We woke up on the morning of August 19, 2008 at home. But the baseball roadtrip wasn’t complete just yet. Tim, my dad and wife relaxed around the house all day while I went back to work. In the evening, Tim, my dad and I headed down to South Philadelphia for the fourth and final game of our first baseball roadrip: the Washington Nationals vs. the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
The entry will be a little light on the pictures because, although it was my dad’s first game at Citizens Bank Park, I’d been there plenty and, following my first game ever at Great American Ball Park and Progressive Field and probably my third game ever at PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park just didn’t seem that special or in need of photographing at this game.
We parked in the Phillies lot to the northwest of the ball park and made our approach…
…we were in for a shock. Veterans Stadium was always at about 50% capacity when I went there and, while Citizens Bank Park always had good crowds, I’d never felt the need to pre-purchase tickets to a Phillies game. Yet, for this Tuesday night game against the Nationals (a team 25 games out of first place), all that was left at the ticket office was standing room tickets and “foul pole” tickets. We made the silly mistake of buying the $24 foul pole tickets rather than the $14 standing room tickets.
Tickets in hand, we entered the park and walked around so my dad could see the lay of the land…
Before heading to our seats behind the RF foul pole, we headed up to the rooftop bleachers walkway where you can get a good elevated view of the ballpark from centerfield…
Then we headed up to our seats. The late afternoon sun was blazing down in our eyes as we headed into our row of seats…
My dad and Tim were sharing a pretzel and were ready for some baseball.
So, how about that foul pole thingy the ticket salesman had mentioned. Here it is, the official “foul pole” obstructed view from Citizens Bank Park section 205, row 10, seat 15:
Well, its not too bad. It could be worst. For instance, if we were sitting in seats 13 or 14 instead of 15-17, we would have had a straight shot at the bulky part of the foul pole.
Here is a closer look of our view of home plate:
Actually, looking at it now, I doesn’t seem too bad. But it was pretty annoying. I was instantly thinking, “why in the world didn’t we go for the standing room tickets?” Really, it didn’t make any sense. That was what Tim and I usually got anyway. I think we got these because my dad wanted to have an actual seat — he’s old fashioned that way.
Anyway, we didn’t stay here long. In fact, I’m not even sure if we were still here when Willie Harris staked the Nationals to a 1-0 lead with a solo home run off of Joe Blanton in the top of the first inning.
I know, however, that we certainly were not in the foul pole seats anymore by the bottom of the second when former Mariner Greg Dobbs hit a sac-fly to score Ryan Howard and even the game at 1-1.
So, if we weren’t in our foul pole seats, where were we? You guessed it, we were in our usual $14 standing room spot.
One our way down to the field level, we swung by and said hi to an old friend who was “hanging out” in the field level 3B concourse…
It was time for an ice cream helmet…
…we went to our usual lady midway down the 3B line. Its as if she doesn’t know how to turn the ice cream machine off. She loads up a single ice cream helmet with enough ice cream to fill two helmets. As you can see, with two ice cream helmets worth of sprinkles topping the chocolate monstrosity, Tim greatly approved.
If you are looking for this uber-generous ice cream lady, go to the Old City Creamery behind section 137…
As happy as Tim was to have a mountain of ice cream, it was too windy for him at our standing counter space in the field level concourse.
So, with the score 4-3 Nationals, we relocated again to our final spot of the night. The standing room area behind section 243 in the LF porch. This spot was great because (i) it wasn’t windy, (ii) the seats behind us were elevated 5-6 feet so we could stand there without bothering the people sitting in the top section, and (iii) there was a big open handicap accessible seating area right in front of us with one one in it.
Of course, Tim wanted to play in that big open area…
…and this provided a very unique experience. The fans in Philadelphia are famous for being…well…not all that nice or polite. But on this night, they’d come to Tim’s aid. Tim was happily playing around in the big open space, not bothering anyone, when an usher who was working the ailse way between sections 243 and 244 came to kick Tim out of that area. She didn’t look happy or nice. She bent over to stearnly address Tim when from all around us we heard, “HEY, LET THE KID PLAY, LADY!!!!!! LET HIM PLAY! LET HIM PLAY! LET HIM PLAY!!”
It was great. The usher was obviously embarrassed by the public attention for trying to rain on a young boy’s parade. I could see a switch go off in her head. She turned to the crowd and yelled something in her defense…I can’t remember what it was. And then she told Tim to “be careful.”
By the end of the night, Tim was literally making her do races back and forth across the length of the handicap area — from section 242 to section 244. She ended up giving him a souvenir Phillies hat (I’ve never actually let him wear it). It was a pretty awesome turn of events prompted by the crowd coming to Tim’s defense.
As a side benefit, since she couldn’t kick Tim out, a couple more kids came to play with him. And she couldn’t kick them out either.
Maybe due to the outpouring of brotherly love flowing from the LF porch area, the Phillies decided to send the entire crowd home happy. Down by one run in the bottom of the seventh, the Phillies tied it up at 4-4 as a result of singles by Pat Burrell and Greg Dobbs followed by a sac-fly by Chris Coste.
In the bottom of the eighth, the Phillies took their first and final lead of the game on a solo home run by Jayson Werth.
Brad Lidge then nailed down the save — his 31st save of the season in 31 save opportunities.
It was official, happiness all around. We celebrated by making that usher take our pitcher in the once-forbidden handicap accessible seating area:
Stay tuned in June for reports from The (Third Annual) Great Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip of 2010.
Today was a big day for Tim; a milestone day. Therefore, I have two entries for today. This one is the milestone entry. I’m still working on the entries for our games at the Metrodome, Miller Park and U.S. Cellular Field, but they will all be coming soon.
Before Tim was born, I hand made a hard back, leather bound book for him that I called the “Baseball Log.” I use the Baseball Log to track all of Tim’s baseball adventures. Therefore, coming into this season, I knew that there were only 11 teams that Tim had not yet seen play in person. I made it one of our goals for the season. Today, at age 3-and-a-half, Tim checked the final team, the Royals, off of the list.
On our 30 team quest, we attended 46 games and visited 17 major league stadiums. This entry gives a glimpse into Tim’s journey around the MLB circuit.
Division-by-division, we’ll start by reviewing the dates of Tim’s first game with each team:
A.L. West A.L. Central A.L. East
Mariners (9-12-06) Twins (8-14-07) Blue Jays (9-12-06)
Angles (8-17-08) Indians (7-19-08) Orioles (8-9-07)
Athletics (5-1-09) White Sox (8-27-08) Yankees (9-3-07)
Rangers (5-4-09) Tigers (5-31-09) Rays (4-12-09)
Royals (8-17-09) Red Sox (7-3-09)
N.L. West N.L. Central N.L. East
Rockies (9-12-07) Pirates (9-27-07) Phillies (6-30-07)
Giants (5-2-08) Cardinals (9-27-07) Mets (6-30-07)
Diamondbacks (9-12-08) Cubs (4-11-08) Marlins (9-9-07)
Padres (4-19-09) Reds (6-2-08) Nationals (8-19-08)
Dodgers (5-13-09) Brewers (8-16-09) Braves (5-8-09)
As you can see, we closed out the A.L. West first, followed by the N.L. East. This makes a lot of sense since we are Mariners fans but we live an hour outside of Philadelphia. We then flip-flopped the leagues, and closed out the N.L. West followed by the A.L. East. Finally, on our current road trip, we closed out the N.L. Central on Monday, and the A.L. Central today.
Let’s check out some pictures — all 46 of Tim’s games to date (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game) in order:
Let’s take a closer look at those games. In the following list of games, when a Team Name is in Bold/Italics it denotes the first game in which Tim saw that particular team play in person. When a Team Name is underlined it denotes that team won the game. I figured identifying the game winners is enough, so I didn’t include the scores. However, I am including some game notes — such as homeruns, batting results by our favorite players or all-stars, etc.
1. Blue Jays at Mariners (9-12-06) – Ichiro 1-5, HR (Beltre, Ibanez, Wells), 2 Balls
2. Mets at Phillies (6-30-07) – HR – Howard, Beltran (2)
3. Mariners at Orioles (8-9-07) – Ichiro 3-6; HR – Miguel Tejada, Jose Guillen
4. Twins at Mariners (8-14-07) – Ichiro 1-4
5. Twins at Mariners (8-15-07) – Ichiro 2-4, 2SB; HR – Ibanez, Torii Hunter
6. Mariners at Yankees (9-3-07) – Ichiro 3-5, HR; W – Felix; L – Clemens (final loss)
7. Marlins at Phillies (9-9-07) – Burrell 2-4, HR; Carlos Ruiz 3-4, HR; Rollins 2-5
8. Rockies at Phillies (9-12-07) – Dobbs-Utley 3-Play; HR – M. Holliday; Helton 3-4
9. Cardinals at Pirates (9-27-07) – Pujols 3-5, 2B; Rick Ankiel 3-4, HR, 3RBI
10. Mariners at Orioles (4-6-08) – Ichiro 1-4; Ibanez 3-4, HR
11. Cubs at Phillies (4-11-08) – Pat Burrell 2-4, HR; Alfonso Soriano 1-4, HR
12. Giants at Phillies (5-2-08) – Chase Utley 2-3; Pat Burrell – walk off HR
13. Reds at Phillies (6-2-08) – Chase Utley 3-4, HR, 2RBI; Jay Bruce 2-4, HR
14. Indians at Mariners (7-19-08) – Ichiro 2-4, HR, 2RBI with outfield assist
15. Cardinals at Reds (8-15-08) – Pujols 3-5; Ankiel HR; Chris Dickerson 1st HR
16. Angles at Indians (8-17-08) – F. Gutierrez 3-3, 2RBI; Texiera 2-4; Sizemore 2-5
17. Mets at Pirates (8-18-08) – Adam LaRoche 2-3, HR, 2RBI
18. Nationals at Phillies (8-19-08) – HR – Jayson Werth, Willie Harris; R. Belliard 4-4
19. White Sox at Orioles (8-27-08) – Griffey 0-1, 3BB; HR: Dye, Millar, Huff, Konerko
20. Phillies at Mets (9-7-08) – W – Moyer (243); L – Pedro Martinez; HR – G. Dobbs
21. Reds at Diamondbacks (9-12-08) – Webb – 20th Win, 8IP, 5H, O ER, 2K
22. Rays at Orioles (4-12-09) – HR – Longoria, C. Pena, J. Bartlett, B. Zobrist
23. Padres at Phillies (4-19-09) – Ibanez – 2-4, HR; HR – Rollins, Utley, A. Gonzalez
24. Nationals at Mets (4-25-09) – C. Beltran 3-5, SB; R. Zimmerman 2-5
25. Athletics at Mariners (5-1-09) – Ichiro 1-5; HR – Gutierrez, Branyan, Holliday
26. Athletics at Mariners (5-2-09) – Ichiro 2-5; HR – Branyan; Giambi 2-4, 2RBI
27. Athletics at Mariners (5-3-09) – Ichiro 2-7; HR – Johjima, M. Sweeney (200)
28. Rangers at Mariners (5-4-09) – Ichiro 1-5; HR – Gutierrez, Branyan, Young, Davis
29. Rangers at Mariners (5-5-09) – Ichiro 0-2, 2BB; HR – Saltalamacchia, Nelson Cruz
30. Braves at Phillies (5-8-09) – HR – Coste, Werth, Utley; W – Hamels
31. Dodgers at Phillies (5-13-09) – HR – Ibanez, Rollins, Casey Blake, James Loney
32. Phillies at Nationals (5-17-09) – Sergio Escalona – 1st Career Win; Rollins 2-4;
33. Tigers at Orioles (5-31-09) – Curtis Granderson HR; W – Edwin Jackson 8 IP, 2H
34a. Giants at Nationals (6-3-09) – Rainout – R. Johnson sch’d to pitch for 300th Win.
34. Mariners at Orioles (6-10-09) – Ichiro 1-3; Jose Lopez 2HR; W – F. Hernandez
35. Nationals at Orioles (6-28-09) – HR – Dunn (Eutaw St.); Willie Harris 3-4, HR
36. Mariners at Yankees (7-2-09) – Ichiro 2-4; HR – Branyan, Gutierrez; L – Sabbathia
37. Mariners at Red Sox (7-3-09) – Ichiro 1-5; HR – R. Cedeno, Drew, Kottaras (1st)
38. Mariners at Red Sox (7-4-09) – Ichiro 1-5; HR – Jason Varitek; S – Aardsma
39. Mariners at Red Sox (7-5-09) – Griffey 1-1; Ichiro 1-5; HR- Ortiz, Pedroia, Ellsbury
40. Cubs at Nationals (7-19-09) – HR – Alfonso Soriano, Adam Dunn, Jake Fox
41. Cardinals at Phillies (7-24-09) – W – Joel Piniero, M. Holliday 4-5; HR – J. Lugo
42. Marlins at Phillies (8-9-09) – Moyer – 2ER, but loss. Victorino ejected from CF.
43. Pirates at Cubs (8-14-09) – Cubs score 10 runs in 2nd inning. HR – Fukudome.
44. Indians at Twins (8-15-09) – HR – Sizemore, Mauer, Choo
45. Astros at Brewers (8-16-09) – HR – Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.
46. Royals at White Sox (8-17-09) – HR – Yuni Betancourt, Jacobs, Pierzynski, Nix.
Ice Cream Helmets & Baseballs
Tim and I have collected a lot of memories as we’ve made the rounds of the MLB. But memories aren’t all we have collected. We’ve also amassed a few MLB baseballs and a bunch of ice cream helmets. Click here for a little article about our baseball collecting. Pictured below are our baseballs and ice cream helmets:
Thanks for joining us for this ride this season. Don’t forget to check out all of our reports from The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Road Trip of 2009, three of which are still to come in the next couple days:
Pirates at Cubs (8-14-09)
- Indians at Twins (8-15-09) – coming soon.
- Astros at Brewers (8-16-09) – coming soon.
- Royals at White Sox (8-17-09) – coming soon.
Tomorrow evening, Tim and I will fly to Chicago where we will meet up with my dad. Its time for The (Second Annual) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2009. I figured I’d share the story of our The (original) Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2008 so you know the background of this grand tradition.
I only started blogging about our baseball experiences this season. Last season, I had to resort to traditional email updates to keep my wife and other family members up-to-date on our trip status. Below, I have copied and pasted those email updates with just a few of the many pictures that were originally attached to the emails. I hope you enjoy.
This season, our Road Trip will take us from Wrigley to the HHH Metrodome to Miller Park and back to the south side of Chicago for a game at U.S. Cellular Field. The last game of the Road Trip will mark an important milestone and I’m EXTREMELY excited to get this trip under way and rack up some awesome family baseball memories.
So, here is the background I promised:
[AUGUST 15, 2008]
So we are in Washington, PA at our first night KOA. The drive went well
last night. Tim got whiney right at the end when we took a wrong turn and
got lost for a short time. Otherwise, he did great.
He wasn’t too excited to sleep in the cabin at first, but he ended up having
a great night and is really enjoying the campground. He thinks the red
light on the fire alarm on the ceiling of the cabin is a ladybug and he
talked about it at great length last night until 12:30 am when he finally
went to bed.
This morning he did some exploring and then hit some baseballs. Pa and I
played catch in between Tim’s hacks at the tee.
Next, we’re off to Cabela’s in West Virginia so Tim can check out some live
fish and dead animals. Then its on to Cincinnati where we will be in a
hotel. The Reds play the Cardinals tonight and I’m hoping Pujols hits 4
Here are some pictures.
Next update tonight following the game.
[AUGUST 16, 2008]
Here are a ton of pictures from today. We arrived in Cincinnati around
3pm. Hung out at our hotel a bit. Then we hit the streets and walked to
“Skyline Chili” for dinner. I got the 5-ways Chili, Dad got 2 Cheese Coneys
and cheese fries, and Tim got the kid’s cheese coney meal. You might notice
in the pictures, there was some cheese involved. (note, I also got
Then it was off to the game. As per usual, Tim’s cuteness secured him a ball. This time, from Cardinals reliever Chris Perez, who would eventually
earn a save in the game. We also got two autographs. Some dude, and Edison Volquez — a hot, up-and-coming pitcher for the Reds, you might have heard of him, he started the all-star game for the NL this season. [Note: At the time I wrote this, I was under the impression Volquez had been the starter, I’m not sure why. I’m now aware Ben Sheets was the starter…I’m not sure why.]
We then toured the Reds Hall of Fame, which is really cool. There is a lot
to see and do in there. Including a pitching areas where you can pitch and
someone can stick their head in a little window and call balls and strikes.
Eventually, the game started. We had nice outfield seats. The stadium is
nice. Seemed small and cozy. Tim and I had some great ice cream in Reds
helmets. We did a lot of walking around and seeing all the ins-and-outs of
the ball park.
After the game (Cardinals won 5-3), they had a spectacular fireworkds show.
I think it might have been Tim’s first. He loved it. The grande finale was
one of the best i’ve seen.
Then we walked back to the hotel. Tim fell asleep on my shoulders.
[AUGUST 16, 2008]
Hi, Guys. Another great day on the baseball roadtrip. We woke up in
Cincinnati and got showered up. Tim had a fine day of brushing his teeth, started off with some quality morning brushing. After leaving the room and
packing up the car, we headed to the free breakfast in the hotel. It hit
the spot. Then it was just 100 mile drive to Louisville. Note, Cincinnati
has some of the best this-way-to-the-freeway signage I’ve ever seen. There
was a sign “To 75” just as we exited our hotel and another one every block
for the entire mile or two that we weaved around the city before getting on
Tim did great in the car on the way down, which made the drive nice.
Louisville Slugger was excellent, even though Tim was not. Tim’s theatrics
began during the factory tour because little ones are not allowed to sit on
dad’s shoulders in the factory (although there was nothing low hanging that
would have bonked tim’s head). so, he whined a bunch in the factory. I was
suprised how small the factory is. They essentially make all MLB bats
(about 40% of all bats used in the MLB) on one machine. It cranks them out
at rate of 30 seconds per bat. Minor League bats are made on the other side
of the factory.
The museum was really cool. The best item in there, in my book, was a bat
Babe Ruth used the year he hit 60 homeruns. The Babe carved 21 notches
around the label on the bat, one for each home run he hit with the bat
before it broke. The bat is huge, as you can see in the picture when you
compare it to the guy standing behind it.
There was also a baseball diamon in one room. Tim loved it. They gave
everyone mini-bats and Tim swung, swung, swung and ran, ran, ran (the bases)
in that room. He had another melt down when we finally made him leave the
room. Note, that room has a dugout, and Tim and I got an awesome picture
acting like we are teammates at the top step waiting to hit.
They also have two batting cages in the museum. I took two rounds. One
with Ty Cobbs bat. The heaviest bat ever. Let me tell you, you notice it
at the plate! The second with a Jim Thome bat, which was designed by Edgar
Martinez (the guy running the cage is a huge M’s fan and picked it out for
me because of the Edgar connection). Dad took one round with the Hank Aaron
bat. Again, Tim had a minor meltdown when not allowed to take any hacks in
We all got personalized bats. Tim and mine are with us, but Dad’s is being
mailed to Edmonds. I picked black bats with silver writing to look like
Griff’s bat. I got them personalized to remember the roadtrip.
Next, it was off to Brookville, OH (ten miles outside of Dayton). We’re now
in our cabin at the KOA. Its a great KOA. Tim had an absolute blast. We
arrived around 4:30. Tim played like crazy in the huge boat-shaped sand
box. He played with tons of kids in the playset area. He sat on
crazy-four-wheeler bikes you can rent. He played tons of gold with his new
M’s golf set, even enlisting several neighorhooding campers (kids and
adults) to golf and/or hit baseballs with him.
We capped off the night with Superman Ice cream (except dad has moose
tracks, I think). Then it was more quality tooth brushing. Now, lil’
Timmers is sleeping an Dad is off brushing his teeth.
Oh, I forgot to mention, we BBQ’d at the cabin for dinner. Excellent
BBQ’ing by dad.
Oh, I also forgot a great line from this morning. I was emailing in the
hotel room and Tim said something to Pa. Then, Pa said to Tim, “No, your Pa
has it.” And Tim got this big huge smile on his face like something really
funny just happened and he says to me, “You’re Pa!? You’re Pa!?” It was
Anyway, that’s update no. 3. Please enjoy a ton of pictures below.
[AUGUST 17, 2008]
howdy, folks. so we find ourselves at the end of another great day. we
woke up in Brookville, OH this morning at about 7:30. We got the car all
packed up before Tim finally woke up. By 8am, we were on the road heading
to Cleveland. Tim was, once again, excellent in the car. We pulled into
Cleveland by about 11:30.
The game at Cleveland’s Progessive Field f/k/a Jacob’s Field was great. Our
seats were in foul territory down the third base line. The Indians were
playing the Angels. I never really decided who i would root for, but when
the Indians won, it was alright with me.
Before the game, we toured the field by foot and then Tim and I shared some
nachos while Dad had some red vines. Once the game started, Tim did a nice
job sitting in the seats and allowing us to watch the game. However, by the
fifth, Tim was quite ready for a nap and he decided to take it on my
shoulders. I ended up watching several innings standing at the top of the
section behind the seats while Tim did his best job of tryng to break my
neck supporting him while he napped.
During Tim’s nap, I talked to a robust field attendant and a guy in the last
row. The attendant mentioned that it was “kids run the bases” day and that
kids would start lining up by the 7th inning to run a lap of the bases
following the game. So, after his nap, Tim and I met back up with grandpa
and we went and found the line. After the Indians won the game (and
series), the long line started to snake its way through the bowels of
Progressive Field. (I’m happy to report that it has been 19 days since the
Indians’ last “lost time” on the job accident — or at least so read the
sign beneath the field).
Because Tim’s such a little whipper snapper, they let me run the bases with
him. We had a blast. Here is the picture the Indian’s took for us to
After the game, we collected the kid’s giveaway (they do it after the game
for some reason), an Indians’ art set) and then we called Colleen to
mapquest directions to our next KOA.
We arrived in the Cleveland/Streetsboro KOA around 5pm. Its nice, but not
as happening at the Brookville KOA (which, did we mention, won KOA’s
Presidential Award last year). We played in the kids’ play area, fed fish
from the dock, BBQ’d and made Tim’s first smorse around his first campfire
tonight. Tim had a blast and just finally got to bed.
All in all, it was another excellent day of road tripping. Tomorrow, we’re
off to Pittsburgh. See you then. In the meantime, check out these
[AUGUST 18, 2008]
howdy, folks. so we made it home this evening, but not before taking in
another great game on the roadtrip. we cruised a quick 100 miles into
Pittsburgh, PA this morning for a 12:30 match-up between the Pirates and the
visiting Mets. The teams decided against taking batting practice this
morning so we wondered around the park before the game and ultimately ended
up down the third base line where the Pirates’ pitchers were playing catch
in pairs. the ball catching opportunities were slim, but we capitalized
big-time. first, a Pirate pitcher (possibly someone-or-other Nelson) threw
a ball to Pa. Then, Tim and I got Pa’s ball autographed by Matt Capps (DL).
Next, Pa got our pitcher taken with Matt Capps.
Next, Denny Bautista threw a ball to me and Tim. Then, Tim and I got it
autographed by Sean Burnett (eventual winning pitcher on the day), Tyler
Yates (relief pitcher today (pre-save)), and T.J. Beam. Finally, we capped
off the session with a picture with Mr. Beam.
Next, we walked around the park for a bit. We even visited the first water
fountain Tim ever used (last September). The water fountain is doing well.
We had a bite to eat before the game and Tim konked out on my shoulders, but
let me switch him to a traditional baby-holding position. He slept through
all the nachos!
After his nap, we got some mint chocolate chip ice cream in Pirates’
helmets. While Tim ate his (with sprinkles) sitting under our seats, a nice
camera man found us and broadcast Tim for about 10-15 seconds on the jumbo
tv screen in the park. It was actually our second time getting media
coverage on the day. Earlier, we had our text message about the roadtrip
put up on the scoreboard between the first and second levels.
Our seats in the OF were excellent. But, due to the heat, we eventually
relocated to the handicap accessible seats under the right field seats. It
had an excellent breeze that made the end of the exciting game even better.
After the game, we took a leisurely 250 mile drive back to Reading where
mommy was waiting to greet and hug us.
Its been a truly great baseball roadtrip. Although I have to work in the
day tomorrow, the roadtrip continues tomorrow evening with a Phils vs. Nats
game in Philadelphia. Should be more of the same — fun, fun, fun.
See pictures attached.
[AUGUST 19, 2008]
Well, here is the final update for the big baseball roadtrip. I was back to
work today before taking off early to head down to the Phillies/Nationals
game. It was nice to be back in the car and on the road again after a hard
The Phils pulled out a much needed come from behind win. They never led
until one out in the bottom of the eighth. Then they brought in Brad Lidge
and he sealed the deal.
I didn’t expect a big crowd so I hadn’t pre-ordered tickets. When we
arrived all they had left was obstructed view and standing room tickets. We
opted for obstructed view. And, you know what? You can’t see very well
through a big yellow foul pole.
After a couple innings behind the pole, we hit the bricks. We walked down
to the team store and then got something to eat. Pa and I got “Schmidters”
and Tim got the biggest chocolate soft serve with sprinkles ever to be
served in the mini-Phillies helmet.
Tim started complaining about the wind in the stadium and saying he wanted
to go home. So we put on his sweatshirt and walked some more. Eventually,
we found a landing above the left field seats and below the jumbo screen.
There was a sectioned off handicap area with one on in it. Tim went in and
claimed it as his playground. When a guard came to kick him out, a bunch of
guys yelled at her “LET HIM PLAY!!! LET HIM PLAY!!!” So she caved to the
crowd-pressure. Tim played the rest of the game in there and eventually
made fast friends with his would-be ejector. She ended up giving him a
Phillies hat and trying continuously to get him on the jumbo screen to no
avail. He really entertained in there and by the end of the game, he no
longer wanted to go home.
It was a nice game to end an excellent baseball roadtrip. Here are a few
pictures from tonight.
Thanks for staying tuned,
And that, in a nutshell, was the First Annual Great Cook Father-Son-Grandson Baseball Roadtrip of 2008. I asked my dad to come out and take this trip with us because I wanted to go to the Louisville Slugger factory. We built the rest of the trip around that. By the time we got back to the hotel room in Cincinnati after the first game, we decided the trip had to be an annual thing.
Let the Second Installment begin!
On June 3, 2009, I knocked off work early and Tim and I trekked down to Nationals Park in Washington, D.C to witness a piece of history — Randy Johnson’s 300th career victory. However, the rain put the kibosh on our plans.
July 19th was our make-up game. Instead of seeing Randy Johnson’s 300th win, we saw Kevin Hart’s third. It was a fun game — but as the math would reveal, it was about 100 times less memorable than if we would have got to see Randy’s big win.
The process of exchanging our rain out tickets for these tickets was made 50,000 times more difficult due to the inadequacies of the Washington Nationals telephone system. I called them at about 4-5 different numbers I found on their website. They all led to the same automated phone system. No humans ever answered. I was dumped into a “general” voicemail box and none of my calls were returned until I got creative. Eventually the team store gave me the number 202-640-7000. From that number, you can get a company phone directory. I went through the front office directory on MLB.com and entered random Nationals employees into the phone directory. The first 3-4 employees went straight to voicemail. I was beginning to think that no one actually worked at Nationals Park. Eventually, I reached someone. She told me I could only make the exchange at the box office at the stadium and they wouldn’t hold tickets aside for me — just in case I didn’t show up. So I was stuck driving 2.5 hours not knowing if they’d have any cheap seats to exchange for our cheapseats tickets.
When we got there, they didn’t. All the cheap seats were sold out. So we had to get tickets about twice as expensive as our original tickets. This was frustrating. I pulled out my card to pay the extra money for the more expensive tickets. The guy asked me if I was buying more tickets. “No.” “Then you don’t need your card.”
It was the first good moment in the whole process: they made a straight exchange for my cheap seats tickets. This made me happy. A small amount of redemption. But the Nationals as an organization have a long way to go to get back in my good graces. The handling of the rainout and then the unanswered phone messages and emails did a lot of damage.
Anyway, there is a game to report. Let’s get to it.
To add to my already mounting frustration while heading down to the game, I missed the exit from I-95 to I-295. So I had no clue how to get to the Park. I saw an exit sign that said “To Naionals Park.” So I took it. Then I drove around totally clueless for about 15 minutes until I magically popped out of nowheresville and onto a bridge heading straight to Nationals Park. This is what I saw:
We entered the stadium and there was a lot of hoopla going on — the Nats fans and employees were all jazzed up for the beginning of the game (FYI, we got there about 10 second before the Nats took the field):
Often times, we walk into a game and Tim instantly informs me, “I want ice cream!” Today to my surprise, he told me, “I want ice cream, after we eat lunch.” He wanted chicken strips and fries, which interestingly is what we had at our only other game at Nationals Park.
We bought the chicken and fries and sat in the handicap accessible seats behind 1B field level seats. This was our view:
At our first game here, the attendants were dictators. They checked tickets everywhere. I had to sweet talk a guy to let Tim and I sit in the LAST ROW of the upper deck to eat Tim’s ice cream helmet. I was happy to find the stadium much more relaxed at this game.
Here is Tim between french fries:
Tim was a little camera shy today. He was all smiles and laughs all day except when the camera looked his way. This is serious Tim.
I am excited for this entry because I felt like I got a lot of good action shots at this game. Here is the first:
Okay. So there really isn’t much *action* going on here. But I wanted to get a picture of Nick Johnson and give him big SeaTown props. Both today and at our last game at Nationals Park, N-John came to the plate accompanied by the sweet sounds of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Posse On Broadway.“
Soon, the action picked up: Alfonso Soriano hit a double:
Soriano seemed to be the only big name in the Cubs line-up. I’m not up on the Cubs. I’m not sure where everyone else was — no Aramis Ramirez and no Milton Bradley. So my Cubs photos focused on Soriano. He looks like he is going to hit a bomb on every swing he takes.
While sitting here, I noticed that the out-of-town scoreboard was telling a happy story:
After eating, Tim wanted to go check out the play area in CF:
The play area is the red and blue thing to the far right of the picture. To the left, there are some big signs with all of the 30 MLB team logos. Usually each stadium has the team flags or logos in order of the current standings. Nationals Park just has the logos. Not sure why.
When we arrived at the play area, they had just told everyone to clear out. Some kid had spilled some bodily fluids (not sure what) out there and they brought the hazmat trucks in to clean up.
So we stood in straight away CF and watched the game. This was our view:
It was a good thing we got booted out of the play area or we would have missed Soriano hitting a bomb in his second at bat:
In the interest of full disclosure, the top left picture is actually a foul ball right before the HR. But the top right, is the actual HR swing. A pretty sweet swing. I thought we were in Chicago — the whole stadium went crazy!
Did I mention that I love my new camera? Check out these floating ball shots I took from straight away CF:
After we got these shots, it was time for the play area:
The most frequently broken rule? No. 8 — no food or drink in the play area. The violators: Moms and Dads. Not this one.
After a little while, play time was done and it was off to the RF seats for us. Here is an interesting picture of Tim that I took through his seat:
Can you tell what Tim is doing in this picture?
In the picture to the left, Tim is holding out his spoon after telling me to take a picture of his ice cream. By the way, for the first time ever, he went with Cookies’n’Creme — and he loved it. In the picture to the right, Tim is all concerned that I missed getting a picture of the ice cream on his spoon. He was very invested in that shot and was upset by the idea that I might have missed it. As you can see, I nailed it!
This was our view from our ice cream seats:
Unfortunately, Adam Dunn couldn’t quite find the seats in this at bat:
[NOTE: click on picture to enlarge. You’ll be able to see the ball in the top picture right at the bottom of the “T” in “Tickets.”]
Check out all of these empty seats:
See the yellow circle at the bottom right? That’s where Tim and I sat for the ninth inning.
So, all season, I’ve been trying to get a good action shot of an outfielder catching a fly ball. Its harder than it sounds because you don’t know when a ball will be hit to any given outfielder. Somehow, I got two decent shots at this game:
In the top picture, the ball has just hit the leather of Soriano’s glove. In the bottom picture, you can see the ball a couple feet above Adam Dunn.
While we were sitting in these seats, we noticed the Nats bullpen catcher would sometimes throw his warm up ball into the stands after warming up Josh Willingham in RF. Tim wanted to play catch. So we decided to give it one shot at a ball before going to find a spot to play catch. It worked like this:
As far as I can tell, the Nats bullpen catcher is former career minor leaguer, Nelson Robledo. We were sure to thank Mr. Robledo for his kindness.
Then it was off to play catch by the batting cages in CF:
In the middle picture, Tim is showing his pitching leg kick. He just learned his pitching motion in the last couple weeks. I didn’t teach it to him. He just copied what he saw me and other pitchers doing. He does a full wind-up at time too. These pictures are poor quality because we were in a dark hallway type-area. Eventually, we were told not to play catch in there — “BOO, NATIONALS! BOO!” If we can play catch in a busy area of a bustling new Yankee Stadium without incident or reprimand, surely we should be able to play catch in an empty area of Nationals Park.
Next, we headed up to the Red Porch to watch the game with the party people in the house. People were having a good time up there. This was our view:
…and here is what it looks like up on the Red Porch:
Next, we headed over to the seats behind the Cubs’ dugout. Here is a panaramic from the top of the aisle:
When I took this picture, Tim was sitting on my shoulders. I was sure this guy in the yellow shirt and Nats hat to the far right was going to kick us out of the section and tell me to take Tim off of my shoulders. Last time we were here, that is certainly what would have happened. However, he did just the opposite. He told me, “You have your hands full, why don’t you grab a seat.” Excellent idea. Thanks.
I grabbed some seats in the fourth row.
They gave us an excellent view of Notre Dame football start Jeff Samardzija:
Hey, did I mention that future Mariners Hall of Famer, Sweet Lou Piniella was in the house?
…Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!
And it was time for Kids Run the Bases:
The gal standing on the grass by first base in the Nats jersey is in the process of shouting, “MARINERS!!!” I didn’t get her back story, but she said the Mariners are her favorite team. Good to see we’ve infiltrated the Nationals!
Here is Tim at first base:
Tim ran about 10 feet passed first base and than stopped. He turned around and he yelled that he wanted me to run with him. He came back over to me and I explained that only kids can run the bases so I couldnt’ run with him. In an odd twist, Tim decided he didn’t want to run without me on this day. So we just walked around the track and looked at everything.
I got this picture of the Nats doing some field touch-ups:
And with that, we left Nationals Park for the final time this season.
But before heading home, we decided to go see a few other attractions in the D.C. area — you might have heard of them:
Tim loved the fountains at the WWII memorial.
Eventually, we had to hit the road to head home. We had directional difficulties on the way down, so we decided to have some more on the way home. This is an easy drive. I’m not sure what the hecked I was thinking. All I had to do was head up I-695 and connect to I-83 in Baltimore.
Sadly, I missed the I-695 turn off from I-95. No problem. I figured I’d just head into Baltimore and connect to I-83 downtown…by this:
The Baltimoreans decided it would be an excellent idea to put a street festival on the street leading to the I-83 entrance. Hey, no problem. I was looking for an opportunity to detour all around downtown Baltimore.
Oh, well. Here are our goodies for the day:
[Note: Ball from Robledo, ice cream helmet, exchanged ticket showing $0.00, and Nationals give-away of insulated lunch bags].
Season Fan Stats:
19 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
7 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park)
14 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
15 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3) and Yankees)
18 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals)
4 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, AL East, NL West, NL East)
3 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ryan Perry)
2 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)
Wow – its been two weeks since our last MLB game, and it feels like its been forever. But we finally made it back out to the ball field on June 28th.
I am dedicating this entry to my wonderful pooch, Kirby, who, due to a family vacation and this game that coincided with our return drive north, unfortunately had to spend his 12th birthday with his buddies at the Pet Spa & Resort.
Due to the fact we were returning from a family vacation, you’ll also notice below that Tim and I were accompanied by our lovely mother and wife, respectively, Colleen. This was only our second game with Colleen this season — usually our games double as a way to give Colleen and “off-day” on the weekend — and her first at Camden Yards since J.J. Putz blew Felix Hernandez’s 8-inning shutout gem during the M’s first road trip of the 2008 season.
We usually drive South to Camden Yards and park in a parking garage downtown. This day, we drove north to the game, and parked in one of the stadium lots off of I-395. So our walk from the car to the field looked different — but from any angle, its always nice to gaze upon Camden Yards:
After reading the Happy Youngster’s entry for the June 10th Mariners game at Camden Yards, I realized that I have never taken Tim to the home plate entrance at Camden Yards. So, we remedied that today:
In this picture we are standing in “Schaefer Circle.”
See those plaques on either side of the canopy-covered entrance? Here they are up close and personal:
(click to enlarge)
I’m guessing that it is not a coincidence that this plaque listing, among other individuals, Governing William Donald Schaefer is hanging about 30 yards away from “Schaefer Circle.”
On the drive up to Baltimore — or maybe it was leaving Baltimore, I’m not sure — Colleen mentioned that she took 700+ pictures during our vacation (we like taking pictures!), but that we didn’t get a single family picture. Well, 3 minutes after entering the stadium, we got our first:
Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.
Two minutes later, we were in the kids’ play area and Tim was having fun:
Soon, the game started and we grabbed some chicken strips and fries, and some seats down the RF line. Here was our view for about 4 minutes:
We only sat here for about 4 minutes because it was too sunny for Tim. He looked to the left and saw some shady seats that are under the second level overhang. He suggested: “Let’s go sit in the deep, dark shade.” We obliged, and this is what it looked like:
Once we got over there and finished our chicken and fries, we grabbed some non-helmeted ice cream. Here are a couple shots of our seats in the deep, dark shade:
Regarding the picture to the far left, I wanted to point out the large padding on the second level support beam above the back row. To use a Tim’ism, I’m guessing there were a few heads *bonked* on that beam in the early days that led to the installation of that padding.
While we were sitting here, the Orioles’ Bird came to visit a young fan who was celebrating his birthday at the game. Tim got a quick picture with the Bird:
But soon, as it always does, the flag pavillion a/k/a Eli Jacobs Plaza started calling Tim’s name:
Who is Eli Jacobs, you ask? Well, according to the plaque above, he was the Chairman of the Orioles in 1992 when Camden Yards was built. Ah, always great to name stuff after yourself! I think I’ll continue to refer to it as the “flag pavillion.”
[SIDE NOTE: I just wrote a big section that was magically deleted. Yea technology!]
Before arriving at the flag pavillion, I took this picture of Nick Markakis.
Why Markakis? He was near by. I don’t care about the Nationals or the Orioles, but I figured I needed a picture of someone playing baseball to properly demonstrate that there was some major league baseball taking place at the ball park.
After snapping that shot, we headed over to the flags. As you can see from the following picture, although Tim is a shoulder rider with me, he is a hand holder with mommy:
Check out that shoulder-top ice water service. That kid has got it made!
Once we arrived in the flag pavillion, it was time for some fake pitching, batting and base running. Interestingly, Tim pulled a total role reversal at this game — he was the pitcher and fielder a lot. He is usually almost exclusively the fake batter:
In between our fake baseball games, we checked out the real baseball game on the field:
Moments after these pictures, the batter hit a solid line drive up the middle. Adam Jones fielded it and made a beautiful throw on the money to O’s top prospect Matt Weiters. The runner shown here standing on second base should have been thrown out by 20 feet. Instead, Weiters missed the ball and the runner was safe. You can watch the play by clicking here.
Weiters would later cost the O’s another run when he threw the ball into LF trying to gun a base stealer out at third.
But you know what? I’m getting ahead of myself. My pictures are out of order. Let’s go back to the fourth inning. At the time, we were standing in about the same spot as shown in the last pictures and the O’s were leading 1-0.
Up to the plate stepped big Adam Dunn — YAHTZEEEEEEE!!!!! He flat out demolished a David Henandez pitch for a two run bomb.
You can watch the highlight by clicking here.
If you watch quickly (and know what to look for), you can see me scurry across the bottom of the screen chasing Dunn’s homerun. Here are some screen shots with arrows pointing me out:
(As always, click to enlarge the photo).
And here are some pictures to illustrate where Dunn’s homerun went:
In the top right, the picture shows a reenactment of my view as Dunn made contact. This was the definition of a “no doubter.” Colleen was playing with Tim out of the way toward the RF foul pole and with the crack of the bat, I turned and sprinted toward the red “X” in the top right picture.
The arrow connecting the top left picture to the bottom picture are designed to give perspective. The arrows are pointing toward opposite sides of the same orange flag hanging on a lamp post at the CF side of Boog’s BBQ.
After running to the X, I saw the ball land in the middle of Eutaw Street and start bouncing around. The people out there had no clue what was going on. And they seemingly all had lubricant on their hands. About 18 fans touched the ball before a 25’ish year old guy eating at a picnic table at the base of the warehouse wall scooped it up.
When the ball started bouncing around, I headed down the narrow pathway to the left of the red X (behind sections 98 and 96) and out of the open gate shown in the bottom picture. But I was too late.
The red arrow in the top left picture (featuring Colleen and Tim in the foreground) is pointing to the picnic table where the guy grabbed the ball. The bottom picture is taken standing in front of the picnic table. When I took the bottom picture, the guy was finishing his meal and re-telling the story of Dunn’s home run with his buddies — one of whom claimed credit for an *assist* because he batted the ball toward his buddy. In reality, he simply missed it like 17 others.
For sake of clarity, the ball didn’t land at the picnic table. That is just where it ended up. It actually landed in the middle of Eutaw Street roughly at the mid-way point of Boog’s BBQ (or at least that is how I remember it). I’m interested to see next year where they place the homerun ball plaque.
Speaking of homerun plaques, check out what we found out by Dunn’s HR’s landing spot:
The evidence of a monster Griffey blast from 1994. (click to enlarge).
In the top of the seventh inning, we headed back to the bouncy house for one more bouncing session. Meanwhile, Wee Willie Harris hit a homerun into the flag pavillion — ah shucks (but Tim was having fun).
After bouncing, we talked to an attendant and found out where the line would start for Kids Run the Bases after the game. This was the sole reason we attended this game. I was really excited for Tim to run the bases at our baseball home away from Safeco Field.
At the point, it was the top of the 8th inning and about 30 people were already in line. Colleen wanted to get in line so we would be at the front of the line. But I figured we had time to watch a bit more of the game.
So we headed to the seats right behind home plate and below the press box:
Between pitches, Tim was having fun trying to reach into the press box.
Here was our view:
And here is family picture number 2 of the day (and number 2 of the vacation):
I ended up talking Colleen into letting us stay until the game ended before getting in line for Kids Run the Bases. See the red arrow? It is pointing to a couple handicap accessible seats in the back row (actually in the cross aisle) where we sat for the ninth inning.
The Plan: try to get the home plate umpire (Joyce) to give Tim a ball following the end of the game.
This was a feat I’d never even contemplated before reading about it on Zack Hample’s blog. We’d come close once before at Camden Yards earlier in the season. But we’d never succeeded.
The red arrow above points directly to the seat where I camped out. Tim was standing next to me and Colleen was sitting in the next chair over. When the Nats got two outs in the bottom of the 9th, I gave Colleen my glove and had Tim stand right in front of me. I was hoping for a high pop up or a grounder so I would know the game was over before the umps could start walking off the field. I got my wish. Some O’s batter hit a weak, slow rolling broken bat grounder to short stop. As everyone else sat there and watched, Tim jumped up onto my shoulders and we were 20 rows down into the stands before the short stop let the ball fly to first base. We slid into the second row on the side of the umps exit tunnel (that brick opening in the two previous pictures shown right behind home plate). Another father and son combo were in the first row right next to us. Joyce walked into the tunnel and grabbed a ball from his ball holder bag: “Here you go little guy” — and he handed it to the boy next to us.
Back into the bag goes Joyce’s right hand. Out comes a beautifully rubbed up game ball. And Joyce reaches up to Tim above my head — “Here you go.”
Thanks, Zack! We’re giving you an official assist in the score book for introducing us to the idea of post-game umpire hand-ups.
But wait, the best was yet to come — IT WAS TIME FOR KIDS RUN THE BASES!
We exited the stadium through Gate D and found our place in line. Colleen dealt admirably with the fact that we were about 10 times further back in line now than we would have been had we jumped into the line in the 8th inning.
The line worked out great because there is a patch of grass along the 3B side of the stadium:
And wouldn’t you know it, as the line started moving forward, Orioles owner Peter Angelos and his wife exited the stadium and cut throught he line directly between me and the person in front of me. After I said, “Hi, Peter” and snapped his picture, Colleen accused me of being the papparazi. FYI, “Peter” (maybe I should have gone with Mr. Angelos) didn’t respond. Another interesting Angelos tidbit, P.A. opened the door for his wife as their driver watched. Then he swung around to the driver’s side and had his driver open the door for him.
As the line snaked in to the stadium through the 1B side, I took some concourse pictures:
Its a nice, wide concourse. The only problem is that it is totally closed off from the game. I think that Camden Yards was the first of the really nice new stadiums and the collective of stadium architects who work on these jobs didn’t figure out how nice the open-to-the-field concourses are until after Camden Yards was built. Still, it is a great stadium.
This is the third Kids Run the Bases Tim has done this season — Citi Field, Nationals Park and Camden Yards. Interestingly, the Nats have been involved in all three games. Tim also ran the bases last season at The Jake in Cleveland. At every other stadium, we have entered the stadium through a bullpen in RF, and Tim and I have gotten our picture taken standing next to the distance marker on the outfield wall in the RF corner.
I had serious doubts that would happen at this game because Eutaw Street is built into the stadium and is 20-or-so feet above the playing surface in RF. Unfortunately, I was correct. So we weren’t able to get our usual footage picture.
But we got some great running the base pictures — like these pictures Colleen got between 2B and 3B and I have stitched together to make a big Tim in motion shot:
(click to enlarge)
And these pictures that I took of Tim touhing and/or approaching 1B, 3B and home (my 2B picture wasn’t zoomed and is essentially worthless):
Somehow both Colleen and I managed to miss it with our cameras, but Tim slid into home plate! It caught the field attendants off guard. A bunch of them ran over to help him get up. They thought he’d fallen. But, nope, it was a slide. He’d told me before hand he was going to do it.
After meeting up with Tim again, we got Family Picture No. 3 on the day (and a nice field attendant is smiling with us):
As we headed off the field, I took some shots for an on-field panaramic view…
(visitors dugout above (3B) and Orioles below (1B))
…and some random shots:
Top left, visitors’ interleague on-deck batters’ circle.
Bottom left, artificial warning track with hidden drains circling the field.
Top right, a chart I spied under the Nats’ bench that read “Nationals vs. Orioles Pitchers.” It has all of the regular Nats batters along the vertical axis and each of the O’s pitchers along the horizontal axis. When you connect the columns and rows, it tells you how each hitter has done against a particular O’s pitcher. For example, Adam Dunn is 1-3 with a HR against Brad Bergesen. I asked someone in the dugout if I could have it. But he said he isn’t allowed to touch anything in the dugout. I told him it was garbage. He didn’t care.
Bottom right, this was actually taken after we left the stadium. Tim and I are standing in front of a sign that is on the RF end of the warehouse.
Before leaving, Colleen took one more picture of us — our first ever (I think) at the 1B dugout:
And finally, we hit the road on the final leg of our return from vacation journey. As we headed to Rt-83, we said our good-byes to Camden Yards — we may not be back to this fine baseball facility until next season:
Next up for us:
July 2 – Mariners in the Bronx
July 3 – Mariners in Boston
July 4 – Mariners in Boston
July 5 – Mariners in Boston
Season Fan Stats:
14 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
5 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
12 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
10 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals (2))
9 Baseballs (5 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Umpire)
3 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, NL East, AL West)
1 Player Autograph (Ryan Perry)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)
7,953 Miles driven/flown to games (season)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), Orioles Bird (2), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))
This entry was supposed to be titled “Moyer’s 250 Bid – Take 2.” Unfortunately, our bid to see Jamie Moyer win the 250th game of his career failed before we even left for the game. I learned on Saturday night that Chan Ho Park would be pitching Sunday, May 17th in Washington, D.C. rather than Jamie Moyer. Moyer is a great pitcher. But its tough, even for a great pitcher, to get a win in a game you don’t pitch.
So Tim and I would have to focus on our other two main goals of the day – (i) checking out Nationals Park for the first time and (ii) participating in Kids Run the Bases after the game. Our pursuit of those goals met with great success, as explained in detail below.
Nationals Park can be both incredibly expensive and quite affordable, depending on how you want to “do” the stadium. For example, parking in the garage connected to the stadium is FORTY BUCKS!!! That’s ridiculous. On the other hand, the parking route we took was both an adventure and totally FREE! You see, the Nationals have arranged for their fans to park for FREE at RFK Stadium and then take a FREE shuttle bus to a point about 2 blocks from Nationals Park. Here is what it looked like:
Here is our first view of the Park walking from the bus:
Here is our first view of the field as we entered the Park from the LCF entrance:
As you might know, I am a Mariners fan. But alas, I did live in Philadelphia for three years and I have no NL allegiance, so i bought a Phillies BP jersey back in 1999 or so. I doubt I’ve worn it since 2000. But this was only my second Phils road game, so I thought I’d give it a try wearing the Phillies jersey and my Reading Phillies hat to see if some nice Phillies player would reward me and Tim for coming to see them on the road. Now, wearing the visitors’ jersey/hat even if you hate the team is a classic “ballhawk” technique. I am not a ballhawk, but generally I have no problem with the ballhawks doing it. But, personally, I felt dirty as heck wearing Phillies stuff, even though I was there rooting for the Phillies. It just hurt me right down to my Mariners core (in fact, I couldn’t do it without wearing a M’s shirt under the Phils jersey). Anyway, more on that later.
So, as we entered the stadium, we saw a bunch of Phils stretching behind 3B. So we headed over there where this was our view:
We headed down to the field level where they have a little trough (for lack of a better term) where there are just a couple seats in a big aisle). We watched the guys warm up amongst a sea of Phillies fans:
Yep, to the left, that is team leading (pick an offensive category) Raul Ibanez warming up his legs. To the right, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins stand in front for the national anthem while Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, Pedro Feliz and a trainer stand behind them.
After the anthem, the guys started playing catch and running (sorta) sprints:
In the photo to the left, you can see Jimmy Rollins playing catch with Chase Utley (off camera) and Ryan Howard playing catch with Shane Victorino. After a few mintues, Jimmy and Shane set their gloves down on the foul line with the balls sitting on the grass next to them. Then they started running sprints.
To the right, you can see that, after finishing playing catch with Victorino, Ryan Howard came over to the stands and started signing autographs for 5-10 minutes. As you can see, almost everyone down in the trough bunched up next to Howard in hopes of getting his autograph. We didn’t have a pen or anything worth getting the former NL M.V.P. to sign, so we stood our ground. The difference was, after Ryan started signing, we were pretty much standing all alone, no more sea of Phillies fans surrounding us.
Tim was on my shoulders (where his Mariners shirt was hidden behind my head). I was wearing my Phils jersey and R-Phils hat. We looked like a nice father-son Phillies fan combo. Jimmy Rollins took note. When he was finished running, he grabbed his glove and ball and took a couple steps toward the dugout. He then stopped, turned back toward us and fired his baseball directly into my glove. Nice – our first ball EVER from a Phillies player:
A few minutes later, the game started. The baseball we got from J-Roll looked the same, but I looked different:
J-Roll shouldn’t feel as if he got duped. We still rooted for the Phils. I just had to show my true colors during the game. Also, I did put my R-Phils hat back on after Tim got chocolate ice cream on his fingers and I thought he would get the white portion of my M’s hat chocolately. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Like usual, we had some cheap tickets. Not SRO, this time we were apparently high in the rafters of the RF foul territory stands. We never went to our section. Instead, we started walking around getting to know the stadium. Let me tell you something, unlike the team that plays there, Nationals Park is beautiful. Despite a couple negatives, it instantly ranks right up among my favorite ball parks.
Why don’t we take a look around? This is reverse order as we walked, but how about we start behind the plate in the third deck:
As you can tell, its a beautiful park. In addition to checking out this great park, Tim and I also had a goal of testing out our new digital camera. It has a great zoom – both optical and digital. Here are a couple pictures taken from various locations in the Park:
At top right, Ryan Howard is seen batting in the first inning. I took that picture from just behind the RL foul pole.
Below Howard, is Chase Utley also hitting in the first inning. I took this from the field level concourse behind all of the seats a little bit down the line from first base.
How about another panoramic? Here is CF from the field level concourse:
Okay, now, I took all of these panoramic views while walking around in the concourses circling the stadium. Although fans in their seats usually aren’t paying a lot of attention to the concourses, they are an important part of any stadium. Bad concourses make a stadium feel cramped. Open concourses from which you can see the field make the stadium feel bigger and they let fans maximize their time at the ball park (ex: they can still watch the game while standing in line for some food). Nationals Park has GREAT concourses. HUGE. Mostly all open. Not crowded. Excellent. Here are a couple examples:
Walk these great concourses and eventually you’ll find yourself in biggest open area I’ve ever seen inside a ball park:
The Field Level CF panoramic a couple pictures ago was taken on the opposite side of that escalator. The Second Deck CF panoramic and the pictures of Jimmy Rollins batting a couple more pictures above were taken from the second deck just to the left of the big “DC” sign and under the picture of the Nationals celebrating (they must have won a game?).
The black strip at the top center (where it says “GET YOUR”) is the “Red Porch.” I’m not quite sure what the deal is with the red porch.
The building to the right is a massively expensive parking garagle. The openings on the ground level are various fan attractions. The one with the yellow sign is a “stuff a bear” type place where you can make your own Nationals mascot. The “Strike Zone” at the far right of the picture has a batting cage where the ball shoots out of a video screen. When we watched it, Randy Johnson was pitching and the ball would shoot through the screen through his hand. Pretty cool. In the back, there was a similar game with pitching. I watched a guy pitch to Larry “Chipper” Jones.
And right behind me as I took this picture? The play area:
Tim loved this play set. From a father’s perspective, it seemed better than the playset at Safeco Field, but a not quite as good as the playset at Citizens Bank Park. The worst part about it is that it is massively far away from the field and there is no TV to watch the game. It would be perfect if the Nats would follow the Mets lead and put a BIG SCREEN on the back of the scoreboard for all of the parents watching their kids play in the CF play area.
Anyway, back to the tour. Here is a post-game picture from the deck of the aforementioned Red Porch:
And here is a picture looking at the Red Porch from the 1B field level seats:
Well, look at that…I stand corrected. The “Red Porch” is really called the “Red Loft.” Hmm…I’m wondering if that is the upstairs and the downstairs is called the Red Porch. I definitely heard someone call it the Red Porch during the game. Anyway, in the last panoramic, Tim and I took the pictures standing under the “Red” in the “Red Loft” sign in the last picture.
The only bad part of the concoures at Nationals Park is that the Red Porch/Loft cuts off all view of field as you walk from CF to LF (or vice versa). Same thing with the field level concourse behind home plate. Its just like Citi Field. They have field level suites and a restaurant that cut off all view of the game for *commoners* walking behind home plate. But I like the way the Nationals did it more than the Mets. The Mets concourse is like a dark cave that feels like it is 100 yards away from the game. The Nats concourse is bright and airy and it has a team store entrance and big pictures on the wall telling about the history of baseball in Washington, D.C…check it out:
But, back to the outfield. Here are some interesting statues on the back side of the Red Porch/Loft:
Well, look at that. I am right. The field level is called the “Red Porch” (as shown in the middle picture behind Frank Howard (who by the way shouldn’t have swung at that pitch, he’s reaching too far!)).
Note, PNC Park in Pittsburgh also has a Josh Gibson statue.
Back to the panoramic views, here is the RF corner from the third deck:
This picture leads to the final negative point about Nationals Park: the ushers guard the seats like they are made of gold. I had to sweet talk an usher to persuade him to let me and Tim sit in the BACK ROW of the LAST SECTION in the UPPER DECK! There is a fourth deck starting a little closer to home plate. But where I took this picture, we were literally sitting in the back row of the highest section at the greatest distance from home plate down the 3B line. Is that ridiculous or what?
So how did we get to sit in these coveted seat? I told the usher Tim’s ice cream was melting, we were all the way across the stadium from our seats, and I was looking desparately for a standing room spot with a standing counter where Tim could sit and eat his ice cream…but there are none in the third deck down the 3B line. So in the face of melting ice cream, the usher relented and let us take the empty seats in the empty row in the highest and most distant seats from home plate.
Here is Tim and his ice cream and, in the distance, the Washington Monument:
There is a big walking ramp down from the third deck to the field level in the LF corner. As I stood on that ramp, I took the picture of the Washington Monument to the right above. I said to Tim (sitting on my shoulders), “That’s the Washington Monument, Tim.” Two seconds later, some random 50’ish year old white-male-American walks up to me, “Are you serious? That’s the Washington Monument? Cool!” He was dead serious. It was p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c.
Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I posted this panoramic tour in reverse order of how Tim and I actually walked. We really came from CF to RF to home plate, to an ice cream stand in the third deck behind 3B and then out to the LF corner. On our walk from the ice cream stand to the LF corner, I spotted the Capitol Building from the concourse:
The picture to the right above is also taken from the ramp down to field level. But, once again, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Before heading down the ramp, I tested my camera out a bit more. Here are some more action shots:
Here we see J-Roll take a pitch and then hit another foul.
The top right picture of Raul Ibanez was also taken from the third deck in the LF corner. The others were taken elsewhere…as should be evident. In the bottom right, I’ve snuck a picture of Shane Victorino in with three Ibanez pictures.
Pretty much every swing I took a picture of at this game resulted in a foul ball, a foul pop out, or an infield pop out. No hits or homeruns to speak of.
Okay, so it was time to head down that ramp. From the ramp, I took this cool picture of the concourse going from the LF corner out to CF:
Note the vegetation growing on the roof of the concession stand. This prompted Tim to tell me that there are no plants growing on our roof because, “Our roof isn’t flat. Our roof is a triangle.”
Once we got down the ramp, we stood for a little bit behind the LF seats where we saw the Presidents race:
After the race, the Presidents headed out to CF and took pictures with fans. They were mobbed by people. I really wanted a picture with Teddy Roosevelt, who looked hilarious, but it wasn’t in the cards. The Presidents were a big hit at the game. They have George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt…and someone…I have no clue who the fourth President is. Anyway, the Nats also have a silly looking eagle named “Screech” (I think). But he is a pretty weak mascot. The Presidents were far superior.
After the race, we headed down into the LF seats and got a picture of the visitors’ bullpen (shown here with an inside-shot of the Nats bullpen):
This Phillies fan in the middle looked somewhat protective of the Phils’ bullpen. Note, the visitors’ bullpen (to the right) is grass, but the Nats’ bullpen (left) is turf. I’m not sure why this is, but my guess is that there is access through the Nats’ bullpen to a big tunnel system under the stadium. Possibly they drive vehicles through the Nats’ bullpen from time-to-time and put in turf so the grass wouldn’t get torn up. Just a guess.
We then headed back to the second deck in RF where we got one of the stadium fanfoto gals to take a picture of us with my camera:
Finally, we settled into some seats for the last 2-3 innings of the game. The ushers had apparently lost some of their motivation. He easily slipped into some really nice seats down the 1B line. Here was our view:
See that light stand all the way across the stadium in the LF corner? See that last section of seats on the third deck that hide the left side of the light tower? That is the section where I had to persuade an usher to let us sit for a couple innings (and to be clear, in case I wasn’t earlier, at first, he in fact told me that he “couldn’t do it” when I asked him if we could temporarily sit in the back row).
Anyway, there was no one else in our row in this section down the 3B line. However, there was a group of maybe 8 young 20s’ish year old Nats fans sitting two rows behind us. Tim flirted it up like crazy with two young gals. At the time, the Nats were winning 6-5 and the gals (and their whole group) were all smiles and giggles. Here is Tim cheesing it up for the ladies:
Tim’s new friends’ mood changed abruptly in the top of the eighth. With runners on first and second and no outs, Pedro Feliz laid down a nice bunt toward third. Zimmerman and Jesus Colome converged on the ball. Either could have grabbed it. Colome did and he made what seemed to be a perfect throw to first where second baseman, Anderson Hernandez, was covering first. By my first hand account, the throw was perfect and Feliz should have been out at first. Instead, Hernandez jumped out of the way of the ball and let it sail into foul territory down the 1B line. Both runs scored and Feliz made it to third. Anderson said he could not see the ball because of the crowd. I guess he isn’t used to having more than 10,000 fans scattered throughout the stadium. Amazingly, they gave the error to Colome for making a perfect throw that Hernandez simply failed to catch.
When this happened, the stadium exploded with Phillies cheers. But the people sitting behind us never uttered another word. Their win was gone
We actually missed the ninth inning and the Phillies win because we were lined up outside the RF side of the stadium — it was time for Kids Run the Bases! We were toward the front of the long, long, long line of kids. As we waited in line, an usher told me to take Tim off my shoulders, “you know, for safety.” Okay, whatever.
We started our run the bases experience with our standard picture by the RF wall footage sign:
Tim then stretched his legs with some pre-bases sprints down the RF foul warning track:
I took a shot of the Nats’ dug out (shown to the left, with the visitors’ dug out on the right):
Then Tim was off to the races:
The Nats seemed to have 100 people out there on the field working. It was impossible to navigate the warning track and get even a half-way decent picture of Tim rounding second, which was HIGHLY dissapointing.
But I got a great shot of Tim rounding third:
Then it was impossible to get a good shot of Tim scoring at home plate — that is more standard, I’ve never got a good picture of Tim at home plate yet in the three run-the-bases Tim has done so far.
We took a couple more shots as we left the field of play:
So, that was it. Our game experience was essentially over.
Particularly because the next weekend would be our first weekend not to go to a game this season.
In fact, we wouldn’t have another game until May 31st.
We walked around the LF seats a bit more.
We looked at the visitors’ bullpen close up outside of the watchful eye of that concerned Phillies fan.
We went up to the Red Loft where we took the pictures for that panoramic up above.
Then we sadly headed toward the CF exit, the same one we’d passed through just 45 minutes before to line up to run the bases.
At the bottom of the exit stairs, we turned right and we started walking down the street.
We spotted the end of the run-the-bases line. Only 30 yards long now. Those lucky kids still with all of that fun ahead of them.
We walked sorta close to the wall as we passed down the wide sidewalk.
Tim was on my shoulders again. That same usher who told me to take Tim down “you know, for safety” was still standing by the line.
She had to recognize us. We’d just spoken with each other 45 minutes ago. Everyone at the game was wearing bright red Phillies and Nats gear, and we were wearing dark blue Mariners gear.
But then she uttered seven magical words that let me know she most certainly did not recognize us, “Does he want to run the bases?”
I respond, pointing, “Oh, is this the line?” (as if we’d been looking for it for the past hour).
“Yeah! Have fun!”
Tim was officially (I certified it OFFICIAL), the last kid to round the bases and touch home plate and I got a great shot of it:
It was pretty awesome. All of the Presidents, Screech and a boat load of Nats employees were on the field (again preventing a good picture at 2B), and because he was the last kid, they all followed Tim to home plate. As you can see, as he stood at home, he was surrounded by employees and mascots all cheering for him. Very satisfying.
Plus, because we were last, we were able to right a past wrong — we got that coveted picture with Teddy Roosevelt — and it is a keeper:
A great day! We give Nationals Park two thumbs up.
One more game note: we saw Sergio Escalona make his major league debut and earn the first win of his career pitching the 7th inning for the Phillies. The day before the game, Escalona was assigned to the Reading Phillies. Good job, Sergio.
Season Fan Stats:
11 Games (double digits!)
5 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
11 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres, Dodgers)
9 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals)
5 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (AL West, NL East, AL West)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats))