On Sunday, May 1, 2011, Tim and I set off for Philadelphia and our first non-doubleheader game of the season. Just like last May 1st, the Phillies would be taking on their division rivals, the New York Mets. Unlike last season, this game was a night game. In fact, it was the ESPN Sunday night game.
We arrived before the gates opened. But there was a problem: we were staring down 2.5 hours of batting practice, but while still in the parking lot we discovered that both Tim and I forgot to pack our gloves. Oh, no!
But on this date, baseball gloves were not necessary. With five lifetime baseball at Citizens Bank Park, we were about to have an unprecedented day.
Immediately upon entering the stadium, he headed to the LF corner and ran into former-Mariner, Raul Ibanez:
After a few minutes, we abandoned LF and headed to the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye. We checked out the empty bullpens (and noticed a Phillies BP baseball down below in the entrance way to the bullpen area), peered around the batters eye to watch some BP…
While behind the batters eye, they opened up the rest of the stadium. So Tim and I headed to the corner spot in RCF (section 101, row 1, seat 1). There is some extra space in the corner pasted seat 1, Tim literally “hung out” there:
Phillies back-up catcher, Dane Sardinha, was shagging baseballs right in front of us. While we were trying to figure out who in the world Sardinha was, Antonio Bastardo ran down a fly ball in straight away CF and then tossed us our second baseball of the day:
The Phillies’ “Four Aces” (minus the day’s starting pitcher, Cliff Lee) were hanging out in front of Section 103…
At one point, this groundskeeper walked by…
…and grabbed that baseball out of the bullpen entrance way. He walked over toward us (by the way, RF was filling up, but for some reason, not a single person joined us in section 101), and tossed the baseball up to us. Amazingly, without any gloves that was our third baseball of the day, in all of the games we’d attended with glove-on-hand, we’d never got three baseballs at a Phillies game before.
Eventually, the Phillies vacated the field and the Mets started taking their hacks. Mets third baseman, David Wright, was putting on a show. He jacked homer after homer into the bushes behind the CF fence. In fact, we watched so many baseballs fly into the bushes, Tim found this little birdie in the bushes:
By the way, this was our view of Citizens Bank Park from section 101, row 1, seat 1:
While hanging out in the corner spot, there was one close call with a BP homerun. Some unidentified Mets batter hit a homerun directly over our heads. It sailed about 5 feet over our heads. In seat 1 of section 101, there is no second row and it was not possible to back up to try to bare hand the homer. It sailed into the Phillies bullpen, bounced off of the back wall, and came to rest in the middle of the bullpen grass.
A little bit after 7:30, Cliff Lee headed out to the bullpen flanked by pitching coach Rich Dubee and bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo:
As Lee started stretching, Dubee headed into the bullpen and grabbed some baseballs out of the baseball bag. Tim asked Dubee if he could have a baseball. Dubee motioned/shrugged as if to say, “sorry, we need these baseballs to warm up Cliff Lee” (it was a highly communicative shrug). Dubee made eye contact with me and I pointed toward that Mets homerun ball that had flown over our heads. Dubee nodded as if to say, “yep, that one is all yours.” He then called to Tiamo and pointed to the Mets homerun baseball and then to Tim, “Give it to that little boy.”
After Tiamo carried out Dubee’s instructions, I snapped this picture of the two coaches:
The fastest of Tim’s three pitches clocked in at 26 blazin’ fast miles per hour. He loved the speed pitch. On his way out, they handed him a ticket (everyone gets one). He was sure it was some sort of award for pitching so far. We wrote “26 M.P.H.” on the back so he’d remember how fast he tossed the baseball.
Just outside the speed pitch, Tim posed for this picture with the Tiamo-Dubee-Mets-homerun baseball in front of the Liberty Bell Citizens Bank Park sign:
It was a great pitching match-up for this game: Cliff Lee vs. Chris Young. Both pitchers were on their game.
After Jimmy Rollins drew a walk in the bottom of the first, Ryan Howard came to the plate ready to get the Phils offense going…
During the break in the action, Tim posed with his Raul Ibanez baseball and the Citizens Bank Park sign:
During the game, Tim spent a bunch of time agonizing over his All-Star picks:
The game was 0-0 through the first four innings. Then, with two outs in the top of the fifth inning, David Wright (another guy who Philadelphians really seem to dislike) hit a single and then scored the first run of the day on Carlos Beltran’s RBI double.
Between the top and bottom of the fifth, Tim and I ran over to section 138 so Tim could get his picture with Emily, the Phillies ballgirl:
Between innings (not sure which innings), the Phanatic was ripping his way around the ballpark on his four-wheeler. I got this cool picture where the Phanatic is in focus and pretty much everything else is blurred a little:
He was giving up some hits, but Cliff Lee…
After a lot of work and careful consideration, Tim finished his All-Star ballot:
Still training 1-0, the Phillies missed an opportunity in the bottom of the seventh when Ryan Howard was left on base. The inning ended in a bizarre fashion. With Howard on 3B and Ben Francisco on 2B, Phillies catcher Brian Schneider seemingly checked his swing to work a full-count with two outs. Finally, about 5 full seconds after the pitch, home plate umpire Jim Wolfe checked with his colleague over at 3B and Schneider was rung up.
It was the most delayed strike out call that I have ever seen.
And it was followed by the quickest ejection call I’ve ever seen.
Charlie Manuel came charging out of the Phillies dugout to argue with 3B umpire Lance Barksdale, I don’t think Charlie had even reached the pitchers’ mound when Barksdale tossed him from the game. Charlie continued on his way to Barksdale and got his money’s worth out of the argument:
In the top of the eighth, a Mets leftie (I think Ike Davis) hit a foul ball that skipped around in the crowd before being grabbed by a lady within 10 feet of our seats. Here is a picture featuring my shoe for perspective:
Right around this time, something odd happened. I got a text from Avi Miller:
“In case they didn’t tell you at Phils game: Obama making announcement tonight unscheduled. Related to national security.”
Then a second text:
“Was supposed to be 10:30, but they’re still setting up so it could be any minute. Speculation is it could involve anything like Gadhafi, Osama [bin Laden], or even Libya in general. Who knows. Has to be big to do a Sunday night sudden announcement.”
Then a third text:
“Multiple sources saying Osama is dead and in US control. Will let you know. Obama hasn’t spoken yet, but that’s what all the news sources are saying.”
While I was exchanging texts with Avi, fans all around the stadium were apparently receiving similar texts from their friends and family. What an odd place to be, I thought, to learn big international news like this.
Meanwhile, life and the game went on.
It was getting late in the game and the Phils were down 1-0. I was thinking about relocating over by the 3B dugout soon so we could try to get our first ever umpire baseball at Citizens Bank Park. First, I needed a picture of us in our seats. A guy sitting behind us was happy to help:
Then things go really interesting. It started in LF, but soon the whole stadium was chanting “USA! USA! USA!” I missed most of the best and loudest chanting, but I was able to capture a few seconds of it:
Obviously, something was up. I texted Avi to see what Obama had to say. His response:
“that’s why. Officially announced and confirmed. Osama dead. Killed by bomb about 10 days ago, they were waiting to confirm body.”
Of course, we have learned over the course of the last week that a lot of the initial news about this event were incorrectly reported. But the gist of Avi’s message was accurate: President Obama had announced that U.S. Forces had killed Osama bin Laden.
Every once in a while, the chants came back: “USA! USA! USA!” A very memorable way to learn this news, indeed.
We decided to head over toward the 3B dugout. It can be hard to get down into those seats because the ushers usually patrol it pretty rigorously. But we slipped into the back row of section 130 with no trouble. It was really windy in the concourse (it always is at Citizens Bank Park), and Tim was instantly freezing. There was no one sitting in the last row of section 130. So we slid by the usher, sat in the last row, and I instantly took off Tim’s shoes and helped him pull a pair of sweatpants over his shorts.
It must have looked like we belonged, because the usher never said a word to us. Here was our view in the ninth and tenth innings from the back of section 130:
In the bottom of the tenth, Ryan Howard crushed a fly ball to the warning track in deep CF field. I was sure it was a walkoff homerun, so I grabbed Tim and we ran down the stairs toward the umpires tunnel. But Howard’s hit died and was caught on the warning track.
We pulled up and grabbed some new aisle seats at around row 10. Here was our view for the rest of the tenth and part of the eleventh innings:
Finally, in the twelfth inning (at 12:01 a.m.), we made our way to the penultimate seats, second row behind the home plate side of the dugout (Section 129):
The game just kept going and going. No one could score. Both teams seemed capable of advancing baserunners to third base, but that was it. Inning after inning, third outs erased all of the would-be winning runs.
The Phillies fans needed something to inspire them to inspire their Phils to do something special.
Enter the Phillie Phanatic. He hopped onto the 3B dugout and started running down the length of the dugout toward us giving everyone high fives:
Inside my head I thought, “What was that!?”
I scan the field and wondered, “Are they throwing t-shirts into the crowd?”
I saw the guy immediately in front of me bend over toward the empty seat to his right, like he’s grabbing for a t-shirt on the ground or something.
But I didn’t see anyone throwing t-shirts! “What’s going on!?,” I thought.
The Phanatic stopped at the end of the dugout and looked down at us…or, more precisely, at the guy bending down toward the empty seat:
The guy was not happy. The Phanatic bent over, put his arm around the guy, and said something to him. He (the Phanatic) then walked over to an usher about ten feet away, and said something to him.
The guy sat down holding his bleeding face. I could tell he was fuming mad and...
An usher got someone in the Mets dugout to throw up a towel to clean up the guy’s face. Another usher brought a bag of ice. A medic-type-guy arrived and convinced the guy to leave the seats and go get checked out at the first aid station. The guy reluctantly left.
Oh, by the way, he was a Mets fan. After he left, the Phillies fans made numerous jokes at his expense.
Oh, by the way, while all of this was happening, Mets pitcher Taylor Buchholz struck out Phillies back-up catcher Dane Sardinha…
Now, back to the bloody guy. The big question: what the heck happened to him!?
I honestly don’t know. I was literally the closest person to him when whatever happened to him happened to him. But I didn’t see it because I was looking toward the Phanatic advancing from the 3B side of the dugout. All I saw was “something” red whiz by (something that I initially thought was a t-shirt being tossed into the crowd).
I heard people muttering something about the Phanatic kicking the guy. I don’t know what that means. The Phanatic was running down the dugout giving out high fives. Could he have accidentally got too close to the edge of the dugout and ran into the guy (who I believe was standing up at the time) at full speed? I don’t know. Was the Phanatic’s red leg the “something” that whizzed by me as I reached up for a high five (and was left hanging)? I don’t know.
Bottom line, I have no clue what happened except that this dude was standing their one second, and the next second he was dripping blood all over the front row and the top of the dugout. I did a search for news articles that might have mentioned the fan getting hurt and found nothing. I guess I’ll never know for sure what happened.
For the rest of the game, these two guys were on hand-and-knee sterilizing and cleaning the area:
Tim kept asking me why the guys were pouring *sugar* on the blood (they said it was an absorbing powder/gel substance that sucks up the blood) and telling me to point out to the guys that there was a peanut shell full of blood on the ground under the seat. Tim is very observant when it comes to peanut shells.
Anyway, soon after Paulino tossed us the third out baseball, he hit the game winning RBI hit in the top of the fourteenth. It was almost 1 o’clock in the morning.
It seemed as if the Phils were folding up shop for the night when they sent Cole Hamels in to pinch hit with one out in the bottom of the fourteenth:
Tim was really, really tired:
But soon, John Mayberry, Jr. struck out to end the game. Tim was so tired that I was holding him as umpire Jim Wolfe approached the umpires’ tunnel. I called his name. He looked up and saw us. He grabbed a baseball, and tossed it right to us. But an extremely large adult fan in the diamond club section leaned over a railing, reached in front of us with his bare hand, and deflected the baseball right into Tim’s face.
That was all the half asleep boy needed: he burst into tears. The guy didn’t even notice what he’d done as he scrambled for the loss baseball on the ground. Jim Wolfe, on the other hand, saw exactly what happened. And he hollered at me, held up a second baseball and tossed it to me and Tim.
After we caught the second umpire baseball, the guy who had knocked the ball into Tim’s face had learned what he’d done from some other fans (generally everyone around was very sympathetic to poor little Tim getting nailed in the face) and he came over and apologized.
As we headed up the stairs to the exit, I asked Tim to hold up the replacement umpire ball so we could get a picture…
The picture and our little exchange about the memory actually helped a lot. I think Tim was more stunned (and exhausted) than he was hurt. After our exchange, he dried his tears and reverted to his usual happy little self.
Wow, what a day. Our first non-doubleheader of the season ended up going 14 innings (and until 1 a.m.), we witnessed a memorable crowd reaction to the announcement about Osama bin Laden, we got a third out baseball, our first umpire baseball at this stadium, and 6 total completely gloveless baseballs (more than doubling our lifetime total of 5 previous baseballs at Citizens Bank Park), and we witnessed the mysterious fan injury as the Phanatic ran by giving high fives and all of the “biohazard” clean-up that followed.
2011 C&S Fan Stats
5/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
6/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets; Kellan – none]
2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles, Nationals)
15 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets)
3/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank 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
On Sunday, September 9, 2007, we gathered in Philadelphia for Tim’s 7th game and Jamie Moyer’s 600th.
All of the Cooks were in attendance:
Ah, how young Tim used to love that pacifier. It’ll make a couple more appearances here on this blog in the future.
Along with us were our friends, the Grecos:
We sat in Section 235, Row 9:
This was our first time ever sitting in the 200-level at Citizens Bank Park. I really liked these seats. Row 9 is actually the last row in that section and directly behind the seats is a concrete wall so we were able to stand up as much as we wanted without blocking anyone’s view behind us. Plus, we were in the shade most (if not all) of the hot day.
Speaking of views, here was our view:
Check out how empty the stadium was on a Sunday afternoon game during pennant race! At this point, the Phils were still six games back. Of course, they would go on to win the East with a record of 89-73 thanks to a historic choke by the New York Mets.
In 2009, after winning the 2008 World Series, Citizens Bank Park never looked this empty. Not even close. The place was constantly packed to the rafters with fans.
Anyway, back to the game. I was excited because this was the first time Tim ever got to see Jamie Moyer pitch…
Moyer cruised through the first five innings pitching shut out ball. It was great, Tim was having a blast…
Meanwhile, the offense was clicking against a struggling Dontrelle Willis. Pat Burrell went 2-4 with 3 RBI and his 215th career home run. Carlos Ruiz went 3-4 with 2 RBI and his 9th career home run. Jimmy Rollins, Tad Iguchi and Aaron Rowand all also had multi-hit games and scored 4 runs between them.
With the game seemingly in hand behind the Phils 8-0 lead, it was time to get some shots of the kids…
And of course we had fun watching the Phillie Phanatic blast hot dogs into the stands with his big, high-powered hot dog gun…
…the sight of a foil-wrapped hot dog spinning around in the air as it descends into the crowd always cracks me up. One of these days I have to glove one of those dogs. That would certainly be memorable.
The wheels fell off for Moyer in the bottom of the sixth. He gave up home runs to Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermida, and Mike Jacobs, and that was all she wrote for Moyer on this day. But it didn’t matter. He had all of the run support he needed to guide the Phils to the victory.
Tim’s look of concern as the Marlins mounted their too-little-too-late come back…
…soon gave way to a big smile as he witnessed the Phillies bats power Moyer to his 229th career victory.
Yep. It was a good day.
By the way, do you notice how I’m wearing a Phillies T-Shirt in the picture above to the left? I planned to (and in fact did) meet up with the Phillies Senior V.P. of Marketing, Dave Buck, to talk about the Baseball Log during this game. I work with Dave’s brother and I figured I’d wear a Phils shirt for the occassion. I still wore my Mariners hat, which Dave said he could respect. (Side note: the Marlins sixth inning rally took place when I was off meeting with Dave).
Although nothing came of the meeting with respect to the Baseball Log, Dave hooked us up with extremely awesome tickets (for which I was quite grateful) to an upcoming game against the Rockies, which will be my next entry…coming soon.
This entry was supposed to be titled “Moyer’s 250 Bid – Take 2.” Unfortunately, our bid to see Jamie Moyer win the 250th game of his career failed before we even left for the game. I learned on Saturday night that Chan Ho Park would be pitching Sunday, May 17th in Washington, D.C. rather than Jamie Moyer. Moyer is a great pitcher. But its tough, even for a great pitcher, to get a win in a game you don’t pitch.
So Tim and I would have to focus on our other two main goals of the day – (i) checking out Nationals Park for the first time and (ii) participating in Kids Run the Bases after the game. Our pursuit of those goals met with great success, as explained in detail below.
Nationals Park can be both incredibly expensive and quite affordable, depending on how you want to “do” the stadium. For example, parking in the garage connected to the stadium is FORTY BUCKS!!! That’s ridiculous. On the other hand, the parking route we took was both an adventure and totally FREE! You see, the Nationals have arranged for their fans to park for FREE at RFK Stadium and then take a FREE shuttle bus to a point about 2 blocks from Nationals Park. Here is what it looked like:
Here is our first view of the Park walking from the bus:
Here is our first view of the field as we entered the Park from the LCF entrance:
As you might know, I am a Mariners fan. But alas, I did live in Philadelphia for three years and I have no NL allegiance, so i bought a Phillies BP jersey back in 1999 or so. I doubt I’ve worn it since 2000. But this was only my second Phils road game, so I thought I’d give it a try wearing the Phillies jersey and my Reading Phillies hat to see if some nice Phillies player would reward me and Tim for coming to see them on the road. Now, wearing the visitors’ jersey/hat even if you hate the team is a classic “ballhawk” technique. I am not a ballhawk, but generally I have no problem with the ballhawks doing it. But, personally, I felt dirty as heck wearing Phillies stuff, even though I was there rooting for the Phillies. It just hurt me right down to my Mariners core (in fact, I couldn’t do it without wearing a M’s shirt under the Phils jersey). Anyway, more on that later.
So, as we entered the stadium, we saw a bunch of Phils stretching behind 3B. So we headed over there where this was our view:
We headed down to the field level where they have a little trough (for lack of a better term) where there are just a couple seats in a big aisle). We watched the guys warm up amongst a sea of Phillies fans:
Yep, to the left, that is team leading (pick an offensive category) Raul Ibanez warming up his legs. To the right, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins stand in front for the national anthem while Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, Pedro Feliz and a trainer stand behind them.
After the anthem, the guys started playing catch and running (sorta) sprints:
In the photo to the left, you can see Jimmy Rollins playing catch with Chase Utley (off camera) and Ryan Howard playing catch with Shane Victorino. After a few mintues, Jimmy and Shane set their gloves down on the foul line with the balls sitting on the grass next to them. Then they started running sprints.
To the right, you can see that, after finishing playing catch with Victorino, Ryan Howard came over to the stands and started signing autographs for 5-10 minutes. As you can see, almost everyone down in the trough bunched up next to Howard in hopes of getting his autograph. We didn’t have a pen or anything worth getting the former NL M.V.P. to sign, so we stood our ground. The difference was, after Ryan started signing, we were pretty much standing all alone, no more sea of Phillies fans surrounding us.
Tim was on my shoulders (where his Mariners shirt was hidden behind my head). I was wearing my Phils jersey and R-Phils hat. We looked like a nice father-son Phillies fan combo. Jimmy Rollins took note. When he was finished running, he grabbed his glove and ball and took a couple steps toward the dugout. He then stopped, turned back toward us and fired his baseball directly into my glove. Nice – our first ball EVER from a Phillies player:
A few minutes later, the game started. The baseball we got from J-Roll looked the same, but I looked different:
J-Roll shouldn’t feel as if he got duped. We still rooted for the Phils. I just had to show my true colors during the game. Also, I did put my R-Phils hat back on after Tim got chocolate ice cream on his fingers and I thought he would get the white portion of my M’s hat chocolately. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Like usual, we had some cheap tickets. Not SRO, this time we were apparently high in the rafters of the RF foul territory stands. We never went to our section. Instead, we started walking around getting to know the stadium. Let me tell you something, unlike the team that plays there, Nationals Park is beautiful. Despite a couple negatives, it instantly ranks right up among my favorite ball parks.
Why don’t we take a look around? This is reverse order as we walked, but how about we start behind the plate in the third deck:
As you can tell, its a beautiful park. In addition to checking out this great park, Tim and I also had a goal of testing out our new digital camera. It has a great zoom – both optical and digital. Here are a couple pictures taken from various locations in the Park:
At top right, Ryan Howard is seen batting in the first inning. I took that picture from just behind the RL foul pole.
Below Howard, is Chase Utley also hitting in the first inning. I took this from the field level concourse behind all of the seats a little bit down the line from first base.
How about another panoramic? Here is CF from the field level concourse:
Okay, now, I took all of these panoramic views while walking around in the concourses circling the stadium. Although fans in their seats usually aren’t paying a lot of attention to the concourses, they are an important part of any stadium. Bad concourses make a stadium feel cramped. Open concourses from which you can see the field make the stadium feel bigger and they let fans maximize their time at the ball park (ex: they can still watch the game while standing in line for some food). Nationals Park has GREAT concourses. HUGE. Mostly all open. Not crowded. Excellent. Here are a couple examples:
Walk these great concourses and eventually you’ll find yourself in biggest open area I’ve ever seen inside a ball park:
The Field Level CF panoramic a couple pictures ago was taken on the opposite side of that escalator. The Second Deck CF panoramic and the pictures of Jimmy Rollins batting a couple more pictures above were taken from the second deck just to the left of the big “DC” sign and under the picture of the Nationals celebrating (they must have won a game?).
The black strip at the top center (where it says “GET YOUR”) is the “Red Porch.” I’m not quite sure what the deal is with the red porch.
The building to the right is a massively expensive parking garagle. The openings on the ground level are various fan attractions. The one with the yellow sign is a “stuff a bear” type place where you can make your own Nationals mascot. The “Strike Zone” at the far right of the picture has a batting cage where the ball shoots out of a video screen. When we watched it, Randy Johnson was pitching and the ball would shoot through the screen through his hand. Pretty cool. In the back, there was a similar game with pitching. I watched a guy pitch to Larry “Chipper” Jones.
And right behind me as I took this picture? The play area:
Tim loved this play set. From a father’s perspective, it seemed better than the playset at Safeco Field, but a not quite as good as the playset at Citizens Bank Park. The worst part about it is that it is massively far away from the field and there is no TV to watch the game. It would be perfect if the Nats would follow the Mets lead and put a BIG SCREEN on the back of the scoreboard for all of the parents watching their kids play in the CF play area.
Anyway, back to the tour. Here is a post-game picture from the deck of the aforementioned Red Porch:
And here is a picture looking at the Red Porch from the 1B field level seats:
Well, look at that…I stand corrected. The “Red Porch” is really called the “Red Loft.” Hmm…I’m wondering if that is the upstairs and the downstairs is called the Red Porch. I definitely heard someone call it the Red Porch during the game. Anyway, in the last panoramic, Tim and I took the pictures standing under the “Red” in the “Red Loft” sign in the last picture.
The only bad part of the concoures at Nationals Park is that the Red Porch/Loft cuts off all view of field as you walk from CF to LF (or vice versa). Same thing with the field level concourse behind home plate. Its just like Citi Field. They have field level suites and a restaurant that cut off all view of the game for *commoners* walking behind home plate. But I like the way the Nationals did it more than the Mets. The Mets concourse is like a dark cave that feels like it is 100 yards away from the game. The Nats concourse is bright and airy and it has a team store entrance and big pictures on the wall telling about the history of baseball in Washington, D.C…check it out:
But, back to the outfield. Here are some interesting statues on the back side of the Red Porch/Loft:
Well, look at that. I am right. The field level is called the “Red Porch” (as shown in the middle picture behind Frank Howard (who by the way shouldn’t have swung at that pitch, he’s reaching too far!)).
Note, PNC Park in Pittsburgh also has a Josh Gibson statue.
Back to the panoramic views, here is the RF corner from the third deck:
This picture leads to the final negative point about Nationals Park: the ushers guard the seats like they are made of gold. I had to sweet talk an usher to persuade him to let me and Tim sit in the BACK ROW of the LAST SECTION in the UPPER DECK! There is a fourth deck starting a little closer to home plate. But where I took this picture, we were literally sitting in the back row of the highest section at the greatest distance from home plate down the 3B line. Is that ridiculous or what?
So how did we get to sit in these coveted seat? I told the usher Tim’s ice cream was melting, we were all the way across the stadium from our seats, and I was looking desparately for a standing room spot with a standing counter where Tim could sit and eat his ice cream…but there are none in the third deck down the 3B line. So in the face of melting ice cream, the usher relented and let us take the empty seats in the empty row in the highest and most distant seats from home plate.
Here is Tim and his ice cream and, in the distance, the Washington Monument:
There is a big walking ramp down from the third deck to the field level in the LF corner. As I stood on that ramp, I took the picture of the Washington Monument to the right above. I said to Tim (sitting on my shoulders), “That’s the Washington Monument, Tim.” Two seconds later, some random 50’ish year old white-male-American walks up to me, “Are you serious? That’s the Washington Monument? Cool!” He was dead serious. It was p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c.
Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I posted this panoramic tour in reverse order of how Tim and I actually walked. We really came from CF to RF to home plate, to an ice cream stand in the third deck behind 3B and then out to the LF corner. On our walk from the ice cream stand to the LF corner, I spotted the Capitol Building from the concourse:
The picture to the right above is also taken from the ramp down to field level. But, once again, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Before heading down the ramp, I tested my camera out a bit more. Here are some more action shots:
Here we see J-Roll take a pitch and then hit another foul.
The top right picture of Raul Ibanez was also taken from the third deck in the LF corner. The others were taken elsewhere…as should be evident. In the bottom right, I’ve snuck a picture of Shane Victorino in with three Ibanez pictures.
Pretty much every swing I took a picture of at this game resulted in a foul ball, a foul pop out, or an infield pop out. No hits or homeruns to speak of.
Okay, so it was time to head down that ramp. From the ramp, I took this cool picture of the concourse going from the LF corner out to CF:
Note the vegetation growing on the roof of the concession stand. This prompted Tim to tell me that there are no plants growing on our roof because, “Our roof isn’t flat. Our roof is a triangle.”
Once we got down the ramp, we stood for a little bit behind the LF seats where we saw the Presidents race:
After the race, the Presidents headed out to CF and took pictures with fans. They were mobbed by people. I really wanted a picture with Teddy Roosevelt, who looked hilarious, but it wasn’t in the cards. The Presidents were a big hit at the game. They have George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt…and someone…I have no clue who the fourth President is. Anyway, the Nats also have a silly looking eagle named “Screech” (I think). But he is a pretty weak mascot. The Presidents were far superior.
After the race, we headed down into the LF seats and got a picture of the visitors’ bullpen (shown here with an inside-shot of the Nats bullpen):
This Phillies fan in the middle looked somewhat protective of the Phils’ bullpen. Note, the visitors’ bullpen (to the right) is grass, but the Nats’ bullpen (left) is turf. I’m not sure why this is, but my guess is that there is access through the Nats’ bullpen to a big tunnel system under the stadium. Possibly they drive vehicles through the Nats’ bullpen from time-to-time and put in turf so the grass wouldn’t get torn up. Just a guess.
We then headed back to the second deck in RF where we got one of the stadium fanfoto gals to take a picture of us with my camera:
Finally, we settled into some seats for the last 2-3 innings of the game. The ushers had apparently lost some of their motivation. He easily slipped into some really nice seats down the 1B line. Here was our view:
See that light stand all the way across the stadium in the LF corner? See that last section of seats on the third deck that hide the left side of the light tower? That is the section where I had to persuade an usher to let us sit for a couple innings (and to be clear, in case I wasn’t earlier, at first, he in fact told me that he “couldn’t do it” when I asked him if we could temporarily sit in the back row).
Anyway, there was no one else in our row in this section down the 3B line. However, there was a group of maybe 8 young 20s’ish year old Nats fans sitting two rows behind us. Tim flirted it up like crazy with two young gals. At the time, the Nats were winning 6-5 and the gals (and their whole group) were all smiles and giggles. Here is Tim cheesing it up for the ladies:
Tim’s new friends’ mood changed abruptly in the top of the eighth. With runners on first and second and no outs, Pedro Feliz laid down a nice bunt toward third. Zimmerman and Jesus Colome converged on the ball. Either could have grabbed it. Colome did and he made what seemed to be a perfect throw to first where second baseman, Anderson Hernandez, was covering first. By my first hand account, the throw was perfect and Feliz should have been out at first. Instead, Hernandez jumped out of the way of the ball and let it sail into foul territory down the 1B line. Both runs scored and Feliz made it to third. Anderson said he could not see the ball because of the crowd. I guess he isn’t used to having more than 10,000 fans scattered throughout the stadium. Amazingly, they gave the error to Colome for making a perfect throw that Hernandez simply failed to catch.
When this happened, the stadium exploded with Phillies cheers. But the people sitting behind us never uttered another word. Their win was gone
We actually missed the ninth inning and the Phillies win because we were lined up outside the RF side of the stadium — it was time for Kids Run the Bases! We were toward the front of the long, long, long line of kids. As we waited in line, an usher told me to take Tim off my shoulders, “you know, for safety.” Okay, whatever.
We started our run the bases experience with our standard picture by the RF wall footage sign:
Tim then stretched his legs with some pre-bases sprints down the RF foul warning track:
I took a shot of the Nats’ dug out (shown to the left, with the visitors’ dug out on the right):
Then Tim was off to the races:
The Nats seemed to have 100 people out there on the field working. It was impossible to navigate the warning track and get even a half-way decent picture of Tim rounding second, which was HIGHLY dissapointing.
But I got a great shot of Tim rounding third:
Then it was impossible to get a good shot of Tim scoring at home plate — that is more standard, I’ve never got a good picture of Tim at home plate yet in the three run-the-bases Tim has done so far.
We took a couple more shots as we left the field of play:
So, that was it. Our game experience was essentially over.
Particularly because the next weekend would be our first weekend not to go to a game this season.
In fact, we wouldn’t have another game until May 31st.
We walked around the LF seats a bit more.
We looked at the visitors’ bullpen close up outside of the watchful eye of that concerned Phillies fan.
We went up to the Red Loft where we took the pictures for that panoramic up above.
Then we sadly headed toward the CF exit, the same one we’d passed through just 45 minutes before to line up to run the bases.
At the bottom of the exit stairs, we turned right and we started walking down the street.
We spotted the end of the run-the-bases line. Only 30 yards long now. Those lucky kids still with all of that fun ahead of them.
We walked sorta close to the wall as we passed down the wide sidewalk.
Tim was on my shoulders again. That same usher who told me to take Tim down “you know, for safety” was still standing by the line.
She had to recognize us. We’d just spoken with each other 45 minutes ago. Everyone at the game was wearing bright red Phillies and Nats gear, and we were wearing dark blue Mariners gear.
But then she uttered seven magical words that let me know she most certainly did not recognize us, “Does he want to run the bases?”
I respond, pointing, “Oh, is this the line?” (as if we’d been looking for it for the past hour).
“Yeah! Have fun!”
Tim was officially (I certified it OFFICIAL), the last kid to round the bases and touch home plate and I got a great shot of it:
It was pretty awesome. All of the Presidents, Screech and a boat load of Nats employees were on the field (again preventing a good picture at 2B), and because he was the last kid, they all followed Tim to home plate. As you can see, as he stood at home, he was surrounded by employees and mascots all cheering for him. Very satisfying.
Plus, because we were last, we were able to right a past wrong — we got that coveted picture with Teddy Roosevelt — and it is a keeper:
A great day! We give Nationals Park two thumbs up.
One more game note: we saw Sergio Escalona make his major league debut and earn the first win of his career pitching the 7th inning for the Phillies. The day before the game, Escalona was assigned to the Reading Phillies. Good job, Sergio.
Season Fan Stats:
11 Games (double digits!)
5 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
11 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres, Dodgers)
9 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals)
5 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (AL West, NL East, AL West)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats))
On April 19th, Tim and I headed to Philadelphia for our second game of the season, first in Philadelphia, and Tim’s first time seeing the Padres. In fact, I picked this game because I wanted to check the Padres off of Tim’s list. My goal is for Tim to have seen every MLB team play live by August 17, 2009 — when we will see the Royals play the White Sox in Chicago.
We had Standing Room Only tickets for this game. Personally, I think SRO are a great option for us. They are cheap and they come with no seats attached…Tim isn’t a fan of sitting in seats unless he has another kid there to entertain him. Otherwise, he likes to roam and see the park and all it has to offer. We did a lot of roaming at this game and got a lot of pictures to compile for panaramic views. Here is the first (behind section 131 or 130):
Citizens Bank Park has standing room behind the last row in the 100 level all the way from the LF corner to RF (out there by the bullpen, just above Shane Victorino in this picture). Many seating sections have a standing counter just behind the back row, which are absolutely perfect for me and Tim. Generally, I’ll stand and watch the game while Tim will scarf down his favorite ball park treats. While we stood here, Tim had his first ice cream helmet of the season! We try to get ice cream helmets at every stadium we visit. So far, last season and this season, only Camden Yards has dissappointed us thus far on the ice cream helmet front. The 3B field level ice cream place has consistently offered the biggest ice cream helmets we’ve seen at any park. Check it out:
Hey, check out that guy over Tim’s right shoulder in the first picture. Recognize that guy? Oh, yeah. That’s former Mariners great, Raul Ibanez. I recently named him as a reserve on my All-Time Mariners team. Actually, he is the best and most consistant in the storied history of the Mariners. However, I had to bump him to the bench so I could slide Jay Buhner into a position he played only 16 times in his Mariners Hall of Fame career.
One thing I enjoy about the Phillies is that they, thanks to former GM Pat Gillick, always have a fresh stock of former Mariners. The most notable in recent years include the M’s all-time winningest pitcher, Jamie Moyer (the number 2 starter on my All-Time Mariners list), Freddy Garcia (my no. 4 all-time Mariners starter), benchman extraordinaire, Greg Dobbs, Ryan Franklin, and now, Ibanez. This was my first game seeing Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuul as a Phil, so I stocked up on lost of Raul picts, plus a special one below. However, getting to that, lets compare to pictures that illustrate my Mariners-Phillies connection theory.
This first picture is of the mighty Ibanez stepping into the box at Safeco Field back on July 19, 2008. Just above the Indians catcher, you’ll see Mariners all-time third-base coach Sam Perlozzo giving Raul the “rip a homer” sign. Okay, now fast forward back to our current game.
Here is a shot of Raul leading off 2B after hitting double for the Phighting Phils. And, who, I ask, is coaching Raul around the basepaths over there at 3B? Why, its all-time Mariners 3B coach, Sam Perlozzo! Like I said, there is always a host of former M’s to cheer while in Philadelphia, and this game was no except.
While Tim ate his ice cream a couple things happened. First, Raul Ibanez dove for a low liner hit by some Padre…not sure who. He missed it and it went to the wall for a run scoring triple. The hitter than scored a few minutes later. So, the general feel was that Ibanez was on the hook if the Phils lost a close game. Second, and on a happier note, the Phillies Phanatic made an appearance near-by. Apparently, it was the Phanatic’s brithday. After meeting the Orioles Bird last week, Tim really wanted to meet the Phanatic. But it wasn’t in the cards. Nevertheless, it was entertaining to watch him:
Anyway, back to the game. After Tim polished off his ice cream, it was time to start roaming the park. First, we stopped by to see the World Series trophy (located in the LF nook by the “Schmidter” stand) and headed up the ramp to the upper-deck.
Here is the view from up there:
As you probably known, the Phillies’ hall of fame announcer, Harry Kalas, died a week ago in the broadcast booth before a game in Washington, D.C. Outside the stadium there was an fan memorial to HK on the Mike Schmidt statute. The Phillies also painted HK’s signature on the field with a notation “HOF 2002.” One of the main reasons I wanted to go up top was to get a picture looking down on the Kalas signature:
While up there, we took the opportuntiy to get a few more shots including the skyline, the bullpens / Ashburn Alley, and a video Harry Kalas singing “God Bless America” on the big screen (actually taken from Ashburn Alley after coming down from the upper-deck):
While in the RF upper-deck, I took some pictures to make this panaramic view:
While standing here, we took a minute to tie Tim’s shoe. Then we started walking toward center field. While en route to center, about 30 second after this photo, Chase Utley hit a home run that went just below us.
Next, we headed down to Ashburn Alley and, from there, cut over to the 1B side where I took more photos for a very similar panaramic view one left below and 1-2 sections over from the last one:
Not much happened in the game while we were in the upper deck. After Utley hit his home run, Adrian Gonzalez hit one for San Diego. By the time I took the photos above, the Phillies were batting in the bottom of the 7th and trailing 4-2 (remember the Ibanez missed diving catch discussed above!).
During the 8th inning, we found ourselves stationed almost directly behind home plate. It was a great place and we were able to get a space at the standing counter where Tim enjoyed some popcorn while sitting on my shoulders (as he had been doing for most of the game after his ice cream).
The spot was perfect for getting some more shots for a panaramic view:
In the bottom of the 8th, Jimmy Rollins, mired in an early-season slump, pinch hit. I got this shot of the pitched ball approaching J-Roll…he’d swing at this pitch and hit a homerun into the LF seats:
After Jimmy’s HR, the game moved to the 9th with the Padres still leading 4-3. Tim and I came full-circle and finished the game standing behind section 130. Ryan Howard led off the bottom of the 9th with a single. And that set the stage for redemption: Raul Ibanez strode to the plate ready to atone for his missed play early in the game. Raul did not disappoint. I got the following picture as the pitched ball approached Raul’s bat for what would a split second later become a game-winning, walk-off homerun (you can see the ball a couple feet in front of Raul right on the grass/dirt line of the 1B line:
As you might have guessed, the place went crazy. Lot of cheering by happy Phils fans. I was quite pleased that a former Mariner was the star, and that Tim got to see Raul hit a home run. Actually, it was a great game for HRs: Utley, Rollins, Ibanez, and Adrian Gonzalez.
I should note that Ryan Howard hit a triple in the first inning, but we missed it because of the terrible parking situation caused by the combo of a baseball game and hockey playoff game occuring roughly at the same time that day.
During the celebration, I got someone (actually that guy in green at the far left of the last picture) to take a picture of me and Tim:
Another great game!
Season Fan Stats:
2 Stadium (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park)
4 Teams (Orioles, Rays, Phillies, Padres)
1 Ice Cream helmet(s)
2 Awesome Days of Baseball