Our plans for Saturday, June 23, 2012 changed several times leading up to the day of the game. After several years of just me and Tim going to games together, Kellan had been to the last 11 in a row with us. I was thinking it would be good for Tim to get some one-on-one time and do an old school Tim-and-Dad game. We were going to go to see the Rockies and Phillies mid-week and then bring Kellan with us again to this weekend game. Then Tim got sick. The mid-week game was out and I thought I would just take Kellan to the weekend game. Then Tim gave his germs to Kellan and started feeling better, although he still had the remnants of a rash that went along with his sickness. So the final plan was to just take Tim to the weekend game while Kellan stayed home with mommy and rested up and recovered.
So that is what we did.
It was interleague play and the Phillies were hosting the Rays in an afternoon game set to start at 4:05 p.m. We headed down in time for the gates to open.
We were probably 15-20 people back in one of three lines at the LF gate, but somehow when we stepped down into the LF seats, we were literally the first fans in the OF. It was pretty strange. Probably 45 people beat us into the stadium, but I had no clue where they’d all gone.
We ran down to the first row and did two things. First, I asked Juan Pierre if he could toss a baseball to Tim when he eventually got one. He said yes. And he tossed the very next ball he got to us…although, for some reason, he threw it to me instead of Tim.
Second, we got Tim’s picture wearing a Justin Bieber shirt during BP:
He is doing a little “heart” shape with his hands. Apparently, Justin Bieber does that. Although, I should note that I only know that from watching Jimmy Fallon’s hilarious parody of Bieber. Big thanks to Dan Sauvageau in Denver. He got Tim this shirt for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt while we were in Denver. But there was no BP the day he gave it to Tim so we didn’t get the picture. I have carried this shirt to every game since that day and always forgotten to get the picture. To stop that trend, Tim put the Bieber shirt on at home before leaving for this game so we wouldn’t forget again. We covered up that shirt within minutes of getting the picture.
Big thanks, Dan!
No knock on Kellan, I love going to games with that little guy. But, wow, it is so much easier to do BP (and the entire game) with just me and Tim. For starters, I don’t have to carry Tim at all.
After getting the baseball from Juan Pierre and getting the Bieber picture, we headed out to RCF. I wanted to see if Michael Stutes was around – frankly, I don’t even know if he is still on the Phils rosters. I didn’t see him. Most of the Phils pitchers were still running in RF.
Eventually, Joe Blanton broke off from the pack and walked along the warning track retrieving baseballs that had been hit out there while no one was there to shag them. There were 2-3 baseballs on the track directly below us.
Blanton grabbed the first and tossed it to a Phillies fan to our right. Then he grabbed the second ball and threw it in to the bucket. But the third ball? He tossed that one up to Tim…
…and Tim gloved it with no problems.
It was time to find some shade.
We headed to the back of section 140 where some shade was reaching the seats.
At our last game at Citizens Bank Park, we headed over to section 140 and an usher (who I am told is named Bernie) gave Tim a baseball. Well, as we were a full section away from section 140, I could already tell that the exact same thing was going to happen at this game.
And, sure enough, it did:
So, I just got a new camera because my last camera was *almost* destroyed on the GFS Baseball Roadtrip. Our new camera has a “sweeping” panorama feature. Here is my first use of the new panorama feature:
Not too shabby.
So we had three baseballs already and tons of time left during BP. Tim wanted to stay in the shade and I didn’t have Kellan to hold or try to keep him safe. So I decided to put on Tim’s 10 inch glove…
…and try to catch a homerun on the fly (something I have never done at Citizens Bank Park) while Tim sat in the shade at the back of the section taking pictures:
Tim LOVES taking pictures. I gave him my old camera to use since I had the new one. And he snap, snap, snapped pictures…until he finished the job of sending that camera to the junk heap.
I stood in the aisle next to Tim (sitting in the second seat) and ran around trying to catch a homerun. But nothing came anywhere near us.
When the rest of the stadium opened to the public, we headed over to the pizza wedge:
Nothing came near us during the rest of Phillies BP.
While not much was going on, Tim noticed this camera:
I wondered if it was an MLB Network ballpark cam.
I noticed something interesting when the Phils cleared the field, three of the Phillies pitchers walked into the tunnel in the RF foul corner instead of walking to the dugout:
The transition from Phillies BP to Rays BP was odd. The Rays were still stretching by the dugout when the Phils headed to the clubhouse. They just kept stretching and stretching. There was a lot of dead time before the Rays really started hitting.
Before the Rays started hitting in earnest, a sole batter started hitting. It was Rays starting pitcher, James Shields…
…and one of his hits rolled to a stop directly below Tim (and directly below the “399” sign on the wall). There were zero people in the OF shagging baseballs. I had a feeling that we would end up getting that baseball once the Rays took to the field.
And we did. Eventually, Hideki Matsui’s interpreter, Roger Kahlon (thanks to Josh Leuke identifying Kahlon for me on Twitter), walked out into RF and tossed a few baseballs back to the bucket. He didn’t see the baseball all the way out by the dugout. But I waved at him and pointed and the baseball and Tim. That did the trick. He turned and walked toward us…
…and tossed the baseball up to Tim. Again, Tim made a nice catch.
After getting that baseball from Kahlon, we decided to resume the picture taking and homerun-catch-attempting. We moved over to section 103. Tim sat in the shade toward the back of the section and I stood in the aisle a couple seats down from Tim.
I had one near perfect chance to catch a homerun. It landed about 15 feet from where I was standing when it was hit. All I had to do was move down the stairs about 5 rows. It was hit right to the aisle. But…
…this guy with no glove standing in the aisle completely boxed me out as I tried to walk past him. He didn’t realize he was doing it. The ball was hit to the RF side of the aisle. He moved to that side right as I was trying to pass him. He literally pushed me right into the row and made it so I couldn’t pass. He made no effort to walk down a few rows to make the catch. While I was trapped in the row, another fan ran over and caught the ball on the fly.
That was my chance. I didn’t come anyway near another homerun.
Toward the end of BP, we went over to the bullpen again. Tim and I both noticed this plaque on the wall in the Phillies bullpen:
I’ve never notice that before. Right after BP ended, Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo grabbed a baseball out of his equipment bag and tossed it up to Tim. But he tossed it too high and I had to catch it, in Kellan’s tiny glove. This is what the scene looked like:
As you can see, we also did a little sub-amateur birding in the bullpen.
After Tim took a few more pictures, we headed for the upper deck to do some stadium exploring. The first thing we noticed, right upon exiting the field level seats, is that the speed pitch from past seasons…
…is gone and a Chickie’s and Pete’s is no in the location of the old speed pitch area. Chickie’s and Pete’s used to be in the concourse above the RF end of the bullpens. This Chickie’s and Pete’s was not here at the first game we went to this season (neither was the speed pitch). It’s too bad. That speed pitch was pretty cool.
Our original post-BP plan involved getting some pizza and heading to the upper deck above the “pizza wedge.” But then Tim asked if we could pull the old switcheroo – one of his favorite moves of the season – where we get ice cream first and dinner second. So, we just walked around for the time being.
We headed up to the second deck and got two panoramas from section 206. The first was using my camera’s sweep panorama function…
…and the second was an old-fashioned stitched panorama:
I like them both, but I prefer the old-fashioned method.
We ended up taking a long, round-about path to our favorite ice cream spot. We traversed the upper-deck from the RF foul pole to third base. Along the way, we ran into the Liberty Pig:
We found the other Phanatic pig (shown out of sequence) down by the kids’ play area during the game.
We ended up taking a flight of stairs down to the field level to find Tim’s ice cream. At the top of the stairway, we stopped to get this panoramic photo of (what I have always considered to be) the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park:
While heading down the stairs, we stopped off at the Hall of Fame suite level. The guys guarding the door let us pop inside to get Tim’s picture with the wall of baseballs:
That wall of baseball runs almost all the way from foul pole to foul pole on the Hall of Fame suite level. It is a whole lot of baseballs!!!
When we reached the field level, we grabbed Tim’s ice cream helmet, exchanged some tickets to a future game, and then walked to our seats for the start of the game.
Along the way, we stopped to get Tim’s picture with a card board cut out of the Phillie Phanatic:
The top of the first was just about ending when we got to our seats in section 104. When the Rays took the field in the bottom of the first, Hideki Matsui was stationed almost directly in front of us:
Unfortunately, our seats were in direct sunlight. I was fine with it, but Tim was not a fan. He crouched down on the floor beneath our seats to eat his ice cream helmet:
While I watched Hunter Pence at the plate and Juan Pierre swiping second…
…, I knew we had to find somewhere else to sit. Our seats were awesome. But they just wouldn’t work for Tim.
I quickly spotted some seats that would work in the upper deck:
After Tim finished his ice cream, we ditched RF.
On our way to the upper deck, we stopped by the kids’ play area. While we were there, the Rays scored 3 runs on a Ben Zobrist single, Jose Lobaton walk, Jeff Keppinger 2RBI double, Elliot Johnson walk, and James Shields RBI groundout.
After the play area, we headed up the escalator…
…stood in front of some mist-blowing fans in the second deck, and then headed up to the upper deck.
While walking over to section 427, I noticed that the pub in the upper deck has an incredibly apt pun-laden name…
…the High & Inside Pub.
While we were en route to our new seats, Jimmy Rollins hit a 2-run homerun to bring the score to 3-2 Rays. We couldn’t see the homerun from where we were walking, but we could hear the crowd going crazy for J-Roll.
We ended up sitting in the back row of section 427, right under one of the light stands:
If we moved over a bit to see around the light stand, it looked sort of like this:
Directly behind us, there was a chain linked fence that looks out over the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park:
It was pretty nice and relaxing up there in the shady upper-deck. We kicked back and ate our pizza dinner. Here was my beverage-eyes view of the game during our dinner:
The upper deck is often times a good spot for action shots. In the bottom of the fourth, I captured Jimmy Rollins hitting a single to RF and then taking second on the throw to 3B:
Juan Pierre followed J-Roll and I captured him hitting the 17th homerun of his 13-year career:
It was a 3-run jobber that gave the Phils a 5-3 lead.
We were having a great time in the upper deck. I took a couple self-portraits to capture the moment, but they didn’t turn out too good. Here is the best of them:
And here is a random shot of BJ Upton at bat:
Tim was using my old camera to take a bunch of ballpark photos. At one point, he turned around and started shooting photos outside the stadium…
…we saw a cute father-son scene going down out front by the Michael Jack Schmidt statue. Pretty cool scene. The funniest part was that this father-son combo were leaving the game in the fourth inning! But they were obviously have a great time together, so it was pretty cool to spy on their good time for a few seconds.
I got another cool action sequence of James Shields pitching:
So we were having a great time in the upper deck. The shady seats were really great. But we couldn’t stay put for too long. At one point, I noticed that the shadow of the upper-deck was reaching across the field from LF all the way behind home plate.
We stood up and tried to see if we could find ourselves in the shadows on the field. But we couldn’t.
Then I realized how we could find ourselves in the shadows. We had to go to the far end of the upper deck out by the LF foul pole.
As we approached the last section, we could already see our shadows out in LF:
Then we got one of my favorite pictures we have ever got at a MLB stadium:
Check out Tim’s shadow on the LF foul pole. My shadow is in the LF grass just to the right of the shadow of the foul pole.
The view down by the foul pole is pretty good too. Here is what it looked like while J-Roll grounded out to end the sixth inning:
Before heading back down to the field level, I snapped a picture of Tim with Center City Philadelphia in the background:
And then we headed down the switch-back ramp to the field level. From the ramp, we stopped and took two panoramas using my new cameras *sweep* function, this one…
…and this one:
After running down the first two parts of the ramp, we stopped on the 200-level and took the big escalator back down to the field level:
We hung out and watched the action from the SRO area for a bit. We saw Matsui fly out to LF to end the top of the 7th:
The kids’ play area closes at the end of the 7th inning. So quickly headed over there so Tim could play for about 5 minutes. And then headed back to the SRO area behind the 3B side. We wanted to make an attempt at getting an umpire baseball. It was going to be near impossible because the seats were still packed behind the 3B dugout and, of course, we weren’t even down there.
In the top of the ninth, we ended up finding some nice seats in about the 7th row. It looked sort of like this as Jonathan Papelbon pitched to BJ Upton:
After retiring Upton, Papelbon gave up a single to Matsui:
Papelbon had not blown a single save opportunity this season…until this game that is. Starting with a 2-run lead, Papelbon twice had the Rays down to their final strike. The crowd was on their collective feet. We were inching down toward the third row where there was a decently clear path to the umpires’ tunnel. And twice Papelbon gave up RBI singles instead of recording the final out of the game.
The save was blown. And we were heading to the bottom of the ninth.
The bottom of the ninth did not last long. Jim Thome…
…pinch hit to lead off the inning. And he hit a walk off homerun to end it.
I hate when closers blow a save and are then awarded the win minutes later when his team picks him up. Well, that’s what happened with Papelbon. He vulture the win from his teammate, Raul Valdez.
I should note that Thome’s homerun was a historic blast. It was his 609th homerun, bringing him into a tie with Sammy Sosa at seventh on the all-time career homerun list. Let’s hope Thome passes Sosa, but doesn’t climb any higher on the list (next would be the undisputedly better than Thome, Ken Griffey, Jr.).
But that’s not the sum total of the historic value of the Thome blast. It was also his 13 career walk-off homerun, breaking a tie with Mickey Mantle and making Thome the undisputed all-time career leader in walk-off homeruns. (Note: Like Griff, Mickey Mantle was also undisputedly better than Jim Thome).
Anyway, we got into pretty decent position for an umpire baseball, decent for a non-Diamond Club attendee at Citizens Bank Park. But Jim Joyce tossed all of his extra baseballs into the Diamond Club.
But we didn’t leave empty handed. As the Rays relieves and bullpen staff made their way into the dugout, Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi tossed Tim our final baseball of the day.
By the way, in an interesting side note: we have been to two Rays games this season. The Rays lost both of them on walk-off homeruns in the bottom of the 9th. And Scott Cursi tossed us a ball as he entered the dugout both times.
So, thanks again, Scott!
Before we headed out, we had two different ushers take pictures of us:
It was a great reprise our 2-man team for this game. Kellan will be back with us for our next game. But I think I’ll definitely do at least one more *just Tim and Dad* game this season. We’re a great 2-man team!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|13/11 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates|
|20 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3|
|75 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3|
|11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1|
|10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird|
|2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki|