Tagged: Jason Vargas

2010 GFS Roadtrip Game 5: Mariners at Padres (6/13/10)

On June 13, 2010, two factors [incredibly awesome seats + extremely relaxed stadium staff during Kids Run The Bases] combined to result in one of the longest, more picture laden game reports that we have ever produced.  Here it goes.

We woke up at the KOA in Chula Vista and hit the local Denny’s for breakfast.  Then we came back, got ready for the Mariners game at Petco Park and used the spare time we had before the game to play in the KOA’s play area:

1 - morning fun at KOA playset.JPGIt was an afternoon game, so it was still morning when we got to the park.  I know an extremely cool guy named Al who lived most of his life in our area in PA, but now lives in San Diego.  Back in November 2009, he mentioned that he has the ability to get incredibly awesome seats at Padres games and offered to get them for us for this game.  I was unsure if it would actually happen so I bought cheap outfield tickets before the season started to be sure we had tickets.

Al was planning to join us for at least part of the game so we arranged to meet him at the stadium.  But we arrived about 45 minutes before him.  So we used the cheap outfield tickets to head inside for BP.  After Tim collected his Padres batting helmet giveaway, we headed in and found there was no BP today.  Even worse was the fact that Tim couldn’t play in the Beach because it was closed.  There was a “breakfast in the park” event on the warning track and I guess they didn’t want loud kids right next to the people who were literally eating breakfast at tables on the warning track.

Only two Mariners were on the field when we arrived.

Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith was doing his running and stretching routine in LF…

2 - RRS getting a sweat on.JPG…and Ichiro was stretching and playing catch with his interpreter in shallow LF:

3 - Ichiro warms up.JPGSoon, Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman came out to play some catch.  While they were playing, I noticed that my Dad had wondered off.  I wasn’t sure where he had gone.  When Figgins and Kotchman finished playing catch…

4 - figgy kotch and dads baseball.jpg…Kotchman walked back to the dugout.  As I watched him approach the dugout, I saw that my Dad was the only person standing directly above the dugout — and he was wearing a Mariners shirt.  Kotchman rewarded him with the his and Figgins’ warm up baseball.

Tim and I headed over to the dugout to hang out with my Dad.  The stadium was empty and it was a cool “morning in the park” type atomosphere.  People were quietly getting ready for a day of baseball.  At one point, a guy started mowing the infield:


5 - petco lawn care.JPGThe Padres helmets came with number stickers.  I put “18” on the back of Tim’s helmet.  When we were standing behind the dugout with my Dad, Tim asked me to put a “5” on the bill of his helmet.  Then he told me to put a “1” in front of the “5.”  I did…

5a - Ichiro 15.JPG…and then Tim said, “5-1 just like Ichiro!”  He was a little bummed out when I told him that we’d really done “15” — Milton Bradley — not Ichiro’s “51.”  A second later, Al called us and we left the stadium and met him out front.  Because we’d be entering the stadium again on new tickets, I told Tim he would get another helmet and we could put Ichiro’s “51” on it.

We headed out the exit in LF and then we circled…

6 - rounding petco park.JPG…around to the main entrance by home plate.  Inside the main entrance, there is a big, cool, rock waterfall wall:

7 - petco waterfall wall.JPGMy Dad, Tim, Al and I headed to our seats, which were in the 18th row directly behind home plate.  They were amazing seats.  A bunch of Mariners pitchers were playing catch down the 3B line, so Tim and I headed over there while my Dad and Al hung out chatting in our seats.

We stayed in the same place and watched a couple different sets of M’s pitchers play catch.   First, Jason Vargas (foreground below) and Luke French (background below) played right in front of us.  At one point, French threw a low and inside (for a righty) pitch that Vargas couldn’t handle…

8 - french vargas.jpg…it trickled right by Vargas and into my glove.  I immediately scooped it up and tossed it back to Vargas — he needed the ball and I couldn’t stand in the way of my team’s pitchers getting their work in.  When I tossed the ball back to Vargas, I asked if we could get the ball back when they were finished.  He said, “Maybe.”  Unfortunately, the maybe turned into a “no” because Vargas and French got into a deep discussion about grips on the ball (see inset picture) and they kept handing the ball back and forth as they walked back to the dugout.

Next, David Aardsma and Brandon League started stretching right in front of us.  The D.A. gave Tim a smile and a little wave…

9 - aardsma waves league stretches.JPG…which Tim thought was pretty cool.  After playing some warm up catch, League started pitching to Aardsma with the D.A. crouched on the foul line.  Early on, a pitch trickled by the D.A. and I scooped it up.  As I tossed it back to Aardsma, I asked if we could get it back after they finished playing catch.  He gave me a more definitive answer than Vargas, “Yeah.”

As we waited for League and Aardsma to wrap up, former All-Star Chad Cordero walked by and was happy to sign an autograph and pose for a picture with Tim:

10 - tim and chad cordero.JPGTim was working on another All-Star ballot while we watched the pitchers warming up.  League was still pitching to Aardsma.  Eventually, Tim asked me if I would pick him up.  For the first time, I took off my glove (set it on the wall) and bent down to pick up Tim.

WHHHHHHHIZZZZZZ BAAAAAANGGGGGGGG!!!

The hard tossing Brandon League uncorked a wild and blazing fast ball past Aardsma.  From the corner of my eye, I saw it skip off the outer edge of the warning track.  As I lifted Tim up, the ball violently hit the very top of the padded wall…at literally the top inch of the wall.   People shreaked as they thought the ball was going to smash me and Tim.  Had the wall been an inch shorter, it would have slammed into my side.   And it would have really hurt, I could tell.  An usher came to ask us if we were alright.  Luckily, the wall was just high enough and the ball bounced back onto the grass on the 3B side of Aardsma.

Soon, League and Aardsma switched positions and League was crouched on the foul line catching the D.A.

The day before, Ryan Rowland-Smith had told us that he has daily discussions with Cliff Lee about pitching.  Today, we watched first hand as…

11 - RRS working with Cliff Lee.JPG…RRS worked with (and learned from) Lee.

Eventually, Aardsma snuck a pitch by League and, for the third time, I scooped the ball up off of the warning track and threw the ball back.  This time, I asked League if we could get the ball when they were finished.  Instead of making us wait to find out the answer, he walked over and grabbed his wild pitch ball that had almost taken me out, and he tossed the baseball to me.

Thanks, Brandon!

Soon thereafter, Lee and RRS headed over to RF so RRS could do some work off of the mound in the M’s bullpen.  We decided to head over there as well.  Actually, we didn’t know they’d gone over there.  We just saw action in the M’s bullpen and figured we should see what was happening.

When we got over there, Lee was chatting up a Padre in the OF grass right next to the bullpen and RRS was pitching to Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips:

12 - CS HOFs RRS and Phillips with autos.jpgBetween pitches, Phillips saw us and said hi.  After RRS finished his work, Jason came over to the fence and chatted with us a bit.  It was nice to chat with him.  As we were splitting up, I asked if I could get his picture with RRS and he asked if we wanted a baseball.  So, after he hooked us up with a ball — our ninth overall from Phillips and our 7th stadium getting a ball from him — he went to grab Ryan.  But Ryan was busy talking to Rick Adair.  When RRS was finished, he said hi to us and I asked if I could get his picture with Phillips.  So, he grabbed Jason and they posed for the picture above.

Ryan knows that Jason is a Cook & Son Hall of Famer because he saw it on our blog, so he understood why I wanted their picture together.  But I have no clue if Jason knows about the C&S Hall of Fame.  I guess I should ask him later this season.

After the picture, Tim and I started heading back to our seats and Tim tapped me on the leg and quietly asked, “Can I ask Jason Phillips something?”  (FYI, Tim pretty regularly asks me extremely quietly if he can ask people questions).  We headed back over to the bullpen and I got Jason’s attention and said, “The little guy has something he wants to tell you.”  Tim yelled out, “My favorite baseball players are the MARINERS!”  That gave Jason a big smile.

Then we headed to our seats.  Check this out:

13 - Tim 51.jpgIn that picture, I am sitting in my seat (Section 101, Row 18, Seat 1) and Tim is standing next to the row in front of us (wearing his new helmet with Ichiro’s “51” on the front and side).

Here was the view:

13a - petco section 101 row 18 seat 1.jpgSo you want to hear something crazy?  We literally just left the bullpen where we were talking to Jason Phillips and we arrived at our seats where we discovered we were sitting right next to Jason’s family.  Prodded by a very nice and talkative federal employee, we all started chatting.  I ended going over and sitting right in front of Mr. Phillips for a bit and discussing our many run-ins with his son.  He told us an interesting piece of trivia that I did not know:  Jason Phillips hit the 5,000th homerun in Mets franchise history off of Randy Wolf of the Phillies.  (FYI, Ken Griffey, Jr. achieved the same accomplishment for the Mariners in 2009).

The reason the whole discussion started in our section is because Jason’s dad was wearing some huge rings and the federal employee asked him what they were.  Here is a look at one of the rings:

14 - Tim the World Champion 51.JPGJason’s dad is on a softball team that has won the world championship twice in the last couple years.  And these were some huge and legit looking rings.  Two seconds after this picture, Tim asked Jason’s dad if he could have this ring.

By the way, this wasn’t the only championship ring in our immediate vicinity.  This ring was sitting on a finger two rows behind us on the opposite side of the stairs…

18 - a stranger among us.JPG…and it belonged to a Yankees scout (whose work failed to prevent the Mariners from soon taking 2 of 3 against the Yankees in the Bronx).

 You might have noticed in the panorama a couple pictures above that there were military people standing at each position on the field.  Sundays at Petco Park are military appreciation days.  There were a bunch of military people on the field before the game…

15 - military day.JPG…and a whole bunch more sitting in the upper deck down the 1B line.

This meant that the Padres were also wearing their camoflague jerseys…

16 - padres camo jersey.JPG…which I am showing off in this picture because I think the contrast in the first kid’s face and Heath Bell’s face is hilarious.  That kid gunned the ceremonial first pitch to the backstop…and the throw would have been behind a left handed batter.

Soon, the game was underway.  Ichiro led off with a walk…

17 - Ichiro walks in 1st 6-13-10.JPG…check out that view!  Unfortunately, as is happening way too much this season, Figgy erased Ichiro…

19 - Figgy GIDP in 1st 6-13-10.JPG…by grounding into a double play.

This view of home plate was so great, I could hardly stop myself from taking pictures of every at bat.

I cannot thank Al enough for hooking us up with these seats.  It was a joy to watch King Felix dominate the Padres from this amazing view:

20 - Felix baffles Eckstein in 1st 6-13-10.JPGBy the way, that is David Eckstein about to pop out to lead off the bottom of the first.  He would go 0-4 with 2 Ks against King Felix.

The only downside about these seats was that they were right out in the open beneath the hot sun.  No shade at all.  Tim is a big fan of shade, and not so much of the sun.  But we cooled the boy off with an ice cream helmet…

21 - ice cream time 6-13-10.JPG…early in the game.  By the way, that is Jason Phillips dad three down from Tim wearing the royal blue hat and about to pop some seeds in his mouth.  He was decked out in Blue Jays gear to support his other son, Kyle Phillips.  And that is Al sitting right next to Tim.

The last time I saw King Felix hit in interleague play, he hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana.  Today, he was all about sacrifice bunting…

22 - sacrificial felix.JPG…like this successful sacrifice in the top of the third.  Unfortuantely, this sacrifice ultimately did not produce any runs because Ichiro…

23 - Ichiro grounds out in 3rd 6-13-10.JPG…followed with a groundout for the final out of the top of the third inning.

 Leading off the bottom of the third, Scott Hairston got the first Padres hit of the day off of King Felix, and then something crazy and horrible followed.

Tony Gwynn, Jr. hit this pitch on a low line to CF (see how Gutierrez is already reading the ball to be a little off toward LF)…

24 - tony gwynn jr quadruple part 1.JPG…but the ball was low and must have knuckled.  I could see right off the bat that Guti was having trouble figuring out how far the ball would travel.  The ball was coming down quick…

25 - tony gwynn jr quadruple part 2.JPG…and at the last minute, Gutierrez swooped in to try to snar it.  But it fell a tiny bit short and rolled all the way to the wall.  Gwynn was off to the races and he did not stop until he had a stand up “quadruple.”

I don’t think that I have ever witnessed a professional “inside the park homerun” before, Tim definitely had not.  After witnessing this one, I think they should be called “quadruples” because they are a whole lot more like triples than they are homeruns.  They’re fundamentally different than homeruns.  Pretty exicting.  I just wish the Mariners could have had a “do over” because Gutierrez catches everything and given a second chance, I know he would have caught this one too.

 All of sudden, we were losing 2-0 despite the fact that Felix Hernandez was generally dominating the Padres.  We needed some offense, and Milton Bradley was happy to provide it…

26 - Milton Bradley post HR celebration.JPG…in the form of a traditional 2-run homerun in the top of the fourth.  The score was now tied 2-2, much better.

Soon, Tim needed some relief from the sun.  So we took a walk in the shady concourse that turned into a tour of the remaining part of Petco Park that I didn’t see the day before.  We headed up to the upper deck in RF… 

27 - exploring petco.JPG…where it looked like this:

27a - petco RF upper deck panorama.jpgThen we headed to the top of the upper deck in deep RCF:

28 - petco RCF upper deck back panorama.jpgFrom up there, we could look down on the Park in the Park…

28a - petco PITP from RF.JPG…the bleachers…

29 - petco bleachers from RF.JPG…and the Beach:

30 - petco beach from RF.JPGBy the way, check out the kids sitting digging in the sand with their backs turned to the field.  Not a bright idea.  Hopefully no kid ever gets (or has already gotten) tagged by a homerun into the Beach.

On our way back over to foul territory, a nice fan took our picture (with Ichiro batting in the background):

31 - TJCs petco RF ichiro.JPGWe noticed a weird little flag court area in the RF foul upper deck area where the Padres have flag depicting the league standings…

32 - petco hidden standings flags.JPG…I describe it as “weird” because from most places in the stadium these flags range from very hard to see to impossible to see.  In fact, I never noticed them until walking by them…for the second time.

Even from above, Felix looked dominant:

33 - felix from above 6-13-10.JPGWe decided to go up to the top of the RF foul seats behind the military guys.  Here was the view:

33a - petco RF foul upper military view panorama.jpg…and a very, very similar view (from just across the aisle and down a little bit from the last panorama:

33b - petco RF foul upper end military view panorama.jpgTim did his best attempt at standing at attention when this kind Marine officer (at least I’m guessing he is an officer, he appeared to be in charge of the rest of them) agreed to pose for a picture with Tim:

34 - Tim and Zamora.JPGSometimes Tim is a little shy.  Just before these pictures, he walked down the stairs whispering “thank you” to the Marines.  I am positive that none of them heard him.

As we made our way down the walkway ramps to the field level, I took this shot showing the interesting architecture of Petco Park:

35 - petco architecture.JPGAt the very bottom in RF (it seemed like it was even lower than the field level), the concourse was full of military stuff.  Like this huge model aircraft carrier:

36 - petco aircraft carrier RF lower concourse.JPGBy the time we returned to our seats, Al had taken off.  So it was just the three of us roadtrippers when an ausher took this picture of us as Felix warms up in the background…

37 - 7th inning stretch at petco.JPG…with the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh.

After our stadium tour, Tim did a much better job staying cooling in the seats.  He did some fake running poses…

39 - petco seat fun.JPG…and exploded a bunch of peanut shells.  See that funny straw hat on the lady sitting in front of Tim in the top right picture?  That old lady was unintentionally hilarious.  She was a Padres fan and her husband was a Mariners fan who used to live in Seattle.  At random times throughout the day, she would aggressively mutter “hit it over the fence!  hit it over the fence!” at her Padres batters and she would sound disgusted if the Mariners did anything good.

Luckily, the Mariners gave her a few more opportunities to sound disgusted.

Going into the top of the 8th inning, the score was still 2-2.  The Padres starter, Clayton Richard, had gone 7 innings giving up only 5 hits and 2 runs, but they lifted him for Luke Gregerson in the 8th.

Gregerson started off by giving up an infield single to Chone Figgins.  Two batters later, Jose Lopez smacked this ball…

40 - jose lopez go ahead double in 8th 6-13-10.JPG…for a line drive double down the 3B line.  Chone touched home to grab a 3-2 lead for the Mariners.

Although nothing more came of it, it was fun to see Milton Bradley talk home plate umpire Angel Hernandez into a hit by pitch later in the inning…

41 - bradley works a HBP.JPG…the Padres weren’t too happy with the call, but Hernandez wasn’t persuaded to reconsider his call.

In the top of the 9th, the Mariners were still leading 3-2 when Joe Thatcher took the hill for the Padres.  Thatcher promptly surrendered a single to Mariners catcher Rob Johnson.  It was Rob’s third hit of the day and I later learned that it was only the second 3-hit day of his career.  Interestingly, we were also present for his only other 3-hit game last season.

Felix Herandez came to the plate next and sacrificed his favorite catcher over to second base.

That brought Ichiro to the plate.  Ichiro and the Mariners were looking for a little insurance for their slim 1-run lead.  Ichiro started by bunting the first pitch foul…

42 - ichiro foul bunt in 9th 6-13-10.JPG…next he watched a ball and foul tipped a stike…

43 - ichiro watches one 6-13-10.JPG…then with a count of 1-2, Ichiro got his pitch and played a little game of switcheroo with Johnson…

44 - ichiro insurance in 9th 6-13-10.JPG…Ichiro took Rob’s spot at second and Rob took Ichiro’s at home.  And just like that the Mariners had a 4-2 lead.

Tim and I like to try to get a ball from the umpire after a game.  But in the first four games of the roadtrip we hadn’t even tried.  Since we were already sitting so close to the umpires’ tunnel at this game, we figured we might as well give it a shot.

The umpires’ tunnel at Petco Park is at the home plate side of the visitors’ dugout.  In the bottom of the ninth, with Felix back on the mound gunning for a complete game, we headed over to try to stand in the cross aisle right behind the tunnel.  An usher saw us and suggested that we sit in some of the open seats nearby.  He pointed out some seats that he had in mind.

I asked him if it would be okay to go a little closer to the umpires’ tunnel.  He said, “Oh, you want to try to get a ball after the game?  Sure!”  And he let us take these seats right above the tunnel:

45 - Felix goes 26 outs.JPGIn that picture, Felix Hernandez is about to walk down into the dugout.  He got the first batter in the bottom of the ninth, but then surrendered a single to Adrian Gonzalez.  When Scott Hairston hit an infield grounder, everyone in the stadium thought it was a game ending double play.  But Hairston beat it out and Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu decided to pull Felix and put in David Aardsma.

Felix was upset about not getting to finish the game.  But on his fourth pitch, the D.A. induced a pop fly by Nick Hundley and the scoreboard showed the happy totals:

46 - happy totals from petco 6-13-10.JPGAfter the almost double play, the usher came by to give us some advice on getting a ball from the umpire.  He was very nice.  But with the pop fly out, we had plenty of time to get into the corner spot right at the back of the dugout and side of the umpire tunnel.

Angel Hernandez walked off and walked right over to Tim and handed him this baseball…

47 - Cowboy Joe West and Tim.JPG…5 seconds later, 3B umpire “Cowboy” Joe West walked by and grabbed the baseball back from Tim and started walking into the tunnel with the baseball.  He then turned back around and brought the ball back to Tim.  He was very amused by his little prank.  And we used the opportunity to give Joe West some high fives and then get this awesome picture (above left) of Tim and West.

I had wanted real bad to get a picture of Tim with an umpire for the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt.  It seemed to me like it was the hardest picture in the competition to get.  The umpires generally don’t linger on the field after games.  They take off quick.  So the fact that West decided to play a fast one on Tim and take his baseball back was the perfect opportunity.

Thank you, Joe West!  And thank you, Angel Hernandez, too!

Our day at the ballpark wasn’t finished just yet.  It was Kids Run The Bases time!

The line started deep in the Park in the Park…

48 - like a parade.JPG…while waiting to get back into the stadium, the Marines marched by and the crowd gave them a long ovation as they filed by.  Tim was up on my shoulders and asked, “Is this a parade?”

We entered the field through a ramp next to the bleachers and beach:

49 - petco RTB approach.JPGThe line took a while to finally get into the field.  But finally we made it!  And it was awesome.  Some stadiums have strict policies and strict ushers enforcing them during Kids Run The Bases.  Our first sign of the relaxed attitude was that an usher agreed to take this picture of us kneeling in front of the “400” foot sign:

50 - TJCs and petco 400.JPGNormally during Kids Run The Bases, we have to ask other fans to take our pictures because the ushers just say, “Keep moving, keep moving.”

We stopped right by the usher who took that picture so I could get a shot of Tim with the field behind him…

51 - Time the OF umpire.JPG…after I took those pictures, he told me he was standing like an umpire.

We always try to get our picture by the RF foul pole and OF fence distance marker.  This turned out being one of my favorite pictures ever…

52 - Tim makes the catch.JPG…first I told Tim to stand next to the “322” like he was playing outfield.  Then I told him to jump against the wall like he was trying to catch a baseball.  I absolutely love that jumping picture.  Check that out, he’s hanging in the air!

The relaxed usher attitude carried over to the bullpen.  Tim played a little catcher…

53 - Tim mans the bullpen plate.JPG…by the way, we seemed to be the only people running around taking fun pictures on our walk to home plate.  Sure, some people were taking pictures with the field behind them.  But I didn’t see anyone else snapping pictures by the wall or in the bullpen.  They missed out on some great photo opportunities!

Thanks, Padres!

Here is another random shot with the field behind Tim…

54 - Tim and petco.JPG…and then I opened up this box and checked out the bullpen phone…

55 - Tim in petco bullpen.JPG…and Tim sat on the bullpen bench.

The Padres did a great job with the actual run too.  They spaced the kids out really well.  When we walked up, I must have looked like I wanted to follow Tim (which I did) because the 1B usher said to me, “Go for it!”  So I followed Tim with my camera ablazing… 

56 - tim runs the bases petco.JPG…along the way, Tim gave the Friar a high speed high five.

My dad stayed in the seats behind the 3B dugout where he got this video on his camera:

After the run, the ushers were still pretty relaxed.  I got our standard “with the dugout” picture…

57 - TJCs and Petco 3B dugout.JPG…then an usher let my Dad hop down onto the field to get this picture with us…

58 - 3 Cooks at Petco.JPG…and I transferred Tim over to my Dad’s shoulder to get this picture by the “336” sign in LF:

59 - Tim and Grandpa 336.JPGBy the way, see those two windows behind the LF fence?  Those go into the Padres team store.  There is a door from the team store into a little triangle standing area just behind the fence where fans can watch the game from field level through the chain link OF fence.

After that last picture, we headed out to our car…

60 - goodbye petco.JPG…and said our good-byes to Petco Park.  It was a great two game set in San Diego.

We stayed at the Chula Vista KOA again.  After the game, we took a little dip in the pool…

62 - post game swim and mexican food.JPG…and then went to dinner at an amazing Mexican restaurant in a little strip mall.  It wasn’t an impressive place from the outside, but the food was delicious and the people were extremely nice.  So, if you’re in Chula Vista, be sure to check out Casa Del Taco.

2010 Fan Stats:

13 Games

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


61 - SD ICH and baseballs 6-13-10.JPG12 Ice Cream Helmets
(Orioles (3), Phillies, Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)

32 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 1 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres)

8 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO 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)

Fenway Park – Part 3 of 3 (A Moment to Remember – 7/5/09)

1 - more copley ball.JPGFor the second day in a row, we woke up and had breakfast and played some baseball in Copley Square.  On this day, however, we just played catch and did some base running (on four drains in front of the Church in the square).

Soon, it was time to head to Fenway Park for our final game of the weekend roadtrip.  We were hoping for a Mariners sweep.  But it wasn’t in the cards.

I’m going to break with my usual protocol and skip to the fourth inning.  I’ll go back and cover the game from the beginning, but I don’t want to bury the most important part of this unfortunate Mariners loss in the middle of the entry.

You might have noticed by now that I am a big Mariners fan. And, by definition, that means I am a huge Ken Griffey, Jr. fan.  Ken Griffey, Jr. means everything to Mariners fans (at least to real Mariners fans).  I was 13 when Griff broke into the Mariners back in 1989.

The Mariners were a fairly unimportant team until 1989. Well, they were important to me and about 10,000 other people in the state of Washington.  But they were sort of a minor league Major League team to everyone else.  They had zero winning seasons in their history.  There were constant rumors and threats that the team would move — most notably to Tampa, Florida.  The Kingdome — as beautiful and perfect as it was — was largely empty.  (By the way, that wasn’t sarcasm, the Kingdome was, indeed, beautiful and perfect).


2- me and griff 1991.jpgAnd then, in April 1989, things changed.  KEN GRIFFEY, JR. ARRIVED!  All of a sudden, one of the most celebrated young ball players in baseball was a Seattle Mariner.  People started to pay some attention to our club.  People started showing up at the Kingdome.

In 1991, we had a WINNING SEASON!

In 1995, we WON THE WEST!  We made the PLAYOFFS!!  We were two games from the World Series.

The Mariners were no longer going to move away!  Instead, they built Safeco Field.  It was a golden era in Mariners baseball.

Long story short:  Ken Griffey, Jr. changed baseball in Seattle, he saved baseball in Seattle, he IS baseball in Seattle.

Therefore, when my son was born in 2006 and we started going to baseball games together, I had a goal:  Take Tim to see Griffey.

We have had incredibly bad luck in this respect.  Prior to this weekend, we had gone to see him play more than 10 times, and Griff played in only three of those games.  In those games, he has had gone hitless (but with a bunch of walks).

So we turn to this game.  Shortly before game time, they announced the starting line-up.  I was more saddened to learn that Mike Sweeney would be DH’ing and Griffey would have the day off.

I started thinking worst case scenario.  This is very possibly our final Mariners game of the season.  They don’t come back to the Northeast this season.  In 30 years, would Tim have to tell his son, “Yeah, your grandpa took me to see the great Ken Griffey, Jr. when I was a boy.  But I never saw him get a hit.”  I hated the thought.  But there was nothing I could do about it.  The Mariners were facing a lefty, Jon Lester, and Mike Sweeney had to get his work in to stay sharp.

Then in the fourth inning (with no disrepect to Sweeney), something wonderful happened:

3 - sweeney back spasms.JPG

I was totally unprepared.  (That notice was actually posted in the 5th or 6th inning).

Tim was sitting on my shoulders.  We were at a food stand behind the grandstand behind the seats by the 1B dugout.  I had just ordered a sausage with onions and peppers (for me), a hot dog (for Tim), a diet coke, and a bag of peanuts.  There was no counter at the cash registered so I had to hold everything in one hand while finding my money and paying the cashier with the other hand (while still balancing Tim on my shoulders with no hands).

In the midst of all of this, I hear the following over the stadium P.A. system:

“Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, JUNIOR!”

Instantly, my thought was, “The Red Sox don’t have a Junior!  AHHHHH!!!”

I jammed my wallet and change into my pocket, gathered up everything as best as I could and ran toward the field as fast as I could.

This picture shows our starting point and our route to the field:

4 - oh my griffs up.JPG

When we ran into the back of the grandstand, I believe we were in Section 13 or 14.

I yelled up to Tim, “I THINK GRIFF IS UP!”

Right as we got in view of the field, we saw Lester start his wind up and deliver a pitch to Griffey.  What happened next was possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen at a major league stadium:  Griff drilled the pitch off of the Green Monster!

According to my DVR, it looked something like this:

5 - Griff Hits the Monster.JPG

I think that to everyone else in the stadium, it was just a random lead off hit in the top of the fourth inning.  But to me, it was possibly the greatest baseball moment ever.  For the first time in over ten years, I witnessed Ken Griffey, Jr. — my boyhood hero and favorite baseball player of all-time — get a hit for my Seattle Mariners and I witnessed it with my son sitting on my shoulders sharing the moment with me.  And the fact that he hit the ball off the Green Monster, the most famous outfield wall in baseball, made it even more exciting.

This simple hit is easily the highlight of my season so far, and I plan to think and talk about it with Tim for years and years to come.  I hope Tim and I get another chance to see Griffey play — this season and next.  But, if that is not possible, this hit will keep me satisfied.

(By way of background and to clarify, *I* have seen Griffey get tons of hits, hit numerous homeruns, multiple grand slams, makes dozens of circus catches (including the one when he broke his arm in half) — but I’d never shared any of those moments with Tim.  That’s what made this hit so special).

By the time I could get to a spot where I could put our food down and get to my camera, Franklin Gutierrez had advanced Griff to second with a single.  Here is Griff leading off of second:

 

6 - griffs on second.JPGGriff would have two more plate appearances on the day, both walks.  He went 1-1 on the day.  Amazingly, I got zero pictures of Griff at the plate during this game.

Okay, now lets back track to the beginning of the game.

We entered the stadium again through the CF gate on Lansdowne Street.  It was a 1:35 start, but the teams still took BP.  We arrived as the first group of Mariners were hitting, including Griffey and Ichiro.

We started out in the CF bleachers.  Griffey was blasting bombs into the RF bleachers.  I wanted to go over there, but there is no way I am going to try to catch a HR ball with Tim on my shoulders.  Shortly after we arrived, Griff hit a ground rule double to straight away CF that bounced up into the stands and directly into my Dad’s glove.

My Dad has had great luck with Griffey this year.  In addition to this BP ground rule double, on the first day of spring training, my Dad got Griff’s second BP homerun in his second tour of duty with the Mariners.

I decided to go up onto the Green Monster and see if Tim and I could get into the seating area.  There is a staircase in the CF concourse that takes you up to the Green Monster.  You can walk out to the edge of the seating area, but they won’t let you out into the seats without a Monster ticket.   So Tim and I just stood around up there for a few minutes taking in the view before heading back down to the field level seats.

I had a thought in the back of my head that it would be neat to get a ball thrown up to us on the Green Monster.  Tim and I stood in the closest spot to the seats that you can get to without a Monster ticket:

8 - phillips from monster.JPG We stood in the spot under the red arrow where the guy in the red shirt is standing.  I noticed Jason Vargas and Jason Phillips standing together below in LCF.   (In the picture to the right, that is Jason Phillips after the two Jasons split up).

After a few minutes, someone hit a ball to Vargas.  I yelled down from the Mondster, “Hey, Vargas!!!!”  He heard me!  He looked up!  He turned around and he fired the ball to me. Unfortunately, it was too low and it clanked off a light and some bricks just below us — out of reach.

Jason Phillips stood and watched Vargas’s failed attempt.  And just then, someone hit him a ball.  “Hey, Jason!”  Phillips looked back up at me.  He turned around and he fired the ball to me.  A perfect strike.  It would have hit me directly in the chest.  It was a very impressive throw, and much appreciated.

“Thanks, Jason!”

Here is a picture that illustrates the flight of the ball:

At the time Phillips threw the ball, he was even a little bit — maybe 10-15 feet — closer toward LF.  He didn’t lob the ball up to me.  He fired it on a line, just like the arrow in this picture.  As I said, a very impressive throw.

Tim and I then went down to the CF bleachers and met up with my mom who was standing right where my Dad caught Griff’s ground rule double about 10 minutes earlier.

Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard were standing below us.  Felix runs all over the place trying to make high light reel catches during BP.  At one point, he caught one near us.  He looked up and made I contact with me (and Tim).  There was a lady from Seattle shouting at him standing directly next to me to my left.  Felix fired the ball up to us.  He threw it to our right side so the shouting lady wouldn’t interfere.  I could have caught it without moving at all — I just had to reach across my body and back hand it.  However, as I started to go for the backhand, I realize there was a 8’ish year old boy wearning a Red Sox jersey and a glove standing next to me.  If I didn’t catch the ball, he’d get it.  I decided to let me have it since we already had the ball from Jason Phillips and we got Felix’s warm up ball the day before.

Soon thereafter, someone hit a ball into the OF corner by the end of the Red Sox bullpen.  Here was the scene:

9 - bedard ball.JPG

We were standing in the red circle.  Erik Bedard was standing at the red “X”.  There was a rope running along the warning track.  (I think it was to keep people involved in the pre-game ceremonies off of the grass).  The rope went down the warning track and around a big door in the outfield wall.  The ball went in the corner behind the rope as shown above.

Bedard turned around and walked over and grabbed the ball.  A whole bunch of people including a bunch of 10’ish year old kids, were standing by the bullpen directly above the ball.  I figured Bedard would grab it and flip it up to them.  While those people all yelled at Bedard for the ball, Erik picked it up and looked at them.  He then walked as slowly as humanly possible back over to the yellow “X” in the picture above.  Then he looked up and made eye contact with me (and Tim), and fired the ball to us.  I had the feeling that Bedard had watched Felix throw us the ball when I let the kid catch it and he was trying to finish what Felix had started.  The yelling lady was still next to me.  Like Felix, Bedard threw the ball to my right so she wouldn’t get it.

 Next, it was time to walk around.  We checked out the RF corner and the Pesky Pole:

9a - pesky pole.JPG

As RF corners go, this is one of the most interesting in baseball.  Not very “corner-ish.”  More like a RF curve.

We walked up through the old wooden grandstand seats:

 
10 - grandstand seats 1B line.JPG

We headed out to Yawkey Way and watched Tom Caron from NESN interview comedian Mike O’Malley:

11 - nesn tom caron and mike omalley.JPG

Sean Casey was walking around the NESN set.  I walked over to get a picture of him (or possibly with him), but he vanished into thin air.

It was getting close to game time, so we walked back into the stadium and went through the busy concourse behind home plate:

12 - concourse home to third.JPG

When we were down here, we got Tim a chocolate ice cream helmet and headed toward our seats in the grandstand behind home plate:

16 - overflowing ice cream helmet.JPG

The seats were great.  Here was our view:

13 - fenway 22-15-18 panramic.jpg

The red arrow points to where Tim and I were standing when Griffey hit his single off of the Green Monster.

We watched te pre-game festivities such as the reading of the Fenway Park Code of Conduct…

14 - fenway code of conduct.JPG

…the carrying of the pink backpack to the Mariners bullpen by Christ Jakubauskas…

15 - Jak-n-backpack.JPG

…the third ceremonial first pitch by Marky Mark Wahlberg (and his re-do third ceremonial first pitch due to his first third ceremonial first pitch sailing high over the catcher to the backstop):

17 - Marky Mark Pitches the Funky Stuff.JPG

Finally, it was game time.  As always, future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki led off for the Mariners:

18 - lester-to-ichi with floating ball and pedroia.JPG

I like this picture for two reasons — (i) the ball is captured right above the plate (but low, it was called a ball) and (ii) Dustin Pedroia is, for some reason, floating in the air at second base (click on the picture to see it larger, Pedroia is totally off of the ground).

I got some more Red Sox pictures:

19 - youk-n-papi.JPG

I wanted to get a shot of Big Papi clapping his hands before stepping into the box but I missed it.  He hit the next pitch into the RF bleachers, the second Red Sox home run in the first inning.

By the time Griff was up for a second time, we were touring around in the grandstand out beyond the Pesky Pole.  He walked.  Here he is leading off first base:

20 - griffs on first.JPG

We went out to the concourse in the RF corner and took this picture showing the Red Sox World Series and other banners:

25 - fenway banners panaramic.jpg

FYI, see the guy wearing the red shirt above the blue 1967 banner in the middle of the picture?  He is standing in the walkway behind the grandstand seats where Tim and I spent a lot of time over the course of the weekend.

The red arrow in that last picture is pointing to this:

 
26 - the Green Monster.JPG

I’m guessing this guy is called the “Green Monster.”  We saw the real one of this guy running around on the field before each game, but we never saw him in the crowd.  This was the best we could do with respect to getting a mascot picture.

See the red arrow in that last picture?  It is pointing to a staircase that leads to the “Players Club.”  I’m not sure what the Players Club is all about.  It looked like it was for special events or people with special tickets.  But we headed in to check it out and no one seemed to mind.  Here is what it looked like:

21 - players club.jpg

…more players club…

22 - players club.jpg

…and we found something cool in the Players Club:

23 - 2004 2007 WS trophies.JPG

(From Left:  2004 World Series Trophy, Todd & Tim, 2007 World Series Trophy)

We walked out of the players club just in time to see this…

24 - Ellsbury homer.JPG

Through the break in the grandstand and bleachers, that is Jacoby Ellsbury hitting a home run to bring the score to 4-3 Mariners.

We met up with my folks and watched the game on a TV while we ate some food at the tables in the RF corner.  From our table, you could see the Players Club above the food stands:

27 - players club outside.JPG

While we sat here, the Mariners brought in Miguel Batista.  It was not Miguel’s day.  He gave up a bunch of runs and the Mariners eventually lost the game 8-4.

 Tim and I watched the last inning from our familiar RF corner by the Mariners bullpen.  We were hoping Griff would get one more at bat, but it wasn’t in the cards.  We settled for one more picture with the field before heading out:

28 - one last look.JPG

This game, we switched things up and exited the stadium from the RF exit so I could get a picture of this:

29 - ted williams.JPG
When my Dad was a kid, there was no baseball team in the state of Washington.  Ted Williams was his baseball hero.  This is what the plaque below Ted says:

9

Ted Williams

Boston Red Sox

The greatest hitter who ever lived, an American patriot, and a pioneer in the development of the Jimmy Fund.   Ted Williams will forever be one of the great heroes in the history of baseball, Boston and America.  He amassed 521 home runs despite sacrificing five years in his prime to serve his country during World War II and the Korean War.  He was a relentless champion of children, such as this child to whom he is offering his cap, in their battle against cancer, and helped make the Jimmy Fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute the world renowned center of research and care that it is today.

The memory of Ted Williams will forever be a point of pride for the Boston Red Sox, the people of Boston, New England, and the United States of America.

We took one more picture outside:

30 - goodbye fenway.JPG
“Good bye, Fenway!”

With that, we started our walk back to the hotel…
 

31 - hit the road.JPG
…so we could start our drive back home.

For so many reasons, it was such an awesome weekend shared with Tim and my folks.

32 - weekend recap.JPG
 

Season Fan Stats:


fenway ticket.jpg18 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
13 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
14 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (2), Red Sox (3) and Yankees)
17 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire) 
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
 
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry) 
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
 
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)

Start Spreading The News: Mariners Beat Yankees in the Bronx (7/2/09)

So I am behind in my entries because my folks, Tim and I are in the midst of an EXTREMELY AWESOME Fourth-of-July-Mariners-Rampage-on-the-A.L.-East-Leaders-Weekend Roadtrip.  Right now, Tim is crashed out from another super-sweet Mariners victory at Fenway Park.  So I guess it is time to use Tim’s pre-fireworks nap to begin my entry for our July 2, 2009 game at the new Yankee Stadium.

After the M’s schedule came out for this season, I noticed the M’s would be in Boston over the 4th of July weekend.  So I asked my recently retired parents, Jim and Marilyn, if they wanted to meet up with me and Tim for some road M’s games.  Then we realized that the day before the Boston series the M’s would be in the Bronx.  So we incorporated this game into our trip.

My good friend from college, Davlynn, used to live at 84th & Amsterdam, so I always park there whenever I go to NYC.  So that’s what we did.  And we took the B and the D train up to the Stadium.  The people on the subway were very nice.  We were going the wrong way and several people pointed us in the right direction when they noticed we were wearing Mariners gear but heading the wrong way.

Once we arrived at 161st Street, this is what we saw:

1- bronx outside panaramic.jpg

Tim was a bit disoriented from just waking up from a nap.  So he didn’t want his picture outside the stadium.  But we got some a shot of me and my dad, and one of my folks:

2a - outside with folks.JPG

Tim was pretty helpful, however, finding the tickets in my mom’s purse:

2 - finding tickets.JPG

Once found, we entered the stadium through Gate 6:

3 - into stadium.JPG

The “Great Hall” is pretty Great.  Its some pretty cool architecture.  But it doesn’t look like a baseball stadium.  More like a really cool train station — like 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.

Here is our first view of the field:

4- bronx 1st view panaramic.jpg

We went early for Mariners BP (and a few minutes of Yankees BP) so we had the *great honor* of visiting the exclusive field level of Yankee Stadium:

5 - field level.JPG

In the first picture, Tim is stuffing his face with a hot dog and pretzel.  It really hit the stop and made it so he could start enjoying his Bronx experience.  In the middle, my pa and I pose with the field before heading off to make our best efforts and snagging a BP homerun.  On the right, I wanted to show you my silly Washington Nationals string backpack.  I learned the hard way last season at the Yankees don’t allow real back packs.  So, luckily, at the May 17th Phillies/Nationals game in D.C., the Nationals gave Tim this string backpack that we used at this game.

While the Yankees were still hitting, I went behind home plate to take a panaramic:

 

9 - bronx field home panaramic.jpg

…and we saw Freddy Sez…who had a less than prophetic message on this sign:

 

8 - freddy sez.JPG

Later, we jinxed the Yankees by having Tim — a true blue Mariners fan — ding Freddy’s pan — TAKE THAT YANKEES!

I watched the M’s prepare for BP:

 

10 - Griff Felix BP.JPG

You can’t tell in this picture, but King Felix was swinging a bat behind the cage.  I noticed that it was Ronny Cedeno’s bat.  Griff, on the other hand, was swinging a Ken Griffey, Jr. bat.

Griff and Ichi were in the first group of M’s hitters and they practiced their bunting:

 

10a - ichi to griff.JPGA few minutes later, we were banished from the field level.  We made our way to the less exclusive bleachers where my dad became the first Cook to snag a ball at Yankee Stadium.  It was Mariners BP homerun.  It bounced into the field level seats and my pappy reached out and grabbed it before it could fall back down to the field level seats.  Here he is with his bounty:

6 - pa 1st bronx ball.jpg

Then my dad and Tim posed for a picture in the bleachers:

7 - tim and pa.JPG

Tim asked my mom if she’d take a picture of him with his water bottle on his head.  And she’s a grandma, so she said yes:

8 - waterhead.JPG

 Soon, BP was finished and it was time to explore the stadium.  We started by climbing the stairs in RF to the highest spot in RF where I took this picture:

11 - 4-train.JPG

That’s the number 4 train speeding by the outfield wall — which it did all night long.  Tim loves trains.  So it was cool to have one zooming by every couple of minutes.  Our seats were in the third to last row right on the aisle under the big ball on the AT&T sign — and they cost me only $5/ticket.

While up there, I zoomed in on the new Monument Park…

12 - monument park.jpg

…and this picture of Carsten Charles Sabbathia — who looked almost as big as Monument Park:

 

13 - sabbathia warms.jpgThen we headed to the highest point behind home plate where I took these pictures:

15 - bronx home upper panaramic.jpg

While Tim hung out with Grandpa, I got this picture with my mom:

16 - upper deck with mom.JPG

And then we got a family picture (except for me wife who is home watching the puppy and relaxing):

17 - folks and TJCs.JPG

Then we went to the highest spot in LF.  I took this picture showing the bleachers and the bullpens, etc.:

18 - bleachers from upper deck.JPG

Then we headed to our seats.  Here is Tim standing on the row in front of our seats.  Check it out, traditional “bleachers” with no seat backs:

19 - Tim in 238-22-2.JPG

By the way, for anyone interest in it, this picture was taking from Section 238, Row 22, Seat 2.  From that spot, we watched Jason Vargas warm-up for the game:

21 - vargas warms.jpg

From our seats, this is what you see if you look behind you over your right shoulder:

20 - retired numbers.JPG

Here is what they mean:  4 – Lou Gehrig; 3 – Babe Ruth; 5 – Joe DiMaggio, 7 – Mickey Mantle, 37 – Casey Stengel; 8 – Yogi Berra & Bill Dickey (retired together in 1972); 16 – Whitey Ford; 15 – Thurmon Munson; 32 – Elston Howard; 9 – Roger Maris; 10 – Phil Rizzuto; 1 – Billy Martin; 44 – Reggie Jackson; 23 – Don Mattingly; 49 – Ron Guidry; and 42 – Jackie Robinson (in Dodger Blue instead of Yankee blue).

 My main gripe with new Yankee Stadium is that it is sorta like a museum with tons of armed guards stationed everywhere to keep the museum safe from the riff-raff that trudge through it.  There were armed police officers all over the place.  Tons and tons of them.  And one of the main goals of the place seems to be to keep the low paying customers out of the way of the high paying customers.  However, I was very happy to learn that they don’t really care what you do in the concourse (other than carry your son on your shoulders).  Specifically, in the outfield concourse directly on the back side of the retired numbers no one cared if Tim and I played catch.  We didn’t just throw one or two balls.  We full-on played catched for several innings at a time twice.  Here we are having a lot of fun (and I could even see Ichiro score the first run of the game from here):

 
22 - playing catch.jpg

After our first catching session, Tim got an ice cream helmet for $6.50:

23 - bronx ice cream helmet.JPG

Hey, have you heard at all about some seats having an obstructed view in CF in Yankee Stadium?  The rumors are true — how in the world did they failed to plan around this?

24 - obstructed view.JPG
Don’t worry.  If you sit in these seats, its I’m sure nothing will happen in RF or 1B — and if it does, I’m sure you’ll be able to see all the action by looking at the side of those flat screen TVs.

Eventually, my dad wanted to see the team store so we went exploring.  Here is a panaramic from the second deck in LF foul territory:

26 - bronx LF foul concourse panaramic.jpg

Here is the main entrance to the Yankees front office:

27 - Yankees Offices.JPG

They do have standing room in the open air concourse behind the field level where anyone can stand and watch the action.  Here is a shot of Kenji Johima getting drilled by a pitch:

29 - hitting kenji.JPG

Here is another shot of the Great Hall — this time at night with the readboards lit up in blut lights:

30 - great hall blue.JPG

When we got back to our seats, it seemed like some of the crowd had left.  We were able to get some seats down in the first row above the Mariners bullpen.

 

31d - watching the M's win.JPG

Notice the armed guard right next to us.

We watched David Aardsma warm up:

31 - david aardsma.JPG

The M’s bullpen is a colorful group of guys.  They have a bunch of traditions that help them build a sense of family in the pen.  One is a pink backpack that rookie reliever Chris Jakubauskas carries everywhere.  Another is a bunch of warrior helmets the releivers take with them:

31a - helmets.JPG

Here is 30-year-old rookie Jakubauskas sitting with one of the helmets:

31b - jak and helmet.JPG

Jak and M’s bullpen catcher, Jason Phillips — a heck of a good guy as I’ve come to learn — were having a great time in the bullpen.  A bunch of Yankees fans were playfully heckling them and they were playing right along.  Eventually, Jason Phillips rewarded me with a ball after I called out his name:

31c - TJCs first ball.JPG

After Phillips threw us the ball (the second ball he’s thrown us this season), I got an idea.  The M’s tote around all sorts of odd things in their pink backpack.  I thought I’d try to give them something to add to the mix.  I’ve had an A-Rod Mariners photo ball sitting around the house for years that I just can’t stand.  I thought it might find a happier home in the pink backpack.  So I wrote a message on it:

32 - A-Rod ball.JPG

After Aardsma shut the Yankees down for the Mariners win, I tried to get Phillips’ attention again.  I think I may be one of the only people who knows his name while at a Mariners game.  So he has responded well to me calling his name.  I yelled out again and showed him the ball and said I wanted to throw it to him.  He yelled something that looked agreeable, but then he walked out of sight.  He came back a minute or two later and waved a ball at me and yelled, “Its autographed already” and he threw it up to me.  I thanked him for it but yelled back, “Thanks.  But I want you to have *this ball*.”  I threw it down to him.  My mom yelled, “Read it!”

Phillips picked it up and read it.  He gave me a big smile and a thumbs up and walked out of sight.  By golly, I think it worked!  (Stay tuned for future entries to see if it really worked!)

Interestingly, the autographed ball made it two balls from Phillips in about 10 minutes.  Here they are with one of our tickets and Tim’s ice cream helmet:

35 - helmet balls and ticket.JPG

After the game, we posed for pictures.  Here are my folks:

33 - folks after m's win.JPG

Tim was too tired for our picture.  The game ended at 11 o’clock due in part to a 30 minute “rain delay” despite absolultely no rain and the field ever being covered.

Here is Tim a few minutes later in the subway:

34 - lights out on subway.JPG

Now, its off to Boston!

Season Fan Stats:

15 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
6 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium)
13 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
11 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (2), and Yankees)
11 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Umpire)
3 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, NL East, NL West)
 
2 Autographs (Ryan Perry, Jason Phillips)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)
 
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))

Griffey In A Mariners Uniform at Camden Yards (6/10/09)

Before Wednesday night, I had taken Tim to see Ken Griffey, Jr. play 10 times — 5 times for the Mariners, 4 for the Reds and 1 for the White Sox.  Griff played in only two of those games.  Only once as a Mariner.  That game was, oddly, minor league turn back the clock day.  So, prior to Wednesday night, Tim had seen Griff play one game wearing a White Sox uniform and one game wearing a Seattle Rainiers uniform.

Thus, the mission on this night:  see Griff play baseball wearing a Seattle Mariners uniform for the first time in Tim’s life.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!

10 griff on deck.jpg

Much more on Griff later.

We started off the day by purchasing the cheapest seats in the house — right field upper deck — at the CF ticket office.  We entered the stadium and headed into Section 90 — straight away CF.  Tim was sitting on my shoulders and as we entered the seats we were greeted by the beautiful sight of a field full of Mariners taking batting practice and shagging balls.

Within a minute of entering the seats, I heard someone calling out, “Hey, Hey, Hey.”  I looked to the right and saw a cop standing down in the grass below the batters’ eye:

4 felix and ivy.jpg

This picture of Felix Herdanez warming up in front of the CF Ivy is out of order, but it illustrates the situation.  (By the way, isn’t the ivy nice looking for the batters’ eye?)

We were standing in the seats essentially where the guy holding the little kid is standing (above the double doors).  I looked down at the cop yelling up at me and I though to myself:  “Oh, man, he’s about to tell me to take Tim off of my shoulders.”

I was very wrong.  Instead of reprimanding me for toting Tim on my shoulders, the good officer rewarded us with a baseball — a ball I like to think was hit into that grass area as a Mariners BP homerun — most likely a mammoth blast by none other than Mr. Ken Griffey, Jr. (of course that is just wishful speculation…but a guy is entitled to some wishful speculation from time-to-time).  Anyway, I will take a baseball over a reprimand any day.

So, after thanking the officer, it was back to watching our Mariners warm up.  Its amazing how many Mariners games I watch and yet how many Mariners look totally unrecognizable while wearing a jersey-hiding pull-over.  The 3 guys in CF were totally unrecognizable.  They must have been recent call-ups.  One of them looked like he was 10 years old.

Off toward left CF was base coach Lee Tinsley with a guy who looked a lot like Felix Hernandez, but clearly was not Felix.  In my post-game research, I’m pretty confident that it was new call-up Guillermo Quiroz.  Anyway, he caught a ball in deep left CF.  He had run in our direction to field the ball so it was natural to look toward us before turning to throw the ball in to the bucket.  As Quiroz looked up, I flashed my glove and he spotted us.  He was about 100 feet away or so.  But he motioned to me.  He was clearly getting ready to throw us the ball.  But then he motions “down, down.”  I’m clueless.  He yells, “down, down.”  I interpret this to mean, “Go down to the first row so the throw is easier.”

quiroz.jpgWe walk down to the front row.  Quiroz is walking toward us slowly, but is still at least 50 feet away.  He points at Tim and says, “Put him down.”  Wow — I’m getting reprimanded by a new Mariner!  How could it be?  Anyway, I put Tim down and he throws me the ball.  He then yells, “I didn’t want to hit your boy.”  Well, that’s not a reprimand at all.  That’s just plain thoughtful.  Looks like Quiroz is a keeper.

We watched a bit more batting practice, but Tim kept asking for ice cream.  He explained, “they’re playing baseball.  Its time for ice cream.”  I explained that they were just practicing and we would get ice cream once the game started.

 To tide Tim over, we decided to go to the kids’ play area.  Tim played on the play set.  He passed up on the bouncy house.  But he gave the speed pitch a try for the first time:

1 tim speed pitch.jpg I think Tim lit up triple digits on the gun.

Next, we headed back into the stadium and saw Jaime Burke stretching down the 3B line:

2 jamie burke tim.jpg

Tim yelled, “Hi, Jamie!”  Burke turned around and gave Tim a wave, which was nice because every time Tim waves or says hi to a player at a game he ends up asking me, “Can baseball players not hear me?”

I told Burke it was nice to have him back up with the big club.  He thanked me.

We watched Burke warm up Felix Hernandez, first in the outfield grass and then in the bullpen:

3 felix and phillips.jpg

Felix looked sharp in the bullpen.  I was excited to see him pitch tonight.  See the guy in the middle picture in the pull-over jacket?  That is Jason Phillips the Mariners bullpen catcher.  We watched Felix warm up from the seats just behind and to the left of Jamie Burke.  Phillips (and at time pitching coach Rick Adair) stood to the right of Burke and watched Felix.

Eventually, Phillips passes in front of Burke and starts walking toward the bullpen bench.  He stops in that little corner and starts digging around in that equipment bag behind the chairs.  He dug around in there for about 10-15 seconds.  Finally, he pulls out a baseball.  He turns around and walks a couple feet toward us and threw it to us.  Tim immediately told the guy next to us, “We got a baseball!”  And then he yelled “thank you” to Phillips.

WOW – three balls with very little effort.

 

32 three balls ties record.jpgIt tied my personal single game record set at a Mariners game at Fenway Park in 2003 when, without moving from the same spot, Mike Cameron, Rafael Soriano and Joel Piniero threw me balls during BP.

There would be no record breaking fourth baseball.

It was game time.  With Tim on my shoulders, we headed toward the Mariners dugout just in time for the national anthem:

5 oh say you see.jpg

After the anthem, we looked around.  No ushers in sight.  Four empty seats in the first row of the dugout, right on the aisle.  Why not stay a while?  Sure thing.

Mariners photo session ensures:

Ichiro bats:

6 ichi ball.jpg

…Ichi popped out…

7 ichi popped out.jpg

…its okay, later he would blast a double high off of the CF wall.

Jason Vargas and Rob Johnson had a view of the game very similar to ours:

8 game watchers.jpg

Vargas is impressing me so far.  I’m hoping he keeps it up.

Vargas’s and Johnsons’s view of Russell Branyan probably looked a lot like this:

9 branyan.jpg

All this time, Tim hadn’t forgot about his ice cream.  Despite the excellent seats, he wanted ice cream bad.  I promised we’d go get ice cream right after Griff hit.  I didn’t want us to miss this great view for Tim’s first time seeing Griff hit in a Mariners uniform.

The guy behind us offered to take out picture.  But Tim put on his fussy “I need ice cream” face:

11 fuss for ice cream.jpg

Since the M’s went 1-2-3 in the first, we got a chance to see King Felix up close in the bottom of the first before going to get Tim’s ice cream:

12 walking to work.jpg

Mr. Gold Glove, Adrian Beltre, was there too:

13 patroling 3B.jpg

While Felix looked in for the signs, Russell Branyan dried off his glove hand:

14 M's ace.jpg

And just like that, IT WAS TIME — GRIFFEY TIME:

15 Griff at the plate.jpg

Look at this beautiful swing:

16 power stroke foul.jpg

Folks, that swing is one of two things — a 450 foot home run or a foul straight back.  Unfortrunately, this one was the latter.  He missed it by a millimeter.

Here is a shot of Tim watching Griff and Ichiro bat:

17 tim griff and ichi.jpg

Right after Griff popped out, we headed up the ailse with our sights set on ice cream (sadly, with no ice cream helmet).  By the time we reached the top of the section, we had turned back to the field to watch Jose Lopez go deep for this first of two HRs on the day:

18 Lopez bomb no. 1.jpg

With a 1-0 lead in hand, Tim and I bought some chocolate ice cream and headed toward the RF corner.  En route to grabbing some “ice cream seats” (def. seats found exclusively for the purpose of Tim eating his ice cream), for the second game in a row, we ran into MLBlogger Zack Hample wearing a hot pink “real men wear pink shirt.”  We shared a few words with Zack before grabbing our ice cream seats.  Tim can be seen in the last picture in Zack’s entry for this game — click here.

Tim was ready to dig into that ice cream!

20 ice cream no helmet.jpg

We had a great view of Ichiro from these seats:

19 Ichi in RF.jpg

As Tim ate his ice cream, a familiar face (and shirt) walked by in the cross ailse behind us.  It was The Happy Youngster (a/k/a Nick), of homerun catching fame.  Some kind patron took an extremely blurry and generally weird picture of me, Brew Town’s Happy Youngster, and my own happy youngster:

20a Happy Youngster.jpg

Check out Tim multitasking, posing for a picture while still holding his ice cream spoon in his hand.  Nick gave us a shout out (and some very kind words) on his entry for this game — click here.

The rest of the night, I was really hoping a Mariner would hit a HR to right field so I could see Zack and Nick battle for the HR.  Here they are in home run territory in a photo I like to call “Dueling Ballhawks”:

28 dueling ballhawks.jpgBack to the real game, here are Ichiro and Griff batting from our ice cream seats view:

22 Griff and Ichi.jpg Ichiro hit a double off the CF wall in this at bat.  I believe that Griff popped out to third.

You know that big warehouse in RF?  You know how many people have hit a ball off of the warehouse in the history of Camden Yards?  Its no secret.  One man:

21 Griff in dugout on board.jpg

In this picture, Griff is laughing and seems somewhat embarrassed because they just showed a video about him hitting the warehouse and it said something like “Legends of Camden Yards”….or something like that.

After Tim finished his ice cream, we headed out to Tim’s favorite spot at Camden Yards – the flag pavillion.  I fake pitched about 100 balls to Tim and he fake ran the bases (circled the flags) about 100 times.  For most of my fake pitches, I had to chase Tim and try to fake tag him out before he scored at fake home plate.  This is Tim’s set Camden Yards routine.  His home plate is always the same.  This is hit thing at Camden Yards.  He loves it.  He ran a ridiculous amount.  I ran a ridiculous amount.  But it was fun.

And Tim was a big hit with the ushers, fans and the beer lady in the corner of the pavillion.  Two fans gave Tim little stuffed Chik Fillet cows.  The beer lady told me how wonderful Tim was over and over again before she gave him a whole bunch of Orioles baseball cards — she apologized that she didn’t have any Mariners cards.

Well, guess what, one of the ushers did.  Check out the Bone:

25 bone visits camden.jpgThe final game I saw Jay Buhner play was actually at Camden Yards.  So it was nice to see Bone at Camden Yards once again, even if only in the form of a baseball card.

In addition to running the fake bases in the flag pavillion, Tim played a lot of fake catch in the pavillion as well:

23 tim patrols the flag pavillion.jpgMostly Tim played fake catch with Nick, including some fake fly ball shagging.  Nick very kindly played along with Timmers.

 Hey, here’s a picture we haven’t got yet this season, the obligatory Eutaw Street / Warehouse picture:

24 TJCs on Eutaw.jpg

Down the RF line in foul territory, there is a section of seating above the main cross aisle  that is turned toward the field.  That section is right behind our ice cream seats.  The section was 95% empty.  Tim explored it at length.  He ran up and down most of the aisles.  He chatted with most of the people in the section.  He is a picture of Tim at the top of that section.  He was yelling “HI GUYS!!” down to people on Eutaw Street and waving like crazy.

26 hi fans.jpg

And here is a panoramic view looking toward the field from the same spot:

27 camden RF foul panoramic.jpg

In the 8th and 9th innings, we went back and sat in the second row behind the Mariners dugout.  It was a good spot to witness a big Mariners Win!

29 mariners win.jpg

With two HRs on the night, the big hero was Jose Lopez who was interviewed in the dugout after the rest of the team cleared out:

30 lopez interviewed.jpg

As we were getting ready to head for the car, I noticed that Mariners trainer Rick Griffin was standing by the screen behind home plate with two very familiar looking bats.  He let me get a close peak and a photo:

31 swingman.jpg

Thanks, Rick!

This was  truly excellent night in Baltimore.  We finally got to see Griff play, which was awesome.  Ichiro had a lazer double.  Lopez two HRs.  Felix was dominant.  And Tim had a blast running around the park.

Its always a great time when you go to Camden Yards, but its even better the 3-4 days each season when our Mariners are in town.

Next up, I think, the Reading Phillies!

Season Fan Stats:

13 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
5 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
12 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
10 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals (2))
8 Baseballs (5 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, NL East, AL West)

1 Player Autograph (Ryan Perry)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)
 
7,735 Miles driven/flown to games (season)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))