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!
On August 14, 2011, we woke up at our hotel in Miami, Florida. We had another Giants vs. Marlins game on tap for the afternoon. But, first, we had some business to attend to…beach business. We hopped into our rental car and headed to Miami Beach. South Beach to be exact:
I’m not a big beach fan, but South Beach was awesome. The water was perfect and we had a blast. We arrived early and by the time the beach was really starting to get hopping, we headed out.
It was time for our second and final game at Sun Life Stadium:
I was not expecting there to be batting practice so I was pleasantly surprised as the Marlins were running off of the field and the Giants were just beginning their stretching routine as we entered the seating bowl behind home plate. We headed over to the Marlins dugout where a few players and coaches were still walking off of the field and into the dugout.
I’ve learned over the years that listening is key. I had no clue who any of the remaining Marlins were. But someone else did. I heard a lady say hi to “Joe,” and then “Joe” walked over to chat with her. I noticed that “Joe” had a baseball in his glove. So when he finished talking to the lady, I called out, “Hey, Joe!” He
walked over to say hi. And soon enough, Joe’s baseball was in Tim’s hand.
By the way, “Joe” ended up being third base coach, Joey Espada.
I was ecstatic for us to finally get a baseball at Sun Life Stadium.
As we continued to stand around behind the dugout, I noticed that Marlins manager Jack McKeon was just below us chatting with a guy. I waited until they had a natural break in their conversation (in fact, they even took a step or two away from each other for a moment) and then I held up the baseball from “Joe” and asked McKeon if he would sign the baseball for us.
McKeon held up one finger as if to say, “yep, in just a minute,” and then he re-engaged his conversation with the guy. And unhappy looking (and quite large) Marlins stadium attendant…
…who was standing by McKeon on the field stepped toward us and barked with a menacing scowl: “He’s busy talking to someone right now.” Of course, that is why we had patiently and politely waited for a natural break in McKeon’s conversation.
Anyway, despite the evil eye from the stadium attendant, McKeon did not seem to think we had done anything wrong. After another thirty seconds of conversation, he looked up and put his hands out for me to toss him the baseball and our pen. He signed the baseball, tossed it back and was on his way.
As the Giants started to hit, Tim and I headed out to deep RCF. Tim is not a fan of the sun, and it was beating down pretty hard at this point, so he grabbed a shady seat at the back of the section…
…and watched as I snagged a BP homer off of the bat of a Giants lefty. That ball landed in about the seventh row just as I approached and then rolled all the way down to the first row with me hoping the rows following it. It hurt like crazy as I bashed shin-after-shin and knee-after-knee on the seats.
Shortly after getting that baseball, Tim and I decided to walk around a little bit.
We headed over to the LF foul corner and checked out the drop off created by the folded-up seats:
Nothing was going on over there, so we headed to the kids’ play area. But when we reached the McDonald’s play area that we had visited the night before, we found that…
…it was gone. But over by the batting cage, we found a batting tee and bouncy house that were a lot of fun for Tim:
After bouncing, we headed over to section 142 quickly to check out our seats for the game. Then it was time for lunch. On the way out of the seating bowl, I got this picture that shows Tim’s new give-away Marlins bag:
Our nacho lunch was much better than our nacho dinner from the night before because I invested $1.00 for some extra cheese:
And then it was time for the game, this was our view from section 142, row 4:
Tim and I decided that we wanted the Marlins to win this game. So we were happy when Cody Ross grounded out to lead off the game for the Giants:
There was an unexpected guest hovering over this game – the Goodyear blimp:
Since we got a baseball (or two) during BP, we were excited to be able to get a Sun Life Stadium bonus point picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt. Here is our first attempt:
We tried again later and I decided to go with the second attempt instead of this one.
The night before, we were sitting right behind Mike Stanton and I was telling my Dad what a beast Stanton is. Living in Seattle and not getting to many N.L. games, my Dad had never heard of Mike Stanton (well, not this Mike Stanton at least. He had heard of the other less beastly Mike Stanton or maybe it was this Mike Stanton).
Tim and I saw Stanton hit at least three homeruns last season (including a monster upper deck shot in Philadelphia). Well, make it one more:
Stanton hit this one to the absolute deepest part of CF at Sun Life Stadium. And then there was nothing left to do but trot:
That put the Marlins up 1-0 at the end of the first.
In the bottom of the second we had a little excitement come our way. We were in the fourth row between the Marlins dugout and the Marlins bullpen. Our assigned seats were 5-6-7, with 7 being the closest to home plate. Tim’s seat of choice is always seat number 5. My Dad took seat 7. So that naturally left me with seat 6. But there was no one sitting to our left in 1-2-3-4, so I opted for seat 4 and the open route to the aisle so I could run for a foul ball in the general area.
What I didn’t expect was that a foul ball would come directly to us.
But when former-beloved-Mariner Mike Cameron came to the plate and put this swing…
…on the ball, that is exactly what happened.
The ball was a towering foul pop up that travelled directly to us off the bat. It did not hook, it did not slice, it did not blow in the wind. From the second it hit
the bat, it was plain as day obvious that this ball was destined to land right at seats 6-7 of row 4 in section 142. I am an inch or two taller than my Dad and would have had the natural advantage if I was standing directly next to him in my assigned seat. But instead I was blocked off by Tim (grandpa’s little helper!). My Dad and I both put our gloves up next to each other. Mine came down empty, and my Dad’s came down cradling this little beauty:
It is my Dad’s third foul ball of the season, but his first caught on the fly.
Aside from the foul ball potential, section 142 is a fun place to sit at Sun Life Stadium because it seems to be the entertainment hub of the ballpark. D.J. Petey is set up in the “beach” section of the ballpark during the games and between innings he was constantly setting up games and other stuff right in front of us:
It is also an access point to the field for the mascots, dancers and other on field entertainers. This game was Billy the Marlins birthday so there were about 15 different mascots on hand to celebrate. At one point, about 6-7 mascots were right in front of us tossing shirts into the stands. But mascots can’t throw very far!
So most of them all landed in the lower seats. And I came away with this Marlins t-shirt:
An interesting thing about this game was that both starting pitchers’ names started with the letters “Vo”…
Ryan Vogelsong vs. Chris Volstad. In the battle of the Vo’s, Vogelsong dominated.
This was one of my best games for getting action shots. Here is a cool picture of Aaron Rowand just about to ground out:
The Marlins have a scantily-clad dance troop called the Mermaids…
…that also used section 142 as a main point of access to do their in-game entertaining. Those Mermaids must have changed outfits about 3-4 times throughout the game. And (as you can see in the picture above) whenever D.J. Petey did a contest, they had two Mermaids flank him and the contestant(s).
While I was busy catching that Marlins t-shirt above, my Dad and Tim were hiding away in the shady concourse. When they returned, they were bearing gifts of ice cream:
Between innings at some point of the game, they did a little video tribute to Jack McKeon on the big screen in honor of this being the 2,000th game that he has managed in the Major Leagues:
I thought that was pretty cool to find out that we got Jack’s autograph at his 2,000th game.
Thanks again, Jack!
In order to keep a full roster of Mermaids ready for Major League action, the Marlins have a minor league (so to speak) dance crew in training, the Minnows:
These little gals are just 6-8 years and a Mermaid-twisted ankle away from getting called up to the Show!
Back to the action, Dwayne Wise turned around this pitch…
…for a harmless pop fly out to LF.
Like at ballhawkfest last month, Tim had a spray bottle full of water and was blasting himself in the face most of the day to stay cool. Of course, he took the opportunity to spray down his hair and make a little mohawk:
In the top of the seventh inning with the Giants leading 4-1, Marlins reliever Burke Badenhop drilled Ryan Vogelsong in the back with a pitch. Vogelsong was furious. He slammed his bat to the ground like he was chopping wood with an axe. I was super-excited at the possibility of getting one of the most difficult shots from the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt – fake punching another fan in the stands while the players brawl in the background. “Quick,” I said, “Tim, act like you’re punching Grandpa in the face!”
We did our part, but Vogelsong totally failed us. The brawl just didn’t materialize. So sad.
Here is a weird picture:
Can you tell what’s going on in that picture? It is hard to tell. You have to click to enlarge the photo. Throughout most of the game there were about 50 dragonflies buzzing all around over our heads. It was alike a Dragonfly convention.
Not only was section 142 a hot spot for D.J. Petey, the Mermaids, and the mascots, it was also home base for a cameraman. Between almost every inning, the cameraman focused in on different fans in section 142 and put them up on the big screens at the end of both endzones – on in baseball terms, RF and the 3B line. At one point, he caught staying himself in the face with his water sprayer…
…but right when I took a picture of the big screen, Tim turned around and looked at me with a big smile so all you could see on the big screen was the back of Tim’s head.
There were so many mascots all around that Tim just had to get his picture with one of them. While he would have favored Billy the Marlin or the Miami Dolphins’ dolphin, his best opportunity involved Sebastian the Ibis from the University of Miami. A little background is in order.
First, I have strongly disliked the Miami Hurricanes since the 1980s. Actually, I’m pretty sure I have a lot of company. It seems like everyone dislikes the Hurricanes.
Second, a couple months ago, Miami hired Al Golden, Jr. as its new head football coach. Golden (or Cousin Al) is related to us through my wife’s family. It is not like we’re so close that we are spending Thanksgiving with the Goldens. But we are related. Here is the situation as I have figured it out: Tim’s great-great-great
grandparents (on Tim’s mom’s dad’s mom’s side) are Coach Golden’s great-grandparents (on his dad’s mom’s side). In terms of generations, Coach Golden is on the same generational level as Tim’s grandpa (my wife’s dad, Kevin Gill a/k/a Poppy). So, Poppy and Coach Golden share the same great grandparents. Kevin’s mom is first cousins with Al Golden Sr. – their parents’ are sisters. So that clears it all up, right? Anyway, the family connection (despite the fact that Coach Al recently dumped my alma mater, Temple) has made it so I can at least stomach the Hurricanes a little bit, at least enough for Tim to get a picture with the Hurricanes mascot, Sebastian.
Anyway, there is a little handicapped access area just below section 142 (and running all the way to the LF foul corner). Sebastian was hanging out just below the handicapped area in the field level seats below. No one from up above can get down to those seats. So Tim camped out on the stairs…
…waiting for Sebastian to wander by close enough for us to arrange a picture.
This is what it looked like just above the handicapped accessible area where we were waiting for Sebastian:
Eventually, Sebastian made his way down to us and posed for a picture with Tim:
And at the very same moment, D.J. Petey was running a “Hug Your Kids” segment with one of the cameramen right in front of section 142. So after Tim posed for the picture with Sebastian, the big Ibis (which we kept referring to as a duck) picked up Tim and started hugging him and swinging him around like a ragdoll. The
cameraman turned and the little scene was broadcast throughout Sun Life Stadium:
Tim thought it was hilarious! In those pictures, he is looking at me and my Dad smiling and laughing with joy. Ah, good times at Sun Life Stadium!
Late in the game, we were excited to see former Mariner Jose Lopez come to bat for the Marlins…
…he popped out on that swing. It must have been his first at bat of the season because the scoreboard said he was batting .000 and had played in only one game, which I was thinking must be this game.
In the eighth or ninth inning, Tim and I headed over to section 156 to see if we could get an umpire baseball from Angel Hernandez. We stopped at the top of section 156 to get this picture…
…and to look at this cricket:
By the way, as you can see two pictures above, Tim was wearing his University of Hawaii baseball shirt that he got from our friends from myGameBalls.com and MLBlogs, Todd and Tim Dixon, from Hawaii. (Great names those guys have, eh?) Tim loves his UH baseball and t-shirt. And whenever I mention that we only have a couple more baseball stadiums to visit before we have seen all 30 MLB teams play a home game, Tim also mentions, “But we haven’t been to the Rainbows stadium yet in Hawaii.” So someday in the future, we’re going to have to Roadtrip to Hawaii to see the Rainbows.
The umpire tunnel was considerably less congested at this game. There were two people in the front row on the outfield side of the tunnel and no one else was in the first 5-6 rows. So we grabbed some seats in the first row one section over (in the orange seats just next to the off-limits blue seats). Our plan was to bolt down the second row of blue seats and jump over to the first row next to the tunnel right when the game ended.
This is what our view looked like from the first row in section 101 (which is directly next to section 156 on the outfield side of section 156):
The night before, we saw Aaron Rowand ground out to Greg Dobbs in the ninth inning. At this game, we saw Greg Dobbs fly out to Aaron Rowand in the ninth inning:
At this point, the Giants were leading the Marlins 5-2. When we left section 142, my Dad had told us that he was going to stick around on the 1B side to see if he could get Mike Cameron’s autograph after the game. I assumed he meant on the Mike Cameron foul ball he had caught earlier in the game. With the Marlins losing, I knew that the only way he would even have a chance to get Cammy’s autograph after the game was if (1) the Marlins came back to win the game or (2) the game ended with Cameron on base so he had to walk back to the dugout.
Well, on the Mike Cameron front, the stars were perfectly aligned for my Dad on this day. In the bottom of the ninth, Cameron singled up the middle on this swing:
He would eventually make it to second base.
Jeremy Affeldt was warming up in the Giants bullpen…
…and eventually came into the game (instead of Brian Wilson) even though it was a save situation.
Tim was fully committed to the Marlins winning this game. He gave his best “GO MARLINS” chant:
But his youthful exuberance was not enough, and the Marlins fell to the Giants by a final score of 5-2.
The game ended with Mike Cameron on second base, and the former-Seattle fan favorite (it is amazing how well Cameron fit in as a Mariner, particularly considering that he was replacing every Mariners fan’s favorite player, Ken Griffey, Jr.) stopped to sign a baseball for my Dad on his way back to the dugout:
I was slow on the camera trigger and only caught the above photo after Cameron had tossed the baseball back up to my Dad. But I had a good excuse. We were busy getting the third and final umpire ball tossed into the stands by Angel Hernandez. That makes two years in a row that Angel Hernandez has given Tim a baseball on the GFS Roadtrip. He might get a lot of flack for his actual umpiring work, but Angel is a-okay in our book!
After the game, an usher took this (would be excellent) photo of the three of us behind home plate:
Unfortunately, a single drop of rain landed directly on my lens. The guy took two photos to make sure we got a good one, but both are marred by the rouge rain drop.
And our picture wasn’t the only thing the rain ruined. The scoreboard in RF in the following panorama from the top of section 150 tells the sad story…
…Kids Run the Bases cancelled due to inclement weather. Shortly after we got in the car and hit the road, the skies opened up and dumped a near-Biblical flood’s worth of water all over Florida.
So, with no Kids Run the Bases to cap our day at the ballpark, we simply took a follow-up photo for our myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt Sun Life Stadium bonus picture…
…and then we hit the road.
Thanks, Sun Life Stadium! Despite your many flaws, we had a lot of fun.
On to Atlanta and Turner Field!
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|21/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]|
|16 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (1))|
|58 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)|
|10/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]|
|13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|7/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami); Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]|
|2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|