After much internal debate about where to go and what to do, we eventually decided to head to Nationals Park on July 7, 2012, to see the Rockies take on the Nationals. I had originally planned to take the boys to Cleveland with my buddy Greg. But it ended up looking like that plan couldn’t happen. Then Garrett Meyer gave a tip about how to get some free tickets to a Nationals game, so I picked this game so we could see Jamie Moyer. Unfortunately, the Rockies designated Moyer for assignment long before this game happened and he is now toiling away in the Minor Leagues for the Blue Jays.
But, anyway, we had free tickets to the Rockies vs. Nationals. And since he had originally planned to join us this weekend in Cleveland, our buddy Greg decided to join us in DC.
I was confused about what would be happening before this game. It was listed as “photo day” on the Nationals’ promotional schedule. It explained that the stadium would open 3.5 hours early (12:30 p.m.) and fans could go on the warning track in the outfield to get pictures with the Nationals between 1:30 and 2:45. The game wasn’t scheduled to start until 4:05 so I was confused if BP was going to take place during the photo day festivities. I asked Jeremy Guthrie about it on twitter, and he mentioned that BP was scheduled to take place on the field but he wasn’t sure how it would really play out.
When we arrived at the ballpark at 1:00 p.m., there were already some fans on the field. The field was not set up for BP and I was thinking, “Wow, 2:45 to 4:05 is a long time between the end of photo day and beginning of the game if there is no BP!”
Wouldn’t you know, Jeremy Guthrie was standing in shallow LF right where we entered the field. I called out to him and asked if they were going to take BP.
Oh, well. What can you do? Make the best if it!
Guthrie was standing there with a baseball waiting for his partner to come play catch. I told him that I’d play catch with him since he didn’t have a partner.
“Sure, I’ll play catch with you was his response.” Greg snapped this picture…
…on his phone while Guthrie and I played catch until his partner arrived on the scene. It didn’t last very long. But it was my first time playing catch with a Major Leaguer and it was pretty darn cool.
By the way, Jeremy’s last throw to me was a pretty decent knuckleball. I told him the best I could do was a pretty weak split-finger gripped knuckleball. I let it fly and Guthrie got a good chuckle at my attempted knuckler.
After playing catch with Guthrie, I got a picture of Greg and the boys on the warning track:
I was hoping that Guthrie would toss us the baseball we played catch with after he finished throwing with his partner. But he ended up playing catch with two different kids at the same time (using two different baseballs) and gave both baseballs to the kids. But we did get a nice consolation prize, a picture with Guthrie:
I think that picture turned out to be pretty hilarious for a couple reasons. First, Kellan has his back to the camera and Greg is starting to walk into the picture to get Kellan to turn around. I take so many pictures that I don’t strive for perfection. Kellan often times doesn’t look at the camera and I don’t really like to waste a Major Leaguer’s time trying to get Kellan to turn around if he doesn’t do it on his own. Second, Tim is looking off camera at a girl who tried to get into our picture. It was pretty funny. Guthrie was clearly trying to get a picture with us, but this gal walked right up and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Guthrie. When she turned and looked at a guy holding a camera, Guthrie politely explained that he would get a picture with her after he posed for our picture. So she walked away, but Tim was still looking at her when I snapped the picture. So sometimes a less perfect picture tells a better story and helps us remember exactly what was happening when we took the picture.
I should mention that Mateo Fischer met up with us when we were watching Guthrie warm up.
After getting the picture with Guthrie, we all decided to head out into the outfield. We stopped at the LF foul pole and got a picture of Tim and Greg with the “336” signs:
Greg took a picture of me and the boys in front of the visitors’ bullpen in LF:
For good measure, I got a picture of Greg leaning against the wall by the “377” sign as Kellan wandered off toward CF:
We all caught up to Kellan and I got this picture of our little group:
Have you noticed in all of these pictures that Tim is holding a bright yellow squirt bottle? He’s holding the squirt bottle because it was supposed to be (and was) 100+ degrees at this game. I generally do not acknowledge or pay any attention to the weather, at least to future weather. So when my wife kept mentioning during the week that it was supposed to be really hot at this game, I didn’t pay it much mind. But the night before the game, we went to the store and bought Tim a squirt bottle to help us all keep cool.
We weren’t the only ones prepared with a water squirter. As we walked by the opening in the CF wall where they store the batting cage and other stuff, an usher-type-guy told us there was a cooling station back there through the opening in the wall.
We were all for exploring this uncharted territory at Nationals Park. So we headed into the store area…
…and found a some spare grass for replacing damaged grass on the field, a big pile of extra warning track dirt, a garage full of various types of equipment, and a couple fans blowing water on us fans:
Oh, yeah. We also found a random brick behind the LF wall that the “Carolina Green Corp” built Nationals Park in 2007.
We ended up spending a lot of time in this shady area. We kept coming back again-and-again to hide in the shade and take advantage of the mist-blowing fans.
But after our first visit to the cooling station, we continued on our way toward the RF foul pole. The RF wall at Nationals Park features a large out of town scoreboard that we got to check out up-close-and-personal:
The Mariners’ position in the A.L. West cellar meant they were low enough on the wall that we could get our picture with our team:
I’ve noticed if I take two consecutive pictures, often times, Tim will look at the camera in one and Kellan will look at the camera in the other. Here is a great example of the this phenomenon by the Nationals’ bullpen:
After we made it to the RF foul line, we headed up into the seats. We found a shady spot in the second-to-last row where Tim could unload his water squirter in Greg’s face…
…and we could do some in-stadium birding.
When we made it up into the stands, the Nationals really started circling the ballpark in earnest. Two players would come out at a time and begin a big lap around. Mateo ran back down to the field before the rest of us. We watched on from above as love-him-or-hate-him rookie, Bryce Harper…
…made his way down the RF foul line sporting a clown shirt. Oh, by the way, now-a-days everyone who is originally elected to the all-star game bags out on it on some feigned injury or whatnot and is then replaced by a far less deserving player. On this date, Bryce Harper (and his 62-games of MLB experience) was named to the NL All-Star team.
After cooling off in the shady seats for a while, we headed back down to the field. We all headed out to CF and split time between the cooling station and the warning track.
Tim shook hands with and even got to spray several big leaguers in the face. Here he is with Craig Stammen, Jordan Zimmerman and Ross Detwiler:
BTW, credit for identifying all of these Nationals (none of whom looked the slightest bit familiar to me) goes to Mateo. Thanks!
Here is a guy I did recognize, Mr. Too-Cool-For-School (And-The-Fans), Jayson Werth:
Notice the large padding he kept of empty grass between himself and the fans. In that picture to the left, he was saying something to Tim along the lines of, “Oh, no thanks, spray yourself!”
A few Nats were standoffish like Werth, but most were very cool. Here are a couple more of the cool variety – Henry Rodriguez, Rick Ankiel and Adam LaRoche:
Ankiel was one of the few I recognized and the only one with whom I shook hands. LaRoche received a multiple-squirt facial attack from Tim. I should note that Tim only squirted the players who specifically asked to be squirted. I think there were four such players in total.
After a while I pointed out the indoor restaurant at the Red Porch to Greg and said, “Do you want to go in there and see if they have air conditioning going? He pounced at the suggestion so we started heading over to the LF line to exit the field.
On our way, we met Terrance…
…who I personally believe is the No. 1 hype-guy in all of MLB. I’ve seen Terrance working at Nationals games for years and the dude goes all full-force in and all-out attempt to rally the troops.
After this picture, he turned to Tim and asked, “IS YOUR NATITUDE IGNITED!”
Tim, showing an utter lack of Natitude, was like, “Whaaaat?”
And then Terrance noted that Tim most be too full of Marinertude to ignite any Natittude. It was a keen observation.
Once we reached the concourse I noticed something that was just calling out for a picture:
Tim is acting like the Nats pig is a sweaty Nats player and his cooling him off with a blast of water to the eyes.
On our way to the Red Porch, Greg stopped to buy some food. Mateo, the boys and I went ahead and found that the Red Porch restaurant was packed to the rafters. There was no chance to get inside. But there were a bunch of couches behind the restaurant that were all in the shade. So we grabbed one…
…and waited for Greg.
Once Greg arrived, I put him in charge of the boys (including, to Tim’s great delight, Mateo), and headed off to grab some nachos. But a funny thing happened on the way to get our food. All of the fans were off the field by this point, and I noticed that a couple Rockies pitchers were coming out to warm up down the LF line.
We had been inside the ballpark for about two hours and had zero baseballs to show for it. Kellan has NEVER been to a game without getting at least one baseball and I really wanted to keep that streak alive for him (btw, this was his 22nd game of his life). Instead of going to get the food, I headed back to the Red Porch and without saying a word to anyone (wink, wink…Mateo), I grabbed my backpack and Kellan and headed back to the LF line.
Three groups of Rockies pictures were playing catch and Drew Pomeranz was signing autographs at the corner spot. Kellan and I walked down by Pomeranz but stayed about 10 feet from the group of autograph seekers.
When he finished signing and started walking off, I called out, “Hey, Drew.” He hadn’t even started to warm up yet and he clearly thought I was going to ask for one more autograph. Instead I asked him, “Hey, when you finish warming up, is there any chance you could toss your warm up ball over for this little guy?” Pomeranz responded with a non-committal but encouraging-toned, “Possibly.” He then ran over to the bullpen and started doing arm exercises with some stretchy bands.
Meanwhile, the first group of Rockies pitchers finished playing catch. Rex Brothers was on the CF side of the pair and he ended up holding the ball. He spotted us in the first row behind his partner (Josh Roenicke) and tossed the ball right to us.
Kellan and I immediately bolted of the there and headed for the nacho stand. On the way, I snapped this picture…
…and texted it to Mateo.
When Kellan and I reached the couches at the Red Porch, I was not surprised at all to find that Mateo was long gone. Greg reported that he high-tailed it out of there the second he received my text.
Let me tell you, those nachos were delicious:
We had a great time eating, high fiving and squirting water all around in the shade.
But when we finished our nachos, we were all running low on water. We had 3-4 20 ounce water bottles and we must have filled each of them up 10-15 times throughout the day. We were constantly drinking water or having me pour it all over the boys’ heads. Anyway, with our water running low, we decided to head back to the water fountain in the 3B-side concourse.
Tim and Greg walked straight to the water fountains. I told them that Kellan and I would meet up with them after cutting through the stands to see what was going on down on the field.
Wouldn’t you know, Mateo was down there watching the onlwith our water running low, we decided to head back to the water fountain in the 3B-side concourse.
Tim and Greg walked straight to the water fountains. I told them that Kellan and I would meet up with them after cutting through the stands to see what was going on down on the field.
Mateo was down there watching the only remaining Rockies pitcher playing catch. And wouldn’t you know, it was Drew Pomeranz and he was just about to finish his warm-ups. Like Brothers, Pomeranz was on the CF side of his partner. When he finished playing catch, he looked up, spotted us, and tossed us the baseball. Thereby turning his prior “possibly” into a “sure thing!” It all looked sort of like this:
Kellan and I again immediately took off for the concourse. Greg, who has never got a baseball at a game before (but hopefully will by the time this season is over!), was amazed when we showed up at the water fountain with a second baseball in hand.
As we finished topping off our water bottles, we spotted some Presidential looking fellas in the concourse. We headed over there and Tim and Greg got pictures with George Washington, Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt:
After 45 seconds in the sun with the Presidents, we headed back to the shade:
Eventually, Tim ran down to the front row to hang out with Mateo:
See the guy in the red Nationals jersey out in CF in that last picture. That was Nationals coach Jim Lett. I pointed him out to Greg and told him that Lett would most likely throw us a baseball by the time this game concluded.
Once the final Rockies pitcher left, we decided it was time to visit the air conditioned team store…
…it felt like pure heaven in there. We came back later for more.
It was game time. We had some great seats in section 135 down the 1B line. But it was way to sunny and hot in the seats. So we headed over to section 137 and hung out in the shady seats toward the back of the section. This was our view for the first several innings:
Immediately before the first inning started, Kellan and I walked over to the railing looking down into the Nationals bullpen. There was only one player in there and he grabbed some stuff…
…and headed out the big door way that you can see in the bottom right corner of that last picture. I think all of the Nats relieves were hiding out back there. Who knows. Maybe they were in the dugout and only planned to come out to the bullpen if needed in the game.
Anyway, there was only one guy left and it was the aforementioned Jim Lett. He was out in RF playing catch with right fielder (and former Mariner) Mike Morse. When he and Morse finished, Lett collected the LF-CF warm up ball (used by Bryce Harper and Tyler Moore), and then he tossed us one of those baseballs (not sure which warm up ball it was) as we stood right behind the RF foul pole.
The Nationals had 2012 All-Star Gio Gonzalez on the hill:
He pitched a very solid game.
My cellphone told me that it was mighty hot and was gonna stay that way all night:
Even though the boys really aren’t fans of the heat, they did great and had a lot of fun in the shade with the water squirter:
When Bryce Harper came to the plate in the bottom of the first, my camera and I were all set to see what all of the hype is about. Instead, the young phenom strike out looking on a pitch he clearly thought was a ball, hang there hanging his head for a good 5 seconds without moving, and then do a world class pouty, slouchy walk…
…back to the dugout. So, yeah, in our first Bryce Harper at bat, Harper demonstrated his youth much more than his All-Star caliber skills.
The first scoring of the game came in the bottom of the second inning when Ian Desmond hit a solo homerun to RF.
And we just kept having fun…
…playing and squirting water every which-a-way in the shady seats. In those last pictures, Kellan is smiling at laughing at Greg who was making faces and what-not to entertain Kellan.
Harper’s second at bat came in the bottom of the third inning and resulted in a groundout:
Greg bought a big all-you-can-eat popcorn. Tim requested a picture posing with “the smallest piece of popcorn” of all time:
Eventually, we decided to relocate to the 3B line, which was completely shaded. On our way, we stopped off once again at the air conditioned team store:
When we left the team store, we decided to head to the upper deck instead of going to the 3B side. Greg had been to Nationals Park once before, but had never visited the upper deck. I old him it featured a nice view of the Capitol building. And I wasn’t lying:
After Tim and Greg got a picture behind home plate…
…, we grabbed some ice cream and reported to the seats at the top of section 408:
On our walk up the section 408 stairs, I almost had an ugly spill. I was holding Kellan in my left arm, and his ice cream helmet in my right hand. As I ascended the stairs, I kicked the stair and tripped. Kellan’s ice cream helmet went flying. I started to fall and drop Kellan, but then I caught myself and Kellan on the way down. It wasn’t pretty and probably scared the pants off of Kellan. Luckily, the little guy escaped the incident unscathed.
Hopefully that is my last time I ever trip while holding one of my boys!
Anyway, I should mention that the Rockies scored a run in the top of the fourth inning to tie up the game at 1-1.
While Kellan enjoyed his ice cream helmet, Tim enjoyed his very first ICE CREAM GLOVE!
Check that thing out! I’ve never seen one of those before. It is a little left handed catcher’s glove designed to receive a generous portion of your favorite frozen refreshment. The only knock of I on the ice cream glove is that didn’t have a Nationals logo or anything to show that we got it at Nationals Park.
Despite the single run for the Rockies in the fourth, Gio Gonzalez was still pitching quite effectively:
Kellan had a whole lot of chocolate left on him after he finished his ice cream:
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Nats took control of the game thanks to some horrendous play by the Rockies. Danny Espinosa led off the inning with a double. Harper followed with a single on this swing:
Harper demonstrated some terrible baserunning. He tried to take second and should have been thrown out. Instead, he headed back to first. The Rockies should have thrown him out, but no one covered first. Although no error was given on the play, we’ll call that a mental error by the Rockies because they failed to take advantage of Harper’s bad baserunning.
Ryan Zimmerman followed Harper with an RBI single:
With Harper on first, new Rockies pitcher Josh Roenicke threw a pitch in the dirt. Zimmerman advanced to second on the play. He was going to make second easily. There was absolutely no way he was going to be thrown out. But when Zimmerman was about ten feet from second base, Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario made a horrible decision to throw to second. Rushing the throw, he air mailed the ball into CF allowing Harper to trot home for the second Nats run of the inning.
While all of this was happening, we were sitting maybe four rows from the top of the stadium. I told Greg that he would be able to see the Washington Monument if he went up to the top row. He headed up there and reported he couldn’t see it. I was like, “What? Are you blind? Its right over there…”
Oops…that’s a new building over there and it completely blocks what used to be a view of the Washington Monument. Too bad.
A few minute later, Ian Desmond grounded into a fielder’s choice:
With two outs and runners on 1B and 3B, Roenicke tried to pick Ian Desmond off of 1B. Instead, he tossed the ball into the 1B dugout. Zimmerman trotted home on the play with the third run of the inning.
That made the score 4-1 Nationals. That score would hold up for the rest of the game.
After the lengthy bottom of the sixth inning, we relocated to some shady seats down the 3B line, all the way out by the LF foul pole. Here was our view from the back of section 108:
We could see Terrance doing his thing in the first row:
The highlight of the rest of the game was this Bryce Harper ground out:
Or, wait…no, the highlight was hanging out with my boys (and Greg)…
…and continuing to douse them with bottle after bottle of water from the trusty water fountain.
In the top of the ninth, the “Giambino” (one of my least favorite baseball nicknames) strikeout:
The Rockies just couldn’t get anything going. One batter later, the game was over…
…and Screech the Eagle was climbing up on his perch to wave the “W” flag as the Nats ignited the crowd’s Natitude (but nore ours).
On our way out of the stadium, a nice guy took our picture in the LF concourse:
For his payment for taking that picture, Tim was required to squirt him in the face with his water squirter.
And there you go. Another fun day at the ballpark.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|14/12 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|
|21 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 1|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|78 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 2, 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, Rockies 2|
|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 Park4/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington; Kellan – Fredbird|
|3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki|
Coming into this season, one of my goals was to get Kellan to seven stadiums in 2011: Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium and PNC Park. We were set to end the season at Safeco Field, and he’d already been to games at Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, and Yankee Stadium. As we hit mid-September he had visited all of them but PNC Park and Nationals Park. While PNC Park was a lot cause, there was still an option for Nationals Park.
I pitched a family trip down to Colleen’s sister’s house in Virginia for the weekend of September 17-18 with an extended-family ballgame on the 18th in DC. It all fell into place perfectly.
On the morning of September 18, 2011, Tim, Kellan and I hopped into our car and drove north to Nationals Park for BP. The plan was for Colleen, Kimberly (my sister-in-law), Kevin (brother-in-law), Gill (nephew) and Kate (niece) would join us at game time.
It turned out to be a very special time before the game started. Although there was no BP to speak of, I soaked up 2.5 great hours in the ballpark with my boys – the first time Tim, Kellan and I had been to a ballpark alone, just us three guys. Despite there being no BP, we kept busy and found a lot of ways to have fun.
By far the worst part of the day was right when we walked into the ballpark and I tried to take a picture of Tim and Kellan with one of the statues by the CF entrance. I knew I had forgotten to charge my camera battery, but I was hoping it would have enough juice to last the day. Not quite. It was dead and was good for a grand total of zero pictures. Aye, aye, aye! I had to rely on my cellphone for pre-game pictures.
We started out in the LF corner. There were a bunch of Marlins playing catch along the LF foul line. We made our way down into the first row:
[Note: there wer probably 6 Marlins along the foul line in the picture above and to the left, but they are all hidden behind Kellan’s noggin]. There were a couple other fans there just sitting and watching. The ballpark was completely silent. I only recognized one Marlin down on the field – Brian Sanches. So when he finished warming up and ran toward the foul line to return his baseball to the bag, I broke the silence. “Hey, Brian!” was all it took for Sanches to send his warm up baseball our way.
When the ball smacked into my glove, the 8-10 other fans in the section were whipped into a minor frenzy. Despite the fact that they were all at the ballpark 2.5 hours early (which would make you assume they know what goes on during BP), it was as if they never even considered that a player might toss you his baseball if you asked him. The section was silent no more. And as Tim, Kellan and I headed back up to the concourse; several more baseballs were sailing into the stands to the happy fans we left behind.
After a quick stop in the red seats in deep LCF (where there was truly nothing happening), we headed to the second deck in RF. Section 237 to be exact. Several Nationals pitchers
were warming up down below:
We kept an eye on Stephen Strasburg. We’d never seen him before and I wanted to check out what all the hype was about, even if just during pre-game throwing. Next to Strasburg was his Nationals teammate Tom Gorzelanny. When Tom finished up throwing, I called his name and I flashed him my glove when he looked up. I could tell he was going to throw us the baseball, but it was also clear that he was concerned about Kellan…who I was holding. There were absolutely no other fans in our section or the next one over (in foul territory). Gorzelanny decided to throw the ball into the next section so we could just go pick it up. But his plan back fired. The ball hit a seat and took a big ricochet and bounced back down onto the warning track.
Gorzelanny moseyed over and retrieved the ball. On his second attempt, he decided to throw it over us. It landed about five rows behind us and bounded right back to me. I caught it with my glove as I held Kellan in my right arm. I always think it is particularly awesome getting a toss up to an upper-deck. This was only our second ever. Very cool.
Before heading off to the play area, we decided to watch Strasburg a bit more. Tim and I sat a couple seats apart from each other so Kellan could run back and forth between us. While we hung out, Tim took a panorama with my cellphone:
I thought I should document the three guys being at the ballpark alone, so I took this really horrible picture…
…where we completely block out the view of the ballpark.
On our way to the play area, Tim stopped us at the top of the stair way down to the field level so he could get his picture with the Mariners logo on the side of the CF parking garage:
Kellan is way too small for the play area. So while Tim played like a mad man, Kellan and I hung out in a little screened in room under the play area. Kellan and I played a little catch…
…and, between throws, I wrote down notes about our first two baseballs of the day.
After spending some time in the play area, we decided to get a bite to eat. We walked from the play area in the deep CF concourse area all the way around the RL foul pole, around home plate, and to a concession stand behind 3B. We grabbed some peanuts and hot dogs and then went and sat in the corner spot down the LF line:
Four Marlins were playing catch along the foul line. I only recognized one of the players, Anibal Sanchez, who was the closest Marlin to us.
As we nibbled our food and watched the Marlins warm up, Abe Lincoln moseyed on by us. I told Tim to stay put, and then I ran a section over toward 3B, handed Kellan over to our 16th President, and snapped this picture (on the left)…
…after Kellan and I returned to the corner spot, Abe headed toward the LF foul pole and Tim announced he wanted his picture with Abe too. So we ran after him once again and got the picture above on the right. Note that Tim is still holding his hot dog.
Shortly after we returned to the corner spot once again, Anibal Sanchez and his partner finished playing catch. Tim was sitting in the second seat and I was standing next to him holding Kellan. Sanchez turned around and saw us. He walked over and held the ball out to Kellan. Kellan gave Anibal as inquisitive look and then reached out and grabbed the baseball. Kellan then immediately cocked his arm back and threw the ball back in Sanchez’s direction. Anibal grabbed the ball and handed it to Kellan again. Again, Kellan cocked his arm back, which prompted Sanchez to jump into an athletic ready position, and tossed the ball back again. After two more back-and-forths, Anibal grabbed the baseball, handed it to Kellan, and very sweetly said, “You keep it this time,” and then he turned and jogged off toward the dugout. It was an awesome little interaction.
A few minutes later, some more Marlins started playing catch in the grass just behind 3B. We slid around there and were soon rewarded with a toss-up from Ricky Nolasco.
Hey, thanks, Anibal and Ricky!
We decided to head back to the play area. On the way, a kind usher took our picture:
And then Tim requested that I take a picture of this silly face:
As we passed by the statues in LCF, the Presidents were out there. But after reflecting upon his Abe Lincoln interaction, Kellan decided that the Presidents were way too scary for his liking. But he did let us get close enough to get this picture of Tim and Teddy:
After Tim hit some whiffleballs….
…Kellan and I played some more catch in the screened in area below the play area, and Tim played like crazy again.
It was getting really close to game time now. Colleen called and let me know that they were getting really close to the stadium. We planned to meet them in our seats. But first, we watched Mike Stanton…
…warm up behind 3B and Marlins starting pitcher, Brad “Aloha, Mr.” Hand…
…warm up in the visitors’ bullpen.
As game time rolled around, we reported to our seats. Soon enough, Colleen arrived…
…along with Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate. (Collectively, we’ll call them the “Martelons”).
We had some great seats in section 108:
The best thing about September is that you can get really cheap tickets on stubhub for teams who are long out of the playoff races. These seats were normally $36/ticket, but I picked them up for $10/ticket (plus all of the ridiculous online fees).
Tim and Kellan had a great time in the seats with their cousins:
The Nationals got on the board first. In the bottom of the second, Chris Marrero hit a sacrifice fly plating Jonny Gomes for the first run of the game.
Colleen brought her very good, but bulky, camera so our picture quality improved once she arrived. But her camera is not nearly as convenient as mine. I didn’t end up taking any action shots until the bottom of the third inning, when I captured Jason Werth as he hit a couple foul balls and then took a called strike three (on this pitch):
A few minutes later, Colleen was standing in the stairway when Kellan decided to get really comfortable with the glass partition separating the stands from the LF foul warning track:
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Nationals extended their lead to 4-0 on an 2-RBI single by Danny Espinosa followed by an RBI ground rule double by Marrero.
In the top of the fifth, Gaby Sanchez hit a solo homerun to make the score 4-1 Nats.
After the kids watched Thomas Jefferson win his 28th Presidents’ race of the season…
…we took to our feet…
…and made our way back to the kids’ play area:
Actually, everyone else but Kellan and I went to the play area. I had another idea. Kellan and I zoomed over to the RF foul pole. It was an inning break and the Nationals outfielders were playing catch. We were at the foul pole about 2 minutes total and after Jim Lett tossed us our final baseball of the day (Thanks, Jim!), we made our way back to the play area:
The Martelons had never been to Nationals Park before. So after we left the play area, we took a little walk around the stadium.
First, we headed up to the second deck in RF where Colleen took this cute picture with me and the kids:
What I think is so funny about that picture is the combination of Kate leaning her head on Tim’s shoulder while Tim is looking up at me and Kellan. Funny. Meanwhile, Kellan was trying to rip up a Steven Strasburg baseball card that was inserted into that little magazine he is holding.
When Mike Stanton stepped to the plate, I asked Colleen to take a picture of him hitting a homerun. Stanton didn’t cooperate. So Colleen had to settle with taking this awesome picture of Stanton hitting a single:
After we circled around toward first base, an usher took a hilariously disorganized picture of all of us:
We had no real plan. We were just walking around looking at stuff and taking pictures. When we passed behind home plate, I got this panorama from the concourse behind section 314:
Kimberly took the kids (minus Kellan) up into the 400 level seats for another picture:
All of this walking around (in my arms) really tuckered out Kellan. So he took a little nap…
…that lasted for the rest of our walking tour and for a while when we were back in our seats.
When I returned to our seats with Kellan, Colleen and Kimberly took the other kids to get ice cream helmets…or so I thought. I was shocked when Tim came back with this non-collectible ice cream receptacle:
Yikes! Oh, well. Tim still enjoyed his tasty ice cream.
In the top of the seventh, Brett Hayes hit a 2-Run homerun. That made the score 4-3 Nationals. But that was as close as the Marlins would get to the Nationals.
There was a comical moment in the top of the eighth inning. Mike Stanton was at the plate and it looked like he was hit by a pitch. He ran to first, but the umpires called him back. I personally had no clue what was going on. But Jack McKeon came out and went crazy arguing his point. The McKeon argument was humorous on its own. But the really hilarious part was Nationals left fielder (and former Mariner) Michael Morse:
Morse was cracking up over McKeon’s antics. And several times he interrupted his stream of giggling to do an exaggerated “yeeeerrrrrrr outtta here!” hand motion (like he was ejecting McKeon from the game. Morse was still laughing about McKeon’s antics after Stanton returned to home plate and struck out to end the inning.
Not much else happened in the game. At the end of the day, the final was a 4-3 win for the Nationals
But, hold up, our day was not over quite yet. It was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!!
We hopped into the long line outside the stadium, where Tim entertained us with some harmonica:
(FYI, Tim loves to play his harmonica, but has no clue how to actually play the harmonica).
I was super excited for Kellan’s first Kids Run the Bases. He’d never circled Major League bases before, and I couldn’t wait for it. Colleen took this shot of me and Kellan in foul territory along the first base line:
Sadly, the Nationals have a policy against allowing parents to chaperon their kids around the bases. That killed the dream. Kellan is way too young to run around the bases on his own. He would have ended up in CF with a throng of Nationals employees chasing him. I was pretty bummed out over this turn of events, but what can you do?
While Kellan watched from the warning track, Kate…
…, and Gill…
…had a lot of fun on the base paths.
Ah, it was another great day at the ballpark. It has been an amazing season getting Tim and Kellan’s cousins out to the ballpark with us at both Camden Yards and Nationals Park. Next year, I’ll figure out a way to get them up to Citizens Bank Park!
As we walked back to our car, Colleen asked Kimberly to take a family picture of us in front of this “The Yards” sign:
I have no clue why she wanted a picture with this “The Yards” sign, but hey, she did, so I’m including it here.
Only three more games for us in the 2011 season and, HOORAY HOORAY, they would all be at Safeco Field!
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|30/6 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|21/10 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Nationals]|
|23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).|
|96 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 4 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 9 Marlins, 1 Pirates)
|13/5 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee
Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park]
|18/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin
Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|21 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke,
Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor)
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|10/3 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond, Abe Lincoln; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird, Abe Lincoln]|
|3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field,
Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]
|2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star|
After starting out our 2011 season with an outstanding doubleheader in Baltimore (Tim’s first doubleheader), our second game was slated to be the Marlins at Phillies on Saturday, April 16, 2011. Unfortunately, rain wiped out most of the games in the NE region of the United States that day, including our game in Philadelphia.
The Phillies rescheduled the game for June 15th, thus freeing us up to travel to the Nation’s capital on April 17, 2011 for our second consecutive single-admission doubleheader, featuring the Milwaukee Brewers and the Washington Nationals.
The action was slated to start at 1:10 p.m. I was confident there would be BP, so we arrived 2.5 hours early. The Nats and Brewers did not disappoint. There was full batting practice by both teams.
After a 30-second stop in the LF seats, we headed over to RCF – section 143 – which was practically empty. A few minutes later, a Nationals batter hit a ball onto the warning track in deep CF. Nationals bullpen coach came walking out toward CF with his fungo bat in hand…
…I waived to get his attention, then pointed to the baseball on the warning track and then to Tim. He nodded and started walking toward the ball. He had a long walk. At the same time, a groundskeeper behind the CF wall saw the ball and walked out to get it. I yelled down toward him, “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!”
Luckily, he grabbed the ball and tossed it to Coach Lett. Lett turned and, true to his nod, fired the baseball to my waiting Rawlings glove.
Thanks, Jim Lett!
By the way, it was one of the ultra-soft leather “Training” baseballs that the Nationals like to use for BP.
A few minutes later, we relocated to the seats next to the Nationals bullpen at section 139. There was a group of Nats in RF. They tossed a few baseballs to Nats fans.
Finally, this happened…
Thanks, unidentified dude!
All the while, a 45’ish year old dad of two 10-12’ish year old boys was yucking it up in the first row of section 140 because his boys had been the recipients of several toss ups. He was quite happy…until one of his boneheaded boys dropped his baseball down into the gap between the seats and the RF wall. Doh!
The guy was perplexed. What to do!? The groundskeepers in the bullpen said they couldn’t do anything about it. Even if they could, it would require accessing a gate and walking between the wall and the stands. They had no reason to go out of their way to do it to help the dad of the newly baseball-less boy.
Tim and I were down in the first row looking at the boy’s baseball. Then we started watching the groundskeepers spray painting the pitching rubbers bright white…
…I looked back toward my right and witnessed something absurd. The Dad of the baseball-less boy climbed down into the gap – a good 10-15 feet down – and grabbed the dropped baseball, and another BP homer that found the gap.
As he was climbing up, I could see security running from multiple directions with rage-filled faces, ready to sink their verbal teeth into this apparently clueless dad.
I was amazed later to learn that they didn’t eject him from the stadium. But they did remove him for the outfield seats for the remainder of BP. The truly amazing thing was that the Dad was bold enough to yell at the security people (really just retired guys working as ushers) that he only did it because no one would go get his baseball.
UNSOLICITED ADVICE: If you (or your kid) get a baseball, put it in your pocket or backpack. If you don’t, and you eventually drop it into a 10-15 gap behind the outfield wall, DON’T CLIMB DOWN THERE TO GET IT!!! Just live with your boneheaded move.
Next, we relocated to the middle of section 141 where this was our panoramic view of Nationals Park:
Tim sat and munched on some crackers while I incompetently watched a BP homerun land two rows directly in front of me. Had I climbed over even just one row of seats, it would have been an easy on-the-fly grab. Oh, well.
When the Brewers came to bat, we relocated to the second deck in search of a Monster Prince Fielders Bomb. I’m a fairly nervous father of an extremely-high-energy-low-attention-to-danger son. So I told Tim he had to stand behind this glass barrier if he was going to stand in the front row:
Fielder did, in fact, several (maybe 4) homeruns into the second deck. One of them landed about 3 rows above me and bounced directly over my head (too high and out of reach) and back down onto the field.
That was the only one that was anywhere near us. Another was 3 sections toward CF and I started to run for it before totally biting it trying to jump a row a seats. Tim thought it was pretty comical. He described it to his mommy by saying that my “neck hooked onto one row of seats and his feet hooked onto another row of seats and his body just hung in the air!”
At another point, a Brewers pitcher spotted us all alone in section 241 (literally no one within 100 feet of us) and fired a baseball to us. Well, he meant to throw it to us, but he launched it about 8 rows above us. I didn’t even see it land. I ran up a couple rows, walked row-to-row and could not find it anywhere. Meanwhile, a 12’ish year old kid ran from two sections over. He saw the ball, grabbed it and then laughed at me for missing out on the baseball clearly meant for me and Tim. I went back over to Tim and he said, “That boy stole our baseball!!!” It was pretty funny. I explained to him that I couldn’t find it (it blended in was nudged under the back of a seat and blended in with the white pavement) and he had a right to grabbed it if he could find it.
Still, the next day, Tim told his mommy how the boy “stole our baseball.” Yep, it was pretty funny.
Anyway, after Prince Fielder finished hitting, I told Tim we could go to the kids play area for a bit. But first, we walked toward RF foul territory and got this picture with the Nationals Park sign in the background:
In addition to the normal play fort-thingy, the Nats put in an inflatable batting station. And it was a really nice one with an excellent red plastic bat (that fit time perfectly). It was a long line to bat and we made our way slowly to the front. A little girl who had no clue how to hit was directly in front of Tim in line. On her first swing, she completely missed the ball, and then took a ferocious backswing and unintentionally drilled a perfect line drive directly into Tim’s nose.
Tim was not pleased.
And he shed some big time water works.
Once he calmed down, he took it out on the whiffleball:
He was trying to hit a Popfly over the hitting station like he had done at Spring Training in Peoria.
As the game was set to start, we bought some expensive, but quite tasty, chili nachos (more just “meaty” nachos)…
We had seats in section 105, but we started the game in section 104. Here was our panoramic view of Nationals Park from our temporary seats in section 104:
After an inning or two, it started to fill up in LF so I figured we should go get some ice cream and return to our actual ticketed seats.
On the way to get ice cream, Tim managed to destroy this water fountain:
On the way back to our seats, Tim struck a pose with his fancy (and too expensive ($8) M&M’s vanilla ice cream helmet):
In our real seats in section 105, we sat next to a nice Nats fan who Tim chatted up like nobody’s business. The Brewers took an early 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Casey McGehee in the first and pitcher Yovani Gallardo in the fourth. Faced with the deficit, the Nats fan put on a rally hat, which prompted Tim to do the same:
Hard hitting Danny Espinosa followed in the bottom of the fifth with a 3-run homerun. Here he about to score the fourth Nats run of the game:
As we approached DC by car, Tim saw a big battle ship in the Anacostia River. I knew you could see the ship from the concourse in RF foul territory. Eventually, we decided to head over there to look at the ship.
On the way, we walked through the 200 level “Conference Center” concourse. For some reason, we’d never been on this level before. We got this panoramic view of Nationals Park from the concourse behind section 203…
Before leaving this spot, we got a nice picture of Adam LaRoche grounding out to Prince Fielder…
Next, we decided to continue on toward RF to see the battle ship. The only issue is that the suite level indoor concourse was in our way – and we couldn’t access it. So we took an elevator up to the top deck. Check out who was in our elevator:
It was Jake the Hoya. Tim charged into the elevator when it opened and was totally freaked out when he saw Jake standing there. He was too scared to get a picture with Jake. Even as we exited the elevator, he was hustling to get away from big, bad Jake.
On the final portion of our walk toward the RF concourse where we would be able to see the battleship, Ivan Rodriguez hit the 310th homerun of his Hall of Fame-to-be career.
That made the score 7-2 Nationals.
Finally, we made it to the spot – and there was the ship!
Before heading down the concourse ramps, Tim pointed out the Capitol Building:
Tim wanted to hit again. But he was scared of a repeat nose-bashing. So he hid behind me as we made our way through the line:
We hustled down toward the front of the section at the last out, but we were too late and missed out on getting a baseball from the home plate umpire. So, we stood around, chatted with a fan from Seattle, and got our picture taken above the visitors’ dugout:
As we shuffled around in the fancy seats between games, I kept an eye open for discarded tickets on the ground. I figured a lot of Nats “fans” wouldn’t be up for two games. I was right. We ended up finding 4 really nice tickets.
There was a 30 minute break between games. Among the first Brewers to come out to warm up for game two was former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt:
Before the second game started, we got a great picture of Tim and Teddy Roosevelt:
We had an even better ticket than the section1 114, row L seat. But I wanted to wait to make sure they were empty.
We decided to go to the kids play area one more time. On the way to the play area, I took a picture of what would become “our” ticketed seats for the rest of the game:
And Tim wanted a picture with the blossoming trees behind section 106:
After some playing, we reported to our section new section. I showed the usher our ticket for seat no. 3, but asked if it was okay if we sat in the empty seats in the middle of the section – I think it was no 25’ish. He told us it was no problem.
So, here is a picture of Tim standing in front of my seat:
Game two was a good one. It was tied 1-1 for a long time. The decisive blow came in the bottom of the seventh when Danny Espinosa hit a bases clearing 3-run triple to put the Nats up 4-1. T he Nats would eventually win 5-1.
Toward the end of the game, Tim got on the (really) big screen for flashing some fancy dance moves:
When they put him up on the board, everyone in the two sections behind us gave him a big cheer. It was really cool. Later, he could be overheard telling people in our section how, “I was on TV dancing!”
We stayed in our seats until the end of the game. When the final two people made their way in from the Brewers bullpen, we were still hanging out and Marcus Hanel rewarded us with this baseball:
And that was it. Our second doubleheader of the season was in the books.
Before heading out, we had a Nats employee take our picture:
2011 C&S Fan Stats
4/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
4/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals; Kellan – none]
2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles, Nationals)
9 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 1 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers)
2/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park; Kellan – none]
10/6 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan – Mariner Moose]
*includes Spring Training