Tagged: Raul Ibanez

Mariners Dominate In The Bronx (9/3/07)

On September 3, 2007, we headed up to NYC to take in a Mariners game in the Bronx.  We went with my friend Marc from college.  Marc is also from Seattle, but in 2007 he was working in the investment world in NYC.  This was the first time I’d seen him since college.  And, it was Tim’s first trip to NYC and to “The House That Ruth Built” (and Griffey destroyed).

We came up to NYC for the weekend, and we stayed with another friend from college, Davlynn, who also lived in NYC in 2007.  The day before the game, Davlynn took us to the American Museum of Natural History

TJCsDinos.jpg…where Tim REALLY enjoyed seeing lots of dinorsaur bones.  Trust me.  He looks utterly bored in this picture, but he really loved the museum.  So, if you find yourself at 79th & Central Park West in Manhatten, check it out.

We also took Tim to Central Park to play a little baseball on a field that we miraculously found to be empty… 

1 - baseball in the park.jpgThere were thousands of people in the park and every other field was packed.

Soon, it was time to meet up with Marc and his wife, Angie, and take the 4-train up to the Bronx.

Now, I’m a good baseball fan.  So I’m dutifully teaching Tim a healthy disrespect for the pinstriped-team from the Bronx.  Upon entering the ballpark, he already had the heebeegeebees from the cramped confines of the ballpark and the overwhelming aroma of corporate greed that would soon bring wall street crashing to the ground:
2 - its a little unsettling in this place.jpgI assured Tim that there was nothing to worry about.  The Mariners would surely destroy the home team.  The Mariners would be throwing their young ace, King Felix Hernandez, while the home squad would be trotting out an old goat, a pre-Mitchell Report Roger Clemens.  I was ready for a historic Clemens loss, and I would not be dissappointed.

So, as the game began, Tim was cautiously optimistic and ready to see his Mariners put on a show to remember:

Still, he had questions for me…

4 - all these people over here really like the yankees too.jpg“You mean, none of these people like the Mariners?  All of these people are Y******* fans?”  (sorry for the censoring, Tim isn’t allowed to curse)

“Yes,” I explained, “so mind your P’s and Q’s.”

By the way, not everyone was a fan of the opposition, that is Marc shown behind Tim’s outreached arm.  He’s a good Mariners fan.

Now, I wouldn’t lead Tim astray, it WAS a great and historic game.  In fact, despite the fact it didn’t feature former-and-future Mariners great Ken Griffey, Jr., this is one of the best games I’ve ever witnessed.

The game started like so many Mariners games do:  Ichiro hit a line drive single to right field.  So things were already off to a good start.  Ichiro extended his hit streak to five games in the five games Tim had attended to date.  But that was all the M’s managed in the top of the first. 

The bottom of the first was the only bad part of the game.  King Felix had some first inning jitters and fell behind by 1 run.

But don’t worry, the M’s came back in the top of the second.  Raul Ibanez started off the inning with a single to LCF.  Ben Broussard walked.  And then Clemens fired a wild pitch to the backstop sending Ibanez to 3B.  Finally, Jose Lopez got an infield hit to score Rauuuuuuuuul!  And just like that the Mariners had tied it up 1-1.

Tim was happy about this turn of events:

5 - good view up here.jpgBy the way, check out the old water-soaked wood on the bottom of the upper deck (behind/above us).  You don’t see that in a modern stadium!  Well, really, I think you don’t see that anywhere — not in Boston or on the north side of Chicago, which were much older than this 1970’s re-model job.

The top of the second was just the Mariners warm-up act.  They were about to lower the boom on their hosts.

Ichiro led off the top of the third inning with a homerun blast to LCF.  Not only did the hit give the Mariners the lead (for good), but it was Ichiro’s 200th hit of the season for the SEVENTH season in a row!  Hooray for Ichiro!!!  And hooray for us for being there to witness this piece of history.

Meanwhile, King Felix kept mowing down opposing batters.

In the top of the fourth, the Mariners scored three more runs on a single by Adrian Beltre, hit-by-pitch for Jose Lopez, a double by Yuniesky Betancourt, and another single by Ichiro.

By this point, Tim and I were having a great time watching our Mariners dominate:

6 - hahahahahaaaagreat.jpgAt some piont in the 4th inning, Roger Clemens hurt his leg falling off the mound awkwardly.  In an unprecedented move, Joe Torre brought former Orioles great Mike Mussina into the game in relief.  A quick review of Moose’s bio will reveal that this was the ONLY relief appearance of his probably-Hall of Fame career — 537 games, 536 games started.

Here’s the second piece of history involved in the game, this must be one of the most combined career wins that one team has ever had on the mound in one game.  I’ve tried to get someone from ESPN.com to research and determine if there has ever been more combined wins by a team in one game, but I haven’t been able to get the answer.  After Mussina gave up two more runs, he was replaced by Chris Britton, who ultimately gave way to Kyle “New York’s Finest” Farnsworth.  (By the way, I once saw a shirt for sale outside this ballpark that said, “Anybody But Farnsworth.”  That gave me a chuckle.)

Anyway, as of September 3, 2007, Roger Clemens had 354 wins (and he would NEVER win again), Mike Mussina had 247 wins, Britton had zero career wins (he is still stuck on zero), and Farnsworth had 27 career wins.  All totaled, the Mariners faced off against SIX HUNDRED TWENTY-EIGHT (628) career wins.  What do you think, is that a record?  I’ve certainly never heard of a team throwing more career wins in one game.

But all of those career wins were no match for King Felix Hernandez and his (then) 27 career wins.  Tim was all like…

7 - this is an awesome game.jpg“Dude, our Mariners are seriously awesome!”

The scoreboard showed the happy totals:

8 - happy totals mariners win.jpgAfter the game, we tired to get a nice family picture, but Tim wasn’t into posing at the time (possibly because we’d just sat in ridiculously hot weather for 3+ hours).  But combining the two pictures, you can get a semi-panaramic view of the field:

9 - old bronx stadium semi-panaramic view.jpg

Thanks to the Mitchell Report and the amazing falling from grace of Mike Piazza’s favorite opposing pitcher, this game proved to be the final loss of Roger Clemens’s former-future-Hall of Fame career.  But more importantly:

MARINERS WIN!!!!

Tim’s First Mariners Road Game (8/9/07)

On August 9, 2007, Tim and I headed down to Baltimore for Tim’s first Mariners road game.  As best I can recall, I didn’t see the Mariners play in a road game until I was 23, also in Baltimore.  Tim bested me by about 20 years on that front.

This was Tim’s third game of his life and it was being played in his third MLB stadium of his life.  Not bad.

This would be a cool and memorable game too because (as strange as it sounds) it was Tim’s first game NOT in a luxury suite or, put another way, his first game in the seats.

And here he is checking out his first stadium seat of his life…


1 - so these are seats.jpg…well, actually we’ll see later that this isn’t Tim’s actual seat, but its in the same row.  He was checking out how these seat thingys work.

Not only was this Tim’s first game in the seats, it was our first game as a father-son team.  At his first game, we had 27 other family members and friends with us in the suite.  At his second game, we had 10-15 of my co-workers and their “significant others” with us in the suite.  At this game, it would be just me and Tim, and we would prove to be stellar MLB game partners.

This season (2009) is the first time I felt like Tim was old enough and had enough endurance to go to batting practice before a game.  Back in 2007 and 2008, we regularly arrived just before game time.  While we arrived at this game after BP ended, we did have some time to check out the stadium before the game started.

After checking out our seats in CF, we headed behind the 3B dugout to get a classic Camden Yards picture with the field and warehouse in the background:


2 - tim's first camden yards picture.jpgLook at how happy that boy is to be at the ballpark with his dad and his Mariners.  This is Cook & Son / Mariners baseball!

By the way, do you see that glove Tim is holding?  It is a Rawlings RBG36B (circa 1992).  I didn’t take that glove to a single game in 2009.  It is nothing fancy.  But it is my favorite glove.  It is the glove I used in the outfield in high school.  I formed it perfectly for my hand.  It fits my glovehand like an extra layer of skin.

Anyway, back to Camden Yards.

After walking around a bit, we found ourselves in my second favorite spot to get a posed picture at Camden Yards — down the 1B line right where the concourse takes a turn toward RF.

We got a picture with home plate behind us…


3 - tim's third camden yards picture.jpg..and then pivoted 45 degrees and got one with the warehouse behind us:


4 - tim's second camden yards picture.jpgIt was game time.  We headed out to section 90 (straight away CF) and took our seats behind Ichiro (and whoever played CF for the O’s in 2007).  Here is Tim in his first ticketed seat (with a little booster seat helping him out):


5 - seats in section 90.jpgAfter a while, Tim had enough of the seats and wanted to walk a bit.  We made our way to the standing room flag pavillion in RF.  I had never really spent time in the flag pavillion before this game.  But starting with this game and continuing until today, the flag pavillion has proven to be Tim’s favorite spot at Camden Yards.

At this game, he was all about puddle stomping in the flag pavillion:


6 - welcome to the flag pavillion.jpgOf course, Tim was only a year and a half old at this point, so he couldn’t run around the whole game.  So from time-to-time, he’d take a break in his stroller…


7 - gooooo mariners.jpg…and as you can see above to the right, he was into the game and cheering for his Mariners.

The Mariners were leading the game early when Tim and I got some nice person to take our picture out on Eutaw Street:


10 - tim's first eutaw street picture.jpg

morrow 2009.jpg
The seats and the Mariners road game weren’t the only firsts of the day.  It was also Tim’s first rain delay!

We were out in CF where there is nowhere to take refuge from the rain.  So Tim and I ducked into the concourse behind the infield seats.  We did some walking around until the rain let up.

When the rain let up, I decided we should go check out the Mariners bullpen.  I didn’t realize at the time that there was covered seating for the players in the bullpen.  I was wondering whether the relief pitchers would be in there or not.  They were.

We headed over to the pen and looked down to see a couple Mariners pitchers milling about.  And the above-pictured then-rookie Brandon Morrow was chatting with a somewhat scary groupie-looking lady who was standing in the LCF seats.  Brandon somewhat looked “trapped” into talking to this lady.  When Morrow saw us standing there wearing our Mariners gear I could tell he started thinking, “here’s my out!”  He turned to us and asked if we were from Seattle.  Scary groupie-looking lady was out of the Morrow loop.

Morrow and I chatted for a minute or two.  Then I asked him if there was any chance Tim could get a baseball.  Brandon was more than happy to oblige.  He ran back over to the bullpen bench and grabbed a ball out of the baseball bag.  He ran back over to us and fired a strike into my glove.

“Thanks, Brandon!”

After the rain stopped, we headed back out to CF.  This is what the view looked like from out there:


8 - camden 2007 RCF panaramic.jpg

I think the rain delay was in the fifth inning with the score tied 5-5.  Four of the O’s runs came on a grand slam by Miguel Tejada.  The grand slam was Tejada’s 250th home run of his career.

After the rain delay, the Mariners piled on some runs and took a 10-5 lead.  Tim was excited to walk down every row in the CF seats and touch all of the dripping wet seats:


9 - bullpen ball from morrow spot.jpgIn the picture above, the red circle shows where we were standing when Brandon Morrow tossed us the baseball during the rain delay.


Right at the end of the game, Tim got really tired.  The Mariners were up 11-8 and we trusted them to get the job done in our absence, so we called it a night a bit early.

Tim was cuddling up with his baseball in the car when we found the game on the radio…


11 - tim and baseball drive home.jpg…as we made our way through the city to the freeway entrance, the Mariners scored two insurance runs.  That was plenty for future Orioles closer, George Sherrill to close the win out for the Mariners.

As the box score shows, it was a great game.  Ichiro was 3-6 to bring his average to .350 on the season.  He also had 3 RBI and 2 runs scored.  Raul Ibanez was 2-4 with 2 RBI.  Jose Guillen, then the Mariners right fielder, was 1-3 with a HR and 2 runs scored.

Horacio Ramirez got the win for the Mariners to take his record to 7-3.  Interestingly, before this game Ramirez was 6-0 at home and 0-3 on the road.  So we saw his first road victory of the season.  We also saw one inning by Mariners rookie Ryan Rowland-Smith who is the first player in MLB history with a hyphenated last name, and a darn nice guy.

Tim’s MLB Debut (9/12/06)

Welcome to my first “turn-back-the-clock” game entry.  When I took Tim to his first game back in 2006, I didn’t even know MLBlogs existed.  Tim and I went to about 20 games or so between 2006-2008 and I plan to tell those stories this off-season.  This is the first.

When I found out toward the end of the 2005 baseball season that our first (and so far only) child due to be born in early 2006 was going to be a boy, I got really excited about the idea of having a little baseball partner.   I was looking forward to playing catch in the yard and teaching my son how to hit.  And I was really excited to have a little partner with whom to go to MLB games and, hopefully, to love the Mariners as much as I do.

Tim was born in January 2006.  I decided I wanted his first game to be a Mariners home game and I wanted it to be late in the season so he would be at least six months old…so he could at least somewhat “experience” the experience, not just “be there.”  I picked Tuesday, September 12, 2006 as the big day.  The opponent would be the Blue Jays.

Now, I’m a guy who likes to make an event out of things.  I’m not against creating my own holidays.  And I didn’t want this day to be just any other day…because it wasn’t.  September 12th would be Tim’s FIRST BASEBALL GAME and, better yet, his FIRST MARINERS GAME!  This was big.  So I fully intended to do it right.  And with help from some important people, most notably my awesome parents, it was done right!

I started out by simply emailing the closest people in my life sort of a “save the date” and open invitation.  I definitely wanted my parents and my best friend (and co-best Mariners fan) Paul to be there.  I was hoping also that Colleen’s folks (from Virginia) and her sister’s family (including my nephew, Gill, who (much to my dismay) I have still failed to get to a MLB game!) to join us.

Following my email, my mom had an amazing idea.  I have two cousins who both live in Western Washington and both have daughters 2 months older than Tim.  Plus, my parents have season tickets with their best friends, Lynn and Steve, and they have a grandson who is also two months older than Tim.  So my parents offered to get a suite so all four kids plus TWENTY-FIVE friends and family members could join together for this (personally) historic event.

YES!!!!!

Big, huge, enormous thanks to my folks!

So, we weren’t messing around.  This was going to be seriously awesome.

I decided I couldn’t go in there empty-handed.  In a possibly unprecedented move, I made a set of three custom baseball cards to commemorate Tim’s first game, complete with fake 1-game 2006 seasons stats (fyi, Tim had some great stats).  Here is what they looked like: 


1 - rookie cards.jpgThey were the size of regular baseball cards and I gave one to each person who attended the game with us — except the grandparents got a full set of three cards.

Before we knew it, it was September and our trip to Seattle was upon us.  The big day started with a run around Green Lake with my father-in-law, Kevin, and then some painting in my folks’ garage…


2 - painting sign.jpg…more on the painting later.

It was a 7:05 start and the weather was gloriously sunny.  Beautiful.  Our suite was down the 1B line just foul of rightfield.  In the picture below to the left, the red arrow is pointing to our suite…


3 - stadium views.JPG…and the picture to the right shows our view of home plate from the suite.

When we arrived at the stadium, I already had Tim’s first game ticket encased in an inch-thick screw down jumbo baseball card holder — where it will be locked down for all time.  The guy at the Suites entrance thought it was pretty unusual, but his scanner had no problem scanning the ticket through the glass.

Plus, it gave me the opportunity to explain to the ticket guy that four little kids would be celebrating their first game ever in suite number 5, which resulted in unexpected but much welcome extra-special treatment.

Shortly after arriving, we met up with my cousin, Janet, her husband, Destry (who runs ridiculously fast (i.e., sub-2.5 hour) marathons, and their daughter and Tim’s co-guest of honor, Julie.  Here we are hanging out in the three rows of seats in our suite: 


4 - TJCs with Johnsons.jpg…note the Ted Williams jersey on the wall behind us.  Each of the suites at Safeco Field is named after a Hall of Famer.  My guess is that the best suite will some day be called the “Ken Griffey, Jr. Suite.”

After watching lots of Mariners games on TV with me throughout the season, Tim was excited to finally be making his MLB debut…


5 - fun.jpg…Julie was just taking it all in — while wearing her sweet Mariners cheerleader outfit!

We got a “BP Group” picture of the folks who were there early:


6 - group in the suite pre-game.jpgLeft to Right:  (Totally cut off is my uncle Ray, Julie’s grandpa), my dad Jim, Colleen, Me and Tim, Destry, Janet and Julie, and my aunt Carol (Julie’s grandma).

After the group shot, it was time to hit field level.  This is literally the second picture ever taken of Tim in the field level of a MLB ballpark and the first with MLB ball players shown in the background…


7 - TJCs with Jason Phillips in background.jpg…any guesses who wore number “47” for the Blue Jays in 2006?  Well, wouldn’t you know, it is none other than current Mariners bullpen catcher and Chief-Cook-and-Son-Baseball-Giver, Jason Phillips.  If the first picture had to feature non-Mariners, I think its pretty darn cool that it was Phillips.

Once we were down on the field level, we took a peak back up at our suite, where Uncle Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy, was doing his best Tricky Dick Nixon above my painting project:


8 - sign.jpgYes, the “First Gamers Club!”  I spent a lot of time debating if the sign should say this or “The September Call-Ups”  I think both are great.  But in the end this seemed better for the paper I used for the sign, plus it is more easily understood by non-baseball people.  FYI, they showed our sign on the jumbo screen during the game!

By the way, Laura is my cousin’s Daniel’s daughter and Kasey is Lynn and Steve’s grandson.  They weren’t there for BP, but you’ll see them soon.

After that picture above behind the 1B dugout, we spotted my dad down the 1B line.  He was seeing if he could catch a ball.  So, we went down and joined him.  Immediately upon meeting up with my dad (and about 1 minute after the picture behind the dugout), Colleen took this picture of three generations of Cook boys enjoying an evening at the ballpark: 


9 - first BP action.jpgAnd, immediately after Colleen took that picture, the BP batter hit a ball to that guy pictured above with the big red arrow pointing at him.

Until recently, I had no clue who he was.  But as he fielded the ball, I yelled, “ITS MY SON’S FIRST GAME CAN WE GET THAT BALL!?!?!?”

Without pause, he immediately turned around, walked over to us, and set Tim’s first MLB ball ever into my glove!


10 - tim's first ball ever.jpgI didn’t get my first baseball at a game until I was probably 12 or 13.  So I was SUPER-EXCITED to have a ball from Tim’s first game ever.

After we got that ball and posed for a bunch of pictures with it, I decided we’d accomplished all we needed to during BP.  It was time to walk Tim around his new baseball home.  Time to get acquainted with Safeco Field.

We started by heading up to the field level concourse and walking out to centerfield.

Now, about this time, you might be wondering why there were two guys with red arrows pointing at them in at picture above.  Well, when we reached CF, I heard someone yelling from the field.  Still standing in the concourse, I looked down and I saw that guy in the picture above with the smaller red arrow pointing at him.  He had a baseball in his hand, and he fired it up to us (still in the OF concourse) for Tim’s second ball of his life!  WOW!!!

A few minutes later, we met up with Janet and Julie in LF foul territory and we gave Tim’s second baseball to Julie so she too would have a keepsake from her first MLB game:


11 - ten minutes two baseballs.jpgWhat can I say.  The game hadn’t even started yet.  And we were already have a great time:


12 - exciting.jpgAfter our brief tour around the field, we headed back up to the suite where we found that more of our suite-mates had arrived.

Colleen’s mom and sister (and her family) couldn’t make the trip, but Colleen’s dad, Kevin, and his uncle Bob and aunt Ann did.  Here I am hanging out with Kevin and Bob before the game:


13 - gamerailing.JPGKevin is a Yankees fan (he has an excuse, he grew up in Jersey City) and Bob is a Red Sox fan, but they like each other nonetheless.

The game had not started yet so Tim grabbed a bite to eat — the old standard (bottle of milk) and a new treat (his first dog at the ballpark, he finished about 2-3 bites of the dog):


13 - first ballpark dog.jpgSoon all of the First Gamers Club kids had arrived and they were up for some playtime in the suite:


14 - playtime.jpgIn the picture above to the left, that is Laura, Julie, Tim and Kasey (left-to-right, obviously).  To the right, Tim and Kasey had a push-ups contest.  I think Tim did about 200.

And then the big moment arrived, and my dad was thoughtful enough to capture history for us — Tim’s first MLB pitch ever:


Tim's First MLB Pitch.jpgGil Meche to Frank Catalanotto — STRIKE 1!  
Things would only get better from there.

Tim and Kasey spent some time enjoying the game from the front row of the suite:


15 - tim and casey.jpgWe took about a billion pictures of everyone:


16 - people posing for pictures2.jpgTop left, Tim and my dad.  Top right, Lynn, Tim and me.

Bottom left, my sister-in-law (brother’s wife, not Colleen’s sister), Alison with Tim and my dad.  Bottom right, my mom, Tim and me.

Remember how I said I originally did not know who gave us Tim’s first baseball?  Well, I figured it out earlier this season (2009).  First, I noticed he was a left hander from the picture of him walking back out to his spot in the OF in the picture above.  So I looked up every lefty who played for the Blue Jays that season.  I then took the 3-4 possible mystery men and put them into Google Images.  I wasn’t positive, but my front runner was a September call-up named Davis Romero (who has never made it back to the bigs and is still playing Triple-A ball for the Blue Jays).

Then one day I was combing through old game pictures and I found the following picture from Tim’s first game:


17 - davis romero warms in bullpen.jpgIts an odd picture, don’t you think?  But odd’ness aside, do you notice anything?

At the top right, there is a TV screen mounted on the ceiling of our suite where (if you click to enlarge the picture) you can see that Davis Romero is warming up in the Blue Jays’ bullpen.  More importantly, its not too difficult to tell that Davis Romero, indeed, is the mystery man who gave us Tim’s first ever MLB ball.

So, at long last, “THANK YOU, DAVIS ROMERO!”

Anyway, we kept snapping away at the pictures, here are Tim and Colleen in the suite:


18 - tim and mommy.jpgRemember how I mentioned we got special treatment after I told the ticket taker about the First Gamers Club?  Here is part of it — free Mariners lunch boxes!


19 - lunchbox.jpgThat’s a great lunch box.  Although he didn’t give it a lot of thought at the time, Tim loves it now.

Here is a shot of my mom with two of her sisters Margaret (left) and Carol and, of course, Julie too:


20 - sisters.jpgAlthough he’s a Yankees fan, “Poppy” got into Tim’s big first game too…


21 - poppygame2.JPG…as did Bob and Ann (pictured to the right).

And as the Mariners led the Blue Jays, we just kept snapping away at the photos and having a grand old time in suite number 5:


22 - people posing for pictures.jpgTop left, me and Tim with Lynn and Kasey and Laura and her mom, Noelle (my cousin Daniel’s wife).  Top right, me with my dad and brother, Jason.

Bottom left, Alison, my dad and Steve.  Bottom right, half of my dad with Tim, Destry, Julie, Kasey and Lynn.

But then, the tiredness kicked in.  Tim had a tiredness-inducing double whammy going here.  First, it was late at night for the boy (9’ish o’clock).  Second, we were on the West coast just two days removed from our home in Pennsylvania and he was still on east coast time — so it was really three hours later for Tim.

So, Tim spent some time chilling out under a blanket strapped to either me or Colleen in a baby bjorn:


23 - tired tim.jpgSoon, it was time for more special treatment — the Mariner Moose showed up to greet us in the suite:


24 - the moose visits.jpg…as you can see, Uncle Ray really enjoyed the Moose’s visit.

In between photo sessions, we actually watched the game:


25 - fans in seats.jpg…and look who was with us, my best buddy Paul!


26 - with paulie.jpgIt was great to have “Pauliewog” there for Tim’s first game because I’m gonna rely on Paul a lot in life to re-enforce for Tim the finer points of Mariners-fandome and provide him a shining example of a positive Mariners attitude.

And before we knew it, the Mariners WON!  The first in-person Mariners win of Tim’s life — I couldn’t have scripted it better:


28 - mariners win.jpgAfter the game, Tim and I got one more picture with the field in the background before heading out:


29 - infrontend.jpgI think this game was the start of something beautiful. 
Welcome to a new era, the Tim-and-Todd-traveling-baseball-fans era.

By the way, Ichiro went 1-5, Raul Ibanez (1st inning) and Adrian Belte hit homeruns, and Gil Meche got the win.  You coudn’t have scripted a better first game experience.

Phillies at Nationals Park (5/17/09)

This entry was supposed to be titled “Moyer’s 250 Bid – Take 2.”  Unfortunately, our bid to see Jamie Moyer win the 250th game of his career failed before we even left for the game.  I learned on Saturday night that Chan Ho Park would be pitching Sunday, May 17th in Washington, D.C. rather than Jamie Moyer.  Moyer is a great pitcher.  But its tough, even for a great pitcher, to get a win in a game you don’t pitch.

So Tim and I would have to focus on our other two main goals of the day – (i) checking out Nationals Park for the first time and (ii) participating in Kids Run the Bases after the game.  Our pursuit of those goals met with great success, as explained in detail below.

Nationals Park can be both incredibly expensive and quite affordable, depending on how you want to “do” the stadium.  For example, parking in the garage connected to the stadium is FORTY BUCKS!!!  That’s ridiculous.  On the other hand, the parking route we took was both an adventure and totally FREE!  You see, the Nationals have arranged for their fans to park for FREE at RFK Stadium and then take a FREE shuttle bus to a point about 2 blocks from Nationals Park.  Here is what it looked like:

rfk bus.jpg

Here is our first view of the Park walking from the bus:

1st stadium view.jpg

Here is our first view of the field as we entered the Park from the LCF entrance:

1st field view LF panoramic.jpgAs you might know, I am a Mariners fan.  But alas, I did live in Philadelphia for three years and I have no NL allegiance, so i bought a Phillies BP jersey back in 1999 or so.  I doubt I’ve worn it since 2000.  But this was only my second Phils road game, so I thought I’d give it a try wearing the Phillies jersey and my Reading Phillies hat to see if some nice Phillies player would reward me and Tim for coming to see them on the road.  Now, wearing the visitors’ jersey/hat even if you hate the team is a classic “ballhawk” technique.  I am not a ballhawk, but generally I have no problem with the ballhawks doing it.  But, personally, I felt dirty as heck wearing Phillies stuff, even though I was there rooting for the Phillies.  It just hurt me right down to my Mariners core (in fact, I couldn’t do it without wearing a M’s shirt under the Phils jersey).  Anyway, more on that later. 

So, as we entered the stadium, we saw a bunch of Phils stretching behind 3B.  So we headed over there where this was our view:

DC 3B paroramic view.jpg

We headed down to the field level where they have a little trough (for lack of a better term) where there are just a couple seats in a big aisle).  We watched the guys warm up amongst a sea of Phillies fans:

running anthem.jpg

Yep, to the left, that is team leading (pick an offensive category) Raul Ibanez warming up his legs.  To the right, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins stand in front for the national anthem while Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, Pedro Feliz and a trainer stand behind them.

 After the anthem, the guys started playing catch and running (sorta) sprints:

jimmy and ryan.jpg

In the photo to the left, you can see Jimmy Rollins playing catch with Chase Utley (off camera) and Ryan Howard playing catch with Shane Victorino.  After a few mintues, Jimmy and Shane set their gloves down on the foul line with the balls sitting on the grass next to them.  Then they started running sprints.

To the right, you can see that, after finishing playing catch with Victorino, Ryan Howard came over to the stands and started signing autographs for 5-10 minutes.  As you can see, almost everyone down in the trough bunched up next to Howard in hopes of getting his autograph.  We didn’t have a pen or anything worth getting the former NL M.V.P. to sign, so we stood our ground.  The difference was, after Ryan started signing, we were pretty much standing all alone, no more sea of Phillies fans surrounding us.

Tim was on my shoulders (where his Mariners shirt was hidden behind my head).  I was wearing my Phils jersey and R-Phils hat.  We looked like a nice father-son Phillies fan combo.  Jimmy Rollins took note.  When he was finished running, he grabbed his glove and ball and took a couple steps toward the dugout.  He then stopped, turned back toward us and fired his baseball directly into my glove.  Nice – our first ball EVER from a Phillies player:

jimmy ball.jpg

A few minutes later, the game started.  The baseball we got from J-Roll looked the same, but I looked different:

M's Jimmy Ball.jpg

J-Roll shouldn’t feel as if he got duped.  We still rooted for the Phils.  I just had to show my true colors during the game.  Also, I did put my R-Phils hat back on after Tim got chocolate ice cream on his fingers and I thought he would get the white portion of my M’s hat chocolately.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Like usual, we had some cheap tickets.  Not SRO, this time we were apparently high in the rafters of the RF foul territory stands.  We never went to our section.  Instead, we started walking around getting to know the stadium.  Let me tell you something, unlike the team that plays there, Nationals Park is beautiful.  Despite a couple negatives, it instantly ranks right up among my favorite ball parks.

Why don’t we take a look around?  This is reverse order as we walked, but how about we start behind the plate in the third deck:

DC Home Plate 3d Deck Panoramic View.jpgThe second deck from the concourse behind first base:

DC 1st Base 2d Deck Panoramic view.jpgThe second deck RF corner (foul):

DC 2d Deck RF foul panoramic view.jpgThe second deck CF:

DC 2d Deck CF panoramic view.jpgAs you can tell, its a beautiful park.  In addition to checking out this great park, Tim and I also had a goal of testing out our new digital camera.  It has a great zoom – both optical and digital.  Here are a couple pictures taken from various locations in the Park:

jimmyx2 ryan and chase.jpgOn the left (upper and lower) is Jimmy Rollins.  I took these pictures on back-to-back pitches from the spot where I took that last panoramic in center field.

At top right, Ryan Howard is seen batting in the first inning.  I took that picture from just behind the RL foul pole.

Below Howard, is Chase Utley also hitting in the first inning.  I took this from the field level concourse behind all of the seats a little bit down the line from first base.

How about another panoramic?  Here is CF from the field level concourse:

DC Field Level RCF Panoramic View.jpgOkay, now, I took all of these panoramic views while walking around in the concourses circling the stadium.  Although fans in their seats usually aren’t paying a lot of attention to the concourses, they are an important part of any stadium.  Bad concourses make a stadium feel cramped.  Open concourses from which you can see the field make the stadium feel bigger and they let fans maximize their time at the ball park (ex:  they can still watch the game while standing in line for some food).  Nationals Park has GREAT concourses.  HUGE.  Mostly all open.  Not crowded.  Excellent.  Here are a couple examples:

DC spacious concourses.jpg

Walk these great concourses and eventually you’ll find yourself in biggest open area I’ve ever seen inside a ball park:

CF area.jpg

The Field Level CF panoramic a couple pictures ago was taken on the opposite side of that escalator.  The Second Deck CF panoramic and the pictures of Jimmy Rollins batting a couple more pictures above were taken from the second deck just to the left of the big “DC” sign and under the picture of the Nationals celebrating (they must have won a game?).

The black strip at the top center (where it says “GET YOUR”) is the “Red Porch.”  I’m not quite sure what the deal is with the red porch.

The building to the right is a massively expensive parking garagle.  The openings on the ground level are various fan attractions.  The one with the yellow sign is a “stuff a bear” type place where you can make your own Nationals mascot.  The “Strike Zone” at the far right of the picture has a batting cage where the ball shoots out of a video screen.  When we watched it, Randy Johnson was pitching and the ball would shoot through the screen through his hand.  Pretty cool.  In the back, there was a similar game with pitching.  I watched a guy pitch to Larry “Chipper” Jones.

And right behind me as I took this picture?  The play area:

playset in CF.jpgTim loved this play set.  From a father’s perspective, it seemed better than the playset at Safeco Field, but a not quite as good as the playset at Citizens Bank Park.  The worst part about it is that it is massively far away from the field and there is no TV to watch the game.  It would be perfect if the Nats would follow the Mets lead and put a BIG SCREEN on the back of the scoreboard for all of the parents watching their kids play in the CF play area.

Anyway, back to the tour.  Here is a post-game picture from the deck of the aforementioned Red Porch:

DC Red Porch Panoramic View.jpg

And here is a picture looking at the Red Porch from the 1B field level seats:

Scrolling Bar on Red Porch.jpg

Well, look at that…I stand corrected.  The “Red Porch” is really called the “Red Loft.”  Hmm…I’m wondering if that is the upstairs and the downstairs is called the Red Porch.  I definitely heard someone call it the Red Porch during the game.  Anyway, in the last panoramic, Tim and I took the pictures standing under the “Red” in the “Red Loft” sign in the last picture.

The only bad part of the concoures at Nationals Park is that the Red Porch/Loft cuts off all view of field as you walk from CF to LF (or vice versa).  Same thing with the field level concourse behind home plate.  Its just like Citi Field.  They have field level suites and a restaurant that cut off all view of the game for *commoners* walking behind home plate.  But I like the way the Nationals did it more than the Mets.  The Mets concourse is like a dark cave that feels like it is 100 yards away from the game.  The Nats concourse is bright and airy and it has a team store entrance and big pictures on the wall telling about the history of baseball in Washington, D.C…check it out:

DC Behind Home Plate Field Level Suites.jpg

But, back to the outfield.  Here are some interesting statues on the back side of the Red Porch/Loft:

statutes in motion.jpg

Well, look at that.  I am right. The field level is called the “Red Porch” (as shown in the middle picture behind Frank Howard (who by the way shouldn’t have swung at that pitch, he’s reaching too far!)).

Note, PNC Park in Pittsburgh also has a Josh Gibson statue.

Back to the panoramic views, here is the RF corner from the third deck:

DC 3d Deck LF Foul Panoramic View.jpgThis picture leads to the final negative point about Nationals Park:  the ushers guard the seats like they are made of gold.  I had to sweet talk an usher to persuade him to let me and Tim sit in the BACK ROW of the LAST SECTION in the UPPER DECK!  There is a fourth deck starting a little closer to home plate.  But where I took this picture, we were literally sitting in the back row of the highest section at the greatest distance from home plate down the 3B line.  Is that ridiculous or what?

So how did we get to sit in these coveted seat?  I told the usher Tim’s ice cream was melting, we were all the way across the stadium from our seats, and I was looking desparately for a standing room spot with a standing counter where Tim could sit and eat his ice cream…but there are none in the third deck down the 3B line.  So in the face of melting ice cream, the usher relented and let us take the empty seats in the empty row in the highest and most distant seats from home plate.

Here is Tim and his ice cream and, in the distance, the Washington Monument:

ice cream helmet and WA monument.jpg

There is a big walking ramp down from the third deck to the field level in the LF corner.  As I stood on that ramp, I took the picture of the Washington Monument to the right above.  I said to Tim (sitting on my shoulders), “That’s the Washington Monument, Tim.”  Two seconds later, some random 50’ish year old white-male-American walks up to me, “Are you serious?  That’s the Washington Monument?  Cool!”  He was dead serious.  It was p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I posted this panoramic tour in reverse order of how Tim and I actually walked.  We really came from CF to RF to home plate, to an ice cream stand in the third deck behind 3B and then out to the LF corner.  On our walk from the ice cream stand to the LF corner, I spotted the Capitol Building from the concourse:

The picture to the right above is also taken from the ramp down to field level.  But, once again, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before heading down the ramp, I tested my camera out a bit more.  Here are some more action shots:

Jimmy Hits Foul.jpg

Here we see J-Roll take a pitch and then hit another foul.

raulx3 shane.jpg

The top right picture of Raul Ibanez was also taken from the third deck in the LF corner.  The others were taken elsewhere…as should be evident.  In the bottom right, I’ve snuck a picture of Shane Victorino in with three Ibanez pictures.

Pretty much every swing I took a picture of at this game resulted in a foul ball, a foul pop out, or an infield pop out.  No hits or homeruns to speak of.

Okay, so it was time to head down that ramp.  From the ramp, I took this cool picture of the concourse going from the LF corner out to CF:

LF Concourse Area.jpg

Note the vegetation growing on the roof of the concession stand.  This prompted Tim to tell me that there are no plants growing on our roof because, “Our roof isn’t flat.  Our roof is a triangle.”

Once we got down the ramp, we stood for a little bit behind the LF seats where we saw the Presidents race:

Presidents Race.jpg

After the race, the Presidents headed out to CF and took pictures with fans.  They were mobbed by people.  I really wanted a picture with Teddy Roosevelt, who looked hilarious, but it wasn’t in the cards.  The Presidents were a big hit at the game.  They have George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt…and someone…I have no clue who the fourth President is.  Anyway, the Nats also have a silly looking eagle named “Screech” (I think).  But he is a pretty weak mascot.  The Presidents were far superior.

After the race, we headed down into the LF seats and got a picture of the visitors’ bullpen (shown here with an inside-shot of the Nats bullpen):

Grass Turf Bullpens.jpg

This Phillies fan in the middle looked somewhat protective of the Phils’ bullpen.  Note, the visitors’ bullpen (to the right) is grass, but the Nats’ bullpen (left) is turf.  I’m not sure why this is, but my guess is that there is access through the Nats’ bullpen to a big tunnel system under the stadium.  Possibly they drive vehicles through the Nats’ bullpen from time-to-time and put in turf so the grass wouldn’t get torn up.  Just a guess.

We then headed back to the second deck in RF where we got one of the stadium fanfoto gals to take a picture of us with my camera:

TJCs in DC.jpg

Finally, we settled into some seats for the last 2-3 innings of the game.  The ushers had apparently lost some of their motivation.  He easily slipped into some really nice seats down the 1B line.  Here was our view:

DC 1B Field Level Panoramic View.jpg

See that light stand all the way across the stadium in the LF corner?  See that last section of seats on the third deck that hide the left side of the light tower?  That is the section where I had to persuade an usher to let us sit for a couple innings (and to be clear, in case I wasn’t earlier, at first, he in fact told me that he “couldn’t do it” when I asked him if we could temporarily sit in the back row).

Anyway, there was no one else in our row in this section down the 3B line.  However, there was a group of maybe 8 young 20s’ish year old Nats fans sitting two rows behind us.  Tim flirted it up like crazy with two young gals.  At the time, the Nats were winning 6-5 and the gals (and their whole group) were all smiles and giggles.  Here is Tim cheesing it up for the ladies:

 
Tim in DC 1B Field Seats.jpg

Tim’s new friends’ mood changed abruptly in the top of the eighth.  With runners on first and second and no outs, Pedro Feliz laid down a nice bunt toward third.  Zimmerman and Jesus Colome converged on the ball.  Either could have grabbed it.  Colome did and he made what seemed to be a perfect throw to first where second baseman, Anderson Hernandez, was covering first.  By my first hand account, the throw was perfect and Feliz should have been out at first.  Instead, Hernandez jumped out of the way of the ball and let it sail into foul territory down the 1B line.  Both runs scored and Feliz made it to third.  Anderson said he could not see the ball because of the crowd.   I guess he isn’t used to having more than 10,000 fans scattered throughout the stadium.  Amazingly, they gave the error to Colome for making a perfect throw that Hernandez simply failed to catch.

When this happened, the stadium exploded with Phillies cheers.  But the people sitting behind us never uttered another word.  Their win was gone

We actually missed the ninth inning and the Phillies win because we were lined up outside the RF side of the stadium — it was time for Kids Run the Bases!  We were toward the front of the long, long, long line of kids.  As we waited in line, an usher told me to take Tim off my shoulders, “you know, for safety.”  Okay, whatever.

We started our run the bases experience with our standard picture by the RF wall footage sign:

DC 335 RF Sign.jpg

Tim then stretched his legs with some pre-bases sprints down the RF foul warning track:

DC RF Foul Warning Track run.jpg

I took a shot of the Nats’ dug out (shown to the left, with the visitors’ dug out on the right):

DC Dugouts.jpg

Then Tim was off to the races:

tjc at 1B in DC.jpg

The Nats seemed to have 100 people out there on the field working.  It was impossible to navigate the warning track and get even a half-way decent picture of Tim rounding second, which was HIGHLY dissapointing.

But I got a great shot of Tim rounding third:

tjc rounding third in DC.jpg

Then it was impossible to get a good shot of Tim scoring at home plate — that is more standard, I’ve never got a good picture of Tim at home plate yet in the three run-the-bases Tim has done so far.

We took a couple more shots as we left the field of play:

DC Field picts.jpg

So, that was it.  Our game experience was essentially over. 

Sad.

Very sad.

Particularly because the next weekend would be our first weekend not to go to a game this season.

In fact, we wouldn’t have another game until May 31st.

Sad.

We walked around the LF seats a bit more.

We looked at the visitors’ bullpen close up outside of the watchful eye of that concerned Phillies fan.

We went up to the Red Loft where we took the pictures for that panoramic up above.

Then we sadly headed toward the CF exit, the same one we’d passed through just 45 minutes before to line up to run the bases.

At the bottom of the exit stairs, we turned right and we started walking down the street.

We spotted the end of the run-the-bases line.  Only 30 yards long now.  Those lucky kids still with all of that fun ahead of them.

We walked sorta close to the wall as we passed down the wide sidewalk.

Tim was on my shoulders again.  That same usher who told me to take Tim down “you know, for safety” was still standing by the line.

She had to recognize us.  We’d just spoken with each other 45 minutes ago.  Everyone at the game was wearing bright red Phillies and Nats gear, and we were wearing dark blue Mariners gear.

But then she uttered seven magical words that let me know she most certainly did not recognize us, “Does he want to run the bases?”

I respond, pointing, “Oh, is this the line?” (as if we’d been looking for it for the past hour).

“Yeah!  Have fun!”

“Sweet!”

Tim was officially (I certified it OFFICIAL), the last kid to round the bases and touch home plate and I got a great shot of it:

Tim Last to Touch Home in DC.jpg

It was pretty awesome.  All of the Presidents, Screech and a boat load of Nats employees were on the field (again preventing a good picture at 2B), and because he was the last kid, they all followed Tim to home plate.  As you can see, as he stood at home, he was surrounded by employees and mascots all cheering for him.  Very satisfying.

Plus, because we were last, we were able to right a past wrong — we got that coveted picture with Teddy Roosevelt — and it is a keeper:

TJCs and Teddy R.jpg

A great day!  We give Nationals Park two thumbs up.

One more game note:  we saw Sergio Escalona make his major league debut and earn the first win of his career pitching the 7th inning for the Phillies.  The day before the game, Escalona was assigned to the Reading Phillies.  Good job, Sergio.

Season Fan Stats:

11 Games (double digits!)
5 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
11 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,   
Braves and Padres, Dodgers)
9 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals)
5 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (AL West, NL East, AL West)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats))

Moyer’s 250 Bid – Take I (5/13/09)

I was out on a six mile run Tuesday night and I was doing some serious thinking.  Hands down, Ken Griffey, Jr. is my all-time favorite baseball player.  I can pretty much guarantee that fact will never change.  Behind Griff, the past 8 years, Ichiro has been my second favorite.  Edgar Martinez ranks right with Ichiro in my hierarchy.  And I have loved Jamie Moyer for years.  But I’d never officially put a ranking on him in my mental player archive.  However, it only took me until my turn onto Papermill Road — a mere 1.7 miles into my run — on Tuesday night to make a big decision:  Jaime Moyer IS my all-time favorite pitcher.  That’s all there is to say about it.  The guy is awesome.

So, you could imagine how excited I was to know that less than 24 hours later, on Wednesday, May 13th, Tim, Colleen and I would travel to Citizens Bank Park to hopefully witness Moyer win his 250th game of his career.  I was also excited because it was my lovely wife’s first time to join us at a game since the first weekend of the 2008 season.  Finally, I was excited because Colleen just got a new digital camera with an awesome zoom and she is an excellent novice photographer.  So lets get to it.

Pre-game, we got a family picture for which Tim has a odd and ambiguous look on his face:

 

nervous tim pre-game.JPG

Of course, we also got a shot of the always loveable Phillie Phanatic:

 

pre-game phanatic.JPGFinally, it was game time.  We started out in our familiar beginning of the game starting post — standing room behind section 130.  We usually always start out here because its almost straight in (and a little to the right toward home plate) from the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park.

Colleen immediately tried out her new camera and its sequence feature.  She took tons of awesome pitchers of Moyer frustrating the Dodgers in the top of the first.  I put a bunch of them together to make this cool picture of Moyer getting an infield pop up:

 
moyermotion.jpg

Moyer started the game strong.  Here he is getting Rafael Furcal to swing and miss (in another sweet picture by my sweet wife!):

Whiffeal Furcal.JPG

griff tuck.jpgYou know what I find interesting about this excellent picture?  Furcal’s pant legs.  They are pulled down and cover his shoes.  I notice that more and more these days.  I think its funny.  When I was playing ball in high school (during the early-mid days of Griff’s first tour of duty with the Mariners), the trend was to wear high top spikes with your pant legs tucked into the top of your spikes.  (As Griff displays in this classic picture).  Now-a-days, its as if people are ashamed of their shoes and want to hide them.  We’ll come back to this fashion trend in later pictures in this entry.

After the first inning, we went and got Tim (and me) some extremely tasty french fries and Colleen a pretzel with cheese and shifted over to the standing room area directly behind section 124 (slightly off-center behind home plate toward the 1B side).  I took this picture of tim eating a french fry with our *old* camera:

 


Thumbnail image for tim fry guy.jpgA funny story.  As we bought the french fries, I asked the lady where I could find nachos.  She pointed down the 1B line and said, “About four mobile stands down that way.”  You see, Colleen wanted nachos, not a pretzel.  As we started walking down the 1B side, I spotted a prime SRO opening behind section 124, so I asked Colleen if it was okay if Tim and I camped out there while she ran ahead to get her nachos.  She said okay.  Then she was gone for what seemed like forever.  Seriously, I was wondering if she had been abducted or something.  Finally, she came back with her pretzel.  She said she walked all the way into RF and couldn’t find a nacho stand.  I asked her she was looking at the mobile stands on the field side of the concourse rather than the permanent food stands on the back side.  She said she was looking at the back side stands, but then looked at the mobile stands on the way back.  So, we had to deal with a pretzel with cheese instead of the desired nachos.  Still a little later, we headed over to the play area.  As we started walking over there,  I noticed that there was a nacho stand literally about 30 feet from where we had been standing.  Oops!

Anyway, Colleen enjoyed the pretzel and cheese and we got some more great pictures behind home plate.  Like this one of Raul hitting a foul ball:

fouuuuul.JPG

And this one of Moyer watching a called strike:

50attheplate.JPG

And this one of Moyer again pitching strong in the top of the second:

moyer in control.JPG
The beginning of June will mark my 10-year anniverary of my move to Pennsylvania.  The ten years has done nothing to my love for the Mariners.  If anything, its only made me a more tired person because I have to stay up so late to watch the M’s on TV.  Anyway, I’ve never really cared all that much about the Phillies.  Sure, I cheer for them when I am at their games.  On any given day, I have no clue what the Phils’ record is or what place they are in (except for when I discuss these things with my numerous Phillies loving colleagues at work).  But deep down, I just can’t bring myself to actually care about any team but the Mariners.

The last couple years, however, it has been more fun for me to watch the Phils than it had been in previous years because Pat Gillick has brought a slew of ex-Mariners through Philadelphia:  Moyer, Raul, Greg Dobbs, Freddy Garica (didn’t work out so well), Ryan Franklin, etc.  I like to cheer on former Mariners (provided they aren’t playing for the Yankees or another team in the AL West).  So the Gillick-era has made Phillies baseball much more enjoyable for me to watch. 

That’s not to say the other guys aren’t good guys.  The current Phillies squad it really chalked full of great guys who are excellent ball players — Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino, and Jayson Werth to name a few. 

Obviously the squad is full of good ball players — they won the World Series and all – but Gillick really deserves some credit for putting together a group of quality guys.   The 1993 Phillies were good too, but I could not stand most of their team, particuarly Curt Shilling and Lenny Dykstra, two of my least favorite players ever.

Anyway, lets get back to the game.  After Moyer put together three solid innings and we polished off our first round of ball park treats, we took Tim over to the play area.

playset mastered.JPG

When we left the play area last week during the Braves/Phillies game, Tim declared he wanted to try to get to the top of the “Castle Play area” where the Phanatic is sitting “on his car.”  Well, tonight was the night.  If you click on that picture to get the jumbo version of it, you might be able to tell that its somewhat confusing how to get up to the top.  There are a couple tubes right next to each other and the kids have to pass the first option and go to the second to find the enterance to the tube up to the top.  Tim finally figured it out and ended up going up there 4-5 times.  I could see it was just packed with kids up in that tubing at the very top that leads to a big spiraling slide down.  He loved it.

Another funny note, do you see a guy in a blue shirt sitting in the window in the top red square?   That is a Phillies employee who sits in there and makes sure the kids go down the slide *somewhat* one at a time.

[NOTE:  As I type, Ichiro just hit a bomb off of Jon Lester.  Excellent.  Let’s come back M’s!)

Anyway, that guy sitting up in the red square is ushering the kids down the white slide and, between kids, he’s madly texting all of his friends.  Ah, *kids* these days.

We were in the play area a good long while.  Its a little annoying because you can’t see the field from the play area (bad planning, they should have put it in CF where dads could watch the game as their kids play).  Additionally, the TV in the play area is over in the corner and it isn’t big enough.  But worst of all, as we were away from the playing field, Moyer started struggling mighily.  I snuck back into the field on the 200 level as Colleen watched Tim play.  Here is a look from the RF corner:

 


200 level RF foul panoramic.jpg

(Also taken with our old camera)

Moyer gave up 5 runs in the 4th inning.  So I had to cut Tim’s play time short so we could get back out to the field  area and support Moyer.  I always use “ice cream helmet time” as a way of getting him out of there.   It worked.

We got Tim’s helmet over by the play area (which is next to the 1B stadium entrance) and then we walked all the way through the outfield and over to the LF corner to eat his ice cream in the same spot as he ate it for the Braves game last week.  It was highly annoying going through the OF because it was jam-packed.  I like a sparsely populated MLB park where people don’t get in my way.  My biggest complaint about Citizens Bank Park is all the darn people!  (My second biggest complaint is all of the wind in the concoures and my third biggest complaint is the TERRIBLE name (I prefer to call it, “New Vet Stadium”)).  Anyway, on the walk, Colleen snapped this great picture of the Liberty Bell and the Directv Blimp (Tim loved watching that blimp):

 

liberty blimp.JPGShe also got this picture of me and Tim with Richie Ashburn’s statue in Ashburn Alley:

TJCs and Ashburn.JPG

When we got over to the LF corner, we founds a perfect SRO counter spot.  I went and got some nachos for me and Colleen and some nice Philadelphian snapped this family picture:

Pa Cooks in LF.JPG

[NOTE:  ICHIRO JUST HIT HIS SECOND BOMB OF THE GAME!!! 392 FEET!  MARINERS TAKE THE LEAD 5-4!]

During our second round of ball park snacks, Colleen took some more ex-Mariners picts to test out her new camera:

Raumie.JPG

You know, I’ve never notice until seeing this picture of Moyer that *New Vet Stadium* has two rows of benches in the dugout.  Interesting.

If you know my boy, you might know he is awesome.  Likewise, you might know that he is a high energy kid.  Well, after his ice cream with sprinkles he kicked the high energy into super-ridiculous-high-energy mode.  The Phils were losing 7-1 and Tim was whining up a storm so Colleen was ready to head out in the 7th.  I was going to concede.  But with the lopsided score, the seats behind the Phils dugout were starting to clear out, and when the Phanatic went down to rally the crowd on top of the dugout, we followed him down and snagged some premium seats.  Tim really enjoyed sitting behind the dugout so close to the Phanatic:

tjc amazed.JPG

Between the innings, we tried to get Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth to throw us a ball.  But it didn’t work.  We also tried to get closer to the Phanatic in hopes of getting a personal picture with him.  But this place is just so packed (as I mentioned) and its really hard to get to the Phanatic.  Here is the best we could do:

phanatic background.JPG

Tim was sad he didn’t get a ball and didn’t get to hug the Phanatic, so he gave another funny look in yet another shoulder-top-photo:

perlexed shoulder tim.JPG

In the bottom 7th/top 8th, we sat about 15 rows back.  In the bottom 8th/top 9th, we sat about 4 rows behind the dugout.  It was great for seeing the Phils up close and personal and taking some more action shots.  And lo-and-behold, another ex-Mariner made an appearance — Greg Dobbs:

dobbers grounds.JPG

She took this picture of Clay Condrey and Pedro Feliz that, despite being blurry, I think is really cool:

happy condrey.JPG

At my request, Colleen took this picture of Joe Torre who, since the game was in hand, I like to think was pondering the Manny Ramirez situation:

stoic torre.JPG

By the way, there was a guy sitting right by us in the second row behind the Phils’ dugout who had a sign that said something like “PEDS:  Clemens, A-ROD, Manny.  Who’s Next, Joe Torre?”  I got a chuckle out of it.

Next, Colleen just went off taking pictures of everyone (note she took 160 pictures at this game…well, I took a few of them):

some players.JPG

Top left:  Casey Blake whiffs at this pitch.  A few seconds later, he’d deposit that same ball into the LF seats to make the score 9-1.

Top right:  Ryan “R-Ho” Howard — check the pants over the shoes look?

Bottom left:  Orlanda Hudson watches a pitch.  Simultaneous with this picture, a highly annoying, most likely higly intoxicated 20-something gall was yelling “You suck Hudson.  You suck Hudson” and then a number of things that shouldn’t be uttered in a family setting.  Between obnoxious rants, she’s turn to Tim and say, “Don’t listen to me.  Don’t listen to me.  What I’m saying is no good.  Listen to you’re parents.  Oh, you’re so cute.  You’re sooooo cute.  Oh, boy, you’re cute.  Don’t listen to me!!!”  By the way, check Hudson’s pant legs.

Bottom right, Shane Victorino takes an awkward looking hack and hit the ball against the netting on the Dodgers’ dugout.

So, that’s it for the pictures.  I hope you enjoyed.  A couple closing remarks.  For the third game in a row, we closed out a division with this game.  The Dodgers were the final N.L. West team that Tim had not seen live.  He has now seen every team in the AL and NL West and the NL East.

We ended up leaving after the top of the ninth (when Tim didn’t get the third out ball).  At the time, Raul was batting 0-fer on the day.  Of course, he’s a stud, so he hit a bomb once we left.  Dang, we missed it!

[NOTE:  Ichiro just intentionally walked in the 8th.  Yes, R-E-S-P-E-C-T!]

Finally, with the loss, Moyer (obviously) did not get his 250th career win.  But don’t fret.  Tim and I will be in D.C. on Sunday to watch Moyer try to beat the Nationals for his 250th.  Let’s hope he gets it done!

[NOTE:  MARINERS WIN!!!]

Season Fan Stats:

10 Games (double digits!)
4 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, and Citi Field)
11 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,   
Braves and Padres, Dodgers)
8 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies (3) and Mets)
4 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers)
3 Divisions Closed Out (AL West, NL East, AL West)
2 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2) and The Bird (O’s))

 

Braves vs. Phils (5/8/09)

Well, I’m behind in my blogging due to a computer virus that took out my computer.  But I’m back now.  In the meantime, Tim and I the Braves and Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

 

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Now that we’ve seen the Braves, we have completed the N.L. East, our second completed division.  Here was the scene as we walked from the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot:

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Cole Hamels was pitching and was still winless on the season:

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After watching a couple innings from the SRO area behind home plate, we headed over to the play ground where Tim had an absolute blast:

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Next, we headed out to the left field corner where we got Tim an ice cream helmet.  We’d never watched a game from that area.  We liked it a lot.  Very cool.  Here’s the view:

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And, as usual, Tim loved his chocolate ice cream helmet with sprinkles:

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Yeah, he got passionate about that ice cream.

Next, we decided to head up to the upper deck:

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And we got this panoramic view from the back row of the upper deck:

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Later on, we headed back down to the field level where we watched the last couple innings standing next to one of the TV cameras.  We got some shots of R-Ho:

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“R-Ho,” why hasn’t that caught on?  Come on?

Of course, we cheered on Raul Ibanez too:

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So guess what?  The Phillies won:

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The scoreboard showed Hamels’ “W” and it was his first since the World Series:

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I got some dude to take a not-very-good picture of Tim and I in front of the Phils’ dugout:

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And I snapped a few extra picts for this dugout panoramic:

citz phils dugout.jpg

9 Games
4 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, and Citi Field)
10 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres)
7 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies (2) and Mets)
4 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers)
2 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2) and The Bird (O’s))

Game No. 2 – Padres @ Phillies (4-19-2009)

On April 19th, Tim and I headed to Philadelphia for our second game of the season, first in Philadelphia, and Tim’s first time seeing the Padres.  In fact, I picked this game because I wanted to check the Padres off of Tim’s list.  My goal is for Tim to have seen every MLB team play live by August 17, 2009 — when we will see the Royals play the White Sox in Chicago.

We had Standing Room Only tickets for this game.  Personally, I think SRO are a great option for us.  They are cheap and they come with no seats attached…Tim isn’t a fan of sitting in seats unless he has another kid there to entertain him.  Otherwise, he likes to roam and see the park and all it has to offer.  We did a lot of roaming at this game and got a lot of pictures to compile for panaramic views.  Here is the first (behind section 131 or 130):

 

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And here is the second:

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Citizens Bank Park has standing room behind the last row in the 100 level all the way from the LF corner to RF (out there by the bullpen, just above Shane Victorino in this picture).  Many seating sections have a standing counter just behind the back row, which are absolutely perfect for me and Tim.  Generally, I’ll stand and watch the game while Tim will scarf down his favorite ball park treats.  While we stood here, Tim had his first ice cream helmet of the season!  We try to get ice cream helmets at every stadium we visit.  So far, last season and this season, only Camden Yards has dissappointed us thus far on the ice cream helmet front.  The 3B field level ice cream place has consistently offered the biggest ice cream helmets we’ve seen at any park.  Check it out:

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Hey, check out that guy over Tim’s right shoulder in the first picture.  Recognize that guy?  Oh, yeah.  That’s former Mariners great, Raul Ibanez.  I recently named him as a reserve on my All-Time Mariners team.  Actually, he is the best and most consistant in the storied history of the Mariners.  However, I had to bump him to the bench so I could slide Jay Buhner into a position he played only 16 times in his Mariners Hall of Fame career.

One thing I enjoy about the Phillies is that they, thanks to former GM Pat Gillick, always have a fresh stock of former Mariners.  The most notable in recent years include the M’s all-time winningest pitcher, Jamie Moyer (the number 2 starter on my All-Time Mariners list), Freddy Garcia (my no. 4 all-time Mariners starter), benchman extraordinaire, Greg Dobbs, Ryan Franklin, and now, Ibanez.  This was my first game seeing Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuul as a Phil, so I stocked up on lost of Raul picts, plus a special one below.  However, getting to that, lets compare to pictures that illustrate my Mariners-Phillies connection theory.

raulsam1.jpgThis first picture is of the mighty Ibanez stepping into the box at Safeco Field back on July 19, 2008.  Just above the Indians catcher, you’ll see Mariners all-time third-base coach Sam Perlozzo giving Raul the “rip a homer” sign.  Okay, now fast forward back to our current game.

raulsam.jpgHere is a shot of Raul leading off 2B after hitting double for the Phighting Phils.  And, who, I ask, is coaching Raul around the basepaths over there at 3B?  Why, its all-time Mariners 3B coach, Sam Perlozzo!  Like I said, there is always a host of former M’s to cheer while in Philadelphia, and this game was no except.

While Tim ate his ice cream a couple things happened.  First, Raul Ibanez dove for a low liner hit by some Padre…not sure who.  He missed it and it went to the wall for a run scoring triple.  The hitter than scored a few minutes later.  So, the general feel was that Ibanez was on the hook if the Phils lost a close game.  Second, and on a happier note, the Phillies Phanatic made an appearance near-by.  Apparently, it was the Phanatic’s brithday.  After meeting the Orioles Bird last week, Tim really wanted to meet the Phanatic.  But it wasn’t in the cards.  Nevertheless, it was entertaining to watch him:

 

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Anyway, back to the game.  After Tim polished off his ice cream, it was time to start roaming the park.  First, we stopped by to see the World Series trophy (located in the LF nook by the “Schmidter” stand) and headed up the ramp to the upper-deck.

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Here is the view from up there:

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As you probably known, the Phillies’ hall of fame announcer, Harry Kalas, died a week ago in the broadcast booth before a game in Washington, D.C.  Outside the stadium there was an fan memorial to HK on the Mike Schmidt statute.  The Phillies also painted HK’s signature on the field with a notation “HOF 2002.”  One of the main reasons I wanted to go up top was to get a picture looking down on the Kalas signature:

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While up there, we took the opportuntiy to get a few more shots including the skyline, the bullpens / Ashburn Alley, and a video Harry Kalas singing “God Bless America” on the big screen (actually taken from Ashburn Alley after coming down from the upper-deck):

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                                          hk singing.jpg

While in the RF upper-deck, I took some pictures to make this panaramic view:

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While standing here, we took a minute to tie Tim’s shoe.  Then we started walking toward center field.  While en route to center, about 30 second after this photo, Chase Utley hit a home run that went just below us.

Next, we headed down to Ashburn Alley and, from there, cut over to the 1B side where I took more photos for a very similar panaramic view one left below and 1-2 sections over from the last one:

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Not much happened in the game while we were in the upper deck.  After Utley hit his home run, Adrian Gonzalez hit one for San Diego.  By the time I took the photos above, the Phillies were batting in the bottom of the 7th and trailing 4-2 (remember the Ibanez missed diving catch discussed above!).

During the 8th inning, we found ourselves stationed almost directly behind home plate.  It was a great place and we were able to get a space at the standing counter where Tim enjoyed some popcorn while sitting on my shoulders (as he had been doing for most of the game after his ice cream). 
 The spot was perfect for getting some more shots for a panaramic view:

citz4.jpg

In the bottom of the 8th, Jimmy Rollins, mired in an early-season slump, pinch hit.  I got this shot of the pitched ball approaching J-Roll…he’d swing at this pitch and hit a homerun into the LF seats:

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After Jimmy’s HR, the game moved to the 9th with the Padres still leading 4-3.   Tim and I came full-circle and finished the game standing behind section 130.  Ryan Howard led off the bottom of the 9th with a single.  And that set the stage for redemption:  Raul Ibanez strode to the plate ready to atone for his missed play early in the game.  Raul did not disappoint.  I got the following picture as the pitched ball approached Raul’s bat for what would a split second later become a game-winning, walk-off homerun (you can see the ball a couple feet in front of Raul right on the grass/dirt line of the 1B line:

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As you might have guessed, the place went crazy.  Lot of cheering by happy Phils fans.  I was quite pleased that a former Mariner was the star, and that Tim got to see Raul hit a home run.  Actually, it was a great game for HRs:  Utley, Rollins, Ibanez, and Adrian Gonzalez.

I should note that Ryan Howard hit a triple in the first inning, but we missed it because of the terrible parking situation caused by the combo of a baseball game and hockey playoff game occuring roughly at the same time that day.

During the celebration, I got someone (actually that guy in green at the far left of the last picture) to take a picture of me and Tim:

TJCs Phils Win, Pads lose.jpg
 

Another great game!

Season Fan Stats:

2 Games

2 Stadium (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park)

4 Teams (Orioles, Rays, Phillies, Padres)

1 Ice Cream helmet(s)

0 Baseballs

2 Awesome Days of Baseball