian lahair debut at-bat.jpg…the Mariners were projecting big things from LaHair — they have never materialized.  He popped out to CF in his first career at-bat.

Here is a picture of Tim checking our the stadium from our actual ticketed seats:

5 - checking out safeco field.jpg

At the end of the second, we parted ways with my family to grab Tim’s ice cream helmet.  We took it to the standing room counter just above the visitors’ bullpen.  We were standing right behind Raul Ibanez…

7 - raul in LF.jpgThis was Tim’s second career ice cream helmet and his first with real ice cream (not soft serve).

6 - ice cream helmet.jpgHe loved it.

After Tim finished his ice cream, an usher spotted us.  The Mariners are very antsy about kids sitting on this counter (or on their dad’s shoulders while standing right here) because on the other side of the counter is a 20 foot drop into the bullpen.

So we headed down the stairs and walked over to the Mariners bullpen.  Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was warming up…

8 - dickey knuckles.jpg…it was pretty cool watching his knuckler up close.  Hey, check it out, its Norm “The Sheriff” Charlton to the far right of that picture.

After watching Dickey, we headed over to RF and watched Ichiro patrol his domain – he had already had an outfield assist, robbing Ben Francisco of a hit by forcing out Jamie Carroll at second base in the first inning.

9 - Ichiro in RF.jpgThis is where we were when the lady circled in red above gave us her tickets.

When we got to those seats, Raul Ibanez was stepping into the box to lead off the bottom of the sixth.  Check out the view from these seats!

10 - rauuuuuul on deck.jpgRaul would get plunked by the third pitch he saw from Jeremy Sowers in this at-bat.  By the way, to this point in the season, Sowers was winless with an ERA in the mid-6 range.

Adrian Beltre followed Raul with a single.

11 - beltre then lopez.jpgBy the way, check out those sweet retro-Mariners uniforms.  They looked so much better than I remembered them looking back in their day.

The Mariners made a push that was too little too late.  Ultimately, Raul made his way around the diamond to score the Mariners’ third run of the game.  Beltre then scored the M’s fourth run…

12 - wild pitch scores beltre.jpg…on a wild pitch.

Check out these seats!  I loved them!

R.A. Dickey entered the game in the seventh…

13 - dickey.jpg…and then he entered the M’s dugout just below our seats four batters later after pitching a scoreless top of the seventh.

Yuniesky Betancourt led off the bottom of the seventh for the Mariners…

14 - Yuni and Tim.jpg…and, six months later, I ended up using this picture from Yuni’s at-bat to make baseball cards for all of the kids who attended Tim’s third birthday.

During and following Yuni’s at-bat, I had an excellent opportunity to take some close-up photos of Ichiro.  At the time, Ichiro was riding a six game hitting streak in games attended by Tim, but he was 0-3 so far on the day.

Let’s see what happened.   First, Ichiro’s head popped into view over the dugout roof just in front of us…

15 - ichiro appears.jpg…as Sam Perlozzo headed to the 3B coach’s box, Ichiro headed to the on-deck circle to prepare for his at-bat…

16 - ichiro arises.jpg…as Betancourt faced Edward Mujica, Ichiro tugged on his sleave, stretched, and mentally prepared to do battle in the batter’s box…

17 - ichiro prepares.jpg…and then Ichiro made his classic approach to the plate…

18 - ichiro approaches the plate.jpg…followed by Ichiro’s classic pose (which, by the way, is currently pictured on my T-shirt as I type this entry)…

19 - ichiro poses.jpg…and on the first pitch he saw from Mujica, Ichiro extended his hit streak to all seven of Tim’s Mariners games…

20 - ichiro singles.jpg…with a single into centerfield.  Unfortunately, Ichiro would be stranded on base in the inning and the score would remain 9-4 Indians until the bottom of the ninth.

In the ninth, Ichiro was up for his final at-bat following a two-out single by Yuniesky Betancourt.  Ichiro capped the day’s scoring with a 2-run homerun off of his fellow-countryman, Masa Kobayashi.  All in all, he had a great day, 2-5 with a single and homerun, 2RBI and an outfield assist.

Unfortanetly, the Mariners just could not overcome the 8 earned runs Batista gave up in his 2-innings of work.  Despite the loss, Tim and I had a great time at Safeco Field and couldn’t wait to come back in 2009.

21 - TJCs at Safeco Field.jpgGo Mariners!

Warming Up For 2008

My parents are two of the luckiest people around.  During the regular season, they live at my boyhood home about 15 miles from Safeco Field.  During Spring Training, they live at their winter home about 3 miles from the Mariners spring training home — the Peoria Sports Complex.

Before the 2008 season began, Colleen, Tim and I headed to Peoria to meet up with my folks and my Mariners for some Spring Training.

Courtesy of Google Maps, here is an aerial view of the Peoria Sports Complex:

1 - peoria sports complex aerial view.jpgAt the top center is the stadium where the Mariners and Padres play their home spring training games.  The Mariners spring training fields are below to the left.  The two fields to the far left are the Mariners Single-A training fields.  The next two fields to the right are the Mariners Double-A and Triple-A fields.  Next, is the Mariners secondary Major League field.  Above that field is the Mariners administrative building and parking lot.  Next to the administrative building to the right is the Mariners primary Major League field.  Below the primary field, is a partial field where they do infield drills.

Then on the right side, the Padres have a mirror image of the Mariners training fields.

Spring training is incredibly cool and relaxing.  One thing I love is all of the open grass between the training fields.  It is a perfect set up that allowed us to watch the Mariners run drills and take BP while my dad and I played a lot of catch:

2 - playing catch by main field.jpgThose pictures are all taken in the grass between the Mariners Major League fields and the administrative building, which also has a big bullpen set up and indoor batting cages lining the big open grass area.  In fact, you can see the bullpens behind my dad and Tim in the top two of the last four-picture set.

In the first day or two of our trip, we just watched the Mariners training.  Here is Ichiro watching Raul Ibanez taking BP on the main field:

3 - ichiro watches ibanez.jpgEvery time we went to training, we’d walk away with a new baseball or two…

4 - got some baseballs.jpg…with all of the fields around the public area, it is not unusual for random foul balls to be hit into the public area from all directions.  You have to stay alert.

On our first day there, we ran into Mariners catching prospect Adam Moore who was working out one-on-one with a coach on the secondary Major League field…

5 - Adam Moore.jpg…after he finished up, we got his autograph on one of the baseballs Tim had collected earlier in the day and got Tim’s first picture with a professional ballplayer.  Finally, at the end of 2009, Moore made the Mariners major league roster.  Hopefully we will see a lot of him in 2010.

I really enjoyed watching the Minor Leaguers…

6 - watching some training.jpg…they were always doing drills, taking BP, or playing games.

Ah, remember how I mentioned it is relaxing at Spring Training…

 

7 - now this is living.jpg…this is an ideal way to spend a morning, relaxing with your family and playing catch with your dad while watching the Mariners prepare for the regular season.

Yep, and then we got more baseballs…

minibat regularball.jpg…and Tim got Willie “Ballgame” Bloomquist to sign that little bat.

Spring Training is also good for normal bats too…

grandpas bat.jpg

…that’s a bat that my dad got from a Mariners minor leaguer.  No cracks or anything.  Just a nice fully-intact bat.  Tim and I got two bats from minor leaguers as well, both with small cracks.

Here’s another cool part of Spring Training…

8 - little tim little mariners.jpg…Mariners are always walking by 5 feet away from you.

While my dad and I would play catch, Tim would run around with his grandma…

9 - piggy backing.jpg…or would get a lot of piggy back rides.

Soon, it was time for some games, so we would head to the main stadium in the afternoons:

10 - 3 Cook Boys.jpgAll around the outside of the stadium, there were a bunch of big concrete baseballs…

11 - pushing the ball.jpg…that Tim would try to push around, unsuccessfully.

Here is a view of the main stadium:

12 - Peoria Sports Complex.jpgI’m not going to do game reports here.  Just a few highlights.

Here is a view of where we sat at most of the games:

13 - major league players minor league seats.jpg…a great view.

When we arrived at Spring Training, they’d already played a bunch of games.  And Ichiro was batting .000 (zero hits so far).  He was something like 0-20.

His luck would change as soon as we arrived.  Actually, he didn’t play in our first game.  But in his very first at-bat that Tim and I saw him have in the spring, he got his first hit of the spring…

14 - ichiro turns it on.jpg…and he got at least 1 hit in all three games we saw him play during the spring.  Specifically, he went 1-4, 2-4 with a homerun, and 1-4.

During one of the games, I took “The Ruthian” challenge:

15 - The Ruthian.jpgAnd I demolished it.

On this trip, I also was able to achieve a life long dream…

16 - the dream achieved.jpg…my first ever Mariners game (or any professional baseball game) on my birthday.  I always wished growing up that I could have rounded up a bunch of my friends and gone to a Mariners game on my birthday.  But its hard to do when you weren’t born during the baseball season.  So this was a real special treat for me.  And, as a special gift, Ichiro and Adrian Beltre both hit a homerun for me, and the Mariners got me the win.

For our final spring training game, we sat on the outfield berm…

17 - A Day On The Berm.jpg…Colleen, Tim and I all came down with a cold.  So this was an odd game sitting out there.

But we still managed to get a picture that I absolutely love:

18 - No Standing.jpgSo, Tim’s first spring training was a smashing success.  We came home with 12 baseballs, 2 bats, a couple autographs, a winning Mariners record of 2-1-1, and a lot of great memories.

BUT WAIT…our pre-season baseball wasn’t finished yet.

Several of my colleagues are big Phillies fans and share the “weekend” ticket package…or maybe its just the “Sunday” ticket package.  Whatever.  The Phillies had two more pre-season games after breaking camp in Florida.  They call it the “On Deck” series.  And one of my colleagues gave us their tickets because no one in the group was going to use them.

So, a day or two before opening day, Tim and I headed down to Philadelphia for a freezing cold game against the Blue Jays.

This was our view from our seats in Section 130:

1 - on deck view.jpgAs I said, IT WAS FREEZING!!!  So, we got hot dogs to warm us up:

2 - hotdog time.jpgAnd we were excited to see our favorite Phil, Jamie Moyer, toeing the rubber:

3 - on deck moyer.jpgAfter having such a laid back time at Spring Training, Tim re-acclimated to his Northeastern roots and jumped all over the umpire…

4 - you bum ump.jpg…”Come on you stinking bum, you need glasses or something!?”

Okay, he wasn’t really saying that.  But I LOVE that picture.  Hilarious.

It was so cold that we gave up our excellent seats and headed over to the sunny seats in the leftfield porch:

5 - LF porch.jpgStill, it was so cold that the unthinkable happened, by about the fourth inning Tim suggested that we should go home!

I was fine leaving early.  So we made a deal that we’d leave after spending one inning behind the Phils dugout watching Moyer up close.  We made our way over there in time to see Pat Burrell step to the plate…

6 - behind 1B line.jpg…of course, as he seemingly always does when Tim is in the house, Burrell hit a bomb…

7 - pat burrell.jpg…although not on this pitch.

We got a great close-up view of Moyer on the mound:

8 - moyer.jpgThen some nice fan took a picture of me, Tim and my vacation-hold-over-beard…

9 - freezing guys.jpg…which I am told made me look about 50 years older than I actually am.  Oh, well.

And with that, we called it a day, and a pre-season, and we went home and waited for our favorite holiday, Mariners opening day.

Pete Rose & Steve Carlton

Last week, I met two of the best baseball players of all time:  Pete Rose and Steve Carlton.  If you have a short attention span, this entry might not be for you.  But if you’re up for it, here is the scoop:

 

Pete Rose (Friday, December 4, 2009)

I met Pete Rose at the Second Annual Berks County Bar Foundation Holiday Benefit Luncheon.

Pete and Todd.JPG

I’d been looking forward to this luncheon for a couple months.  Last year, I went to the first edition of this same luncheon and saw (and for about 30 seconds spoke to) Mike Schmidt.  Its always fun to see one of the all-time greats up-close and personal and hear one of them give a speech.  Pete Rose did not dissappoint.

Actually, I had a crazy day at work that day and missed most of the luncheon.  When I arrived, Pete was already at the podium and had concluded his speech.  But he continued to field questions from the audience for about 1/2 an hour.  The guy was absolutely hilarious.  He had every person in the place in fits of laughter.

I’ve been to a lot of charity breakfast, lunch and dinner banquets and heard a lot of featured speakers:  Pete Rose was hands down the best, most entertaining and most intriguing I have ever seen.  And, oddly, despite his world wide fame (or infamy), he was also the most accessible.

Last year, I approached Mike Schmidt before his speech.  I was happy to get to say hello, shake his hand, and thank him for visiting our town.  But it was obvious that Schmidt wasn’t totally confortable just hanging out and chatting with the public.

Rose, on the other hand, was the epitome of comfortable.  After he concluded his Q&A session, he hung around and signed anything and everything that anyone asked him to sign…

pete rose autograph.jpg…all I had was a business card.  My plan is to frame the photograph above and Pete’s autograph together for my office.

While he was signing, Pete was still “on.”  The guy is completely (COMPLETELY) at ease talking with ANYONE.  Any question anyone had for him:  he had an answer.  Most people, however, just wanted his autograph.  So, I just hung out next to him at the front of the autograph line and chatted with him while he signed.  Eventually, the guy next to Pete in the picture above showed up to interview him (for this article) so I arranged for someone I know at the Bar Association to take my picture with Pete (thanks!) and I headed out.

I thought I’d share some of what Pete had to say, both during his Q&A session and during our post-presentation discussions…unfortunately, there were too many hilarious moments to remember them all (or even 1/2 of them), but I’ll do my best.

1.  I was going to try to ask a question during the Q&A, but it ended before Pete got to me.  So, the first question I asked Pete after the presentation:

“I heard a lot of TV this season that, if Jeter plays until he’s 43 or so, he might be able to break your hit record.  What do you think?”

Pete was very diplomatic.  I’m pretty sure that inside his head he was saying, “HELL NO!!!!”  (Oh, by the way, Pete cursed at will during the Q&A session, which was just one more thing that made me think he is an authentic guy — Pete Rose doesn’t fake it).  Anyway, Pete didn’t answer “HELL NO,” instead, he used some facts to lead me to the conclusion that there is no way Jeter is going to pass him.  First, Jeter won’t get his 3,000th hit until he is 37 years old.  That’s actually the same age Pete was when he got his 3,000th hit.  Second, Pete remind me that he got 1,600 hits after he turned 35.  (Actually, it looks like he got about 1,700 after turning 35 in 1976).  By all accounts, Jeter would also need about 1,600 hits after turning 35.  Third, those projections require Jeter to stay on his same pace until age 43, but it become a lot harder to play Major League baseball after age 41.  I will have to take Pete’s word on that one.  Anyway, Pete used those observations, body language and his tone of voice to indicate that he doesn’t think Jete is going to match his hit total.

I think Pete is right.  Jeter has 2,747 hits right now at age 35.  He needs 1,509 more hits to equal Rose.  To do that by age 43, Jeter would have to average 188 hits per year between ages 36-43.  Sure, Pete Rose didn’t get to 4,256 until age 45.  But I ask you, do you see Jeter playing for the Yankees at age 45?  And if not, do you see him playing for any team other than the Yankees?  I don’t.  And, I don’t.  And I don’t think he’ll average 188 hits per season for 8 more years.  But, hey, prove me wrong, Jeter.  That would be pretty amazing.

2.  During the Q&A session, Pete was talking about the 2009 World Series and he mentioned Ryan Howard’s poor performance, “I tell you what, Ray Charles could have struck out 13 times during the World Series.  (Making batting motions) In fact, Ray Charles probably would have made a little contact.  At least he could have heard the ball.”

World Series performance aside, Pete seemed to be generally down on Ryan Howard.  He thinks the strike outs are unacceptable.  He acknowledged that Ryan crushes fastballs, but he just can’t handle the off-speed stuff.  He mentioned, “I’d fine my pitcher if he ever threw a fast ball to Ryan Howard.  But for some reason, some managers still decide to do it about 50 times a season.  They figure its early in the game, what the heck?”

3.  Conversely, Pete was very impressed with Chase Utley, “The baseball was looking like a beach ball to him.  Its really easy to hit a beach ball!”

4.  After his presentation, someone asked Pete, “If you’d fine your pitcher for throwing a fast ball to Ryan Howard, would you fine Jimmy Rollins for hitting a home run?”  Rose was perplexed:  “What?  No.  Why would I?  He’s going to hit his home runs.”  It was suggested to Pete that J-Roll was struggling at the plate because he was trying to hit home runs.  Pete disagreed.  J-Roll isn’t trying to hit homeruns.  He’s just not hitting for a high average.  But even when you’re just trying to put good swings on the ball, a pro ball player like J-Roll is going to hit some home runs.  So, no, Pete wouldn’t fine J-Roll.

But, this begged the question (and Pete asked it), “But just because you’re fast, does that mean you should be hitting lead-off?

How about Alfonso Soriono someone asks?  “I don’t know why in the world anyone would give him 18 million dollars.”  So Pete wouldn’t hit Soriano lead off?  “I’d bat him 7th.  And you got to remember, he was a second basemen for the Yankees.”

5.  This is when Pete made a statement that I just couldn’t endorse:  “You know, the guy they love today is this ‘Ichiro’ (he pronounced it “itch-er-oh”).  You know, anyone is going to get 200 hits in a season if they’re up 700 times.  But, when you’re a lead-off hitter, you have one job and one job only — to get on base.  Now, I had 4,200 hits, but I also walked 1,600 times [actually 1,566 times – 14th most of all-time].  He (‘itch-er-oh’) only gets about 30 walks.”

(By the way, all of these “quotes” are actually just paraphrases.  Its not like I was recording the conversation.)

Okay.  I stood there silent at this point.  I didn’t have any need to argue with Pete Rose.  He was being very cool and friendly to everyone.  But, I think that Rose is off-base on his Ichiro assessment.

Yes, Rose averaged 71 walks per season compared to Ichiro’s 47 average walks per season – a difference of 24 on the positive side for Rose.  But Ichiro has averaged 231 hits per season over the course of his career compared to 194 person season for Rose — a difference of 37 on the positive side for Ichiro.  And, while I understand that Rose’s career numbers include his declining years toward the end, you have to realize that Ichiro’s MLB career number don’t include his numbers in Japan from age 20-26 when Ichiro was just flat out ridiculous at the plate:

SEASON TEAM G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
1993 Orix 43 64 4 12 2 0 1 3 2 7 0 2 .188 .212 .266 .478
1994 Orix 130 546 111 210 41 5 13 54 51 53 29 7 .385 .445 .513 .958
1995 Orix 130 524 104 179 23 4 25 80 68 52 49 9 .342 .432 .544 .976
1996 Orix 130 542 104 193 24 4 16 84 56 57 35 3 .356 .422 .504 .926
1997 Orix 135 536 94 185 31 4 17 91 62 36 39 4 .345 .414 .519 .933
1998 Orix 135 506 79 181 36 3 13 71 43 35 11 4 .358 .414 .518 .932
1999 Orix 103 411 80 141 27 2 21 68 45 46 12 1 .343 .412 .572 .984
2000 Orix 105 395 73 153 22 1 12 73 54 36 21 1 .387 .460 .539 .999
JPN Total 981 3619 658 1278 211 23 118 529 384 333 199 33 .353 .421 .522 .943

As it stands today, Rose’s career on base percentage was .375 and Ichiro’s is a modestly better .378.  But if you look at his years in Japan, Ichiro’s OBP increases (he was over .420 career in Japan).

One more thing, honestly, I can’t remember if Pete said “700 at-bats” or “700 plate appearances” per season.  Pete never had 700 at bats in a season.  Only a four people ever have (and one of them, Juan Samuel, did not get 200 hits that season).  Ichiro has had 7000 at-bats exactly once in his career.  Given those facts, I assume Pete meant plate appearances, not at-bats.  If so, I’d note that Pete had over 700 plate appearances 6 times without collecting 200 hits.

So, while I have the utmost respect for the all-time hits king, Ichiro is the man.  I wouldn’t want anyone else leading off for the Mariners.  And I will reject all arguments or opinions to the contrary.

Sorry, I had to defend my Mariner.  Now back to more good times with Pete Rose.

5.  Pete said some things during his Q&A session that really gave you a peak into the inner workings of Pete Rose’s brain.  You know what is in there?  Baseball.  And Winning.

First, Pete shared an extremely interesting story about why he was “Charlie Hustle.”  Pete Rose’s dad (Pete Rose) was a blue collar guy and a star athlete in Cincinnati, OH in his own right.  Rose mentioned that “I’m not the most famous Pete Rose in Cincinnati.”

Pete’s dad would come to games to watch Pete play for the Reds.  He didn’t make a big deal about it.  He didn’t come into the club house or try to capitalize on his son’s success.  He just came to watch his son.  Pete usually wouldn’t even see his dad at the game.  Now, Pete won the NL batting title in 1968 (.335 in “The Year of the Pitcher“) and 1969 (.348).  So, in 1970, Pete was already clearly a star.  Pete’s dad came to the ballpark one day — I think Pete said it was a doubleheader.  Pete hit well.  But grounded out to second late in the game.

When Pete left the clubhouse after the game, he found his dad leaning against his car.  Pete said hi to his dad.  His dad responded, “In the eighth inning, when you grounded out to second, did you run it out?”  Pete reflected on the game and then responded, “No, I guess I didn’t.  You know, it was a good pitch and I missed it.  I was mad at myself because I should have got a base hit on that pitch so I guess I didn’t run.”  Pete’s father responded:

When you do that you make me look bad!  Don’t embarrass me in this town!  When you hit the ball, you run as hard as you can until they hell ‘safe’ or ‘out.’ “

Pete’s dad then turned and walked away.

Pete’s dad obviously put a lot of pressure on him to do things the right way.  I got the feeling that it wasn’t always easy for Rose.  But you could tell he really respected and was grateful to his father for teaching him to do things the right way (well, with the exception of the gambling stuff, I guess).

6.  The second thing that Pete said that really struck a chord with me what that at the end of 162 games, he was mad that the season was over.  He was upset he had to go home and couldn’t play ball until the next season.  That is a feeling that I don’t get from a lot of today’s players.  But I think its a feeling that a lot of MLBloggers can relate to.  I know that I miss the season the moment the final out is recorded.

Pete mentioned that he was at the ballpark every off day.  “It was where I lived.”  He loved hitting in the cages.  He loved taking ground balls at whatever position he was playing or working on at the time.  He just flat out loved baseball and playing it for a living.  I can respect that.

7.  In a non-baseball moment, Pete mentioned that he and Alex Rodriguez have exchanged text messages on a regular basis for many years.  But when A-Rod started dating Madonna, A-Rod suddenly stopped returning Pete’s texts.  Pete remarked, “He dumped me for Madonna!”  Once A-Rod and Madonna stopped seeing each other and A-Rod moved on to Kate Hudson, A-Rod resumed his text message exchange with Pete.

8.  During the Q&A session, somone asked, “Who would win in a head-to-head match up, the 1980 Phillies or the 2008 Phillies.  Pete instantly responded, “They’d win.  We’re all in our damn 60s!”  After discussing some of the strengths of each team, Pete then commented, “Well, if it was Steve Carlton versus Cliff Lee [for Pete’s sake, we’ll pretend Lee was actually on the 2008 Phillies team], no one would win.  We’d probably go nothing-nothing all night.  Now, if it was Cole Hamels pitching (a BIG grin comes across Pete’s face), well, I’d like our chances.”

9.  Okay, we’ve made it to the Ninth.  The last story I’ll share is the big obvious story.  Someone asked something along the lines of “What’s going on with your reinstatement and when (if ever) will you be in the Hall of Fame?”

The bottom line is that Pete has no clue.  He said he thinks he’s being teased.  For example, Selig just announced he’ll retire in three years.  It didn’t sound like Rose was buying that story.  He theorized that Selig is trying to wait to reinstate Rose until after Rose is too old to manage.  Or, he thinks Selig is waiting until Pete dies.  “But the joke’s on Selig, I’m gonna outlive him!”  But, as I mentioned, the bottom line is that Pete doesn’t know when or if he’ll get back into baseball and into the Hall of Fame. 

10.  Oh, wait…we’re heading into extra innings.  Two more brief comments.  First, someone asked Pete if he’d ever hurt a catcher playing so hard.  Pete responded, “Are you a baseball fan!?  Where were you in 1970?  He then told the story or lighting up Ray Fosse in the 1970 all-star game.  Pete talked about the purpose of the game (“The purpose of the game is to WIN.  That’s the only purpose.  You play to WIN!”) and how you play the game (clean but hard).  He said that, if you paid for a ticket to come to see Rose and his team play, he was damn sure going to do everything in his power to make sure you saw a win.  And that is how it should be.  He talked about hard (but clean) slides at 2B and pitchers brushing batters back with a inside pitch.  This is all part of the game and so is running over a catcher if he is blocking the plate.  In sum, Rose turned back to the guy who asked the question, “So the answer to your question, you bet I did.”

Okay, one more bonus Rose comment.  At the end of his Q&A, he said, “Does someone have one more question?”  A guy stood up and asked something like, “what do you think about all the discussion about wood bats vs. metal bats, etc., etc.?”  Pete scans the audience, “Does someone have one more GOOD question?

And that was my run-in with Pete Rose.  I left the event a much bigger fan of Pete Rose (aside from his silly thoughts on Ichiro).  He is a great lover of baseball.  He is a great people person.  He isn’t smug.  He isn’t aloof.  He isn’t better than me or you or the next guy.  He’s just a guy with a lot of baseball knowledge and experience and a desire to share it with anyone interested in hearing about it.  If you have a chance to go to a similar event featuring Pete Rose, I highly recommend it.

 

Steve Carlton (Saturday, December 5, 2009)

carlton.JPGMy Steve Carlton experience was much shorter and more ordinary, but it was cool nonetheless.  Tim and I met “Lefty” at an autograph signing event at the Majestic Tent Sale at the VF Outlets in Reading, PA.

Every couple months, Majestic puts on an amazing tent sale at the VF Outlets and it is standard to have a free autograph signing event featuring a player or two from the Phillies or the Eagles.  This is the second Hall of Famer I’ve run into at the Majestic Tent Sale.  Last year, Michael Jack Schmidt followed his luncheon experience by signing at the Majestic Tent Sale the next day.

I learned that some people lined up to get free tickets for the Carlton signing at 1:30 a.m. the night (morning) before (of).  I, on the other hand, had a connection and I landed two tickets without waiting in the cold dark and long ticket line in the morning…

lefty autographic ticket.jpg

…still we got to stand in the actual autograph line.

Eventually we made our way up to Lefty…

TJCs and Steve Carlton.JPG…and like Rose, he too was very nice.  He’d have little 2 minute discussions with each person (assuming the person engaged him in conversation).  He was extremely nice and cordial, and he went out of his way to connect with Tim.

Tim, however, was tired as could be after waiting through the autograph line.  Luckily, he found some activities to keep him occupied…

becoming daddy.JPG…like standing on my feet with his head in my jacket.

Or laying his head on his mother’s shoulder.

tired in line.JPGAnd we learned something interesting about lefty, he’s a “righty” when it comes to writing.

signing to tim.JPGWe got two autographs on the nice 8×10 glossy photo that they provided.  This one is signed to Tim…

lefty autograph.jpg…and mine just says “HOF ’94” under his signature.  Very nice.

Oh, yeah, and Carlton mentioned that he had a nice dinner the night before with Pete Rose at a local country club.  That would have been an interesting dinner discussion.

Mariners Dominate In The Bronx (9/3/07)

On September 3, 2007, we headed up to NYC to take in a Mariners game in the Bronx.  We went with my friend Marc from college.  Marc is also from Seattle, but in 2007 he was working in the investment world in NYC.  This was the first time I’d seen him since college.  And, it was Tim’s first trip to NYC and to “The House That Ruth Built” (and Griffey destroyed).

We came up to NYC for the weekend, and we stayed with another friend from college, Davlynn, who also lived in NYC in 2007.  The day before the game, Davlynn took us to the American Museum of Natural History

TJCsDinos.jpg…where Tim REALLY enjoyed seeing lots of dinorsaur bones.  Trust me.  He looks utterly bored in this picture, but he really loved the museum.  So, if you find yourself at 79th & Central Park West in Manhatten, check it out.

We also took Tim to Central Park to play a little baseball on a field that we miraculously found to be empty… 

1 - baseball in the park.jpgThere were thousands of people in the park and every other field was packed.

Soon, it was time to meet up with Marc and his wife, Angie, and take the 4-train up to the Bronx.

Now, I’m a good baseball fan.  So I’m dutifully teaching Tim a healthy disrespect for the pinstriped-team from the Bronx.  Upon entering the ballpark, he already had the heebeegeebees from the cramped confines of the ballpark and the overwhelming aroma of corporate greed that would soon bring wall street crashing to the ground:
2 - its a little unsettling in this place.jpgI assured Tim that there was nothing to worry about.  The Mariners would surely destroy the home team.  The Mariners would be throwing their young ace, King Felix Hernandez, while the home squad would be trotting out an old goat, a pre-Mitchell Report Roger Clemens.  I was ready for a historic Clemens loss, and I would not be dissappointed.

So, as the game began, Tim was cautiously optimistic and ready to see his Mariners put on a show to remember:

Still, he had questions for me…

4 - all these people over here really like the yankees too.jpg“You mean, none of these people like the Mariners?  All of these people are Y******* fans?”  (sorry for the censoring, Tim isn’t allowed to curse)

“Yes,” I explained, “so mind your P’s and Q’s.”

By the way, not everyone was a fan of the opposition, that is Marc shown behind Tim’s outreached arm.  He’s a good Mariners fan.

Now, I wouldn’t lead Tim astray, it WAS a great and historic game.  In fact, despite the fact it didn’t feature former-and-future Mariners great Ken Griffey, Jr., this is one of the best games I’ve ever witnessed.

The game started like so many Mariners games do:  Ichiro hit a line drive single to right field.  So things were already off to a good start.  Ichiro extended his hit streak to five games in the five games Tim had attended to date.  But that was all the M’s managed in the top of the first. 

The bottom of the first was the only bad part of the game.  King Felix had some first inning jitters and fell behind by 1 run.

But don’t worry, the M’s came back in the top of the second.  Raul Ibanez started off the inning with a single to LCF.  Ben Broussard walked.  And then Clemens fired a wild pitch to the backstop sending Ibanez to 3B.  Finally, Jose Lopez got an infield hit to score Rauuuuuuuuul!  And just like that the Mariners had tied it up 1-1.

Tim was happy about this turn of events:

5 - good view up here.jpgBy the way, check out the old water-soaked wood on the bottom of the upper deck (behind/above us).  You don’t see that in a modern stadium!  Well, really, I think you don’t see that anywhere — not in Boston or on the north side of Chicago, which were much older than this 1970’s re-model job.

The top of the second was just the Mariners warm-up act.  They were about to lower the boom on their hosts.

Ichiro led off the top of the third inning with a homerun blast to LCF.  Not only did the hit give the Mariners the lead (for good), but it was Ichiro’s 200th hit of the season for the SEVENTH season in a row!  Hooray for Ichiro!!!  And hooray for us for being there to witness this piece of history.

Meanwhile, King Felix kept mowing down opposing batters.

In the top of the fourth, the Mariners scored three more runs on a single by Adrian Beltre, hit-by-pitch for Jose Lopez, a double by Yuniesky Betancourt, and another single by Ichiro.

By this point, Tim and I were having a great time watching our Mariners dominate:

6 - hahahahahaaaagreat.jpgAt some piont in the 4th inning, Roger Clemens hurt his leg falling off the mound awkwardly.  In an unprecedented move, Joe Torre brought former Orioles great Mike Mussina into the game in relief.  A quick review of Moose’s bio will reveal that this was the ONLY relief appearance of his probably-Hall of Fame career — 537 games, 536 games started.

Here’s the second piece of history involved in the game, this must be one of the most combined career wins that one team has ever had on the mound in one game.  I’ve tried to get someone from ESPN.com to research and determine if there has ever been more combined wins by a team in one game, but I haven’t been able to get the answer.  After Mussina gave up two more runs, he was replaced by Chris Britton, who ultimately gave way to Kyle “New York’s Finest” Farnsworth.  (By the way, I once saw a shirt for sale outside this ballpark that said, “Anybody But Farnsworth.”  That gave me a chuckle.)

Anyway, as of September 3, 2007, Roger Clemens had 354 wins (and he would NEVER win again), Mike Mussina had 247 wins, Britton had zero career wins (he is still stuck on zero), and Farnsworth had 27 career wins.  All totaled, the Mariners faced off against SIX HUNDRED TWENTY-EIGHT (628) career wins.  What do you think, is that a record?  I’ve certainly never heard of a team throwing more career wins in one game.

But all of those career wins were no match for King Felix Hernandez and his (then) 27 career wins.  Tim was all like…

7 - this is an awesome game.jpg“Dude, our Mariners are seriously awesome!”

The scoreboard showed the happy totals:

8 - happy totals mariners win.jpgAfter the game, we tired to get a nice family picture, but Tim wasn’t into posing at the time (possibly because we’d just sat in ridiculously hot weather for 3+ hours).  But combining the two pictures, you can get a semi-panaramic view of the field:

9 - old bronx stadium semi-panaramic view.jpg

Thanks to the Mitchell Report and the amazing falling from grace of Mike Piazza’s favorite opposing pitcher, this game proved to be the final loss of Roger Clemens’s former-future-Hall of Fame career.  But more importantly:

MARINERS WIN!!!!

The Griffey Email (2009 Edition)

Last year, I got an awesome email from the Mariners announcing the return of the greatest Mariner of all-time, Ken Griffey, Jr.

Today, I was equally as excited to receive the following email from the M’s:

griffey email.jpg

To read the rest of the article linked to the email, click here.

YES!!!!!

Thanks, Griff!  And welcome back, once more.  I can’t wait!

 

PS – while we’re on the subject to Griffey, I heard throughout the season that he made several sets of white silk ties for his teammates season.  But I never saw them on TV.  Well, I just found pictures of them on the printing company’s blog.  Check them out:

http://gorillaprintshop.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/ties_1.jpg

http://gorillaprintshop.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/mariners.jpg

I like ’em!  Way to go, Griff.  Bring that sense of humor back our way in the spring.

A Pair of Losses to the Twins (Aug. 14-15,  2007)

Five days after Tim’s first Mariners road game, we were back in Seattle visiting my parents and taking in Tim’s second and third home Mariners games…
1a - welcome to safeco field.jpg…I slacked off on the photos, particularly for the second game, so I am doing this as a two-game entry.

As of this point in time, Tim had been to two Mariners games in his life and the Mariners were a perfect 2-0.  Unfortunately, I knew that wouldn’t last forever.  These two games would prove me right.  We would come out of these games with a 2-2 Mariners record in Tim’s games.  But, we had a lot of fun nonetheless.

At the first game, we sat in my parents’ seats…


1b - grandparents season tickets.jpg…they have had either full or partial season tickets for about 15 years now.  Back in 2007, their seats were behind home plate slightly toward the third base side, and about 30 rows up.  They were nice seats.

Both of these games were against the Twins.  For the first game, it was me and Tim, plus my parents and Colleen.  Tim was under 2 years old so he didn’t need his own ticket or seat.

My folks had a great time passing Tim back and forth during the game, and he had fun sitting on their laps and watching the game:


1c - serious game watchers.jpgHe especially liked eating Grandpa’s french fries.

I used to also take his portable booster seat to games and he spent a little time in it at this game (still eating french fries)…


1d - babybooster at safeco.jpg…and he spent some time sitting with me too…


1e - clowing around at safeco.jpgUnfortuantely, this game got outta hand quick.  It was a match up of Horacio Ramirez and Matt Garza.  You may recall that just five days ago, Tim and I had seen Ramirez earn his first road victory of the season.  Well, this game would be his first home loss of the season.  Its unfortunate we had to see this outcome.  Just a week later, Ramirez would face off against Garza at the Metrodome and would beat him.

With our M’s trailing in the middle innings, I took Tim to see the Mariners Hall of Fame display in the concourse behind 3B at Safeco Field.

First, we acted like we were picking off a home run:



1f - teamwork.jpgThen, Tim checked out some lumber used by Mariners greats including the great, Ken Griffey, Jr…


1g - special lumber.jpg

…I should note, I’m not sure if these bats are game-used or just the models these guys used.  I’m guessing the latter because it would seem like a poor decision to display a Griffey game-used bat in this manner (where it could get damaged by a fan).  Either way, its cool to see these guys’ bats.

By the seventh inning, the Mariners were trailing 7-1.  A lot of the damage was care of Twins center fielder Torii Hunter who was 3-4 with 4 runs scored.  It was getting ugly.  So, we decided to go track down one of the Mariners best fans of all-time, my best buddy, Paul:


1h - paulie in RF bleachers.jpgPaulie was sitting in the LF bleachers with some friends from work.  We stopped by the LF bleachers so Paul could say “hi” to Tim and Colleen.

Paulie and I had gone to the game the night before and saw the Mariners beat the Twins.  It was one of the few games I’ve been to without Tim since his first game back in September 2006.  Unfortunately, it would be the only home Mariners win either of us would witness in 2007, and Tim missed it.  But on a positive note, Paul and I enjoyed it a lot!

Anyway, back to this game, the Mariners tried to mount a come back in the 8th, but it was too little too late.  And then the Twins piled on 3 more in the top of the 9th to put the dagger in the M’s.  The bright spot on the night is that Ichiro was 1-4 to continue his hit streak in the games Tim had attended – 3 whole games, and counting…

August 15, 2007

Tim, my dad and I were right back at it the next day.  I got us tickets in the “Hit It Here” Cafe as a late-Father’s Day gift for my dad.  Although my dad had ate a meal in the Cafe before, none of us had ever watched a game from the Cafe.

This was a great game until the very end.  But it was also the worst photographed game of Tim’s life.  In fact, there is not a single picture of Tim and me together at this game, the only game of his life for which that can be said.  I think it was because we were in the Cafe, which is much more like being in a restaurant (because you are) than being at a ballpark (probably because it is so quiet in there).

But I did get some great grandfather-grandson shots, like these:


2a - welcome to the HIHC.jpgAs you can see to the left, Tim is checking out the menu.  The tickets in the “Hit It Here” Cafe come with something like a $18 food credit.  So, we had some eating to do!

We started out with some delicious nachos…


2b - a windo with a view.jpg…the carnage of which is shown behind Tim in the picture above.

That last picture gives you somewhat of a feel for the Cafe, but I didn’t get a good picture of what the place really looks like.  Here’s the deal:

There are three rows of counter-space seats.  We were in the first row where there are two seats for each window.  The seats are wooden chairs, not ballpark-style stadium seats.  Behind our seats was a row of restaurant-style tables.  They are tall tables/seats so the people sitting behind us had a clear line of sight over us.  Just above/behind those tables was another counter with another row of tables just behind it, and then one more counter with one last row of tall tables/seats behind it.  There is a big vertical rise in the Cafe.  In that last picture above, I am standing behind the top counter looking down.  You can see the bottom and middle counters, but you can’t see the tables because they are below and hidden by the middle counter.

After the nachos, we took on one mighty piece of chocolate cake with strawberry topping…


2c - monster chocolate and strawberry cake.jpg…this thing was huge and ridiculously good.

Grandpa helped Tim check out the action in the stadium with Grandpa’s binoculars…


2d - scopic safeco in binoculars.jpg…here is what our view looked like:


2e - view from HIHC.jpgAnd here is Adrian Beltre taking a hack:


2f - beltre batting.jpgAnd, sadly, that is all of the “decent” photos that I took at this game.

As for the actual game, as I said, it was a good one.  Jarrod Washburn pitched and gave up only 1 earned run in 7 innings (and 2 runs total).  It was 1-1 going into the top of the 8th inning.  And it was 2-1 Twins in the top of the 9th when, once again, Torii Hunter did some major damage.  He hit a grand slam against Sean Green with two outs in the top of the 9th inning.

Once again, on the positive side, Ichiro was 2-4 with 2 stolen bases, and Raul Ibanez was 2-4 with a home run.

Despite the 6-1 final score, it was a well-played and exciting game until the very end, and it was a fun late-Father’s Day celebration for the Cook & Son Bats crew.

Tim’s First Mariners Road Game (8/9/07)

On August 9, 2007, Tim and I headed down to Baltimore for Tim’s first Mariners road game.  As best I can recall, I didn’t see the Mariners play in a road game until I was 23, also in Baltimore.  Tim bested me by about 20 years on that front.

This was Tim’s third game of his life and it was being played in his third MLB stadium of his life.  Not bad.

This would be a cool and memorable game too because (as strange as it sounds) it was Tim’s first game NOT in a luxury suite or, put another way, his first game in the seats.

And here he is checking out his first stadium seat of his life…


1 - so these are seats.jpg…well, actually we’ll see later that this isn’t Tim’s actual seat, but its in the same row.  He was checking out how these seat thingys work.

Not only was this Tim’s first game in the seats, it was our first game as a father-son team.  At his first game, we had 27 other family members and friends with us in the suite.  At his second game, we had 10-15 of my co-workers and their “significant others” with us in the suite.  At this game, it would be just me and Tim, and we would prove to be stellar MLB game partners.

This season (2009) is the first time I felt like Tim was old enough and had enough endurance to go to batting practice before a game.  Back in 2007 and 2008, we regularly arrived just before game time.  While we arrived at this game after BP ended, we did have some time to check out the stadium before the game started.

After checking out our seats in CF, we headed behind the 3B dugout to get a classic Camden Yards picture with the field and warehouse in the background:


2 - tim's first camden yards picture.jpgLook at how happy that boy is to be at the ballpark with his dad and his Mariners.  This is Cook & Son / Mariners baseball!

By the way, do you see that glove Tim is holding?  It is a Rawlings RBG36B (circa 1992).  I didn’t take that glove to a single game in 2009.  It is nothing fancy.  But it is my favorite glove.  It is the glove I used in the outfield in high school.  I formed it perfectly for my hand.  It fits my glovehand like an extra layer of skin.

Anyway, back to Camden Yards.

After walking around a bit, we found ourselves in my second favorite spot to get a posed picture at Camden Yards — down the 1B line right where the concourse takes a turn toward RF.

We got a picture with home plate behind us…


3 - tim's third camden yards picture.jpg..and then pivoted 45 degrees and got one with the warehouse behind us:


4 - tim's second camden yards picture.jpgIt was game time.  We headed out to section 90 (straight away CF) and took our seats behind Ichiro (and whoever played CF for the O’s in 2007).  Here is Tim in his first ticketed seat (with a little booster seat helping him out):


5 - seats in section 90.jpgAfter a while, Tim had enough of the seats and wanted to walk a bit.  We made our way to the standing room flag pavillion in RF.  I had never really spent time in the flag pavillion before this game.  But starting with this game and continuing until today, the flag pavillion has proven to be Tim’s favorite spot at Camden Yards.

At this game, he was all about puddle stomping in the flag pavillion:


6 - welcome to the flag pavillion.jpgOf course, Tim was only a year and a half old at this point, so he couldn’t run around the whole game.  So from time-to-time, he’d take a break in his stroller…


7 - gooooo mariners.jpg…and as you can see above to the right, he was into the game and cheering for his Mariners.

The Mariners were leading the game early when Tim and I got some nice person to take our picture out on Eutaw Street:


10 - tim's first eutaw street picture.jpg

morrow 2009.jpg
The seats and the Mariners road game weren’t the only firsts of the day.  It was also Tim’s first rain delay!

We were out in CF where there is nowhere to take refuge from the rain.  So Tim and I ducked into the concourse behind the infield seats.  We did some walking around until the rain let up.

When the rain let up, I decided we should go check out the Mariners bullpen.  I didn’t realize at the time that there was covered seating for the players in the bullpen.  I was wondering whether the relief pitchers would be in there or not.  They were.

We headed over to the pen and looked down to see a couple Mariners pitchers milling about.  And the above-pictured then-rookie Brandon Morrow was chatting with a somewhat scary groupie-looking lady who was standing in the LCF seats.  Brandon somewhat looked “trapped” into talking to this lady.  When Morrow saw us standing there wearing our Mariners gear I could tell he started thinking, “here’s my out!”  He turned to us and asked if we were from Seattle.  Scary groupie-looking lady was out of the Morrow loop.

Morrow and I chatted for a minute or two.  Then I asked him if there was any chance Tim could get a baseball.  Brandon was more than happy to oblige.  He ran back over to the bullpen bench and grabbed a ball out of the baseball bag.  He ran back over to us and fired a strike into my glove.

“Thanks, Brandon!”

After the rain stopped, we headed back out to CF.  This is what the view looked like from out there:


8 - camden 2007 RCF panaramic.jpg

I think the rain delay was in the fifth inning with the score tied 5-5.  Four of the O’s runs came on a grand slam by Miguel Tejada.  The grand slam was Tejada’s 250th home run of his career.

After the rain delay, the Mariners piled on some runs and took a 10-5 lead.  Tim was excited to walk down every row in the CF seats and touch all of the dripping wet seats:


9 - bullpen ball from morrow spot.jpgIn the picture above, the red circle shows where we were standing when Brandon Morrow tossed us the baseball during the rain delay.


Right at the end of the game, Tim got really tired.  The Mariners were up 11-8 and we trusted them to get the job done in our absence, so we called it a night a bit early.

Tim was cuddling up with his baseball in the car when we found the game on the radio…


11 - tim and baseball drive home.jpg…as we made our way through the city to the freeway entrance, the Mariners scored two insurance runs.  That was plenty for future Orioles closer, George Sherrill to close the win out for the Mariners.

As the box score shows, it was a great game.  Ichiro was 3-6 to bring his average to .350 on the season.  He also had 3 RBI and 2 runs scored.  Raul Ibanez was 2-4 with 2 RBI.  Jose Guillen, then the Mariners right fielder, was 1-3 with a HR and 2 runs scored.

Horacio Ramirez got the win for the Mariners to take his record to 7-3.  Interestingly, before this game Ramirez was 6-0 at home and 0-3 on the road.  So we saw his first road victory of the season.  We also saw one inning by Mariners rookie Ryan Rowland-Smith who is the first player in MLB history with a hyphenated last name, and a darn nice guy.