Saturday, April 21, 2012, was a personally historic day for us. Our little 2-man father-son team has officially grown by one.
Up until this day, Kellan had been to 10 games, but I had only brought Kellan along with us if Colleen was also joining us. But, at a few months shy of his second birthday, I have officially deemed Kellan to be old enough join me and Tim at the ballpark without additional assistance. So Colleen got the day off and treated herself to a fun solo Saturday (shopping, eating out, haircut, etc.).
Meanwhile, the Cook Boys jumped in the car at 8:00 a.m. and headed south to the nation’s capital.
On the drive down south, Tim and I discussed the Marlins new logo, of which I am not a fan. Tim launched into a hilarious explanation of how the new Marlins logo is a Marlin jumping in the water at night with the various colors reflecting off of the water, etc., etc. Then he wrapped up with, “so, now you understand why you should like the new Marlins logo, right?”
Maybe you had to be there. But it was pretty hilarious how he explained his thoughts on the Marlins logo.
Watch out, there were some little Cook boys at the ballpark who were gloved and ready for some action!
Let’s hit the stands!
Now, a ton of Saturday games across MLB are scheduled as day games this season (for the record, I’m not a fan of it), and this was one of them. I was pretty sure that would mean no BP before this game. And when we entered the ballpark at approximately 10:30 a.m., the field was empty with no signs of BP to come.
We hit the restroom and then milled around a bit in LF. Eventually, Mark Buehrle (did I mention we would be seeing the Miami Marlins vs. the Washington Nationals?) walked out to LF along with Marlins bullpen catcher Jeff Urgelles and bullpen coach Reid Cornelius. Buehrle and Urgelles played catch for a while in LF…
…and then all three headed into the bullpen so Buehrle could throw from the mound. We were right behind the bullpen. Cornelius and Buehrle headed over to the mound and Urgelles set up shop at home plate, just below us. As Buehrle and Cornelius were in the middle of a discussion, Urgelles was just standing around waiting. I could see several baseballs inside his open equipment bag right behind him. I figured, “What the heck?”
Todd – “Hey, Jeff!”
Urgelles – (looking up with a sort of surprised and happy look on his face) “Yeah!?”
Todd – “Anyway you could toss one of those baseballs up to my boy?”
Urgelles – (Enthusiastically) “Yeah, no problem.”
(Urgelles goes over and grabs a baseball from his bag and looks back up at us.)
Urgelles – (to Tim) “But, you have to catch it! And you only gets one chance!”
Todd & Tim – “Okay”
He tossed the baseball up in such a way that it would fall back into the bullpen if Tim missed it:
Heck no! Tim gloved that sucker! And guess what —
It was a Marlins Park commemorative baseball!
Check out Kellan in that last picture, “Gimme that baseball!” (Actually, he just said, “Ball! Ball! Ball!”
We all went crazy! And we rained down the “Thank Yous!” on Urgelles, who seemed very happy for Tim. We chatted briefly, joking about Kellan wanting to throw the ball back down to Urgelles – which I have no doubt he would have done had I let him – and discussing our Mariners gear – Urgelles seemed to agree it was cool to show our team loyalty and at least we weren’t wearing Nationals or another N.L. team’s gear (no threat from the A.L.).
Urgelles’s smile told the story: the dude is definitely a cool guy. Very nice. Very happy to have made Tim’s day by challenging him and then watching him succeed. We talked about meeting up later during BP to get a picture with Urgelles, but it just didn’t work out. But I’m definitely going to try to reconnect with him later this year to try to get a picture of him and Tim together.
Oh, yeah, at some point Tim yelled down to Urgelles, “I like your new logo!” ha, ha…funny guy.
With our fancy new Marlins Park baseball in hand, we bounced up the stairs…
…and headed off to the play area.
There were ZERO other kids out there. Normally, you get three hacks at the whiffle ball air tee. Tim took about 15-20 hacks…
…before turning over the bat to his little brother. After 2-3 swings, Kellan turned around and tried to hit balls into the open concourse area. Luckily, no one was around.
You need proof? Here is proof that no one was around:
In the top left, that’s the lady running the kids’ play area climbing up the slide while holding Kellan like a sack of potatoes (not a good plan). Kellan flew down the slide and loved it. Then Tim and the lady running the play area did some crazy slides, including (as shown) head first belly sliding and backwards sliding.
This lady loved playing with Tim and Kellan and, if it was up to her, we would have just stayed there all day. We came back several times over the course of the day and she did more crazy sliding with Tim (despite there then being about 200 crazy kids running all around).
Unfortunately, Kellan is too young for most of the play area. You have to be 3-8 years old to go up in the play area *thingy*. So Kellan and I hung out in the little *net* room under the *thingy*.
Anyway, we headed back to the field after a sufficient amount of playing.
When we got back to LF, they were just finishing setting up the cage and screens for BP. That was a nice surprise. We headed down into section 106:
We chatted a little bit with a Phillies fan who decided to go “neutral” and wear an Oakland A’s hat. He offered to take our picture:
We hung out in LF until they opened the rest of the stadium at 11:30. Then we headed into foul territory and hung out behind a big protective net (don’t need my boys getting tagged by a batted ball).
Urgelles was over there for a bit, but we missed our chance to get a picture. As I said, we’ll keep trying.
It was getting pretty warm in the sun. So we decided to walk all the way around home plate and out to RF, which was nice and shady. I guess it would have been a shorter walk to head up to the concourse and circle the outfield. But had we done that, Ozzie Guillen would not have had the chance to go grab this baseball…
…and then toss it to us.
Sure, Ozzie is a controversial figure, but I like him.
Muchas gracias, Ozzie!
We hung out in RF foul territory for a bit. I took the opportunity to take off Kellan’s long sleeve undershirt. And then Steve Cishek tossed us a baseball:
RF was nice, but Kellan kept trying to climb down to the lower rows between the railing and the end-seat – despite Tim playing blocker.
I decided it would be easier for us out in RF homerun territory. You see, there is this funny little corner spot that would act as a natural *Kellan blocker*. We grabbed some seats by the corner spot…
…and the boys broke out our bag of snacks (or as Kellan says, “Nack! Nack! Nack!”).
If you scanned the ground after we left this spot, you’d have to seriously question if more snacks were consumed or more were dropped on the ground. Kellan was dropping “nacks” like it was going out of style.
We hung out for a while in this spot — nothing all that special to say about this picture, I just thought it was funny:
Shortly after this picture, Kellan dropped this big bottle of water…
…down into the Nationalbullpen – probably 20 feet below. Luckily, as’ bullpen attendant ran over and tossed it back up to us.
While chatting with a guy who works for Boeing in the Seattle area, Tim was excited to get a toss-up from a fellow number 55, all-star Marlins pitcher Josh Johnson:
We decided that we’d had our fill of BP and it was time to do some walking. We walked a TON during this game. In all, we circled the entire stadium 3+ times.
For some reason, we walked toward home plate (passing a group of Mariners fans!) and we kept walking and walking. I think we were on our way to get nachos in the LF corner. I thought the boys looked terribly cute walking through the concourse together:
We decided we needed to get some more play-time in before nachos. So we headed back to the kids’ play area. Tim went up top and did some more crazy sliding. Kellan and I went in the little net room and threw our cloth baseball off of the walls:
Then, we finally grabbed some nachos. Actually, first, we walked all the way around the ballpark AGAIN. I figured there would be nachos in the concourse down the RF line…but no. So we kept walking and walking (actually, I carried Kellan much of the time), and made it all the way back to the nacho place in LF.
Then we walked – with me holding Kellan and a whole bunch of nachos — to our seats in RF foul territory. Guess what? It was bring your dog to the ballpark day. As we passed by, I notied that the Nats had set up some grass in the CF concourse…
…so the dogs to relieve themselves during the game. Very thoughtful of you, Nats.
We reached our seats moments after the first pitch, and it was on! Yeah, the game was on too, but I mean “it” (nacho time!) was on:
It is official: The Cook Family Loves Nachos.
And rightly so. They are the world’s perfect food. And the Nationals offer some great chili cheese nachos down the LF line.
Anyway, the game was “on” too. This was our view from Section 137:
Our actual seats were in Row EE, between the “Bohvechkin” guy with his arm in the air (above) and the guy standing and shouting in the other red shirt. But we were hanging back a few rows so we could stay in the very refreshing shade.
This sort of famous young pitcher was on the hill for the Nationals:
Stephen Strasburg, have you heard of him? On that pitch above, he induced a ground out by Emilio Bonafacio.
Hanley Ramirez struck out (but not on this pitch)…
…to end the first inning. It was the first of six K’s Strasburg recorded on the day.
Sometimes a baseball game makes more sense when you watch it on TV instead of in person because there are no commentators in the ballpark. In the top of the second inning, Logan Morrison led off with a single to CF. And then *something* happened, but I have no clue *what* had happened. It looked like this:
First, it appeared that the ball got fouled off of the home plate umpire, or it just hit him on the live pitch. I’m not sure. Whatever happened, the umpire was somewhat hurt and needed attention from the training staff.
On the play, Logan Morrison took second. As you can see in the top left picture, the first base coach is standing on first, but Morrison is gone. The trainer talked to the umpire for a while. Strasburg threw some pitches to keep warm while this was happening.
Finally, the umpire was ready to go again. And then he called Morrison back to first. In the bottom left picture, you can see him standing on the bag (the middle head of the three pictured). That caused Ozzie Guillen and another Marlins coach to come out and argue with the umpires for a long time. In the end, LoMo was back of first.
On TV, I’m sure it all made complete sense what was going on. But in the ballpark, I had no clue…neither did Tim or Kellan, especially Kellan.
Speaking of Kellan, he copies just about everything he seeing me or Tim do. You might have noticed that I wear my glove on my head a lot during games. Well, at one point, Kellan put his glove on his head. So Tim followed suit and we got a picture (during which Kellan’s glove started to fall off his head) of the three glove-heads:
This was Kellan’s eleventh MLB game overall, and his second Marlins/Nationals game. Last season, we saw the *Florida* Marlins in DC and Kellan had a cool little exchange with Anibal Sanchez. At this game, Anibal was facing off against Strasburg:
And he was looking sharp, too.
Anibal retired the first four batters. The fifth batter was Jayson Werth…and Anibal retired him too:
Tim kept asking if we could go blow bubbles, which prompted Kellan to chime in “Bubbles! Bubbles! Bubbles!” I had no clue what Tim was talking about. But Tim led us right to the spot…
…and he blew a bunch of bubbles at an Autism Awareness booth in the LCF concourse behind the Red Porch. And then it was time to grab some ice cre…wait, Tim switched things up, it was time for Dipping Dots! So we walked almost all the way around the stadium looking for the dipping dots. During the walk, Tim climbed up into the Gecko’s arms (above) and acted like he was being captured.
Tim went for banana split dipping dots…
…while I picked mint chocolate chip for me and Kellan to share.
We grabbed some ice cream seats in the handicapped seating down the first base line and watched Strasburg deal it…
…while Kellan and Tim chowed down on their dots to reviews of *two thumbs up*:
Tim figured out the dots fit perfectly into the drink holder and he could eat his dots with his feet up on the railing. Ah…the good life.
I kept trying to get a good action shot of Strasburg, and I was finally satisfied with this one:
In the top of the sixth inning, Jose Reyes came to the plate with one out. All of a sudden, I decided I should get a shot of Reyes, but he knocked a base hit down the RF line right as I pulled my camera out of my cargo pocket. But I got him rounding first and then sliding in safe at second:
Reyes was FLYING! That guy has some wheels.
Two batters later, Hanley Ramirez stepped to the plate again. And on this pitch, he chucked his bat 4-5 rows deep into the stands and nailed the guy in the blue shirt in the elbow:
As the boys kept munching their dots, I decided to get a shot of Reyes scoring from second – all I needed was Logan Morrison to get a 2-out hit. But as Reyes started to turn on his afterburners, Morrison grounded the ball up the middle (you can see the ball directly behind Reyes’ left heal)…
…for an inning ending 6-3 ground out.
The score was still 0-0. Both pitchers were looking really strong. We decided to make one final trip to the kids’ play area:
While we were in there, Ian Desmond hit a solo homerun to put the Nationals up 1-0.
Kellan met up with another little guy who must have been right around 1-year-old. He was walking, but he was teeny tiny. Kellan walked up and hugged him (“oh, look at the cute baby”) and Kellan looked like Andre The Giant hugging this little guy. He then started crawling around after the little guy:
Before we left the play area, Jayson Werth hit another solo homerun for the Nationals. That made it 2-0 Nationals.
We left the play area and headed up to the second deck in CF. There is a standing room party-type area in CF – when you look at the seating map on the Nationals website, it doesn’t even show this area. So there is no “section” number. But here is the view from that area:
And here is a look at the busy SRO area with the packed Red Porch in the background:
Ozzie Guillen made a major gaffe when he put the line-up together – he gave Giancarlo “Mike” Stanton the day off. It was unfortunate for the Marlins because Stanton hits a monster bomb or two almost every time we ever see the Marlins.
Well, Giancarlo pinch hit for Anibal Sanchez. On the first pitch, Giancarlo seemed to get a hit:
But Ian Desmond made a diving stop on the ball and was able to just barely throw out Chris Coghlan at second base. Had Coghlan not been on base, Stanton probably would have been safe at first.
Anyway, we walked around the back of the Red Porch, which looked like this…
…and then we headed over to the upper deck in LF foul territory.
Since it was our first game of just the three guys, I wanted a good picture of the three of us and I didn’t think our first group shot was very good. Unfortunately, the pictures didn’t get much better in the upper deck.
Well, this one from section 306 turned out pretty good:
And this picture turned out okay…
…but for some reason, the usher who took it managed not to get any of the field in the background.
After that guy failed to get the field behind us, I took a test self-portrait, and Kellan gave me a no games, super-serious look:
He smiles and laughs constantly when he is not being photographed, but for 85% of all pictures and videos he goes ultra-serious.
Another usher did a much better job framing the shot, but Tim wasn’t looking in the picture:
Oh, well. We’ll get a better group shot next time…or the time after that, or after that, or after that.
The ninth inning crept right up on us. The Nationals were still winning 2-0, and Strasburg (who pitched six innings) was in line for the win. We headed down to the field level with the idea of trying to get in place for an umpire ball attempt.
We grabbed some seats about 20 rows back, just above the home plate end of the dugout.
Brad Lidge came in to close it down for the Nationals.
Oops…sorry, Strasburg, but Lidge walked Hanley Ramirez to start the inning and then Logan Morrison crushed a homerun into the second deck above the Nationals bullpen:
No win for Strasburg and, eventually, we were heading into extra innings!
Kellan fell asleep hugging me tight:
And then someone hit a foul ball that literally landed within five feet of us! It landed right across the aisle and one row below us. But I couldn’t even make an attempt on it because the little guy was sawing some serious logs. The ball came right to another dad and his son. Both had gloves ready on their hands. The ball smacked into the palm of the dad’s glove and then bounced out, skipped off the steps and bounced into the gut of an older guy running up the stairs.
Chances are that will be our one chance to catch a game foul this year. Oh, well. It was great having the little guy take a nap on my chest while Tim and I watched the game.
Actually, Tim wasn’t just watching the game, he was documenting it. After he took the picture of me and Kellan, he asked if he could take some pictures. I agreed and he started snapping away. As I watched him, it seemed like he was zoomed WAY in on everything and wasn’t getting anything he wanted to get.
But as our family watched a slide show of our game pictures later that night (which we do as a family on our TV after each game), I discovered that Tim took amazingly awesome pictures! I was shocked and so very proud of my little baseball photographer in training.
Check out Tim’s handiwork.
Donnie Murphy (pinch running for Greg Dobbs) leading off first base in the top of the ninth inning:
Joey Espada, who tossed us a baseball at Sun Life Stadium last season, coaching third base:
The Marlins relievers (Heath Bell and Edward Mujica) and Nationals reliever (Tom Gorzelanny, accompanied by Jim Lett) warming up in the bullpens:
Both teams’ bat boys in action:
Omar Infante getting ready for the next pitch as Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos fires the baseball back to Brad Lidge:
Ozzie Guillen encouraging Infante to get hit (while accompanied by Greg Dobbs and Marlins batting coach Eduardo Perez):
Here’s my favorite of Tim’s photos: a dejected Chris Coghlan walking off the field after Infante failed to deliver the go-ahead RBI hit:
Great job, Timsky!
Tim snapped Donnie Murphy warming up his arm before the bottom of the ninth inning:
And Marlins relief pitcher Edward Mujica:
Oh…time out, I took this one of Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez…
…who appear to peacefully co-exist on the left side of the Marlins in field.
In the top of the tenth, Tim asked to get the camera back because he had not got a shot he wanted: a Marlin running. He did a great job getting this picture of Hanley Ramirez running out a deep fly out to RF (I actually thought it had a chance to fly out of the park):
After catching the baseball from Jeff Urgelles, Tim really wanted the Marlins to win. He was a bit upset when the Nationals regrouped in the bottom of the tenth and won the game 3-2 on a sacrifice fly to CF by Ian Desmond. By this point, Kellan was awake again. On the crack of the bat, I could tell it was a game winner, so Tim and I (Kellan in my arms) hustled down the stairs to the third or fourth row. We slid into the row and were in the perfect spot when home plate umpire Greg Gibson walked by and handed us our final baseball of the day.
We tried to track down Jeff Urgelles on his walk in from the bullpen, but the crowd behind the dugout was tough to squeeze through and we got to 3B right as Urgelles passed by and entered the dugout. We’ll track him down later this season!
So, we called it a day and walked to the car. Tim entertained himself in the car by taking more pictures…
…while Kellan ate some “nacks” and relaxed.
It was a big day for the little guy. He was fast asleep about half an hour before we got home…
…and Tim capped off the drive watching some “Octonauts” on youtube on my cellphone.
Hey, it was a good day. Let’s do it again next weekend…
Okay, yeah, you got a deal. Let’s do it! We’ll see you soon, Camden Yards!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|2/1 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|4/2 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Nationals; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals|
|1 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1|
|12 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 4, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 2|
|1 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park|
|2/1 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park; Kellan – Nationals Park|
|1/0 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones; Kellan – N/A|
On Saturday morning, April 24, 2010, we found ourselves on the 7-train weaving our way through the roof tops of Queens, New York…
Our travels took longer than we expected, so we missed all of the Mets BP and arrived probably half way through the Braves BP. We headed down the 3B line toward the LF corner and grabbed a spot to watch the action.
In our third game at Citi Field, I finally remembered to take a photo of the home run apple while it was “up.” This apple is much bigger than the old Shea Stadium apple and instead of being in a top hat it is just in a random raised opening in center field. Its not a bad home run apple, but I favor the old Shea apple, which seemed to have more of a *kitsch* factor.
During BP, we ran into MLBloggers Joe and Alex, whom we had spent time with last October during a rain-soaked game at Citi Field. Tim just loves hanging out with these guys. The day after this game, he couldn’t stop telling his mom about his buddies (e.g., “Did you know Joe has two dogs?” “Alex shared his peanuts with me!”). Anyway, the four of us headed over to the Braves dugout toward the end of BP and one of the guys took this picture of us on the way through LF…
During BP, I noticed how the seats at the top of the LF upper deck appear to be tucked away under the out of town scoreboard…
…they reminded me of some seats we visited at Rogers Centre last season. I decided we’d have to check out those seats during the game.
Here’s a shot of Tim and Alex in deep discussion about the intricacies of peanut cracking…
Shortly before the game, several Braves came out of the dugout to stretch, run and play catch behind third base. Here is hot shot rookie Jason Heyward…
As the game started, we split away from Joe and Alex and headed toward the kids play area in center field. The Mets have batting cages and a whiffle ball field in CF, but not a playset like at many stadiums. Tim was excited to do some hitting. But on the way out to the whiffle ball field, he asked, “Why isn’t Alex coming to watch me hit?” It was pretty funny. I think he remembered that last season, Alex did just that.
The first thing we noticed was that they moved the batting cages from behind the RF wall of the whiffle ball field to behind whiffle ball infield. Before hitting, Tim worked his way across the outfield shagging balls hit by other kids:
Next, it was time to hit the soft toss batting cage…
After some hitting, we found our way up to the last row of the upper deck in deep left center field…
I was excited to see what this Jason Heyward guy was all about. I ended up photographing all of his at-bats at this game, all from different spots in the stadium. However, he hit the third pitch of this at-bat up the middle for a single…
While Tim kept piling in the nachos (like his parents, he loves nachos!), I got this picture of David Wright…
I took this picture of the big open concourse area above the Jackie Robinson rotunda…
We finally found ice cream in CF. It was packed and we didn’t want to find a place in the sun, we went down under “Shea Bridge” and Tim at his ice cream behind the bullpens.
By the way, last season, the Shea Stadium Home Run apple was stationed right where this table now sits under Shea Bridge. You can *sorta* see the field from behind the bullpens. But there are a couple flat screen TVs on the wall right above the bullpens so we could watch the game while Tim ate his ice cream. We also watched the Braves relief pitchers do some stretching.
Right when we arrived behind the bullpens, Heyward came to the plate…
After ice cream, we explored a bit more. We found ourselves in the concourse behind 1B when Heyward came to the plate in the sixth inning. He eventually walked…
After watching Heyward walk, we decided to check out another new feature at Citi FIeld, the Mets Hall of Fame in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.
Tim posed with the 1969 and 1986 World Series trophies…
….it was cool to see the 1986 trophy because it was the first World Series that I really followed as a kid. However, I was rooting for the Red Sox who had traded during the 1986 season for two Mariners, Dave Henderson and my at-the-time favorite player, Spike Owen.
Tim also stared down legendary Mets manager, Case Stengel…
Before heading back up to the field level, we snapped this picture of Tim…
Finally, we went to the 3B side concourse where we watched the rest of the game from the SRO area behind the seats in (approximately) section 124:
In the seventh inning, Walla Walla Washington’s own (and former Mariner) Eric O’Flaherty entered the game for the Braves….
In the eighth inning, with the Mets leading by a score of 3-1 (the ultimate final score), Jason Heyward almost grounded into a double play (see the ball bouncing in the dirt to the far left)…
In the 8th inning, neither Jose Reyes nor David Wright could add any insurance runs for the Mets:
The only problem is that the Mets ushers religiously check the tickets of all patrons entering the field level seats during the entire game. When it got to the top of the ninth inning (with the home team winning) and they were still checking tickets, I figured it just wasn’t in the cards for this game, which was fine because we’d had a great day at the ballpark already.
But then something funny happened, with one out in the top of the ninth, Alex came walking up the stairs to the concourse. He was looking for us and he was armed with a field level ticket for a section right by the umpires tunnel. He flashed his ticket for the usher and we were all admitted to the seats with one out to go in the game. We met up with Joe just a short distance from the umpires tunnel. We had just enough time to say hi to Joe when Martin Prado (in for Chipper Jones who got hurt somehow during the game) grounded out to end the game.
Even before the ground ball reached Jose Reyes, we were standing next to the umpires tunnel. Tim called out to “Bruce!!!” as he exited the field. Dreckman reached out and set a nice rubbed up gamer into Tim’s left “Go, Deigo, Go!” glove-clad hand (as shown above, Tim likes to wear these gloves at games because he thinks they are like batting gloves). However, with the thick and slick glove on his hand, his left hand wasn’t big enough to palm the ball and he dropped it back into the tunnel. Luckily, another umpire (I think Paul Emmel) saw the whole thing unfold and he picked it up and handed it back to Tim.
Thanks, Mr. Dreckman and (probably) Mr. Emmel! And thanks, Alex, for the assist!
Tim was exited to collect his third umpire ball in as many games this season and he celebrated by balancing it on his head while sitting on the 3B dugout:
We hung out with Joe and Alex for a few more minutes behind the dugout before getting in line for Kids Run the Bases. Tim was excited to chat up his guys a little more.
While by the dugout, something funny happened. A teenage guy was behind the dugout with a baseball and he asked for an autograph from every Braves player and coach who walked into the dugout. He was getting no takers. So, eventually, he asked a Mets stadium attendant standing at the top step of the Braves dugout for her autograph. Finally, he had a taker. Then, he jokingly asked every police officer, security guard or random attendant to sign his ball. I didn’t see him get any more takers. Eventually, he asked Joe to sign his ball. Then, he asked Tim. So, here you go, Tim’s first ever autograph signed for a fan at an MLB game…
Joe helped him hold the ball steady and he wrote a shaky but legible “T-I-M” on the ball. Then for good measure (at the request of the ball’s owner), he did a little scribble next to his “signture.” Tim got a kick out of the experience.
And just like that it was time for Kids Run the Bases. The line was massively long and it took a long time to get back into the stadium. But as we entered though the bullpen area, we were afforded a special behind the scenes glimpse of the bullpen area:
To the left, that is the Moe’s Club right behind the RF wall. There is a restaurant (at least it looked like one) behind this seating area. To the right, that is the little room where the relief pitchers sit in the Mets bullpen.
I got a couple pictures before (right) and after (left) Tim ran the bases…
I also enjoy it when I am allowed to “chaperone” Tim around the bases — something I have now been allowed to do at Citi Field, Rogers Centre, Miller Park and Progressive Field.
After running the Citi Field bases, we headed out to the parking lot and Tim ran the Shea Stadium bases:
Finally, we got a picture with the Shea Stadium home run apple…
…and called it a day. We hopped the 7-train back to Manhattan, picked up some pepperoni pizza and garlic knots, and drove home. After leaving the house at 8:00 a.m. in the morning, we arrived home at about 9:00 p.m….thirteen hours well spent on another father-son baseball adventure.
2010 Fan Stats:
6 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays; Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
3 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles, Mets, & Nationals)
11 Baseballs (3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires)
3 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
2 Player Photos (Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
2 Autographs (Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
2 Kids Run The Bases (Nationals Park, Citi Field)
On Sunday, April 25th, Tim and I took to the road at 9am for another baseball adventure: our first trip to the Mets’ new home, Citi Field. We live about two hours from Manhattan. Tim is a huge fan of trains so we drove to the upper west side and parked at 84 & Amsterdam, where my friend, Davlynn, used to live. From there, we walked over to Central Park West and down three blocks where we caught the A Train at to Times Square where we walked a bit underground and eventually caught the 7 Train to Shea…I mean, Citi Field.
Ahh, there is no finer way to see Queens than by elevated coach:
The view was decidedly better when we arrived at Willets Point and followed the well-marked route toward “Mets Baseball” (all three of these pictures are taken from the subway platform):
Without even asking, a nice guy offered to take our photo in front of the new stadium:
Next, we headed to an automated kiosk where our online purchased tickets were printed up and spit out at us. It was time to enter the stadium. So we headed to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda.
I have mixed thoughts on the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. It is a nice looking, and quite grand, entrance. There are interesting photos and nice quotes of Jackie Robinson on the walls. And, he certainly is a man worth honoring. It just seems a little odd to me that the Mets made the rotunda such a focal point of their new stadium when Jackie Robinson was neither a Met nor did he play for a team located in Queens.
So it was time to check out the field. Here is our first view of the field:
Shea Stadium, like most of the old stadiums, didn’t have a lot of unique features (or, well, at least intentionally unique features). What it did have, however, was the famous home run apple, which reminds the spectators that they are in the big apple each time a Met player hit a home run (Note: in the 5-7 games I saw at Shea, I do not believe a Met ever hit a home run). So, I wanted to check out the classic apple and its updated replacement. The old apple is now resting in a somewhat unceremonious corner of a picnic-ish area behind the bullpen and under the main concourse (pictured below on the right). The new apple is much larger and is in CF. Interestingly, they ditched the top hat for the new apple:
Going to games with Tim, two things are very important to me: (i) the snacks available at the park and the (ii) quality of the standing room areas. In these two important areas, I give Citi Field a thumbs up and a thumbs down, respectively. Check out this picture and then I will explain my thinking:
I will take them in reverse order. My thumbs down for the standing room factor is really more a thumbs at a downward 45 degree angle. Its not terrible. In fact, there is a lot of standing room available. However, I rank from the perspective of a father and 3-year-old son watching a game. At Safeco Field and Citizens Bank Park (and I would assume others), there are standing room areas with counters looping the field. They are great for Tim to sit on while he eats his ice cream helmet and I watch the game, and because there are no dividers people cram in and lot of people can have front row standing areas (for example, see my pictures from last weekend during the 8th and 9th innings of the Phillies come-from-behind win against the Padres).
At Citi Field, instead of counters they just have railings with drink holders spaced about 3 feet apart. In the picture of Tim with his lollipop above, you can see a drink holder next to the lady-in-red’s hip. Not kid friendly. Also, Tim bashed his head on one of the rails while goofing around toward the end of the game. Now, instead of counters throughout the stadium, some of the standing room area in RF has tall, wobbly green metal tables. There aren’t many of them and they are set back behind the railing. So, you are (at least) in the second row of standing room. Plus, the wobbling is never good when you have a 3-year-old eating chocolate ice cream with sprinkles out of a helmet sitting on top of the structure. Finally, because of the spacing of the cup holders, only one person stands every three feet and tons of prime front-row-standing room is squandered. Poor design choice in my somewhat experienced Standing Room Only opinion. This is all made even worse by the fact that security seeks out any kids sitting on their father’s shoulders (where Tim spends tons of time at every game) and makes the kids get down. Therefore, at the standing room areas, there is virtually no way (other than on the few tall wobbly tables) for a 3 year old to see the game from most standing room areas. Again, poor planning.
As for the food, prices were pretty much in line with other stadiums, unlike what I have heard about new Yankee Stadium. I also found it interesting that the menu boards have the price and calories for all food items. We had Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, which were good. Tim had his usual ice cream helmet, and a lollipop from a little “Market” that is set back in the RF corner. With respect to the helmet, the Mets should be commended for providing this classic ball park treat, with sprinkles and hot fudge no less (we passed on the hot fudge). However, I was disappointed (and at the same time somewhat amused) that the Mets logo on Tim’s helmet was added on top of the “Shea Stadium 1964-2008″ logo. Obviously, they are using left over helmets from last season with an amateur cosmetic f”ix”:
I’ll blame this on the Wilpon family losing money in the Madoff ponzi scheme and I’ll forgive them for it. Again, it was somewhat amusing, so not all bad.
A couple more notes about the food picture above. I understand from Zack Hample’s blog that the skyline above the CF food stands is from the top of the old scoreboard at Shea…I’ve just checked my own picts from last season, by golly, Zack is right (I’m not posting a picture, you’ll have to trust me…or Zack…on this one).
Speaking of the old scoreboard, here is the new scoreboard from front and back. The “front” picture is taken from a bridge in the RCF area. I’m not sure what the point of the bridge is. It was crowded with standing room only people the whole game. One feature that I really liked about the back of the scoreboard is that is had a smaller big screen in it. So, when your kid(s) are playing back behind the scoreboard (where they have videos, two batting cages and a full whiffle-ball stadium complete with jumbo-tron screen), you can still see the game on the back-of-the-scoreboard screen (in this picture you can see that Omir Santos was batting in the bottom of the first):
As we usually do, we circled all around the inside of the stadium. Here is a panoramic view from the third-base side:
We even decided to head up to our actual seats (for the first time in 3 games this season). Here is the view from Section 526, Row 9, Seats 14-15, where we sat for one inning and ate our hot dogs:
See how the second level juts out straight up from the Mets on-deck circle? It juts out like that on the 3B side as well. All of the lower level seats between the “just” are sectioned off with rails. I imagine that security is tight to get in there. Plus, those people are the only people who can ever get a view from behind the plate at field level. The concourse behind home plate is a tunnel set back from the stands. Its dark and offers no view of the field whatsoever. This was a terrible idea. If during the game you want to walk from the 1B side of the stadium to the 3B side on the main level concourse, you’re gonna miss a minute or two of action while you walk the long closed off concourse to the other side.
With the bad, of course, comes the good. Note that in this picture you can see a large airplane coming in to land at LaGuardia, the airport is really close to the stadium. At Shea, you could hear 747s flying over head all game long. At Citi Field, I saw tons of airplanes coming in to land, but I didn’t hear a single one. I’m not sure why that is.
Another plus about the stadium (from our perspective) was that you can see the 7 Train going back-and-forth from the 500 level (probably from below as well). Tim loved that. In fact, he is pointing to the 7 Train in the hot dog picture above. Here is what he was pointing at:
While in our assigned seats, I took this picture of Jose Reyes taking a pitch (a strike I believe) – the ball is right next to his front leg in this picture:
We then went down below and took a couple more pictures of batters while we circled the stadium again. Here is Omir Santos about to pop this pitch up to 2B (the ball is circled in red):
Here is former Mariner Jeremy Reed flying out to LF. He has already hit the ball, which I have again circled in red:
That concludes my game pictures. Not that I cared really, but the Mets won 8-2. Then, the real fun began. It was kids run the bases day! After waiting through a HUGE line outside the stadium, we snaked in by the bullpen:
We were led onto the warning track in RF/CF:
We duplicated our Progressive Field picture from last year down the RF foul line:
(Note, extremely low wall, perfect for robbing home runs). Tim then sprinted toward the infield:
Then he stepped on first and bolted for second:
Touching second safely, he made the turn for third and then home. He then decided he wanted to do it again (not allowed) and he dashed down the first base line and into the infield grass (not allowed) before this lady caught him:
She escorted him to home plate, where he wanted to stay for a while:
Eventually, I ran out and grabbed Tim (and touched home myself). I then snapped this picture of us at the visitors’ dugout:
…and this additional picture showing the unique layout of the dugout. Then he walked through underbelly of the stadium and headed outside down the leftfield line where I took one last picture of the exterior of the stadium because I wanted to capture this image of Darryl Strawberry in the Mets collage:
And then, another fine day of baseball and another fine stadium under our belts, we began the long, slow process of commuting home…and stopping for Ray’s pizza in Manhattan.
Season Fan Stats:
3 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field)
6 Teams (Orioles, Rays, Phillies, Padres, Mets, Nationals)
2 Ice Cream helmet
3 Awesome Days of Baseball