We woke up at the downtown Miami Hilton on the morning of Saturday, September 1, 2012, with 8 hours of kill before our second and final game of the weekend at Marlins Park. We threw on our beach clothes, hopped into the Crown Vicky, and headed off to nearby Miami Beach.
We parked along Ocean Drive. As I was paying for parking people were taking pictures in front of the building right across the street from our car. Turns out that it was Gianni Versace’s house (left below):
Some bad stuff happened on the sidewalk in front of that house back in the 90s. Check out that Versace Wikipedia link to read about it. After Colleen got a picture with the Versace mansion, we had some fairly unimpressive breakfast at a sidewalk restaurant. That big thermometer (above right) was right across the street from our breakfast table and people kept getting pictures in front of it. So after breakfast, Colleen and the boys joined in the fun.
And then it was off to the beach:
I am not a beach person at all. But South Beach is awesome! The water is warm and there are hardly any waves at all. Lots of fun.
I splashed around a bunch in the water with Kellan, but Tim spent most of his time searching for sea shells…
…and then he posed with a rescue waver runner before we headed out.
After we had our fill of the beach, we headed back to the hotel so Kellan could get a quick nap. But he had no interest in it. So we headed to our hotel’s rooftop pool:
The pool at the Miami Hilton is really cool. And you can see Marlins Park from the deck.
Around 3:45, we packed up and headed out to Marlins Park. This time, the Cook Family was at full strength. And, for the record, Marlins Park was Colleen’s 14th MLB stadium (old Yankee Stadium, Memorial Stadium, Veterans Stadium, Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, PNC Park, Fenway Park, Citi Field, new Yankee Stadium, Nationals Park, Progressive Field, Rogers Centre and Marlins Park).
We parked at the CVS again. In fact, the parking attendant remembered us and intentionally had us park in the exact same spot as the night before. These pictures should be flipped, but here are a couple views of the Marlins parking garages as we approached the stadium:
The picture above to the right is the view across NW 7th Street as we approached the mid-block crosswalk. The picture above to the left is the end of that same parking garage from the little street approaching the ballpark, and that is a big art piece on the side of the parking garage.
The day before we turned to our right and walked toward the home plate gates. At this game, we turned left, and headed toward the left field corner. As we circled the corner, we walked by a “Boletos” window…
…and found some bamboo trees around the corner.
There is a big side walk area behind the LF side of the ballpark, and the sidewalk is littered with the artistic *remnants* of the words “ORANGE BOWL” sunken into the sidewalk. Tim and Kellan decided to pose with ever letter that was accessible to foot traffic:
Along the left field outer wall of the stadium, there is an entrance for the Clevelander Night Club:
If we had Clevelander tickets, we could have entered the ballpark already, but we didn’t. The sad thing is that we could see the Marlins inside taking BP. Only the select few with Clevelander or certain other “premium” tickets ever get to see the Marlins take BP in Miami. That’s too bad.
As we approached what I will call the Centerfield gate, I turned around and took a picture of the boys and Colleen with several of the sunken letters behind them:
Amazingly, while there were a lot of people milling around outside of the Clevelander, there were zero people in line at the CF gate. So I hopped in line, and Tim and Kellan played with some green lights set into the sidewalk:
I didn’t realize this until working on this blog entry, but the gates are colored (signs, etc.) and feature lights set into the ground. And those colors all match the colors of the concourse corresponding where you will enter the stadium. For example, Tim and Kellan were playing with green lights and the signs on the CF gate were green, and when we ran into the ballpark, we entered the green section of the ballpark. And if you look at our last entry, you’ll have to take my word for it that we exited the ballpark in the yellow section of the ballpark and there were yellow lights on the ramp down to the ground level outside. That’s pretty cool. Well thought out, Marlins. Good job!
We had ten or so minutes to kill, so Tim and I played catch at the gate:
Check out this nice catch by Tim:
He’s chalk-full of good catches these days.
As we stood at the front of the line, this was our view through the gates:
This is a much better entrance than the RF gate. In RF, you have to slowly wind your way up a spiral walkway (sorta spiral, at least). The CF gate gives you a straight shot right up some those steps and into the CF concourse.
So, Tim, Kellan and I headed right down into section 36. Almost immediately, a groundskeeper walking through the outfield tossed a baseball up to Tim.
And just a few minutes later, another baseball was hit to the warning track near us. Tim got Josh Edgin’s attention and Edgin tossed the ball up…
…and Tim made a great grab. The ball from the groundskeeper was thrown over Tim’s head and we picked it up off of the ground. But Tim gloved the ball from Edgin cleanly, and it marked the very first Tim that Colleen had ever seen Tim catch a baseball completely on his own at a baseball game. By the way, she had stayed up at the top of the section and took three of those pictures from behind us.
Right after Tim caught the baseball from Edgin, Kellan got all excited and stood on the wall with his glove over his head yelling for more baseballs:
It was pretty cute.
We had only been in the park for a few minutes by this time, ten at the most. During that time, one of the Mets hit a homerun into section 40 along the RF line. Section 40 was completely empty and I thought it might be a good spot to go to try to catch a BP homer on the fly, so we all headed over there.
As Tim, Kellan and I walked into the section, there was an usher standing on the stairs right along the foul line…
…he pointed to two different spots in the empty rows of seats and lo-and-behold there were two baseballs just waiting to be found. We grabbed them and then headed down to the front row to watch more BP. I thought that was really cool of the usher, and quite fan friendly. We have found very few “easter eggs” at MLB games. It seems like most teams have their ushers clear out easter eggs before fans can find them. So it was really cool that this usher kept tabs on the baseballs and then pointed them out to us.
In addition to pointing out the baseballs, the usher was a really nice guy. He chatted with us a little more as we hung out in his section.
Colleen followed us into the section and several other fans, maybe 10 or so, followed her. There actually ended up being a decent little gathering of fans down there.
Several Mets pitchers were running from the RF foul line to CF and Kellan was still hoping that someone would toss him a baseball:
Ready for the blurriest picture I’ve ever posted on this blog? Here we go:
This shot was taken during possibly the 3 most interesting seconds of BP. A Mets batter hit a homerun to our right (closer to the bullpen). It was going to land 10 feet to our right and a row or two behind us. There were several fans right where it seemed like the homer was going to land. I didn’t even make a move for it. There was no chance of me getting over there. But then, magically, it slammed untouched into a folded up seat between all of the fans and took a crazy ricochet toward the foul pole. I flung my hand up and – BOOM! – barehanded the baseball as it tried to whiz by my head. Immediately upon catching the baseball, I turned around (as shown in the picture above) and looked at the ball and another baseball whizzed by me. As you can see in the picture above to the left, right as I barehanded that homerun ball, Tim was calling out to Jon Neise. Neise tossed a ball up to Tim but threw it over his head. It hit the seats right in front of me. The ball rattled around on the floor for half a second before we scooped it up.
So, we very quickly got four baseballs in section 40. I figured that was good enough. So we did a little exploring.
First, we took Colleen up to the upper deck seats above section 40. Colleen though the “concourse” up there was quite bizarre so she snapped our picture:
We took a stroller through the upper deck seats. Here is what Marlins Park looks like from section 140:
While we were up there, I noticed something I had not noticed the day before – there is a “Marlins Park” sign above the RF upper deck seats:
I found out later that Colleen took our picture as me and the boys walked across the upper deck seats:
Before heading down from the upper deck, I got a panorama from the SRO behind the seats in section 134:
After we got our fill of the upper deck, we headed down and over to the SRO area behind the homerun statue. There were three Mets standing down below us but we only recognized one of them, Chris Young. Like Tim in t-ball this season, Chris Young wears number 55. So that made Tim happy. Tim decided to try to get Young to toss a ball all the way up to us. But it was clear it wasn’t going to happen. So we swung around to the LF seats.
Here was our view from the end spot in the first row of section 32:
We were right above the Clevelander, but you wouldn’t really know it. All we could see below the LF bleachers were a bunch of blue awnings:
We were still relatively close to Chris Young and Tim was still hoping that Young would toss a baseball up to him. But Eric Langill beat Young to it:
Young did eventually *try* to toss Tim a baseball…
…but things were a bit complicated. First off, where we were in the front row it was only about two feet deep. We were past the last seat and there is just a little extra space that is…just sorta *there* The point is, there was a big bright lime green wall directly behind us. Plus, most of Tim’s body was behind the front wall of the section – you know, the wall that keeps people from falling down into the Clevelander.
All this meant that Tim was a really small target for Young to hit. Add to that fact, the fact that Tim really likes to makes catches on his own. He doesn’t like me swooping in to make a catch when he thinks he can make it on his own. So, when Young air mailed the ball over Tim’s head, although I could have easily stepped forward and caught it right above Tim’s head, I hung back and hoped Tim could reach the ball. When it flew over Tim’s outstretched glove, I tried to play the ricochet off the wall, but it bounced oddly off the wall and the family a couple seats down from us snatched up Tim’s Chris Young baseball.
Tim was pretty bummed out about it because he really wanted to catch a baseball from Young. I felt bad for Tim not being able to catch the baseball from a fellow number 55. But, assuming Tim was going to catch the baseball from Young, I was going to give the Langill baseball to that family anyway. So at the end of the day, missing the baseball was a wash.
As BP started to wind down, we headed over to the LF corner. It looked a little like this over there in section 29:
There were a couple BP homers scattered in the Marlins bullpen. I figured we would hang out there until someone wandered out to the bullpen. As Randy St. Clair made his way down the LF line, an usher came through and told everyone they had to leave unless they had tickets for that section. I pointed out St. Clair and mentioned we were hoping he would toss up one of the baseballs in the bullpen. The usher gave us the blessing to stay put.
And when St. Clair passed by below…
…he stopped and tossed the one baseball right below us to a kid just down from us. He then disappeared and five seconds later reappeared holding up a baseball and calling out to Tim. It took St. Clair a couple attempts to get the baseball up to us. His first toss wasn’t high enough and actually bounced out onto the foul warning track. But St. Clair ran over and grabbed it and made a better toss.
Before heading out, I snapped a picture of the smaller scoreboard behind section 29:
An usher had told Colleen that some Marlins would be signing autographs behind the LF seats prior to the game. We had noticed them doing this before the game the night before. Unless it was Mike Stanton…I mean, Giancarlo Stanton, I had no interest in waiting around on them. We never did end up seeing any Marlins signing autographs over there, but we did see these guys:
Those guys were hanging out taking photos right by the “Taste of Miami.” Colleen wanted to check out the T.o.M. While doing so, we noticed that there was a door leading out to a little landing outside. We headed out there to get a picture of Colleen and Tim with the city behind them:
And then we headed up the big escalator…
…to the upper deck.
We were essentially just walking around so Colleen could see the stadium and we could kill some time before the game started. But I did have one thing I needed to do up in the upper deck. I had not got a panorama all the way out by the RF corner. So we walked all the way around the upper deck so I could get this panorama from section 302:
We were getting really close to game time. Colleen and Tim wanted to grab some food and Tim wanted to show Colleen the bobblehead museum so we split up. While they did those things, Kellan and I headed to our seats.
As I surveyed the area and took some photos, Kellan snuck some of daddy’s diet pepsi and guarded my seat:
Here was our view of Marlins Park from section 3, row E:
By the way, I should point out that row E is the third row off the field in section 3. The front row (row C) has only two seats. Row D is four seats wide. And Row E is eight seats wide. We had the four seats right on the aisle (seats 8, 7, 6, and 5). The face value of these tickets was (I believe) $35/ticket, but we picked them up on stub hub for $13/ticket. I could have actually got the seats directly one row behind us for $11/ticket, but I opted for being a little bit closer to the field.
The was one reason and one reason alone that I picked these seats: they were the closest we could get (well, closest without spending a lot of money) to the ball boy. My goal was for Tim to get a live game foul tossed up to him from the ball boy.
Here’s a nice view of the Marlins homerun statue:
Colleen got some food at the Taste of Miami and Ti got a big trough of fries, and then they headed over to the Bobblehead Museum:
When they reached our seats, Tim shared his fries with Kellan and Colleen took tons of pictures of it:
For the second day in a row, Tim was pulling for the Fish. On the hill for the Marlins was Tim’s number counterpart, Josh Johnson:
Johnson pitched a gem for eight innings. And this was our view from section 3:
Colleen took lots of pictures during the game, like this…
…, and this:
The Marlins took the lead in the bottom of the third inning when Bryan Peterson hit an RBI double – 1-0 Marlins.
Around the fourth inning, Tim wanted to explore a little bit. So we all took to our feet and hit the concourse. Heading toward home plate through the 1B side concourse, we past a Guest Services booth and a bank of escalators leading up to the club level:
Just past the Guest Services booth there was a random bar…
…and some equally (nee…more) random art on the wall above the concourse.
Remember those buried “Orange Bowl” letters outside the stadium? Well, in the concourse down the LF line, the Marlins pay tribute to the Orange Bowl on one of the stadium’s support beams:
You know what else they have on lots of the support beams circling the field? Marlins Park signs:
Down the LF line, we found an escalator heading down below the field level concourse. I asked the usher guarding the top of the escalator what it was all about, and she explained it was the entrance to the Clevelander. You need a Clevelander ticket to enter the Clevelander, but not simply to ride the Clevelander escalator. This is what the Clevelander entrance looks like from the escalator:
When we resumed our walk around the field level concourse, we saw something hilarious:
Aye, aye, aye…
We continued walking single file from LF toward CF:
In that last picture, Colleen is wearing Kellan’s hat.
We stopped in RCF so I could get a panoramic shot from the concourse behind section 35:
Before returning to our seats we stopped by several concession stands, and all of them had computer error dialogue boxes displayed on the menu boards:
Most of the menu boards had that error box and no prices for any of the food. I guess that is one potential drawback of technology; an old fashioned manual menu board never has an error that prevents it from doing its one and only job.
Anyway, the menu board errors did not prevent us from getting some tasty ice cream for the boys:
There was some more scoring in this game. In the top of the fifth, the Mets tied the game up at 1-1 on a Josh Thole groundout.
In the bottom of the sixth, Jose Reyes and Carlos Lee hit singles and then Giancarlo Stanton followed with a single of his own, but his single was of the RBI variety. So that put the Marlins up 2-1.
Stanton got stranded on base, but that didn’t prevent me from getting some Giancarlo base running photos…
… while he was making a mad dash for 3B as Donovan Solano flew out to CF for the third out of the bottom of the sixth inning.
Before the top of the seventh inning, I noticed that the Marlins employ a umpire-look-a-like usher whose job it is to run out to shallow CF to deliver between-inning water to the actual umpires:
Lucas Duda led off the top of the seventh with a ten pitch at bat, which included five foul balls. This, I believe, was the first of those five foul balls:
Duda hit that foul ball right down the 1B line. It evaded the fans down the line and was snared by the ball boy in fair territory right down below us. The ball boy no-look tossed the baseball into the crowd and I just barely caught it while reaching up as high as I could over my head.
I won’t lie. I was pretty darn excited about this foul ball toss-up. I bought these specific seats with the specific goal of getting a foul ball tossed to us from the bat boy, something that we’ve never got before. I actually could have got the seats immediately behind our seats for $2 less per seat. But I went for the slightly more expensive seats that were just a little closer to the field, and it paid off big time. It is doubtful we would have got this foul ball if we were one row further back from the field.
And, hey, bonus! Since the baseball was used in the game at Marlins Park, it was a Marlins Park inaugural season commemorative baseball! Hooray!
Thanks, Lucas and Ball Boy!
Here’s a random picture for you:
Throughout our two games at Marlins Park, I kept wondering what the heck that yellow line was for on the LF foul wall. The line is ten feet into foul territory. If a ball hits just behind it on the green wall, its foul, not a homerun. I just don’t get it.
Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, things were looking pretty good for the Marlins. Josh Johnson had given up only three hits all night and the Fish had a 2-1 lead. But they weren’t satisfied.
With one down in the bottom of the eighth, former-Met Jose Reyes drew a walk off of Ramon Ramirez. While Carlos “El Caballo” Lee stood in, Reyes swiped second. And then El Caballo dinked a little hit into RCF:
Neither Mike Baxter nor Andres Torres could come up with the ball, and Reyes motored right around third and crossed home for a seemingly valuable insurance run:
Everyone was happy about the Marlins’ lead, including Colleen and Kellan:
I was stilling waiting for a Giancarlo Stanton long ball…
…unfortunately, he followed Lee with a double-play grounder, instead.
The Marlins win was seemingly in hand. So many of the Marlins *faithful* headed for the doors, which was nice because almost the whole row behind us opened up for Kellan:
Here’s another random shot:
How weird is it that you can see the legs of the people in the front row through the fish tanks?
At 105 pitches for the night, Ozzie Guillen (who we never really noticed while we were at Marlins Park) in decided Josh Johnson had done enough. He turned the game over to his non-Heath Bell closer, Steve Cishek. Unfortunately, it was not Cishek’s night.
Daniel Murphy lead off with a single to RF. David Wright followed with a single to LF. After Ike Davis struck out swinging, Lucas Duda hit a single to CF.
All of Josh Johnson’s hard work was erased: Murphy and Wright both scored on Duda’s single and the score was all knotted up at 3-3.
I missed all of that nice action with my camera. Instead, after the Mike Baxter fouled out, I got an action shot of Cishek pitching to Andres Torres:
It looks like Lucas Duda is stealing 2B on that pitch, but he’s not. He waited for Torres to collect four balls, and then he walked to 2B.
And that brought Kelly Shoppach to the plate. On the second pitch he saw from Cishek…
…, Shoppach sent a hard grounder back up through the box. The ball quickly made its way out to Marlins CF Justin Ruggiano who was running hard ready to scoop the ball up and throw home, but…OOPS…Ruggiano ran right by the ball and it kept rolling DEEP into CF.
I thought it was going to result in an error-assisted in the park homerun. But Shoppach doesn’t have the wheel, he only made it to 3B. But Duda and Torres had no trouble finding the plate.
Ruggiano’s body language told the story:
Aye, aye, aye…
The Marlins were two outs from a 2-run win, and now they trailed the Mets 5-3.
Randy St. Clair came out to deliver the bad news to Cishek:
“Hit the showers, kid!”
And in sprinted former-closer, Heath Bell:
Bell struck out the only batter he faced (Scott Hairston).
As the Mets warmed up for the bottom of the ninth inning, I took this picture of Mike Baxter playing catch with the ball boy:
I took the picture because that is essentially right where the ball boy was standing (although he was running in the general direction of the 1B dugout) when the ball boy tossed the Lucas Duda foul ball up to us.
Speaking for foul balls, the ball boy got another during the bottom of the ninth and he flipped it up to no one in general. It was going to land right on the other side of the railing between section 3 and section 4 (to our left). Tim hopped up and reached over the railing. I thought he had a chance to catch it…that is, he had a chance until a 20-ish year old fan sitting in the front row completely leaned over Tim…
…and crushed Tim’s arm against the railing. Amazingly, (although he too missed the ball) this guy was totally oblivious to the fact that he crushed Tim’s arm on the railing (and, just in general, smashed into Tim).
Way to go, cool guy!
Frank Francisco took over for the Mets in the bottom of the ninth and he set the Marlins down 1 (Greg Dobbs), 2 (Donovan Solano), 3 (John Buck).
Game, set, match: Mets.
After the game wrapped up, we made our way down to the front row corner spot and got a nice family picture:
But our night wasn’t over.
We relocated over to the front row behind the 1B (visitors) dugout…
…and watched Billy the Marlin entertain the crowd a bit.
Then the Marlins opened up the roof…
…and BOOM GO THE FIREWORKS:
It was a decent little fireworks show (nothing compared to an Indians Rock’N’Roll Blast) with a really strong finale.
After the fireworks wrapped up and we prepared to head for the exits, I snapped a picture that I had meant to take earlier in the day:
See how that green wall comes down to a point just past the visitors’ bullpen in RF? Well, it looks like the aisle running up the left and right sides of that wall connect at the point of the wall. Yeah, it *looks* like that…but looks can be deceiving.
In fact, the aisles to meet at the point of the wall, but a railing blocks off the passage way. So to get from one section to the other, you have to go up to the concourse and then walk 50 feet or so down to the next stair case.
Anyway, it was finally time to leave.
People were heading up the stairs to the concourse. But I sensed an opportunity for one last Marlins Park exploration. I noticed there was a tunnel leading down below the field level seats at the back of the moat (between sections 5 and 6). So we stayed in the first row and walked across toward section 6).
We were the VERY LAST fans to leave the seats down there in the moat, and an usher rewarded Tim for this accomplishment in the form of our final baseball from Marlins Park:
We headed into the tunnel under seats and it looked a whole lot like this:
That tunnel took us back to the main tunnel that circles under the ballpark. We turned right in that main tunnel and found a bunch of big colorful pictures of (mostly) current Marlins:
Tim posed with the best of them – Giancarlo Stanton!
And then we were funneled out of the ballpark through a little bar area that is open (I think) to people with 1B-side premium seats:
When we finally made it outside the ballpark, there was a concert in progress (just like the night before):
I gotta give credit to the Marlins. They’ve created a very fun post-game atmosphere with these little outdoor, post-game concerts.
As we walked toward our car, I noticed an entrance to the main Marlins Team Store. The “team store” (and that really has to be put in quotes) at Sun Life Stadium was light years beyond pathetic.
But the team store at Marlins Park is a legit Major League TEAM STORE (worthy of all caps):
Not wanting our Marlins Park experience to end, I continued to take pictures as we walked toward our car. Here is Tim and the Marlins Park roof:
Here is a view from the northwest corner of the ballpark:
And, finally, a night time shot of Marlins Park from the CVS Pharmacy parking lot showing the roof rolled back over in the *open* position:
Here is my official assessment: Marlins Park is an 80,000,000,000% improvement over Sun Life Stadium.
Good job, Marlins!
We really had a great time at our two games in Miami.
BUT WAIT! OUR WEEKEND TRIP WASN’T YET COMPLETE. SCROLL DOWN FOR A FEW BONUS PICTURES.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|23/21 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves|
|37 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 4, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|129 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 7, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1|
|22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2|
|12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird|
|7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney|
On 9/2, we spent a bunch of time in South Beech, where we did some swimming at the beach and saw some cool birds:
And some more cool birds and a Lambourghini:
On 9/3, the big event of the day was our trip to the Miami Seaquarium, where we got to hold some really cool birds:
But best of all, we hung out with a dolphin:
Hooray for dolphins!
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|