Tagged: Philadelphia Phillies

Father-Son Baseball? Yes, Please! (4/14/2012)

It has been a long and busy off-season.  On Saturday, April 14, 2012, Tim and I kicked off our 2012 baseball season with a game between the Mets and Phillies in Philadelphia.  I had been looking forward to this game like crazy.

I had originally planned to take both boys to Baltimore on Saturday, April 7th, but I didn’t realize it was Easter weekend and we had a house full of family.  So we had to wait a whole week to get our first taste of major league baseball for the season.

I’ve been extremely busy at work this off-season.  And our house has been crazy.  Having two boys is awesome.  But it is way harder than having one boy.  Tim and Kellan get along great most of the time.  But they also create non-stop action, tons of brotherly competition, a healthy dose of yelling and chaos, and they require a lot of discipline…or at least a lot of correcting.  Don’t do this, that, or the other thing.  Stop doing this, that, or whatever.

Baseball season provides something that the rest of the year generally does not.  Something I really needed.  Extended periods of father-son time in an environment that Tim and I just really enjoy.  No chaos.  Tim and I have gotten so good at attending games.  We’re an amazing team.  Hardly any discipline is needed.  It is just fun and relaxing days connecting with my boy and sharing our mutual love of baseball.  So let’s get to it.

The morning started with opening day of Tim’s first year of little league (which is the newest chapter of Tim’s life, extremely exciting, and will be up next on this blog).  After opening ceremonies, we hopped in the car, grabbed a happy meal from McD’s…

…and headed toward Philadelphia.  I was loving baseball season within the first fifteen minutes of our drive.  It was a completely unchanged experience despite the six month break.  Tim and I had great conversations the whole ride down, except of course for during the 15 minutes that we spent battling each other to see who could sing the best Gotye “Someone I Used To Know” (Tim’s favorite song).  Tim won!  As my wife will tell you, I’m a horrible singer.  By the way, Tim’s best comment during our drive was his description of what college is:  “college is where there are lots of boys and lots of girls and you find out who you are going to marry.”

We pulled into the stadium – paid our $15 to park.  Pulled on Tim’s new Ichiro jersey…

…and sized up our destination:  Citizens Bank Park!

Bring on the baseball.

We grabbed a spot second in line.  We started up a nice conversation with the guy behind us, another guy excited to be back at the ballpark for another year.  And within a few minutes, a young man approached and asked, “Are you Todd?”

It was a 12-year-old boy named Harrison who was at the ballpark with his father, Seth.  Another father-son having a great day with the sport they love.  Harrison reads our blog and leaves comments from time-to-time under the name “Philadelphia45.”  It was great to get to know Harrison and Seth a little bit.

Tim loves hanging with older kids, and Harrison was no exception.  Here they are hanging out at the gate – timed exactly when Tim blinked (oops):

When the gates opened, we went our separate ways, but we’d meet up again with Harrison and Seth.  Tim and I headed to left field.  We were among the very first people into the seats.  And within a few minutes, a Phillies batter lined a foul ball into the roped off seats down the 3B line.  An usher grabbed it and spotted Tim from a long way off.  He siliently (so Tim didn’t realize it) called us over to the “chain” and handed Tim his very first baseball of 2012:

Thank you, Sir!

We have somewhat of a routine for the BP at Citizens Bank Park.  First, we set up shop right down the line, in the very small piece of foul territory that is open at the beginning of BP.  Here was our view:

There was a Mets player…I think he was a player, although he was wearing shorts and no jersey…hanging out below us.  And I notice something very odd…

…he had a glove with “Todd Helton” embroidered on the thumb.  I asked him why he had a Todd Helton glove and he responded, “Because he gave it to me.”  “Oh, that’s really cool,” I responded.

Soon (as pictured above), Johan Santana showed up and started running from the foul line to CF.  At one point, he was approaching the foul line when a Phillies batter hit a long grounder right to him.  I called out, “Hey, Johan!”  When he looked up, I pointed at Tim and he started to motion like he was going to throw it to Tim.  But Tim was holding his glove in his throwing hand for some reason.  So, Johan pointed…or maybe he nodded…at Tim and then threw the baseball to me.  I handed it over to Tim and we both called out a loud and excited:

Thank you, Johan!!!

Wow, Johan Santana.  That’s a great toss-up.  Very exciting for our first toss-up of the season.  But in retrospect, our next toss-up would be about ten times more exciting.

We hung out in the same spot until they opened the rest of the stadium.  We watched Cliff Lee do some running…

…and we chatted with Harrison and Seth who had joined us shortly after the toss-up from Santana.  They had also caught two baseballs already – one from Michael Stutes who I really want to connect with some day on a toss-up because he once heckled my softball team while he played for the Reading Phillies.

Normally, when the rest of the stadium opens, Tim and I head out to the “pizza wedge” in RCF.  But the Mets have a commemorative baseball this season that I was really hoping we could get from one of the Mets pitchers warming up down the line.  So we relocated (along with Harrison and Seth) to the corner spot down the LF line:

We ended up standing right behind Tim Byrdak.  I was excited.  I have wanted Tim to get a baseball from another “Tim” ever since we got one from umpire Todd Tichnor.  Maybe this would be the day!?

When Mets coach Ricky Bones (I love that name!) walked by, Harrison asked for a picture.  Bones told Harrison to hold on and when he returned about 10 minutes later, Tim was a co-beneficiary of Harrison’s request:

Thanks, Mr. Bones!

And then things got REALLY exciting!  Tim Byrdak and his partner finished up playing catch.  A Mets batter had hit a grounder that rolled to a stop about five feet from Byrdak’s feet.  As he grabbed the ball to throw it in, while pointing at Tim, I shouted out, “Hey, Tim, how about throwing a ball to another Tim!?”

It worked.  Byrdak turned around and tossed the ball at Tim.  Tim has made amazing progress with his catching skills over the last two months, but I was nervous and anxious and excited all at the same time as the ball sailed toward Tim.  What would happen?

Without hesitating, Tim reached out and made a nice one handed grab with his glove.  A clean catch with zero assistance from his dad:

When the ball stuck in Tim’s glove I was ecstatic.  I literally jumped in the air and shouted, “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!”  I was so happy and proud of my no-longer-so-little guy.  All offseason, we’ve been talking about how he’s going to catch a baseball (or baseballs!) on his own this season, and we’ve been talking about trying to get a baseball from a Major League “Tim” for years, and it all came together in one moment and sheer awesomeness.

It was truly perfect and completely made my day.

Some of our hugest “thank yous” ever to Mr. Timothy Christopher Byrdak!

We’ve been fortunate enough to get a nice collection of baseballs at MLB games, but this one definitely ranks right up there at the tippy top of the list as one of the best.

On the natural high of the toss-up from Mr. Byrdak, Tim and I decided to report to the pizza wedge.

Here’s a tip.  When relocating to another section of the ballpark, walk through the seats, not through the concourse.  That’s what we did and…

…Mike Pelfrey rewarded us with a baseball in deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep center field.

Before hitting up the pizza wedge, we visited the Phillies hall of fame area so Tim could grab the different metal baseballs that have finger grips for different types of pitches, and then spit some seeds down…

…into the bushes in the batters’ eye.  And then Tim called Richie Ashburn “saaafe!” in our first MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt picture of the season.

The pizza wedge was dominated by a family a four with two 13-14 year old’ish girls who got some love from the players (as did “mom”), before Mets coach (and former player for numerous MLB teams) Tom Goodwin hooked Tim up with our first pizza wedge ball of the season:

Note: the balls from Pelfey and Goodwin followed the more traditional, point at Tim and throw to Dad method…although, Tim made an attempt at the Pelfrey ball, but it was too high and sailed over his glove and into mine.

There was still more BP, but we were done.  Tim wanted to play some games.  The speed pitch, for some reason, wasn’t open.  But we played the trivia game and the running in place game…

…in the deep LCF concourse.  This season, instead of handing out slips of paper that say you played one of these games, you collect stamps in the little booklet that Tim is holding in the above picture.  I’m not sure what you get when you fill it up with stamps.  We’ll see later in the season.

After some game time, we headed up the steps toward the upper deck.  We got this picture of Tim on the second deck with a view of the bullpens and Ashburn Alley behind/below him:

And then we headed to the back row of section 302 for what we determined must be the farthest seat from home plate:

Yep, make that two pictures checked off the 2012 Photo Scavenger Hunt list!

While up there, of course, I got a panorama from section 302:

And then we headed back down to the second deck for our first father-son picture of the season:

Thank you to a nice usher who snapped the photo.  As my Little Grandma would say, “Jiminy, Tim is gotten huge!”  Remember when he used to look like this?  It is fun looking back at game photos and seeing him grow up before my eyes.

Actually, he’s done some much growing that I was concerned he would be too tall for the kids’ play area.  But fear not…

…plenty of growing still to do before he is shut out of the play area.

Tim was excited after posing for that picture, he told me “I can even come back and play when I am seven!”

The game started while we were at the play area.  Soon, we grabbed some nachos…

…and our seats in section 104:

The Mets were already winning 1-0 on a David Wright homerun to LF.

We spent a lot of the game (we’re mobile so not all of the game) sitting behind this dude…

…named “Duda,” Lucas Duda, and this other dude named….

…Hunter “Ugliest Mechanics In Baseball But Monster Power” Pence.

After nachos, it was time for Tim’s first ice cream helmet of the season.  We took the scenic route to our favorite ice cream lady at Citizens Bank Park…

…that’s the view from Section 242¸by the way.

Most of the teams in Tim’s little league are sponsored by local businesses, but one is sponsored by today’s Phillies starter, Vance Worley (who used to play for the Reading Phillies):

Big thanks to Vance for supporting our league, but this, unfortunately, was not his day.

On this pitch, Vance got Jason Bay to ground into a double play…

…but a run scored making it 2-0 Mets.  Duda was up next and he clubbed a 2-run homer to make it 4-0 Mets.

How about a random shot of British Columbian-born, Gonzaga University-alum Jason Bay:

Guess what?  Tim still likes ice cream hemlets…

…and our lady still makes a huge helmet.

The Phillies have not started strong this season.  And I noticed something…the fans do not seem to believe in them as much as in the last couple years, at least at this point with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both on the DL.  Check out the patch of empty seats with the Phils losing 4-0 in the top of the sixth inning:

I never saw that last season at Citizens Bank Park.

Tim wanted to visit the team store.  On our walk around the stadium, we noticed this nice mosaic art piece in the concourse:

While Tim and I were talking about the little Phanatic in the mosaic, the real Phanatic’s mom showed up on the scene.  I pulled our my camera and it refused to fire when the Phanatic’s mom patted Tim on the head.  Instead, the flash delayed the shutter and it didn’t take a picture until the Phanatic’s mom stuck her hand in my face with an exaggerated “Hi, Dad” wave:

So I got a rare close up of the Phanatic’s mom’s hand!

Shortly thereafter, Tim became the owner of a new stuffed Phanatic:

We stopped by the play area on our way back to RF, but it was just closing down.  Sad news.  So we headed back to the now hardly half-full RF seats.  Between innings, an usher took this shot of me and Tim:

By the way, Tim’s eyes were starting to look puffy because he was battling serious hay fever, which has been a daily battle for the last couple weeks.

The Phillies really did nothing offensively in this game.  Well, next to nothing.  They did get a single on this pitch to Juan Pierre:

If you look closely, you can see the baseball heading toward RF in that picture.

It is almost impossible to get an umpire baseball in Philadelphia (it would be easier if you had seats in the Diamond Club), but it was our first game of the season so, heck, we were up for the challenge.

We relocated to the concourse behind section 130.  For a while, we stood behind the camera man…

…where we saw Ruben Tejada drive in pinch runner Mike Baxter…

…off of Michael Stutes:

And then we watched David Wright…

…and Ike Davis…

…make outs for the Mets.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Tim and I slid into nearly ideal seats for making the umpire ball attempt:

The umpire Alfonso Marquez (shown in the background) would enter a tunnel at the home plate end of the dugout, just to the right of the guy in the light blue Phillies t-shirt in that last picture.

We had a great view of Jimmy Rollins, as he grounded out:

And a great view of Hunter Pence, while he struck out:

There were tons of empty seats in RF as Jon Rauch pitched to the day’s final batter John Mayberry:

Mayberry ended the game in the ideal umpire attempt manner – a high pop up that allowed us to get into position while the umpire had to stay at home plate.

We slid all the way into the second a row and stood at the little railing separating the really nice seats (dugout) from the ridiculously nice seats (Diamond Club).  Tim and I both called out “Alfonso” when he stopped on the grass just short of the warning track to wait for his colleagues.  He heard us call his name and fired an absolutely beautifully rubbed up baseball to us:

And then he left.

We lingered for a bit and then headed toward the LF corner on our way to the exit.  Tim was tossing the umpire ball into his glove over and over while we walked.  I noticed that there were two ballgirls down the LF line and I asked Tim if he wanted to get a picture. He said yes, and then yelled and started running.

I thought he was running to the ballgirls, but he had missed his glove and fired his new umpire ball under some seats and it disappeared.  We couldn’t find it anywhere, but fortunately, a nice fan pointed it out and we retrieved it from a tray of peanuts (or some type of food).

Fifteen seconds later and we would have missed getting this double ballgirl picture, which was taken mere feet from the spot where Tim caught the baseball from Byrdak about 4-and-a-half hours earlier:

A pose with his umpire ball and Citizens Bank Park sign…

…and with the Harry Kalas statute…

…and then we were “outta there!”

It was an incredibly awesome first day being back at the ballpark.  I can’t wait to fold Kellan into the mix for our first 3-guys game next weekend.

I know why Ernie Banks always wanted to *play two* — hip, hip Hooray for Baseball!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

1/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
2/0 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets; Kellan – N/A
1 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1
6 Baseballs – Mets 4, Phillies 1, Umpires 1
1/0 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – N/A
1/0 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones; Kellan – N/A

Kellan Visits CBP (9/5/2011)

Citizens Bank Park is the closest MLB stadium to our house.  But it is also sold out every single game.  Its crowded.  It’s expensive.  It’s not nearly as easy as, say, going to a game in Baltimore or DC.  That’s why it has taken me so long to get Kellan to a Phillies game.  But on September 5, 2011, Labor Day, it finally happened.

Actually, that has been the plan all season.  I bought tickets for this game months ago…before they were sold out, so I got them from the Phillies, instead of paying double in the “secondary market.”

All week, Colleen warned that the weather would be terrible.  But I’m a big believer in ignoring weather reports and assuming things will work out for the best.  When we arrived at the ballpark…

…the weather was perfect.  Warm, but not too hot.  Couldy, but try.  Perfect.

Once the gates opened, we headed to our standard beginning-of-BP-in-Philadelphia spot – the LF corner in foul territory:

At the beginning of BP, only LF and Ashburn Alley are open to fans.  In that last picture, you can see a yellow, plastic chain behind us, blocking us from entering the infield seats.  Section 140 extends from foul to fair territory.  It is the only foul territory open at the beginning of BP, and it is separated (because it is elevated) from the rest of LF.  So it’s the perfect spot for us to hang out.

When we got to this spot, Tommy Hunter was playing catch on the warning track with Braves bullpen catcher Alan Butts.  Hunter was out in LF and Butts was standing right below us with a guy in a khaki shorts and a polo standing with him.  My thought is that the guy in shorts was spotting Butts – i.e., making sure a batted ball didn’t hit Butts.

A month ago, I had no clue who Butts was.  But, as luck would have it, we were just in Atlanta on the GFS Roadtrip, so I knew his first name was Alan.  As one of his throws sailed toward Hanson, I called out, “Hey, Alan!?”  He looked up and said hi.  I asked if we could get the baseball when he and Hanson finished playing catch, and he said “sure thing.”

As we waited for Tommy and Alan to finish playing catch, Alan’s khaki’d spotter walked up the foul line to grab a baseball that had rolled to a stop on the edge of the warning
track:

As he came back to Butts, he wasn’t paying any attention to the batter.  Just then, a Phillies righty launched a ball down the foul line.  Usually, I am all over calling out “HEEEEAAAAADS!” when someone is an jeopardy of getting hit, but I was focused in on the ball.  I didn’t think it would reach me, but I thought we had a good chance at a ground rule double.  We’ll never know if it would have been a ground rule double or not, because it bounced hard off of the warning track and absolutely nailed Alan Butts’s spotter in the back of the head.  He went down hard and was down for a couple minutes.  It was ugly, and I felt bad that I hadn’t realized the situation and warned the guy.

I don’t think Colleen even noticed the situation; she was busy taking pictures of our cute little boys.  Like this one of Kellan (whose hair was going crazy):

Shortly after the spotter got nailed (or maybe just before…I’m not 100% sure of the timing), a BP homer (actually, it must have been just foul) was driller right over us on a
line.  None of the 10 or so fans sitting behind us was paying any attention to BP, I screamed “HEEEEEEEEAAAAADDDSSS UP!!!!!!!”

No one noticed, and it clanked off of one of the seats, bounced into foul territory and started rolling down the steps toward us.  But there was a guy behind us in the seats and I could tell he’d get the ball before it got to us.  Just then, I saw another ball dive into the seats in section 139 (in the LF foul corner).  It ended up coming to a stop right next to
the fence along the field.  I was the only person who saw it.  I pointed it out to an usher and asked if we could go grab it – it was on the other side of the yellow chain, but probably only 10 feet from us.

Instead of letting us go get it, the usher went to retrieve it himself.  Just then, Tim tapped on my back and shoved a baseball in my face:  “Look what that guy gave to me!”  It was the ball that had been hit over us.  The fan behind us grabbed it and gave it to Tim.  Tim handed it to me right as the usher was turning around with the other baseball
in his grasp.

I panicked for a second.  The usher probably wouldn’t give us the baseball if he knew we just got the other baseball (and we didn’t want the other baseball from the fan).  So I
hid the fan ball in my glove and accepted the other ball from the usher.  I’m pretty sure that ball was hit by one of the Phillies, but with all of the confusion with the other ball being hit over us, I’m not certain.  I guess it could have been Tommy Hanson over throw into the crowd, but that doesn’t seem very likely.  For one thing, it wouldn’t make
sense that an overthrow would roll back to the fence along the foul line.

Anyway, I got the ball from the usher and then I turned around and thanked the fan for giving Tim the other baseball.  But then I handed it back to him and asked him to give it to another kid.  He ended up giving it to an older lady that was standing with him…maybe his mom.  And he seemed happy to have it.

Luckily, Alan Butts didn’t see any of this.  When he and Hanson finished playing catch, Tommy started to run off with the baseball.  Alan called to him to toss it back.  When he got it, he tossed it up to us as promised:

Thanks, Alan!

I’m not an NL guy.  But I like Tommy Hanson.  So it is cool to get one of his warm up baseballs.

My wife doesn’t get to Citizens Bank Park much, so I asked her if she wanted to head out to Ashburn Alley to see what there was to see.  She agreed.  But on our way out of section 140, we ran into Harry Kalas!

Out in CF, we checked out the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye.  Then we did the speed pitch and Tim set a new personal best:  32 miles per hour!

We then went around the BBQ area and played the other games:

We were waiting for the rest of the stadium to open so we could head over to the pizza wedge.  We had a lot of time to kill because RF wouldn’t open until 5:35, and it was only 5:00 p.m.  So we decided to dine on dollar hot dogs while sitting among a throng of fans beneath the Richie Ashburn statue:

Tim and I finished our hot dogs while Kellan was still munching on his.  I asked Colleen if it would be okay for me and Tim to run down into the seats in LCF while Kellan finished his food.  She approved.   Tim and I ran across Ashburn Alley and as we took our first step into the seats I saw a homerun ball flying at the seats about ten feet below us and about 10 feet in from the aisle.  We kept running down the stairs as the ball deflected off the seats and bounced right in front of me.  I made the catch right in stride.  And then a guy down below yelled, “You’re right on time!!!”  It was pretty cool.

Moments later, I took a picture of Tim holding the ball…

…and Tim Hudson standing in LCF down below the section.  When I made the catch on that ball, I was standing in the aisle up by the lady in the white shirt and pink hat.
The ball essentially bounced over, around or through all of the fans sitting right there.  We’d come down there because I knew Tim Hudson was there and we wanted to see if we could get a toss-up from him.  But the whole entire section saw me catch that ball, so I felt a little funny about the idea of getting it and then going down and asking Hudson for a ball.  So we just headed back to Colleen and Kellan.

Soon enough, the rest of the stadium opened and we headed toward the pizza wedge.  We didn’t get the corner spot at the tip of the wedge because another father/son beat us there.  Tim and I hung out in the front row and Colleen and Kellan sat directly behind us:

While we were in the pizza wedge, Dan Uggla put on an extreme homerun hitting clinic.  First, he hit a homerun completely over the batters’ eye and into the Phillies Hall of Fame.  I’ve never see that happen before.  Next, he hit a bomb just to the leftfield side of the batters’ eye that landed on Ashburn Alley.  That was just plain ridiculous.

Eventually, a Braves batter hit a homerun that landed in the last row of the pizza wedge (2 rows above and slightly to the right of Colleen as pictured in the last photo).  It bounced down toward us, bounced into the back of Colleen’s seat (between her back and the seat back as she was ducking), and then bounced through the seat next to her (seat number 7 pictured above) where I grabbed it off of the ground.

That was good enough for us.  We skipped out on the rest of BP and headed over to McFadden’s…

…for dinner.

Colleen had never been to the McFadden’s at Citizens Bank Park before.  The bar area was insanely loud and probably would have given Kellan a monster headache.  But around the corner, they have a big dining room that was very mellow and essentially quiet.

We had a nice dinner before heading back out to the field:

The game was already starting when we headed out to the field, but we didn’t go to our seats.  Instead, Tim had requested a visit to the Kids Play Area:

Both boys had a lot of fun in the play area.  While it took a lot of coaxing, Kellan finally did go down the little kids’ slide.  The pitching match-up was Derek Lowe vs. Cliff Lee.  While we were in the play area, Michael Bourn made Lowe the loser when he smacked a grounder down the 3B line for a 2-RBI single.  That was all Cliff Lee would need, but not all he would get, on this night.

We had seats in the upper deck.  So when we left the play area, we walked up the winding ramp.  We stopped on the 200 level for a picture…

…and then we continued racing up the ramp.  Tim always makes me race him up the ramps.  And when he gets tired, he announces that the race is over.  When we reached the bottom of the last leg of the ramp, I got a picture of the boys with the Citizens Bank Park sign behind them:

And then we went and found our seats.  I bought tickets to this game through the Phillies website at the beginning of the season.  I knew they were in the upper deck, but had
no clue where.  Turns out, they were in the very back row of section 424.  It was actually a very nice view of the game:

From up top in section 424, we had a great view of the spots where “His Name Is” Dan Uggla hit his monster BP bombs…

…and we had walked right into the ricocheted BP homer.

And of the pizza wedge where the homer had sailed over us and then bounced back to us:

We don’t sit in the upper deck much, but we were having a great time and the tippy-top of Citizens Bank Park:

See how there is a chain linked fence directly behind our seats?  This is what was on the other side of the fence…

…a massive drop off!

We also had a great view of home plate, as shown here when Ryan Howard drilled a single right back up the box in the bottom of the third inning:

Whenever she joins us at a game, Colleen takes lots of pictures of her three boys – most of which feature Tim making some kooky faces:

At one point in the game, we got some unexpected comic relief.  The Phillies were listing off birthdays and anniversaries on the big screen and then they showed a lady standing in the crowd.  She immediately saw herself on the screen and started doing some fairly provocative and hilarious dancing for the cameras.  Meanwhile, he boyfriend was
kneeling next to her holding a box with a diamond engagement ring.  She was completely oblivious and into her dancing.  He must have said something because she stopped dancing and turned and looked at him.  But she looked at his face, and somehow completely missed that he was holding out the engagement ring.  He essentially lifted it up into her face so she couldn’t miss it…

…and then began the water works.  She started crying like a little baby.  Then she started hugging and kissing him.  So, I think it is safe to conclude that she said, “Yes.”

Meanwhile, Cliff Lee was pitching a masterful game:

And, at least on one play, he received some stellar defensive help by Ryan Howard:

He ran with his back to home plate all the way to the wall and made a very impressive sliding-sliding-away-from-the-field catch.

Derek Lowe wasn’t having as much luck as Lee:

He gave up the third and fourth runs of the night in the bottom of the fourth inning on an 2-RBI single by Shane Victorino.

After Chase Utley hit a triple with one out in the bottom of the fifth…

…Lowe eventually gave up three more runs.  First, Hunter Pence hit a double to score Utley.  Then, Carlos Ruiz hit a score Howard and Pence.  That made the score 7-0 Phillies.
And that was all she wrote for Derek Lowe.

Here is a nice picture I took of Tim, just for the heck of it:

When it was ice cream time, I was holding Kellan.  So Mommy was on ice cream duty.   Colleen sometimes wonders why I get so many ice cream helmets.  She got her answers after she bought Tim this delicious, but incredibly messy, ice cream cone:

Ice cream helmets make a great souvenir AND they catch all of the melting ice cream.  Cones are a delicious ice cream receptacle, but all of the melting ice cream runs down your hands and only your clothes.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Scott Linebrink replaced Derek Lowe and promptly gave up a solo homerun to Ryan Howard…

…; the first and only batter he would face.  That made the score 8-0 Phillies.

The Phillies tacked on a ninth and final run in the bottom of the eighth inning on an RBI single by Placido Polanco.

We tried to beat the traffic, so we started making our way toward the exit as the game wrapped up.  As we were walking through the upper deck concourse on our way to the ramp, Tim kept asking, “Why are we leaving?  The game is still going!  Why are we leaving!?”  That’s my boy.  I love that attitude.  Bud, unfortunately, we needed to get home
sooner-rather-than later because Tim had just started kindergarten and he needed to rest up for school the next day.  So we sacrificed the last three outs of Cliff Lee’s 9-0 complete game shut out win.

On the way toward the ramp, we got a parting shot of the boys with the scoreboard:

And that’s the story of Kellan’s first Phillies game.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
27/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/8 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, Phillies, Braves]
21 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3)).
76 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)
12/4 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, Turner Field, Tropicana Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]
15/9 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, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan; 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, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamie Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); 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.***2011 All-Star

In Philadelphia With The Folks (6/10/2011)

In mid-June, my folks came to Pennsylvania for a quick visit.  My mom had never been to Citizens Bank Park.  So on June 10, 2011, we headed down to Philadelphia to see the Cubs vs. the Phillies.

My folks love Philadelphia, so before going to the game, we took a quick walk around the Rittenhouse Square area:

Then it was down to the stadium for us.  On the way into the ballpark, Tim wanted to get his picture with this statute of Joe Brown…

…which he has been photographed multiple times in the past.  My dad’s picture of me taking Tim’s picture actually came out looking much better than the picture I took.

A little further down the sidewalk, I gathered my folks together with Tim for this photo outside of the LF gate:

When we entered the ballpark, the Phillies were taking BP and LF was still the only part of the stadium that was open to the public.  My dad hung out a few rows back in section 141 (the first section in homerun territory in left field), while Tim, my mom and I headed to the first row in section 140 (which is in foul territory and was in the shade).

A few minutes later, a ball was hit right down the line and it came to rest in foul territory.  Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick was in LF and he slowly walked over to grab the ball.  When he walked below us, he looked up at me and…

Kendrick:  “Hey, is that a Mariners hat!?”

Todd:  “Yeah!”

Kendrick:  “And that’s a Mariners shirt!?”

Todd:  “Yep.”

(FYI, it was a t-shirt with an intentionally sorta faded original Mariners logo.  Also, at some point during this exchange, Kendrick tossed us the baseball he had just grabbed off of the warning track.  Thanks, Kyle!)

Kendrick:  “Are you from Washington?”

Todd:  “I live there for about 22 years, but live here now.”

Mom:  “I live in Seattle!”

Kendrick:  “I’m from Mount Vernon!”

Todd:  “Cool.  I used to play a lot of baseball in there when I played American Legion ball.”

Todd:  “So, are you a Mariners fan!?”

Kendrick:  (makes a wishy-washing, non-confirming/non-denying gesture)

Todd:  “Well, were you a Mariners fan growing up?”

Kendrick:  “Oh, definitely!”

My, Oh, My!  Great to learn there is a Washingtonian and Mariners fan (I know he’s still a Mariners fan!) on the Phillies.  I now have a newfound appreciation for Mr. Kendrick.

Here is a combination of the Kendrick hanging out in LF and the baseball that he tossed up to us:

After chatting with Kendrick, I headed out to CF to look around.  My mom and Tim stayed put and my dad got this shot of Grandma reading to Tim the give-away book (Phillie Phanatic: The Philadelphia Story) that he received upon entry into the stadium:

On my way back to LF, I stopped in the front row just in front of my dad.  Right then, someone hit a homerun directly in line with me.  But it sailed over my head.  I turned around sure that my dad would catch it.  But he didn’t even see the ball coming and another guy caught the ball about one foot to my dad’s right.

I left the front row and met up with Tim and my mom again to watch the Cubs pitchers warm up along the LF line…

…and then my mom move over to section 141 and joined my dad in the front row.

Not much was going on, so Tim spent some quality time touching the foul pole:

When the Cubs pitchers’ finished throwing, a coach (who I think was Dave Keller)…

…tossed Tim a baseball.

Thanks, Dave!

When the rest of the stadium opened, we headed over to the “pizza slice” in RCF:

Kerry Wood (34) and Jeff “Fighting Irish” Samardzija (29) were both shagging balls in CF…

…I was thinking it would be nice if one of them tossed us a baseball, but James Russell (40) beat them to it.  Russell tossed us a baseball from about 100 feet out into the grass.  I was in the “pizza slice” where you cannot scoot back.  I grabbed the railing and reached up as high as I could and just barely got it before it sailed over me into the bullpen.

Thanks, James!

Meanwhile, my dad was down 2-3 sections toward CF:

A Cub launched a homerun a couple rows back and he scampered up a couple rows and snagged the ball off of the stairs.  My mom took this shot of my dad with is first baseball from Citizen Bank Park:

After BP, three generations of Cook boys tested their canons at the speed pitch…

…and there was no actual speed present.  Actually, it should be noted that Tim heated it up to “28 miles for hour,” an improvement of 2 miles since his last effort.

Next, it was time for a brief play stop in the kids’ play area.  Then, we headed up the ramp…

… for a little tour of the upper deck.

We entered the upper deck at section 312…

…and we thought it was a nice background for a group shot:

Next, Tim wanted to climb up to the very top row.  So we headed to the section right behind home plate and climbed to the top.  After taking in the scenery, we decided to go down a little lower to find an usher to take our picture.  But a fan overheard us and offered to take our picture.  Here is her camera handiwork:

And, what the heck, how about one more group shot from the bottom of the upper deck:

Tim decided to do a statue pose in that last shot.

It was game time.  We reported to our seats in section 138 right as Roy Halladay was delivering the first pitch of the game.

I didn’t take this until late in the game, but here is a panorama from section 138, row 10, seat 8:

The Philadelphia International Airport is southwest of Citizens Bank Park and there is always a steady diet of airplanes traveling from right field toward home plate on their descent toward the airport.  But all of a sudden at the beginning of this game, the airplanes all reversed course…

…Tim had a lot of fun watching airplanes traveling from home plate toward right field on their ascent from the airport.

We also had a lot of fun watching the Phanatic and his friends and family entertain people around the ballpark.  Here is the Phanatic hanging out in the crowd down the third base line:

Note:  it seems like the Phanatic always makes his first appearance during each game right around this same area down the 3B line.

We had never sat so close to a Phillies ballgirl.  Between innings, Tim headed down and got this picture with Maureen:

Before getting Maureen’s autograph and photo, Tim reported to me that every ballgirl whose autograph he’d gotten in the past had signed her name with a little heart.  He was sure that Maureen would adorn her baseball card with a heart too.  But Maureen switched it up and signed her name with a little drawing of a baseball.

Those “friends and family” of the Phanatic included “Lady PhaPha”…

…who did a little dance with the second base umpire, Alan Porter.

Of course, in addition to the non-baseball entertainment, there was a game being played too.  The Phillies took the lead early and led the whole way.

In the first inning, the Phillies scored a single run on a Ryan Howard groundout that scored Shane Victorino.   In the second inning, they added two more on a two run homerun by Dominic Brown.  I believe that this homerun makes Brown the first person whom Tim and I have seen hit a homerun in the minor and Major leagues.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, former-Mariner Raul Ibanez…

…hit a double down the right field line.  But he was stranded on base and the score remained 3-0 Phillies.

Halladay was, as they say, dealing:

Yep, its official, he’s good.

By the way, here was our view of Raul out in left field:

It was official, we were having a good time and the ballpark and Tim highly approved of it:

Although the lead seemed insurmountable given Halladay’s dominance, the Phillies played a little tack-on in the bottom of the seventh…and it is a good thing that they did.  After loading up the bases, Placido Polanco unloaded them with one swing:

Our new friend, James Russell, had to come in to finish off the seventh inning for starter Victor Zambrano:

And that put the Phillies up 7-0.

But then Uncle Charlie decided to that his relievers needed to get some work in.  So Halladay’s day was done with a line of 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K.

The relief corps did not fare as well.  Between Jose Contreras (4 runs) and J.C. Romero (1 run), the Phillies gave back 5 runs in the top of the 8th, and all of a sudden we had a ball game again.  And the “boooooos” were raining down in Citizen Bank Park.

Late in the game, the Phanatic (1B dugout) enlisted the help of his mother (3B dugout) to get the crowd going again:

This has nothing to do with baseball, but I was quite happy with the zoom job my camera did on the moon:

At the end of the game, the Phanatic got some help from this guy in the green shirt and plaid shorts:

He was sitting just across the aisle from us and after a lot of hard work he got the wave going pretty good around the ballpark:

It must have worked because Michael Stutes got a hold and Antonio Bastardo got the save, which of course resulted in a win for both the Phillies and their ace, Roy Halladay.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
12/1 Games (Tim/Kellan)
13/2 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals and Cubs; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles]
7 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2))
38 Baseballs (4 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 1 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs)
5/1 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington; Kellan – Camden Yards]
11/7 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; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
4 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
3/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird; 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]
1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)
*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

14-Inning Affair in Philadelphia (5/1/2011)

On Sunday, May 1, 2011, Tim and I set off for Philadelphia and our first non-doubleheader game of the season.  Just like last May 1st, the Phillies would be taking on their division rivals, the New York Mets.  Unlike last season, this game was a night game.  In fact, it was the ESPN Sunday night game.

We arrived before the gates opened.  But there was a problem:  we were staring down 2.5 hours of batting practice, but while still in the parking lot we discovered that both Tim and I forgot to pack our gloves.  Oh, no!

But on this date, baseball gloves were not necessary.  With five lifetime baseball at Citizens Bank Park, we were about to have an unprecedented day.

Immediately upon entering the stadium, he headed to the LF corner and ran into former-Mariner, Raul Ibanez:


1 - Ibanez post toss up.JPGRaul gave us props for our Mariners shirts, and then tossed us a baseball.

Thanks, Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuulll!!!

After a few minutes, we abandoned LF and headed to the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye.  We checked out the empty bullpens (and noticed a Phillies BP baseball down below in the entrance way to the bullpen area), peered around the batters eye to watch some BP…


2 - citz bullpen.JPG…, and checked out the various displays that teach you how to grip the baseball to throw different pitches.

While behind the batters eye, they opened up the rest of the stadium.  So Tim and I headed to the corner spot in RCF (section 101, row 1, seat 1).  There is some extra space in the corner pasted seat 1, Tim literally “hung out” there:


3 - CF corner spot.JPGPhillies back-up catcher, Dane Sardinha, was shagging baseballs right in front of us.  While we were trying to figure out who in the world Sardinha was, Antonio Bastardo ran down a fly ball in straight away CF and then tossed us our second baseball of the day:


4 - Antonio Bastardo.JPGIt was our second baseball, and I barehanded it just fine.

The Phillies’ “Four Aces” (minus the day’s starting pitcher, Cliff Lee) were hanging out in front of Section 103…


5 - Four Aces Minus Lee.JPG…and Roy Oswalt was doing all of the shagging.

At one point, this groundskeeper walked by…


6 - Thanks Phils groundskeeper.JPG…and grabbed that baseball out of the bullpen entrance way.  He walked over toward us (by the way, RF was filling up, but for some reason, not a single person joined us in section 101), and tossed the baseball up to us.  Amazingly, without any gloves that was our third baseball of the day, in all of the games we’d attended with glove-on-hand, we’d never got three baseballs at a Phillies game before.

Eventually, the Phillies vacated the field and the Mets started taking their hacks.  Mets third baseman, David Wright, was putting on a show.  He jacked homer after homer into the bushes behind the CF fence.  In fact, we watched so many baseballs fly into the bushes, Tim found this little birdie in the bushes:


7 - lost birdie.JPGTim started telling me all about this birdie and his life and family.

By the way, this was our view of Citizens Bank Park from section 101, row 1, seat 1:


8 - Citizens Bank Park section 101, row 1, seat 1 panorama.jpgWhile hanging out in the corner spot, there was one close call with a BP homerun.  Some unidentified Mets batter hit a homerun directly over our heads.  It sailed about 5 feet over our heads.  In seat 1 of section 101, there is no second row and it was not possible to back up to try to bare hand the homer.  It sailed into the Phillies bullpen, bounced off of the back wall, and came to rest in the middle of the bullpen grass.

A little bit after 7:30, Cliff Lee headed out to the bullpen flanked by pitching coach Rich Dubee and bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo:


9 - Lee prepares for ND.JPGAs Lee started stretching, Dubee headed into the bullpen and grabbed some baseballs out of the baseball bag.  Tim asked Dubee if he could have a baseball.  Dubee motioned/shrugged as if to say, “sorry, we need these baseballs to warm up Cliff Lee” (it was a highly communicative shrug).  Dubee made eye contact with me and I pointed toward that Mets homerun ball that had flown over our heads.  Dubee nodded as if to say, “yep, that one is all yours.”  He then called to Tiamo and pointed to the Mets homerun baseball and then to Tim, “Give it to that little boy.”

After Tiamo carried out Dubee’s instructions, I snapped this picture of the two coaches:


10 - Dubee and Tiamo.JPGAfter Tiamo tossed us the baseball, Tim and I headed to the speed pitch:


11 - 26 mph gas.JPGThe fastest of Tim’s three pitches clocked in at 26 blazin’ fast miles per hour.  He loved the speed pitch.  On his way out, they handed him a ticket (everyone gets one).  He was sure it was some sort of award for pitching so far.  We wrote “26 M.P.H.” on the back so he’d remember how fast he tossed the baseball.

Just outside the speed pitch, Tim posed for this picture with the Tiamo-Dubee-Mets-homerun baseball in front of the Liberty Bell Citizens Bank Park sign:


12 - Tim and Liberty Bell.JPGAnd then it was game time.  On our way through the concourse, we stopped for some nachos and then reported to our seats in Section 140, Section 8, Seats 1-2:


13 - Citizens Bank Park section 140, row 8, seat 1.jpgAs you can see, Row 8 is really the second row of Section 140.  We got these tickets on stubhub and I really loved them.  Great seats.  Highly recommended.

It was a great pitching match-up for this game:  Cliff Lee vs. Chris Young.  Both pitchers were on their game.

After Jimmy Rollins drew a walk in the bottom of the first, Ryan Howard came to the plate ready to get the Phils offense going…


14 - Howard ready to mash.JPG…, but, unfortunately for the Phils, J-Roll got picked off to end the inning:


15 - Jimmy Rollins  picked off.JPGThe two leftfielders both had Northwest connections — Two-time former-Mariner Raul Ibanez for the Phillies and British Columbian and Gonzaga Bulldog Jason Bay for the Mets:


16 - Ibanez and Bay in LF.JPGRonny Paulino led off the second inning with his first hit as a New York Met, a line drive single to center.  But he was left on base when Jose Reyes…


17 - Jose Reyes at bat.JPG…flew out to Ibanez to end the inning.  Now, Reyes, there is a guy the Philadelphia fans really seem to dislike.

During the break in the action, Tim posed with his Raul Ibanez baseball and the Citizens Bank Park sign:


18 - Tim Ibanez baseball and CitzBankPark sign.JPGAnd for good measure, he posed with his vanilla cookies and the field:


19 - chilling and eating cookies.JPGAfter eating a pack and a half of these tasty vanilla cookies, Tim declared himself too sugared up to get ice cream!

During the game, Tim spent a bunch of time agonizing over his All-Star picks:


20 - All-Star Ballot.JPGThe game was 0-0 through the first four innings.  Then, with two outs in the top of the fifth inning, David Wright (another guy who Philadelphians really seem to dislike) hit a single and then scored the first run of the day on Carlos Beltran’s RBI double.

Between the top and bottom of the fifth, Tim and I ran over to section 138 so Tim could get his picture with Emily, the Phillies ballgirl:


21 - Tim and ballgirl Emily.JPGAnd while we were at it, he got a personalized autograph on Emily’s ballgirl card…


22 - Emily's ballgirl card.JPG…, which Tim put in his baseball card album along-side his Ichiro, Griffey and other MLB baseball cards.  When we got back to our seats, Tim showed his autographed card to all of our seat neighbors.

Between innings (not sure which innings), the Phanatic was ripping his way around the ballpark on his four-wheeler.  I got this cool picture where the Phanatic is in focus and pretty much everything else is blurred a little:


23 - speeding Phanatic.JPGWe’d get up close to the Phanatic later in the game.

He was giving up some hits, but Cliff Lee…


24 - Cliff Lee delivers.JPG…was pitching quite effectively.  The only problem for the Phillies was that Chris Young was pitching just as effectively, if not more so.

After a lot of work and careful consideration, Tim finished his All-Star ballot:


25 - All-Star Ballot Complete.JPGStill training 1-0, the Phillies missed an opportunity in the bottom of the seventh when Ryan Howard was left on base.  The inning ended in a bizarre fashion.  With Howard on 3B and Ben Francisco on 2B, Phillies catcher Brian Schneider seemingly checked his swing to work a full-count with two outs.  Finally, about 5 full seconds after the pitch, home plate umpire Jim Wolfe checked with his colleague over at 3B and Schneider was rung up.

It was the most delayed strike out call that I have ever seen.

And it was followed by the quickest ejection call I’ve ever seen.

Charlie Manuel came charging out of the Phillies dugout to argue with 3B umpire Lance Barksdale, I don’t think Charlie had even reached the pitchers’ mound when Barksdale tossed him from the game.  Charlie continued on his way to Barksdale and got his money’s worth out of the argument:


26 - Delayed strike out call Early Toss out call.JPGIn the top of the eighth, a Mets leftie (I think Ike Davis) hit a foul ball that skipped around in the crowd before being grabbed by a lady within 10 feet of our seats.  Here is a picture featuring my shoe for perspective:


27 - foul ball catcher nearby.JPGI’m sitting in my seat, and the foul ball was secured by the lady in the red hat three seats down from “Lee” (i.e., Lee, Manuel, Victorino, foul ball lady).

Right around this time, something odd happened.  I got a text from Avi Miller:

“In case they didn’t tell you at Phils game:  Obama making announcement tonight unscheduled.  Related to national security.”

Then a second text:

“Was supposed to be 10:30, but they’re still setting up so it could be any minute.  Speculation is it could involve anything like Gadhafi, Osama [bin Laden], or even Libya in general.  Who knows.  Has to be big to do a Sunday night sudden announcement.”

Then a third text:

“Multiple sources saying Osama is dead and in US control.  Will let you know.  Obama hasn’t spoken yet, but that’s what all the news sources are saying.”

While I was exchanging texts with Avi, fans all around the stadium were apparently receiving similar texts from their friends and family.  What an odd place to be, I thought, to learn big international news like this.

Meanwhile, life and the game went on.

It was getting late in the game and the Phils were down 1-0.  I was thinking about relocating over by the 3B dugout soon so we could try to get our first ever umpire baseball at Citizens Bank Park.  First, I needed a picture of us in our seats.  A guy sitting behind us was happy to help:


28 - TJCs in section 140 row 8.JPGThen in the bottom of the eighth, things got interesting.  The Phillies tied it up 1-1 when John Mayberry, Jr. scored…


29 - Phillies knot it at 1-1 in 8th.JPG…on an RBI single by Ryan Howard.

Then things go really interesting.  It started in LF, but soon the whole stadium was chanting “USA! USA! USA!”  I missed most of the best and loudest chanting, but I was able to capture a few seconds of it:

Obviously, something was up.  I texted Avi to see what Obama had to say.  His response:

“that’s why.  Officially announced and confirmed.  Osama dead.  Killed by bomb about 10 days ago, they were waiting to confirm body.”

Of course, we have learned over the course of the last week that a lot of the initial news about this event were incorrectly reported.  But the gist of Avi’s message was accurate:  President Obama had announced that U.S. Forces had killed Osama bin Laden.

Every once in a while, the chants came back:  “USA! USA! USA!”  A very memorable way to learn this news, indeed.

We decided to head over toward the 3B dugout.  It can be hard to get down into those seats because the ushers usually patrol it pretty rigorously.    But we slipped into the back row of section 130 with no trouble.  It was really windy in the concourse (it always is at Citizens Bank Park), and Tim was instantly freezing.  There was no one sitting in the last row of section 130.  So we slid by the usher, sat in the last row, and I instantly took off Tim’s shoes and helped him pull a pair of sweatpants over his shorts.

It must have looked like we belonged, because the usher never said a word to us.  Here was our view in the ninth and tenth innings from the back of section 130:


30 - 9th inning section 130 back row.JPGIn the bottom of the tenth, Ryan Howard crushed a fly ball to the warning track in deep CF field.  I was sure it was a walkoff homerun, so I grabbed Tim and we ran down the stairs toward the umpires tunnel.  But Howard’s hit died and was caught on the warning track.

Ooops…

We pulled up and grabbed some new aisle seats at around row 10.  Here was our view for the rest of the tenth and part of the eleventh innings:


31 - 11th inning section 130 10th row.JPGWe were so close, we could practically hear Jose Reyes ignoring the fans heckling him on the on deck circle.  Here’s what he looked like at the plate…


32 - Reyes.JPG…as the Phillies fans verbally assured Reyes that he is terrible and was destined to strike out.  Instead, he popped out to the catcher.

Finally, in the twelfth inning (at 12:01 a.m.), we made our way to the penultimate seats, second row behind the home plate side of the dugout (Section 129):


33 - 11th inning section 129 2nd row.JPGThe game just kept going and going.  No one could score.  Both teams seemed capable of advancing baserunners to third base, but that was it.  Inning after inning, third outs erased all of the would-be winning runs.

The Phillies fans needed something to inspire them to inspire their Phils to do something special.

Enter the Phillie Phanatic.  He hopped onto the 3B dugout and started running down the length of the dugout toward us giving everyone high fives:


34 - Phanatic approaches.JPGI stood up to get some big green, furry hand.  But as he approached, my hand was left unsmacked as I watched “something” whiz by me.

Inside my head I thought, “What was that!?”

I scan the field and wondered, “Are they throwing t-shirts into the crowd?”

I saw the guy immediately in front of me bend over toward the empty seat to his right, like he’s grabbing for a t-shirt on the ground or something.

But I didn’t see anyone throwing t-shirts!  “What’s going on!?,” I thought.

The Phanatic stopped at the end of the dugout and looked down at us…or, more precisely, at the guy bending down toward the empty seat:


35 - Phanatic immediately post incident.JPGThe guy got back up to his feet and his nose was spewing blood all over the place.  The Phanatic, the guys family and everyone watched as the guy stood there bleeding.


36 - Phanatic friends and USA guy survey the situation.JPG

The guy was not happy.  The Phanatic bent over, put his arm around the guy, and said something to him.  He (the Phanatic) then walked over to an usher about ten feet away, and said something to him.

The guy sat down holding his bleeding face.  I could tell he was fuming mad and...


37 - bloody and unhappy Mets fan.JPG…, as his blood dripped down the empty seat next to him, about ten ushers showed up on the scene.

An usher got someone in the Mets dugout to throw up a towel to clean up the guy’s face.  Another usher brought a bag of ice.  A medic-type-guy arrived and convinced the guy to leave the seats and go get checked out at the first aid station.  The guy reluctantly left.

Oh, by the way, he was a Mets fan.  After he left, the Phillies fans made numerous jokes at his expense.

Oh, by the way, while all of this was happening, Mets pitcher Taylor Buchholz struck out Phillies back-up catcher Dane Sardinha…


39 - Buchholz to Sardinha.jpg…for the third out of the bottom of the 13th inning, and then Mets catcher Ronny Paulino (who enjoyed a five hit night), tossed us Tim’s first ever third-out baseball.

Thanks, Ronny!

Now, back to the bloody guy.  The big question:  what the heck happened to him!?

I honestly don’t know.  I was literally the closest person to him when whatever happened to him happened to him.  But I didn’t see it because I was looking toward the Phanatic advancing from the 3B side of the dugout.  All I saw was “something” red whiz by (something that I initially thought was a t-shirt being tossed into the crowd).

I heard people muttering something about the Phanatic kicking the guy.  I don’t know what that means.  The Phanatic was running down the dugout giving out high fives.  Could he have accidentally got too close to the edge of the dugout and ran into the guy (who I believe was standing up at the time) at full speed?  I don’t know.  Was the Phanatic’s red leg the “something” that whizzed by me as I reached up for a high five (and was left hanging)?  I don’t know.

Bottom line, I have no clue what happened except that this dude was standing their one second, and the next second he was dripping blood all over the front row and the top of the dugout.  I did a search for news articles that might have mentioned the fan getting hurt and found nothing.  I guess I’ll never know for sure what happened.

For the rest of the game, these two guys were on hand-and-knee sterilizing and cleaning the area:


40 - clean up ailse 1.JPGThey had little boxes with biohazard signs on them.  They poured white powder all over the ground and sprayed a cleaning substance all over the blood marks on the seats and dugout.

Tim kept asking me why the guys were pouring *sugar* on the blood (they said it was an absorbing powder/gel substance that sucks up the blood) and telling me to point out to the guys that there was a peanut shell full of blood on the ground under the seat.  Tim is very observant when it comes to peanut shells.

Anyway, soon after Paulino tossed us the third out baseball, he hit the game winning RBI hit in the top of the fourteenth.  It was almost 1 o’clock in the morning.

It seemed as if the Phils were folding up shop for the night when they sent Cole Hamels in to pinch hit with one out in the bottom of the fourteenth:


41 - Hamels Hamels Hamels.JPGHe grounded out.

Tim was really, really tired:


42 - icky clean up tired boy.JPGBut soon, John Mayberry, Jr. struck out to end the game.  Tim was so tired that I was holding him as umpire Jim Wolfe approached the umpires’ tunnel.  I called his name.   He looked up and saw us.  He grabbed a baseball, and tossed it right to us.  But an extremely large adult fan in the diamond club section leaned over a railing, reached in front of us with his bare hand, and deflected the baseball right into Tim’s face.

That was all the half asleep boy needed:  he burst into tears.  The guy didn’t even notice what he’d done as he scrambled for the loss baseball on the ground.  Jim Wolfe, on the other hand, saw exactly what happened.  And he hollered at me, held up a second baseball and tossed it to me and Tim.

Thanks, Blue.

After we caught the second umpire baseball, the guy who had knocked the ball into Tim’s face had learned what he’d done from some other fans (generally everyone around was very sympathetic to poor little Tim getting nailed in the face) and he came over and apologized.

As we headed up the stairs to the exit, I asked Tim to hold up the replacement umpire ball so we could get a picture…


43 - I don't want to remember this.JPG…”so we can remember what happened to you when we tried to get that ball from the umpire.”  Tim replied, “but I don’t want to remember that!”

The picture and our little exchange about the memory actually helped a lot.  I think Tim was more stunned (and exhausted) than he was hurt.  After our exchange, he dried his tears and reverted to his usual happy little self.

Wow, what a day.  Our first non-doubleheader of the season ended up going 14 innings (and until 1 a.m.), we witnessed a memorable crowd reaction to the announcement about Osama bin Laden, we got a third out baseball, our first umpire baseball at this stadium, and 6 total completely gloveless baseballs (more than doubling our lifetime total of 5 previous baseballs at Citizens Bank Park), and we witnessed the mysterious fan injury as the Phanatic ran by giving high fives and all of the “biohazard” clean-up that followed.

Incredible.

2011 C&S Fan Stats

 

5/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)

6/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets; Kellan – none]

2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles, Nationals)

15 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets)

3/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – none]

10/6 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]

3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]

1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)

1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)

2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan – Mariner Moose]

*includes Spring Training

 

I-95 Day/Night Doubleheader (9/6/10)

At some point during the 2009 season, I got in my head that I really wanted Tim and I to attend a doubleheader.  But not a traditional doubleheader.  September 6, 2010 was finally the day.

I made sure we had all of our tickets in my backpack in the morning:

1 - two tickets.JPGIt would be a two city day/night doubleheader.  At 1:05 p.m., we would meet Washington, D.C.’s newest resident, my cousin Nathan, at Nationals Park for a game between the Mets and the Nationals.  Then, we would drive up I-95 to Philadelphia where we would see the Marlins take on he Phillies at 7:05 p.m.

We made it to Nationals Park with no troubles…

2 - first stop nationals park.JPG…and we were ready for a big day of baseball.

We made it in plenty of time for BP.  We decided to head over to RF where we could hang out in the shade, right in the corner spot above the Nationals bullpen.

3 - Nats BP.JPGAfter about 10 minutes, Livan Hernandez tossed us a baseball from a good way out into the RF grass.  After trying like crazy over the last month, I was finally able to get a picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt

4 - Livan Hernandez toss up.jpg…of a player throwing us a baseball with the ball in mid-air.  Its a hard picture to get and it helped that Hernandez was so far out into the OF.

Thanks, Livan!

Tim posed with his prize…

5 - Thanks Livan.JPG…and then he left the seats and headed over to the kids play area:

6 - play time.JPGWe hung out in or by the play area for about 15-20 minutes until my cousin, Nathan, arrived at the ballpark.

Nate just moved to D.C. and had never been to Nationals Park yet.  So, we toured around the stadium a bit.  We did a lap around the field level concourse and then headed up to the upper deck in LF where you can see the US Capitol building.

While up in LF, I got a picture of Tim and Nate:

7 - Tim and Nathan.JPGThen we walked around the upper deck concourse toward RF where there is a nice view of the Anacostia River.  Tim enjoys watching boats, you know.

After a bit more playing in the play area, we reported to our seats in the front row of section 141.  This was our view of the field:

8 - Nats Park section 141 row A seat 18 panorama.jpgI was surprised to find Nyjer Morgan playing CF…

9 - Nyger Morgan pending appeal of suspensions.JPG…and hitting lead off for the Nationals.  He’d just received two separate suspensions of 7 or 8 games each for various altercations.  But he’d appealed both suspensions and was in the line up.  He managed to behave himself all day for us.

Jordan Zimmerman started for the Nationals and gave up two unearned runs in the top of the first thanks to an error by SS Danny Espinosa.

With big Adam Dunn on base, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez couldn’t even the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the second…

10 - Ivan Rodriguez  Nats 2nd out in 2nd inning.JPG…instead, he flew out to Mets centerfielder Angel Pagan…as did his teammates, Roger Bernadina and Willie Harris.

It was sunny and hot all day in D.C.  It was like the sun was right on top of us.  Tim’s not a fan of the sun, but he made the best of it:

11 - tim happily endures the sun for now.JPGSpeaking of Willie Harris, he was playing RF for the Nats.  Leading off the top of the third inning, Mets right fielder Chris Carter hit a ball to the wall dierctly in front of our seats.  Harris came racing over at full speed.  He thought he had a play on the ball.  I stood up and leaned out as far as I could over the out-of-town scoreboard, but it was impossible to see the play directly below us.

After Willie raced out of our view, we heard a low *thud* and, all of a sudden, I saw a glove come flying into view and land half way across the warning track.

Harris had crashed into the unforgiving wall at full speed — interestingly, this same exact thing happened the last time we had front row seats in RF, but Jose Bautista made that catch — and Harris was hurting bad.  I was quick with the camera:

12 - Willie Harris meets the wall.JPGAfter Nyjer Morgan helped him to his feet, Harris walked out into the grass and fell down to his knees again.  Former Mariners manager and current Nats Manager, Jim Riggleman ran out to RF, as did the Nats trainer.  And the result was that former Mariner Mike Morse came in to replace Harris in RF.

We were having a good old time in our front row seats:

13 - Tim and Nathan.JPGWe spent a lot of time spitting sunflower seeds over the wall and onto the warning track, which Tim thought was great fun.

One of those FanFotos people came by to take our picture, and I got her to take our picture again with my camera…

14 - 3 dudes at Nats Park.JPG…Tim loves to NOT smile for those FanFotos people.

Eventually, the sun became too much for us.  So we headed for some shady seats in the RF foul corner.  That’s where we were when Teddy Roosevelt did not win the Presidents’ race…

15 - Teddy Loses Again.JPG…which we watched while Tim and Nathan enjoyed ice cream helmets…

16 - shady ice cream seats in section 136.JPG…Nate mentioned that it might have been his first ice cream helmet ever.

I took this panorama from our ice cream seats toward the back of section 136:

17 - nats park secton 136 ice cream seats panorama.jpgGoing into the bottom of the fourth inning, the Mets were up 3-1.  But they were about to start giving up a whole bunch of runs.

After Ryan Zimmerman grounded out, Mike Pelfrey walked Adam Dunn and Roger Bernadina.  Ivan Rodriguez then hit a looping line drive to Chris Carter in RF.  I’m pretty sure that I would have caught the ball.  But Carter came in and then couldn’t get back in time and the ball went over his head and all the way to the wall.  Dunn and Bernadina both scored and Rodriguez ended up on third, with a double advancing on the throw.

It was an incredibly sloppy play and this picture shows the Mets moping as they returned to their respective positions:

18 - Ivan Rodriguez 2RBI double in 4th 9-6-10.JPGThe Nats would score three more runs in the fourth before Adam Dunn…

19 - Adam Dunn.JPG…recorded the third out of the inning in his second at bat of the inning.  The damage was done.  The Nats led 6-3, and that was all that it would take.

After Tim and Nate finished their ice cream, we noticed that Abe Lincoln was in the concourse.  We raced after him and got this picture:

20 - Tim Nate and Honest Abe.JPGThen we took some seats in a shady spot just behind first base.  It was the sixth inning.  After watching this low pitch…

21 - Pudge in the 6th.JPG…Ivan Rodriguez hit a sacrifice fly for the first run of the inning.  Four batters later, Danny Espinosa hit a grand slam.  That made the score 12-3 Nationals.

We relocated back to a shady spot in RF:

22 - shady RF seats to end the game.JPGI was starting to get nervous.  This game was taking forever.  I was hoping the game would conclude by 4pm because its a good 2-and-a-half hour drive from D.C. to Philadelphia.  It was 3:45 and it was still the 7th inning.

I told Nathan that we’d have to leave by 4:10.  It was disappointing, but I didn’t want to get stuck in traffic and arrive extremely late to the Philadelphia game.

But then something amazing happened.  The entire 8th inning (from first pitch in the top of the inning to third out in the bottom of the inning) took about 8 minutes.  The top of the 8th literally took 2 minutes and only 6 pitches from Scott Olson: ground out 4-3, ground out 6-3, ground out 6-3.  The bottom of the 8th was almost as quick, but it included a double by Danny Espinosa (who went 4-5 with 6 RBI and 2 runs scored).

We ended up staying until the final out (luckily there was no bottom of the 9th).

And then we said our good-byes to Nathan and bolted to our car.

Luckily, the drive was a breeze.  Through Maryland, past Wilmington, Delaware…

23 - I-95 N Wilmington DE into PA.JPG…and into Pennsylvania.

As we approached Philadelphia, Tim and I discussed the fact that we were heading to the Phillies game.  Tim told me that after the Phillies game, we should drive around and find wherever the Mariners were playing and watch the Mariners game too.  Unfortunately, the Mariners had already played a day game in Oakland.  But I let the dream survive for a bit, I told Tim we’d try to see if we could track down the M’s after the Phillies game.

Twenty minutes before game time, we were in the parking lot at Citizens Bank Park…

24 - second stop philadelphia.JPG…and we were ready for some more baseball.

The Phillies were playing a double-header of their own.  Therefore, I highly doubt they even took BP before this game.  Whether they did or not, we didn’t see any BP in Philadelphia.

After entering the stadium, he headed down to the Phillies dugout…

25 -hello philadelphia.JPG…where we ended up seeing Mike Sweeney:

26 - Mike Sweeney.JPGI called out to Mike and when he turned around he was happy to see our Mariners jerseys.  We ended up chatting for a couple minutes.  I wished him good luck as he and his teammates push toward his first post-season appearance ever and I thanked him for all he did for the Mariners.

He was extremely cool and was very appreciative of our well-wishes and thanks you.

We pretty much hung out right there until the game was about to start, including during the national anthem:

27 - phillies anthem.jpgWe were there to see Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez walk into the dugout after doing his final pre-game stretching:

28 - Ibanez ready for game.JPGIt was game time, so we reported to our assigned seats in section 104, row 14, seats 4-5.  We really like these seats.  They provide a great view of the ballgame and an opportunity to catch a long ball if you’re lucky.  We were not.

In the first inning, I had my camera trained on controversial star, Hanley Ramirez…

29 - Roy Oswalt to Hanley Ramirez.JPG…but he provided no fireworks in this at-bat.

On the hill for the Phils was their newest Roy…

30 - more Oswalt.JPG…Roy Oswalt.  And in the bottom right of that picture?  Playing right field right in front of us was former Reading Phillies star, Domonic Brown:

31 - Dominic Brown former R-Phil.JPGBrown was one of the offensive stars of the night last season when we saw Pedro Martinez pitch a tune-up game for the R-Phils.

While the action played out behind him, Tim had fun with his fingers:

32 - fun with fingers.JPG“Take a picture of this!  Take a picture of this!”

In the top of the second inning, I found something else that was picture-worthy:  young slugger Mike Stanton:

33 - whiff before mega-bomb.JPGThis was a somewhat confusing at-bat…for both me and Stanton.  On this swing, Mike and I both thought he struck out.  You can faintly see the ball in “Chooch” Ruiz’s glove.  Stanton turned and marched back to the Marlin’s dugout.  I put my camera away and figured we’d catch some Stanton-based fireworks later in the game.

But it turns out that Ruiz dropped the ball.

Stanton marched back to the plate and crushed the longest homerun we’ve ever seen at Citizens Bank Park:

34 - second effort second deck by Mike Stanton.JPGIt was an absolute missle.  The green arrow shows where it landed.

Stanton was Brown’s counterpart in right field so we had a good few of him.  He’s a big guy:

35 - big mike stanton.JPGThe Stanton homerun put the Fish up 1-0.

But the Phils came roaring back in the bottom of the second inning.  The Phils scored their first run of the night on a bases loaded walk by Carlos Ruiz.

Two batters later, Shane Victorino hit an RBI single to RF, but Mike Stanton cut down Domonic Brown at home for the second out of the inning.

Palacido Polanco then followed with a 2-RBI ground rule double and Chase Utley drove in the final run of the inning with a single.

The Phillies’ 5-run second inning gave them a 5-1 lead, and it was our (Tim’s and my) third 5-run half inning of the day.

Hey, two games in a day suits us.  We were having a great time:

36 - TJC in Citz OF section 104.JPGWe sat in these seats earlier in the season and did a panorama, but it was a day game.  So how about a night time panorama from section 104:

36a - Citz section 104, row 14, seat 4 night panorama.jpgWith his team trailing 5-1 and with two outs in the inning, Hanley Ramirez had his second at-bat of the night in the top of the third inning, and this time he did his job…

37 - HR for Hanley Ramirez.JPG…this swing sent the ball into the first row in LCF.  Rookie Logan Morrison scored on Ramirez’s homerun and after 2-and-a-half innings, the Phillies led 5-3.

We decided to take a trip to the kids play area…

38 - second stadium second playset.JPG…both of the day’s stadiums feature excellent kids’ play areas.  The Phillies’ play area is a bit bigger and it has a TV for the dads (D.C. does not), however it is usually extremely packed.

After the play area, we visited the main entrance on the 3B side of the stadium where we had noticed a bunch of painted Phanatics on our way into the game.  Tim decided to get his picture with all twenty Phanatics, including these…

39 - four phantics and Tim.jpg….and these…

40 - Tim and four more phanatics.jpg…these ones too…

41 - Tim and still four more phanatics.jpg…and four more…

42 - even more phanatics and Tim.jpg….and of course these ones too:

43 - Tim and last four Phanatics.jpgIf forced to pick, I would say my favorite was the Ben Franklin Phanatic (first Phanatic in the second row of Phanatics pictures).

After the Phanatics, we stopped by our usual Philadelphia ice cream spot for a huge ice cream helmet:

IMG_0323.JPGTim doesn’t usually like sharing his ice cream helmet.  However, we made a deal, we shared a helmet at both games so at the end of the day we both essentially ate one helmet a piece.

Back in our seats, I got this “action” shot of Stanton manning RF…

44 - Stanton deeper than Brown.JPG…which makes it look like he was playing a bit deeper than Brown.

The Marlins tacked on their final run of the night on a 5th inning homerun by Cameron Maybin.  That made it a 1-run game until the Phils scored two more in the bottom of the inning.  After Polanco led off the inning with a triple, Chase Utley hit him in with a single to centerfield.   A couple batters later, Raul Ibanez hit a double to CF that scored the final run of the game.

Late in the game, we headed to the 3B side.  The original plan was to try to get down by the umpires’ tunnel to try to get a baseball from the homeplate umpire, but we ended up finding some seats in section 131, which is a section or two over from the umpires’ tunnel.  This was our view:

45 - Citz section 131 panorama.jpg

In that panorama, a Marlins rookie who we had never heard of was pitching.  His name was Jay Buente and he pitched the final two innings of the night for the Fish.

By the end of the game, we made it down to the third row:

46 - late innings good seats.JPGThe stadium was electric as Brad Lidge came in to go for the save…

47 - Lidge on for save.JPG…after striking out Wes Helms and popping out Mike Stanton, Emilio Bonifacio hit a single on a full-count.  But Lidge then struck out pinch-hitter Scott Cousins for the final out of the game.

The score board showed the final:

48 - Phils win.JPGWe hung out for a few minutes…

49 - Two guys two cities two games.JPG…in case a kind Marlin wanted to toss a baseball up to Tim.  No one did.  Amazingly, it was somehow the first game of the season that we haven’t collected at least one baseball to display on Tim’s dresser.

I mentioned to Tim, “Well, it looks like we won’t get a baseball at this game.”  Tim responded, “That’s okay, we got one this morning.”  That’s a good attitude.

And it was a great day:  morning, noon and night.

Speaking of night, we took a couple funny pictures in the parking lot before hopping in the car for the drive home…

50 - end of a great day.JPG….on the drive, I broke the bad news to Tim that I had found out that the Mariners had already played earlier in the day.  We wouldn’t be able to go find their game.  So we just headed home.

Amazingly, after this long day of baseball, Tim stayed awake almost all the way home.

Two games in two cities in one day was an awesome experience.  We were there for all 18 innings.  We’d definitely do it again. 

2010 Fan Stats:

24 Games

20 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)

20 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (2), Indians, Yankees)

55 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees)

12 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field, Yankee Stadium)

13 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)

2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

9 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)

7 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field) 

Welcome To The Great White North (6/26/10)

On Saturday, June 26, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and drove from our home in Pennsylvania to the Canadian Colony of Citizens Bank Park to see the hometown Toronto Blue Jays take on the visiting Philadelphia Phillies.

Due to the G20 Summit being held in the Blue Jays’ customary hometown, the Jays moved this game to their newly conquered southern colony, which is actually situated in the American city of Philadelphia.

This would be our final game of the first half of the 2010 season.  We arrived early for BP in hopes of catching at least one baseball to complete a perfect first half of the season.  When we rolled into the stadium, a situation was brewing that was ideal for our chances at accomplishing a much bigger goal than getting a baseball at this game.  But we’ll get there soon enough.

We entered the stadium through the LF gate and made our way over to section 141 in LF.  This was our view at the beginning of BP:

1 - citz section 141 panorama.jpg
The home team Blue Jays were batting.  The rest of the stadium wasn’t open yet.  The outfield isn’t our strong suit for BP because I don’t like Tim to be exposed to homerun balls wizzing by his head left and right.  Since we were confined to the OF, we hung out near the foul pole where the action was limited.

Tim was feeling like a real big kid because he was sporting the Mariners backpack…

2 - IMG_7956.JPG
…that he got for Christmas from his Uncle Jason and Aunt Alison.

Nothing came too close to us during the beginning of BP.  A few balls were hit into the next section over, but we stayed put and didn’t make any effort to run around for HR balls.

Shortly before the rest of the stadium opened, the ideal situation started to unfold.  The visiting Phillies pitching corps headed out to RF to do some stretching, running and throwing.  Back when this was the Phillies home field, this stretching, running and throwing routine would occur earlier in the day when the rest of the stadium was closed to the fans.  You could only watch from all the way across in LF.

But things had changed in the colony of Citizens Bank Park since the Canadians invaded.  Within minutes of the Phillies pitchers arriving in RF, the yellow-plastic covered chain was lifted and the fans were allowed into the infield and RF portions of the ballpark.

We hurried over to RF.

W
en we arrived along the RF line, my favorite pitcher of all-time, Jamie Moyer, was sitting on the ground (next to Roy Halladay, who isn’t too shabby himself) stretching a mere 10-15 feet from us:

3 - Moyer and Halladay stretching.JPG
In that top right photo, Halladay is looking directly at us.  I imagine he was thinking, “Why is this guy taking a picture of me stretching?”  But the joke was on him, I was focused on the MAN, Mr. Moyer.

As he was stretching, Tim and I said, “Hi, Jamie!”

No reaction from Moyer.

Then, all of a sudden, Moyer stood up and walked directly, and I mean D-I-R-E-C-T-L-Y, to me.  I was confused.  Was my favorite pitcher ever coming over to say “hello”?

At the last second before reaching us, Moyer bent down to grab something off of the ground.  I looked down over the wall.  Directly below us was a baseball glove that was spread wide open and it was holding about 10 baseballs.  As Moyer grabbed a baseball, I asked, “Jamie, is there any way we could get our picture with you when you’re done throwing?”  (On our pre-season list of 20 goals for 2010, a picture with Jamie Moyer was goal number 14).

No reaction whatsoever from Moyer.

For half a second, I was a little dissappointed.  I had hoped Jamie would have at least acknolwedged us.  But then I thought about the man he is.  First, it is well-documented that he is one of nicest and most generous guys around — for example, see The Moyer Foundation.  Second, he is able to continue performing at the Major League level at age 47 because he sticks to a training regimine that keeps him in game condition.  So, while I wished my favorite pitcher of all-time could have given us a nod or a quick “hello,” I figured he probably has some hard and set self-imposed policies that he needs to focus on his work during his workout routine and not get distracted by the fans.

Immediately after grabbing a ball from the glove below us, Moyer ran out to shallow RF and started playing catch with Halladay:

4 - Moyer and Halladay tossing.JPG
As I looked around, I noticed a familiar face…

5 - Mike Zagurski.JPG
…Mike Zagurski.  With this BP appearance, Zagurski took the honor of being the first person to ever personally heckle me (and my entire team during an adult recreational softball league game) and then appear on field as a major leaguer during BP.

The heckling came last year while my company softball team was playing the Reading Phillies front office.  The game took place during the AA all-star game and Zagurski had a couple days off.  He chose to spend some of that time watching some softball.  Zagurski and another AA Reading Phillies player heckled our team mercilessly for seven innings.  The best part was their persistent taunting of my then 47-year old opposite-field slap-hitting colleague by referring to him as “Ichiro.”  I was, in fact, quite happy with the Ichiro reference.

Anyway, Zagurski has once again been called up to the big club and this was the first time we’d ever seen him in Philadelphia.

But our focus was Jamie Moyer.  Well, my focus was on Moyer.  Tim focused a little bit on the sun beating down on us.  He asked to leave the field to get out of the sun.  We compromised by having me stand over him and shade him with my body and my large glove over his head.  Before striking the compromise, an usher came up and gave Tim a little plastic Phillies Phanatic figurine, which Tim really liked.

As part of the compromise, we agreed we would relocate to the shade right after Moyer and Halladay finished their throwing.

Roy and Jamie took turns pitching to each other: 

6 - Moyer the flame thrower Halladay the receiver.JPG
Without even discussing it, they both all of sudden knew their routine was complete.  Halladay all of a sudden ran off to the Phillies dugout.  Moyer turned around and threw their warm up ball to “the bucket.” (I guess they had put the Phils bucket out by this time).

I was all set to tell Tim we could head toward the shade when Moyer tossed his ball to the bucket.  I figured Jamie would follow Halladay to the dugout.

I figured wrong.

Instead, he turned around and jogged directly back toward us.  As he coasted into the wall, Moyer asked “So you guys want to get a picture?”

I could not believe it!

How cool is that?!

I was incredibly happy, and a bit flustered.  I reached into my pocket and grabbed my camera.  As I pulled it out, I popped the battery pack and had to put it back together.  I asked a lady if she could take the picture.  She agreed. 

She couldn’t figure out my camera (which is incredibly easy).  It felt like I was wasting tons of Jamie’s time.  I tried to explain it to the lady.

Meanwhile, Jamie quietly chatted with Tim.  He playfully tapped Tim on the top of his hat and asked him if he was from Seattle and if he was a big Mariners fan.

I was very happy to learn that the lady got a shot of Tim and Jamie chatting:

7 - chatting with Moyer.JPG
Finally, she was ready to take our picture…

8 - TJCs and Jamie Moyer1.JPG
…but it didn’t seem like she’d really taken it.  I was wrong, but I just didn’t want to miss this opportunity.  I asked her to try again.  Jamie was super cool.  He just waited and chatted with Tim.

She took another picture…

9 - TJCs and Jamie Moyer2.JPG
…and I could tell she’d successfully got the picture.

I told Jamie how much I appreciated everything he did for the Mariners.  He held out his hand to shake mine.

Did I mention Jamie Moyer is awesome?

As Jamie and I started turning away from each other, several other fans pounced, “Jamie, can you sign this ball, picture, hat, etc., etc.?”

Jamie turned around and ran into the outfield to shag baseballs during the Phils BP, and he was gone.  His trip to the foul line wall was exclusively to meet, greet and pose for pictures with us.

This guy is awesome!

A big, huge THANK YOU, Jamie Moyer!!!

After parting ways with Moyer, we headed to RF so Tim could hang out in the shady back row.   I stood in the row right in front of Tim.  I was hoping I could catch a deep drive.

This was our view from section 105:

10 - citz section 105 panorama.jpg
The guy in the white shirt who is cut in half toward the right side of that picture was the only thing that stood in front of me and my first clean catch BP homerun of the season.  A ball came right to him.  I jumped a row to stand right behind him.  If he wasn’t there, I had it easy.  But I didn’t interfere with him and he made a nice two-handed, bare-handed catch in front of his kids.  Nice job, sir.

Soon, we saw Zagurski all the way across the field in deep LF.  We decided to head over there.  I was thinking it would be pretty cool if we could get a baseball from a guy who had heckled me during a softball game.

Here was our view in foul territory in section 140:

11 - citz section 140 panorama.jpg
…Zagurski and (I think) J. Happ, were standing down there just chatting about pitching:

12 - the softball heckler.JPG
Unfortunately, a Zagurski baseball wasn’t in the cards on this day.

Tim kept entertained by inspecting the foul pole:

13 - checking out the foul pole.JPG
He looked that pole up and down and did some knocking on it.

After Tim finished his foul pole inspection, we were hanging out in the first row in foul territory.  The shade had reached all the way down to the first row, so it was perfect.  All of a sudden a Phillies batter hit a long foul looping line drive toward us.

It was a few rows in front of us and 2-3 seats into the section to our right (section 139).

I did a little diagram to illustrate the crazy path the ball took from the bat to my glove:

14 - crazy hops.JPG
We started in the first row of section 140 at the “T&T.”  I ran across the aisle and into a row of seats.  I took this picture about 10 minutes later.  I don’t think those two people (who I have X’d out) were sitting in those seats (then again maybe they were), but a couple people were sitting in my path.  I couldn’t get to the spot where the ball would land.

I decided to pull up short and hope that it would take a crazy hop toward me, which seemed illogical (in my head it seemed like it would actually hit the seats and bounce back onto the field).  Anyway, it took the crazy jump that we needed it to take.  It bounced all the way over me.

I ran back to the “2” when the ball took a second crazy bounce.  It jumped off the stairs and zig-zagged to the seats in section 139.  It then bounced over me again.  I went up to the “3.”  The ball clanked off of some seats where people were sitting.  I was sure they would grab the baseball, but no one even made an effort for the ball.

As I swiped at the ball with my glove, it kicked off the seats and headed back over to section 139.  Finally, I grabbed it on yet another bounce at the “4.”

I handed the ball to Tim and a couple people cheered him for getting a baseball.

Tim proudly posed with his baseball and his Tuxedoed Phanatic:

15 - crazy hops ball and tuxedo phanatic.JPG
About 1 minute after I finally grabbed the crazy bouncing ball, the Phillies retreated to the club house and the grounds crew broke down the BP equipment:

16 - good-bye canadian BP.JPG
The crazy boucing ball was the first ball hit anywhere near us in section 140 and it came just in time.

Still flying high on the joy of our Jamie Moyer encounter (and the “icing on the cake” baseball), we headed to the kids play area so Tim could do some pre-game playing.

As usual, on our way over there, the Citizens Bank Park emergency response team…

17 - concourse emergency response.JPG
…was cruising through the concourse down the 1B line with its lights and siren blaring.

After some time in the play area, we started to make our way to our seats.  On the way, we stopped at the speed pitch.  Tim lit up the radar gun…

18 - 20 mph gas.JPG
…with 20 and 21 mph smoking fastballs.  We’ve never even noticed this speed pitch in RF.  It was great.

I took three throws as well including two strikes into the glove of the fake catcher.  I think my fastest pitch was a firey (actually pathetic) 56 miles per hour.  Later, my wife would make fun of me for pitching so slowly.

After pitching, we headed to our seats in section 145, row 10, seats 1-2.

We were joined by my friend Greg and his date, both of whom I failed to take a decent picture.  Despite the lack of photo evidence, they were great seat mates.  Tim had a blast with both of them.

As we reached our seats, the Phanatic was pumping up the crowd in CF:

19 - Phanatic whips crowd into a frenzy.JPG
At the last minute before the game started, Tim and I decided we needed nachos.  This required us to walk around the entire field level concourse.  As we passed by the bullpens in RCF, Jimmy Rollins stepped into the batters’ box to get the action going in the top of the first…


20 - J-Roll Steps In to Lead off game in top of 1st 6-26-10.JPG
…he was facing Shaun Marcum.

We had never sat in LF before at Citizens Bank Park.  I’m not sure why, but they always have ushers checking tickets for people to get into the LF seats.  So we had never even been in the LF seats before other than a couple times passing through during BP.

Behind the LF seats is a restaurant (I guess that’s what you would call it) called Harry the K’s.  Hanging above the Harry the K’s seating area, there are three big paintings that I had never seen before.  I think I have these in the right order.  Closest to the LF foul line, there is this painting of the old-time Phils from the dugout…

21 - from the dugout painting Harry the K's.JPG
 
…looking out over Connie Mack Stadium a/k/a Shibe Park, the Phillies home from 1927-1970.

In the middle is this picture of a Phillies batter rounding first base…

22 - rounding first painting Harry the K's.JPG
…at Citizens Bank Park, which before this series had been the Phillies home ballpark from 2004 through 2010.

Finally, closest to LCF is this painting from the cheap seats…

23 - from upper deck painting Harry the K's.JPG
…looking down on Veterans’ Stadium, the Phillies home from 1971 through 2003.

Finally, we got to our seats.  This was our view of the closest player, Phillies left fielder and former Mariner Raul Ibanez…

24 - view of Rauuuuuul Ibanez 6-26-10.JPG
…and looking toward CF, here was our view of Shane “The Flying Hawaiian” Victorino:

25 - view of Shane Victorino 6-26-10.JPG
And here was our view of the entire stadium from section 145, row 10, seat 1:

26 - citz section 145 row 10 seat 1.jpg
On Cole Hamel’s fourth pitch to the second batter in the home half of the second inning, Blue Jays catcher John Buck got the scoring going with a 2-run homerun right down the LF line.  This would be a Blue Jays trend for the day.

Trailing 2-0 in the top of the third inning, Ryan Howard grounded out weakly…

27 - Ryan Howard grounds to 2B in top of 3rd 6-26-10.JPG
…to second base.

In the third inning, Jays’ slugger Adam Lind duplicated Buck’s blast.  After Lind deposited his own homerun in the seats down the LF line, the Jays lead 3-0.

The visiting Phillies went all out on the entertainment front.  They brought their mascot, the Phanatic on the roadtrip (as previously noted above).  Between innings at one point, the Phanatic and a muscle man tried unsuccessfully to lift a big huge weight.  Finally, this strong little boy showed them how it is done:

28 - the strong kid.JPG
It was almost time for the visiting Phillies to get in on the scoring.  But first, the Jays needed to hit another homerun right down the LF foul line.  Their third such homerun of the day came off of the bat of Alex Gonzalez in the bottom of the fourth inning and it scored both Gonzalez and Fred Lewis.

Things were looking good for the hometown Blue Jays.  They had a comfortable 5-0 lead going into the top of the sixth inning.

That is when visiting Ryan Howard launched a homerun into the batters’ eye in deep CF.  Here is Howard rounding third…

29 - Ryan Howard scores on HR in top of 6th 6-26-10.JPG
…and scoring the only Phillies run of the day (and the final run of the game).

 As we sat in our LCF seats in section 145, I had time to look around and see the sights.  We weren’t far from Ashburn Alley, but I had never noticed the little directional arrows on the Ashburn Alley street sign…

30 - Ashburn Alley sign.JPG
…a .308 career average to the left and 2,574 career hits to the right.  Those are the key numbers that (after never earning more than 41.7% of the writers’ vote in 15 years on the ballot) earned Richie Ashburn a spot in Cooperstown via the 1995 Veterans’ Committee vote.

Late in the game, the Canadian government sent down some of their Royal Canadian Mounted Police (a/k/a Mounties) to watch closely over the visiting Phanatic as he danced on top of the visitors’ dugout…

31 - The Mounties and the Phanatic.JPG
…one inappropriate gyration and the Mounties no doubt would have hauled the Phanatic off in cuffs.

Late in the game, I noticed “The Heckler” warming up in the visitors bullpen:

32 - Zagurski warms in bullpen 6-26-10.JPG
Soon, Zagurski became the first person to personally heckle me at a recreational league softball game…

33 - Mike Zagurski 6-26-10.JPG
…and then go on to appear in a MLB game at which Tim and I were in attendance.  The Heckler pitched one scoreless inning.

The Phillies could not mount a comeback and fell to the Blue Jays 5-1.

After the game ended, someone took a shot of Tim and me at the front of section 145:
34 - TJCs in section 145 6-26-10.JPG
And to cap off the great day at the ballpark, we headed over to the LF line and Tim got his picture…

35 - Brittany the rookie ballgirl.JPG
…with rookie ballgirl, Brittany, who was “playing” in just her second game since being called up to the Show.  Like Bridgette the week before, Brittany also gave Tim an autographed baseball card.

So
it was a great day highlighted by our brief time with Jamie Moyer.  I’m still super excited about getting to meet, shake hands, chat, and get a picture with my favorite pitcher of all-time and the most winningest pitcher in Mariners history.

Thanks, again, Jamie Moyer!!!

Due to the impending birth of Tim’s new little brother, Kellan, this would be our last game for almost a month (this is also why I am wearing a bluetooth device in my ear in all of these pictures — so I wouldn’t miss the call if Colleen called during the game).  It was a great way to finish off the first half.  Hopefully the second half will be as much fun as the first half.

2010 Fan Stats:

17 Games

16 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)

14 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)

36 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays,

36 - phanatic phils bp ball.jpg
5 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 1 Twins)

10 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park)

12 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

8 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)

5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)

Phathers’ Day in Philadelphia (6/20/10)

I really wanted to go to a Twins game this season so we could try to get one of those fancy “Target Field” commemorative baseballs.  We had tickets to the Friday, June 18th game, but it was too soon after our return from the roadtrip.  Finally, I found $12/ticket SRO tickets on Stubhub to the Sunday, June 20, 2010 game.

I didn’t realize (I am generally terrible at tracking “holidays”), but June 20th was fathers’ day.  What better way to spend fathers’ day than at a ballgame with your son, right?

Upon entering the stadium, we discovered there was no BP.  The The quest for a Target Field baseball was not looking good.   We headed to the LF foul corner in hopes of getting a toss up from one of the several Twins playing catch in LF.

The quest was looking a little better when we got the corner spot down the 3B line.  Perfect.  It looked like this:

1 - citz bank section 138 row 1 panorama.jpgBut the Twins weren’t in the toss-up mood.  Also, I could tell that none of them were using Target Field baseballs. 

Oh, well.

It was already hot, and Tim hates the sun, so we took off and headed over to the kids’ play area.

When we got to the play area, Tim modeled the Phillies “sarge” hat give away:

2 - sarge hat.JPGThen, like he tends to do, he set up his shop…


3 - buy something.JPG…where Tim will sell you almost anything (french fries, bananas, whatever) through those little holes in the plexi-glass.

Tim’s last MLB kids’ play area was at the Oakland Colesium where the play area is rather blah’ish.  But there is no blah in Philadelphia.  Check it out:

4 - fun time in phila.JPGBy the way, in the bottom right, Tim’s left hand is giving a thumbs up, but his right hand is actually pointing (with his thumb) at the little metal ball that he successfully maneuvered to the middle of the puzzle.

After some playtime, we headed out to RCF to watch Roy Halladay warm up…

5 - halladay vs pavano.JPG…Carl “The ‘Stache” Pavano was also warming up (in the middle picture ‘Stache is rubbing up his warm up baseball with some warning track dirt).

As Tim likes to point out, Halladay made some funny faces while throwing in the outfield:

6 - OF tossing.JPGAs we watched Halladay in the OF, some Twins player (I’m guessing a rookie reliever) walked by with a Monkey back pack…

7 - monkey pack.JPGExcellent, guy.  We loved it!

Soon, Halladay and Pavano reported to the tiered bullpens:

8 - halladay and pavano bullpen.JPGHalladay was looking strong:

9 - halladay motion.JPGActually, you should see it for yourself:

Pavano was looking good too on the upper tier:

10 - pavanostache.JPGHalladay finished up first and headed to the dugout:

11 - halladay ready.JPGWe headed up to the upper deck in deep RCF…

12 - citz pen from above.JPG…where we continued to watch Pavano warm up from above:

13 - pavano penwork.JPGIn all of Tim’s games at Citizens Bank Park, we’ve never hung out in the upper deck in RF.  Today, was the day.

We started out with nachos in the SRO area behind the seats in DEEEEEP RCF:

14 - nachos behind SRO Upper RCF.JPGThat is where we were in the top of the first when Joe Mauer hit this single…

15 - Joe Mauer singles off Roy Halladay.JPG…off of Roy Halladay.  Orlanda “O-Dog” Hudson had stolen second during this at bat and he scored easily on Mauer’s single to stake the Twins to a 1-0 lead.  That score would hold up until the fifth inning.

After the first, we aimlessly walked back and forth a bit in the OF concourse.  I took this random shot of the concourse…

16 - Citz Upper RF corner concourse.JPG…where the upper deck bends from fair to foul territory.

Eventually, Tim and I headed up into the upper deck seats in section 301, the deepest part of the ballpark.  This was the view from almost the very top of the stadium:

17 - citz bank section 301 panorama.jpgWhile up there, I took a shot of Tim…

18 - TJCs in Citz RCF Upper Deck.JPG…and then one of the “Fan Photos” camera people took a picture of both of us.  In that picture, I am wearing Tim’s hat on top of my hat.  While we were eating nachos, Tim took off his hat and I put it on top of mine for safe keeping.  However, after taking these pictures, I looked at Tim and became alarmed.  “Oh, no!  Where did your hat go, Tim,” I asked?  “Its on top of your head, silly daddy,” Tim replied.  I’m pretty sure I was wearing double hats for about 15-20 minutes.

Next, we decided to head to the lower level to cool off in the covered concourses and get an ice cream helmet.  Here are some (out of order views) from our walk from RF to home plate and over to 3B in the concourse:

19 - concourse funny faces and siren.JPGIn the left picture, that big photo of Roy Halladay hangs in the concourse just inside of the 1B enterance from Pattison Avenue.  The middle picture shows a John Deere mini-truck with flashing sirens, something we see wizzing through the concourse almost every time we visit Citizens Bank Park.  To the right, the photo of Brad Lidge and Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz hangs in the concourse behind home plate.

Finally we made it to the Old City Creamery down the 3B line.  If you are ever in Philadelphia and want the BIGGEST and most sprinkle covered ice cream helmet of all time, make sure that THIS LADY…

20 - Philadelphias best ice cream lady.JPG…around the side corner register at the 3B Old City Creamery makes your helmet.  She always goes crazy with the ice cream and just as crazy with the sprinkles — here is Exhibit 1.  And it was more of the same on this day:


20 - makeshift ice cream seats.JPGAs Tim ate his ice cream helmet (and I knelt next to him helping him), we had possibly the most unique view of the game that we’ve ever had at a big league ball park:

21 - view around old lady.JPGHalladay was looking good as usual.  But so was Pavano:

22 - Pavano working on No-No in 4th 6-20-10.JPGIn fact, the moustached one had a no hitter going into the fourth inning, until he came up against Placido “Here’s One For The Fathers” Polanco, who ripped a single on this one-handed swing:

23 - Placido Palanco singles in 4th 6-20-10.JPGChase Utley followed with a single of his own…

24 - Chase Utley fouls before single in 4th 6-20-10.JPG…but not on this swing.  But it didn’t matter.  Pavano stranded Polanco and Utley on 2B and 1B, respectively.

Halladay was still looking good in the fifth…

25 - Roy Halladay delivers a pitch.JPG…but that did not stop Denard Span from cranking a solo homerun to bring the score to 2-0 Twins.

After ice cream, we wandered down the 3B line and between innings ran down and Tim got his picture with Phillies ballgirl, Bridgette…

26 - Tim and Bridgette ballgirl.JPG…who also gave Tim an autographed ballgirl baseball card.  Tim was pretty bashful about getting his picture with the ballgirl, but after I pointed out how she’d run onto the field to get stray foul balls, he thought it was pretty awesome.  Now, he wants to get his picture with the ballgirls all the time.

After his first ballgirl picture, Tim requested a trip back to the play area.  While we were on our way through the concourse heading over to the play area, Phillies back-up short stop Wilson Valdez poked a solo homerun of his own:

27 - Wilson Valdez scores on homer.JPGBut his run was all the Phils could manage in the bottom of the fifth.  The score was 2-1 Twins.

The play area was PACKED:

28 - back to crowded playarea.JPGIn the sixth inning, the Twins tacked on another run on a single by Jason Kubel.  The run was unearned.

Carl Pavano meanwhile…

29 - Pavano still dealing.JPG…just kept on dealing.

In the top of the 8th, Justin Morneau hit a solo shot to take the score to 4-1 Twins.

That was the score when Shane Victorino grounded out weakly…

30 - Shane Victorino grounds out on a low pitch 6-20-10.JPG…to first base in the bottom of the 8th inning.

Its never a good thing for a team when the opposing starter gets an at bat in the 9th inning, and that is just what happened at this game.  Halladay’s relief, Chad Durbin retired Pavano…

31 - Pavano bats in the 9th 6-20-10.JPG…on a ground out to short stop.

Now, earlier in the game while Tim was eating his ice cream helmet, we got to talking to three guys.  A dad and his teenaged (or maybe young twenties) sons.  It was the usual discussion, they were admiring our Mariners jerseys and telling us they love Griffey.  Out of nowhere, a lady came up to us and handed over 4 tickets to the section immediately behind the 3B dugout.  The lady’s father was in a wheelchair and couldn’t get down to the seats so they were going to hang out in the handicapped area.

The other guys took three of them and said thanks.  I grabbed the fourth ticket knowing we’d never sit there.  But the ticket came in handy in the ninth inning.  They almost always check tickets in the fancy areas at Citizens Bank Park and this ticket would get us down there to try to get an umpire ball at the end of the game.

In the ninth inning, we headed down.  They checked our ticket and waved us down into the fancy seats.  We grabbed some seats in row 11 of section 130.  This was our view for the bottom of the ninth inning:

32 - citz bank section 130 row 11 panorama.jpgNot too shabby.

Tim had fun laying down in our empty row of seats:

33 - Tim lounges in the seats.JPGChase Utley couldn’t do anything for the Phillies cause…

34 - Chase Utley about to ground out in 9th 6-20-10.JPG…he grounded out for the second out of the inning.

Ryan Howard came to bat for the possible final out…

35 - Ryan Howard sets up in 9th 6-20-10.JPG…but he extended the game with a single:

36 - Ryan Howard singles in 9th 6-20-10.JPGHoward’s single was too little too late.  Carl Pavano got Werth to pop out to short LF to finish off a complete game victory.  Both Pavano and Halladay moved to 8-6 on the season.

On Werth’s swing, Tim and I scurried down to the first row as close to the umpires’ tunnel as we could get, but the home plate umpire never looked our way.

It was looking like a zero baseball day (and a zero Target Field baseball season) for us.  But as the Twins players and coaches streamed into the dugout, we noticed a guy throwing ball after ball after ball into the crowd.  It was Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra

37 - Joe Vavra Twins Batting Coach.JPG…and with only one baseball left in his hands, Vavra tossed Tim our first (and only) baseball of the day, which turned out to be our first (and most likely only) Target Field commemorative baseball.

Thanks, Joe!

A few minutes later, Twins bullpen coach and thirty year coaching veteran, Rick Stelmaszek

38 - Rick Stelmaszek bullpen coach.JPG…tossed me his official blue MLB Father’s Day wrist band.

Here is Tim showing off both of our prizes:

39 - goodies from Vavra and Stelmaszek.JPGBeing a father-son team like we are, Tim and I were pretty excited about getting the fathers’ day wrist band.  I’m pretty sure that Stelmaszek picked us out because he saw a boy and his dad together.

Thanks, Rick!

It was time to head out.  On the way to our car, Tim just had to get his picture (once again) with the statue of Steve Carlton:

40 - sitting under lefty.JPGTim is a sucker for a statue.  Can’t get enough of ’em.

On our way our of the parking lot, well, while waiting for the cars to finally get moving, I snapped a panorama of the sports complex parking lots:

41 - citizens bank parking lot panorama.jpgCitizens Bank Park, obviously, is to the far left.  In the middle (far in the back) is the Eagles’ home, Lincoln Fnancial Field.  And to the far right is the Spectrum.  You can’t see it, but behind the Spectrum is the Wachovia Center (I think they still call it that — it was formerly the Core States Center and First Union Center).

And that’s all she wrote.  It was a good fathers’ day.  We drove home and spent the rest of it with my lovely wife and Tim’s lovely mommy, Colleen.

2010 Fan Stats:

16 Games

16 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)

13 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)


42 - ball and wrist band.JPG35 Baseball
s (6 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 1 Twins)

10 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park)

11 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)

1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)

8 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)

5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)