Tagged: Roadtrip

Avi and the Cooks Meet The Mariners in Cincinnati (7/5/2013)

For months, we had been looking forward to the Fourth of July holiday weekend.  Our Mariners were scheduled to take on the Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.  The original plan was that my folks would come out for the series and my wife would join us too.  But through a series of plan squashing issues, neither my folks nor Colleen could end up making the trip.  My folks were out weeks in advance, but Colleen was going to join us right up until July 3rd.  We picked out our hotels and bought our game tickets with her input…but then something more important came up that she had to attend to and had to drop out.

On very short notice, we were happy to have Avi Miller…

…join our traveling roadtrip caravan.

The plan was to see the M’s in Cincinnati on July 5-6.  We headed to Pittsburgh around 11:00 a.m. on the Fourth.  There was a big “Regatta” party-thingy going on in Pittsburgh.  We started out by playing some catch in the park:

We cooled off in this big fountain:

We watched a pretty cool BMX show:

For the record, that guy jumping above is traveling from left to right…and Avi wasn’t impressed until the very end when the last two bikers did back flips.

Next, we met up with famous Pittsburgh couple, Matt Peaslee and Erin Wozniak, and watched a boat race on the river.  This guy captaining the No. 10 boat easily won the race:

Next, it was off to Moe’s for dinner:

And then we finished off the night with some fireworks:

The next morning, July 5, 2013, we were off to Cincinnati.  Neither Kellan nor Avi had ever been to Great American Ball Park (or Cincinnati in general).  While both of them loved the ballpark, Avi contained his enthusiasm while Kellan couldn’t even stand still for a quick picture:

Oh, by the way, this game marked Kellan’s 50th MLB game and Great American Ball Park his 16th MLB stadium.

The Reds have an extra early BP “tour.”  You pay some extra cash at the Reds Hall of Fame (which is an awesome Hall of Fame that you should definitely check out), and you get in to BP super-duper early.  You also get a pass into the Reds HOF and a cool Ted Kluzinsky statue.

After buying our tickets, the boys posed for some pictures with Reds Mickey Mouse…

…and Reds Statute of Liberty.

Just outside the Reds HOF, we found this excellent statue of Johnny Bench:

(Note:  Tim is using a brochure as a catcher’s mitt in that picture).

Around 4:21’ish, our BP tour guide took us inside the stadium…

…and told us what would happen once we went out to the field.  Essentially, for the first half hour we would be confined to right field.  Then the first base line would open up for us (and I think all Reds season tickets holders.  At that point, we could stay in RF or we could head down to the Reds dugout in search of autographs.  Eventually, the gates would open to the general public and we would be able to go anywhere.

When we headed out to RF, Joe Saunders was throwing a bullpen session:

We watched Saunders while Avi went off to watch BP.  After Saunders wrapped up his throwing session, Saunders flipped his warm up ball up to Tim between the narrow gap between the seats and the net over the top of the bullpen.

Thanks, Joe!

For the rest of Reds BP, we hung out here:

You can’t tell in that picture, but we were in a little partial row pressed up against the batters’ eye.  Spots like that are always ideal for us because the natural barrier on one side helps keep Kellan from trying to wander away.

Reds BP was interesting.  As far as I could tell, they hit a grand total of two homeruns.  I might have missed some…but who knows.  I truly only saw two homeruns the entire time.  Meanwhile, all of the Reds were wearing BP pullovers and I had no clue who most of them were…

…but then I saw a familiar face, Mariners bullpen catcher Jason Phillips.  I hadn’t seen him in the bullpen when Saunders was throwing.  He must have been hiding in the corner.  We exchanged our customary tip of the caps as he walked across the field with Saunders.

Eventually, I recognized two Reds in the outfield.  First, I noticed Shin-Soo Choo shagging balls in CF.  When Choo made a catch on a sinking liner in CF, I called out an extended “CHOOOOOOOO!”  He turned around and fired the ball to me.  About thirty second later, he shagged another ball and it tossed it to Tim.

Double thanks, Shin-Soo!

The boys posed with their Choo-Balls and the Great American Ball Park sign for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

Nearby in RCF, MyGameBalls.com 2013 top ten snagger Rocco Sinisi was toiling away and doing his thing.  Rocco is the MyGameBalls.com career leader for Great American Ball Park and a photo with him was good for scavenger hunt bonus points.  Although we’d been chatting a bit off and on during BP, we decided to get a photo with Rocco early in BP just in case we forgot to or didn’t get a chance to do so later.  So here is our first attempt at the Rocco/GABP bonus photo:

Over the past several years, I haven’t really followed but have admired Aroldis Chapman from afar.  He seems like a good guy and, heck, he throws balls at crazy fast speeds.

Amongst the sea of unrecognizable Reds in the outfield, I eventually noticed that Chapman was hanging out in straightaway right field.  When I spotted Chapman way over there in RF, I shouted out a loud, “AROOOOOOLDIS!”   This prompted Aroldis to look over and exchange waves with us.

See where Aroldis was:

He was way over there.  Carter Capps was “way over there” too – way over across the field from this throwing partner out on the LF.  Capps was firing seeds across the field.  It was impressive.

A little while later, someone hit a grounder through the infield and into somewhat shallow RF.  Aroldis sauntered over and grabbed the ball.  I called out his name again (you know, we were buddies after that exchange of waves) and he threw the ball all the way from RF to my glove waiting in CF.

Thanks, Aroldis!

Hey, remember those two BP homeruns I mentioned?  Jay Bruce…

…hit one of them right to me and I made the catch on the fly.  Thanks to Rocco for identifying Bruce for me later in the day based on that last photo.

See that bat laying on the ground in the photo above to the right?  When Reds BP ended, we headed  around the RF foul pole and toward home plate.  On the way, I took a photo (that photo) of a bat (that bat) sitting on the ground in the Mariners’ bullpen.  I took the photo for the sole purpose of zooming in on the picture to see whose name was on the bat.  So click on that photo and check it out:  it was Jay Bruce’s bat.  That’s odd.

As we approached the infield, the Reds grounds crew removed the cage and screens from the field.  What was this all about?  It was very confusing.  It was also a bit of a bummer because this was only our second Mariners game of the season and the Mariners didn’t take BP before our first game either.

Anyway, we decided to grab some food for the boys and head over to the third base side…

…where the Mariners’ position players were stretching.  As  I took some photos, Tim munched down a hot dog and Kellan worked away on a big soft pretzel:

Funny side note:  Kellan ate part of that pretzel while sitting on my shoulders.  When he finished, I had to pick big grains of salt out of my hair for the rest of the afternoon.

The lack of BP was actually kind of cool because the Mariners did a modified version of the old fashioned “taking infield and outfield.”

While we were watching our M’s, a Reds employee with a camera came over and asked if he could take our picture.  “Sure,” I responded.  After he snapped the pic, I asked why he wanted the picture.  “It’s for the Mariners,” he responded.  Later in the day, we found out that the Mariners tweeted the picture to over 130,000 people.  Here’s the M’s tweet, and here’s another look at it:

After playing catch with Hisashi Iwakuma, Felix Hernandez signed a bunch of autographs:

Tim got him to sign the Jay Bruce homerun ball.

Thanks, King Felix!

I asked Felix why the M’s weren’t taking BP.  He said they had got into Cincinnati around 2:30 in the morning after playing a road game in Texas the previous night and decided not to take BP.

Following the M’s warm ups, we got a better photo with Rocco:

And then we wandered around a bit and got some pictures with the Reds piggy bank…

…and a big bobblehead burger guy.

Before the game, the Reds honored Homer Bailey…

…for throwing a no-hitter against the Giants three days earlier.

Here was our view for most of this game, about three rows from the top of section 402:

In the couple of games Tim and I had previously attended at Great American, we’d sat in RF and lower LF.  We once visited the upper deck in LF, but never watched game from up there.  I’ll tell you though, I loved it.  For an “upper deck,” it’s not very high up there and the view is great.  Plus, we had a nice view of Kentucky across the river and a great breeze.  As an added bonus, at the back of the upper deck, there are covered seats to either shade you from the sun or keep you dry in the rain.  The LF upper deck at Great American Ball Park definitely gets my seal of approval.

The pitching match-up was Aaron Harang vs. Mike Leake.  I wasn’t a big fan of the match-up.  But sometimes a struggling pitcher can pull out a better-than-normal performance when facing his old team.  That’s what I hoped for from Harang.

We dropped our stuff at our seats and watched the first pitch from Leake to Brad Miller:

And then Kellan and I headed down the stairs on our way to get some ice cream for the boys.   As we walked down the upper deck stairs, Miller laced the ball down the RF line and coasted in for an easy triple.  A great start for the M’s!

As Kellan and I ducked into a men’s restroom, Nick Franklin stepped to the plate and blasted a 2-run homer.  Kellan and I had no clue this had happened.  But when we got back to the ice cream place we saw the score – 2-0 Mariners!

When we got back to the seats…

…, Avi informed us about the Franklin homerun.

Harang pitched a scoreless bottom of the first.  Then, Michael “The Condor” Saunders hit a leadoff bomb in the top of the second:

Here’s one of the reasons I like Brandon Phillips:

Check out that big smile clearly visible from the top of the upper deck in LCF!  That’s how I like to see guys playing the game, like my favorite player, Ken Griffey, Jr.

In case you were wondering, here was the Mariners outfield for the day:

Michael Saunders in RF, Dustin Ackley in CF and Rauuuuuul Ibanez in LF.

Here’s a funny picture with no backstory, just a bunch of funny guys:

And a couple loving brothers:

Tim and Kellan either spend their time trying to annoy one another or hugging and telling each other how much they love the other.  Generally, they act like wonderful loving brothers while at baseball games and reserve their annoying each other for play time at home.

Much to my delight, Harang was, indeed, putting a strong performance together against his old squad:

Multiple times before the game and once during the game, I took the boys here…

…for a little kid fun.  That table looks like it is covered in sand, but it is really a mixture of different colored bits of rubber chopped up into little grains.  There were digging tools and dinosaur skeletons that the kids could dig up.  The two big dinosaurs standing behind the boys in the picture above to the left felt real’ish and they moved around every couple minutes.  The one on the right also laid eggs.  The boys couldn’t get enough of this little dinosaur display.

Before the game started we were hanging out in dinosaur area and another guy wearing Mariners gear asked me if he’d seen us at Pittsburgh.  We chatted about it and, indeed, he had seen us in Pittsburgh.  His name is Greg.  He’s a NW Mariners fan transplanted to Detroit.  We’ve kept in touch a bit since running into each other several times this weekend.  Good guy, and good Mariners fan.

Last time we were in Cincinnati we failed to get a good picture of the batters’ eye boat.  So, we got this one:

Back up in section 402, the ballpark looked even better as the sun went down:

Avi agreed, this place is beautiful:

Tim and Kellan both took a bunch of pictures during this game and weekend.  Here’s Kellan’s funniest picture:

I should mention that the Mariners took a 4-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning when Michael Saunders hit a sacrifice fly to LF scoring Kyle Seager.

In the top of the fifth inning, Brad Miller made some Great American Ball Park history when he hit his second triple of the game.  In over 800 games, it was the first time that a player had hit two triples in a game at GABP.  Pretty cool.

In the bottom of the fifth, Shin-Soo Choo hit an RBI-double to put the Reds on the board.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Reds capped the scoring for the day when Joseph Votto blasted a leadoff homerun to CF.  That made the score 4-2 Mariners.

Late in the game, we got split up from Avi for a while.  When we connected on the phone, he said he was in a SRO area near home plate with Rocco.  We decided we should go over there.  Thinking (correctly) that we might not make it back to section 402, we got a picture of Tim at the bottom of 402 on our way out (Kellan didn’t want to get off my shoulders to get in the picture):

This was our view in the SRO area:

When we arrived at the SRO area, Avi was nowhere to be found.  Ends up, we’d left section 402 to meet up with him and he left the SRO area to meet up with him in section 402.

Eventually, we did all meet up at the SRO area.  They make you stand at the top of the stairs.  Eventually, we move down the stairs at stood at the corner of the cross aisle.  The ushers didn’t really do anything about it so we stayed there a bit.

Heading into the bottom of the eight, the Mariner brought in Charlie Furbush who blew away Zack Cozart, Joey…

…Votto, and Brandon Phillips, 1-2-3.

When Rocco came by, he headed down the cross aisle toward the outfield.  We all followed him and ended up here for the ninth inning:

Check out that guy’s Johnny Bench jersey.  That’s sweet.

Ollie Perez nailed down a great Mariners Win!

We ended up in near-perfect position for a umpire ball, but didn’t get one.  But when we moved to the other end of the M’s dugout, Jaime Navarro tossed this one to Tim:

Avi, the boys and I pulled up some from row seats…

…for the post-game firework show:

The very first fireworks show of Tim’s life was at Great American Ball Park and it was awesome.  However, since then, we’ve seen a fireworks show at Progressive Field, and absolutely nothing stacks up to the Indians’ fireworks shows.  They are incredible  But this was a nice show for the boys.  They love all fireworks shows.

After fireworks, we got one more picture with Rocco…

…, one more group shot of us four roadtrippers…

…, some mire image shots with these awesome mosaics…

…, and one with this cool thingy inset on the floor of the concourse behind home plate:

And then we headed off to the team store so Avi could buy a bunch of bobbleheads.  In the team store, Tim posed with a huge World Series trophy:

Finally, we walked back to  our hotel a few blocks away…

…where Kellan hid under a pillow, both boys acted silly for a while, and then we all called it a night.

Go Mariners!

2013 C&S Fan Stats

15 Games                                                     
17 Teams – Mariners, Royals,   Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins,   Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers
28 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies   (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2,   Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 2
72 Baseballs – Mariners 8,   Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 1, Umpires 7, Reds 8,   Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3,   Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6
10 Stadiums – Citizens   Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC   Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park
32 Player+ Photos – Oliver   Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson,   Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks,   Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson,   Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel,   Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge”   Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy   Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith
10 Autograph – Hisashi   Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo,   Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez
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2012 Cook GFS Game 6 – Mariners vs. Rockies (5/19/12)

On May 19, 2012, we headed back to Coors Field on a grey and drizzly morning for the sixth and final game of the 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.

When we headed into the ballpark, it felt like only about 10 other fans joined us.  And there was no one on the field.  The tarp was out.  The batting cage was nowhere to be found.  There would be no BP to speak of.

Luckily, we did not have to wait too long for some on field entertainment.  Pretty quickly, the Mariners pitching corps popped out of the dugout and headed to the CF grass next to the visitors’ bullpen.

As the Mariners pitchers stretched and chatted amongst themselves…

…Kellan and I were the only fans in the front row section.  There were a couple fans above us in the bleachers.  The only other people in the front row were my dad, Tim, Dan and Emily, and they were chatting amongst themselves over in LF at Dan’s seats:

This was our view out in CF:

When the Mariners paired up and started playing catch, the closest Mariners to us were Hisashi Iwakuma (along the warning track in RCF) and Brandon League (in the CF grass):

While the M’s played catch on the field, Kellan pushed his stroller around, stomped in puddles, and just hung out and watched the action on the field:

Eventually, League short hopped Kuma with a hard throw.  The ball trickled past Kuma and was scooped up by his interpreter.  Kuma pulled a second baseball out of his pocket and he and League played catch for a few more minutes.

Once they finished playing catch, League tossed the ball they were using to a guy in the bleachers behind us.  League then motioned to Kuma’s interpreter for their original warm up ball.  He tossed that ball to us, and it was a Dodger Stadium commemorative ball!

Thanks, Brandon!

After getting the baseball from Brandon, Kellan and I stayed put for a few minutes.  But when I looked back over to LF, Dan gave a big *come over here* wave.  When Kellan and I reached Dan’s seats, he introduced me to a guy from mlb.com who said he wanted to interview me about our Roadtrip.  He ended up shooting a five minute video interview (during which I felt like I was continually looking off camera to check on Tim and Kellan who were running back-and-forth).  I’ve never seen that video turn up anywhere.  But later the same day of the game, the following blurb popped up on MLB.com’s Cut4 page:

When the interview wrapped up, the only Mariners still playing catch were Tom Wilhelmson and Charlie Furbush.  And they were playing extreme-long-toss – from the LF foul line to the RF warning track.

When they finished up and started to walk off…

…, one of them (I think Furbush) tossed the baseball to my dad…actually, he completely air mailed him, but it stayed in the front row where we were the only fans who could get to it.  It was also a Dodger Stadium commemorative baseball, my dad’s second!

Once Furbush and Wilhelmson wrapped up their long-toss show, there was absolutely nothing happening on the field.  So we just hung out for a bit and watched Felix and Brandon League…

…get in some work in the bullpen.

Eventually, Munenori Kawasaki and Anthony Suzuki (Ichiro’s interpreter) started playing two person pepper along the LF line:

Tim, Kellan and I headed over there to watch since nothing else was happening.  After playing some pepper, Muni ran some sprints.  Check out those fancy shoes he is wearing.

When he wrapped up the running, Muni and Anthony started walking back to the dugout, and all of the fans hanging out down the line were completely silent…except us.

I called out a simple, “Hey, Muni!”  He looked over and then did an exaggerated backspin to crow-hop before gentling tossing one of the two baseballs he’d been using to us.

Thanks, Muni!

After he tossed the baseball to us, another fan got brave and asked for an autograph.  He ended up coming over and signing a bunch of autographs, including signing the baseball he’d just thrown to us:

I’ve thought for a while that it would be cool to get a Japan-born Major Leaguer to sign a baseball in Japanese (Iwakuma did this for my dad at spring training).  So, as Tim handed the baseball to Muni, I asked if he would sign in Japanese.  He responded (essentially), “No Japanese!  This is America!  Only English!”

No problem, an English Muni-autograph was just fine for us.

Thanks, again, Muni!

My dad was still out in LF and he took this picture of us as we walked back to LF:

Check out all of those fans!  Man, it was packed!

It was quiet and peaceful in the stadium.  The grounds crew was using the quiet time to tidy up the outfield grass:

We still had a long time until the game was scheduled to start.  So we headed over to the Blue Moon Brewery restaurant in the RF foul corner concourse.  I had a big, tasty BBQ sandwich…

…but Kellan wouldn’t let me simply sit and enjoy it.  Instead, while Tim and grandpa hung out at the table, I ate on foot while watching Kellan run up-and-down and up-and-down and up-and-down this ramp:

After lunch, we headed back out to the OF.  My took Tim to get some pizza (he didn’t want to eat in the Brewery), and Kellan and I checked out the tunnels under the OF bleachers:

We noticed a funny site as the Mariners relievers approached the bullpen before the start of the game:

They had to stop and wait for the band that played the national anthem to finish marching by before they could get to the bullpen.

As the band belted out the national anthem, the boys were ready to get to the baseball:

Rockies pitcher Christian Friedrich’s (who is pictured in LF before Tim in the first game picture from our last entry) first pitch to Dustin Ackley was called a ball…

…and we were underway!

I am quite happy to report that this game was all Mariners.  And the scoring got underway when Kyle Seager belted a 2-run homerun in the top of the second inning:

With the 2-0 lead in hand, the Mariners never looked back.

Of all the games to which I have taken both boys together, this was by far the easiest because Kellan fell asleep while I was holding him in the first or second inning:

And he just kept on sleeping until THE SIXTH INNING!

For most of that time, Kellan and I sat with Don the Rockpile Ranter and his son, Hunter:

It was great chatting with these guys.

Sadly, I did not get a picture of the “Bring Back Helmer” sign that Hunter periodically held up for the TV cameras.  (It looked a whole lot like this).

I hardly took any pictures while sitting there holding Kellan.  But I did manage to get a shot of Ichiro out in RF:

And one of Ichiro drilling a line drive toward short stop:

If you click on that picture, you can see the ball just to the left of Ichiro and just barely above his head level.  Unfortunately, Tulowitzki made a diving catch on the ball.

But it didn’t matter.  The Mariners were already piling on the runs.  They scored 2 more in the third inning, 1 in the fourth (on a single by Jason Vargas!)…

…, and 4 more in the sixth.  That made the score 9-0 Mariners.

Don didn’t like the score so much, but I sure did.  And Kellan would have too if he was awake.

Eventually, I headed further out toward LCF to see my dad and Tim.

Kellan was still fast asleep, but it was ice cream time for Tim:

Want to see essentially those same exact two pictures again, but this time as one picture?  Okay, here you go:

Kellan woke up just in time for Don to catch a Rockies shirt in the T-shirt launch.  He ran up into the bleachers to make the grab and he handed the shirt to us on his way back down:

Kellan was mighty satisfied holding it all wrapped up in cellophane.  But he was still a little cranky from his nap.  When I unwrapped the shirt, Kellan gave me a piece of his mind.  Apparently, he wasn’t ready to see it unwrapped quite yet.

In the sixth inning, the Rockies brought Eric Young in to play CF as part of a double switch.  I took some pictures of the Rockies outfielders, but really I just wanted to show how tiny Eric Young seems to be:

My dad spent most of the game chatting with Rockies regular Robert Harman:

Before this trip, I knew about Robert from the Rockpile Rant and an article Zack Hample wrote about Barry Bonds’ final career homerun.  Robert was very nice and he and my dad got along swimmingly during the game.

Here are some pictures I took in the tunnel under the bleachers in LCF:

Top left:  There is some sort of security office under there, right around the corner from the women’s restroom.

Top middle: There was a brief rain shower late in the game.  The game wasn’t delayed at all, but we hid out for a few minutes in the tunnel where this was our view of the field.  We ended up putting our backpacks in the tunnel for the rest of the game to keep dry.  It is definitely convenient having your own personal tunnel like this for a game!

Top right: Tim, Emily and Emily’s friend played tag in the tunnel.  This was just one of the many things they did to entertain themselves in the tunnel.  Kellan tried to mix it up with the big kids a bit too.

About 5-10 minutes before the rain, the Rockies scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.  The final two runs came on a homerun hit by Wilin Rosario that sailed right over our heads into about the sixth or seventh row of the bleachers behind us.  I was hoping it would ricochet back down to us (my Dad had caught a Miguel Olivo BP homer like this the day before and Robert got a Michael Cuddayer game homer like it earlier in the season), but the crowd swallowed it up, never to be seen again by us folks down in the first row.

It was too bad this homerun couldn’t have been hit in the eighth inning instead of the seventh, because almost no one was left in the bleachers after the rain…

…and the ball almost certainly would have bounced back down to us.

The Mariners got one run back in the eighth on a passed ball to Kyle Seager that scored Ichiro.  That made it 10-3 Mariners, which would hold up to become the final score of the game.

The previous day, I had noticed that Michael Saunders…

…tossed the CF-LF warm up baseball into the crowd in the ninth inning.  There were zero fans in the front row out in CF by the batters’ eye.  So I figured that Kellan and I ought to head over there in the ninth so Saunders would have a target.

It was a solid plan.  After finishing his ninth inning warm up tosses with Casper Wells, Saunders turned and threw a strike right to us.  Another Dodger Stadium commemorative!

Thanks, Michael!

Sean Kelley and Steve Delabar each pitched a scoreless/hitless inning of relief to cap off the game.  Another wonderful Mariners win!  That made them 2-0 for us on the season.

After saying our good-byes to Dan and Robert (Don had left during the rain because he feared for his super-nice camera’s safety), we got an usher to take our picture:

Then we walked around to home plate…

…and got an usher to retake the family photo the fan had botched the night before:

The key to that picture was that Tim had his foot up on the step above us.  He thought this made the picture look very, VERY cool.

Outside the stadium, I got a shot of my three Roadtrip mates outside Coors Field:

And then we headed over to the 15th Street Mall for some dinner.

On our walk back to the hotel, my dad and Tim were locked in battle in a fierce game of “yellow cab” (the objective being to spot as many yellow cabs as possible) when we walked by Coors Field for the final time:

“YELLOW CAB!” (in the foreground)  “YELLOW CAB!” (across the street)

The yellow cab battle continued as the fifth installment of the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip slowly walked down Park Road to our hotel and into the sunset

It was an OUTSTANDING trip.

Let the planning begin for the 2012 GFS Roadtrip!

2012 C&S Fan Stats

10/9 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/13 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals
14 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3
51 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 5, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 2
10 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4
8/7 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki

 

2012 Cook GFS Game 1 – Blue Jays vs. Twins (5/12/12)

The 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip is extra special for several reasons.  First, it is the Fifth Anniversary of the GFS Roadtrip.  Second, we have expanded the GFS roster to include Kellan. And, finally, by checking off Busch Stadium (Cardinals), Kauffman Stadium (Royals), and Coors Field (Rockies), Tim and I would finally have seen all 30 MLB teams play a home game – we had already seen all 30 teams play a road game.

I wanted the Mariners to be involved in the game when we saw our final team play a home game.  During the offseason, I decided it would happen in Colorado when the Mariners visited the Rockies in May.

The Roadtrip kicked off on May 12, 2012.  We started in Minnesota.  It is the first city we have visited on two separate roadtrips.  We went to the H.H.H. Metrodome during its final season in 2009.  And now we were back to check out Target Field.

But first, we had to get to Minnesota…

…and this will officially be Kellan’s final “infant on lap” trip.  He’s getting to be huge these days.  But we have a nice flight nonetheless and were greeted by my dad at the gate.  His flight had landed about half an hour before ours.

After a brief rest in our hotel room, we took to the streets of Minneapolis on foot – destination Target Field:

We arrived before the gates opened.  The crowd at the RF (Kirby Puckett) gate was getting big already.  We got some pictures with a couple statues (Kirby and Kent Hrbek)…

…and then headed around the stadium to the shaded Tony Oliva gate.

Our first inside view of Target Field was from the left field corner and the Twins were taking BP:

The Blue Jays were already stretching by the dugout.  Soon, they started to walk down the foul line to play catch.  Luis Perez…

…gave us a smile as he walked by so I asked if he’d pose for a picture with Tim and Kellan.  He said he would after he played catch.  I asked, “Ah, then, could we get your warm up ball when you’re done too!?”  He said yes and then headed off to play catch.

But then he must have decided he didn’t want to forget about us, because he walked back over to us a minute later and handed Kellan our first ever baseball at Target Field.

Thanks, Luis!

One of our big goals of this game was to get Rajai Davis to sign Kellan’s first MLB pitch picture.  We soon spotted him playing catch just behind third base.  Unfortunately, he was on the field side instead of the foul line side.  Anyway, Kellan and I went over there on the off chance we could hook up with Davis:

In the picture above to the left, Rajai is all the way out in CF playing long toss.  While we were watching Davis play long toss, the on-field security guard to the right grabbed a ball that had been hit against that protective screen and he walked over and handed it to Kellan.

Thanks, Security Guard!

That was it for BP as far as baseballs go.

And we never got any closer to Davis.  He drifted off into CF after finishing playing long toss.

Kellan and I headed back toward the corner spot where Tim and my dad were still waiting on Perez to finish playing catch and come back for a picture…

…, but it was too hot and sunny and Tim surrendered to the sun.  He was going to burst into flames if he waited any longer for Perez.  So, sadly, we did not get a picture with a Blue Jay.

Instead, we headed toward home plate.  We noticed that they let you down into the dugout seats (inside the Moat) during BP.  Here is a panorama from within the moat:

Next, we grabbed some water for the boys.  And then Tim and grandpa headed off to the team store and Kellan and I headed to the shady spot in RF.  On the way, he fell asleep:

Tim and grandpa met up with us and we hung out here for the rest of BP:

Once BP ended, we headed up to the upper deck in the outfield to check out the stadium.  An usher was kind enough to take a nice picture of us:

That picture was taken here:

Tim can be temperamental about getting his picture taken sometime…probably because he’s been photographed  about 100,000 times in six years.  Anyway, I wanted to get our Target Field bonus picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt, but for some reason Tim was adamant that he didn’t want to be in it – just Kellan.  So, this was “take 1” of the bonus picture:

Here is what it looks like from the front row of the section just below the CF Target Field sign:

While we were up there, we found a couple of the statues from past all-star games and Tim did funny poses with both:

As we continued to circle around to LF, Tim and I headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium.  Check out how steep the steps are in the LF upper deck seats:

Here is what it looks like from the back row up there:

Behind 2B, they had a softball homerun hitting contest set up.  Two fans faced off against the hardest hitting mascot ever:

The mascot blasted 6 bombs on 7 swings, including one that hit the back wall of the upper deck.

Then we found another all-star statue.  I think this one might be for this season:

After that picture, Tim declared he was extremely hungry.  Instead of nachos, he wanted pizza.  We walked and walked and walked before we found pizza, but finally found it.  And we also found the most awesome food item in the history of Major League Baseball…

The NACHO HELMET!

For the record, our nacho lady only filled ours half way, which was plenty for me and Kellan, but every other  nacho helmet I saw all day was overflowing the top of the helmet.  We ate our nachos in our seats in the last row (row 10) of section 141:

I really liked these seats.  They were great.

Joe Mauer, P.J. Walters and (I’m guessing) the Twins pitching coach headed in from the bullpen for the game to start:

These three dudes were all set for the first pitch of the 2012 Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip:

And this was it:

We were desperately needing a water refill, which required me and Kellan to walk all the way behind home plate to find a water fountain.  On the way, we saw Jose Baustita bat up close:

All game long, the concourses were absolutely packed:

For the first 3.5 innings, it was a scoreless pitchers’ duel between P.J. Walters and Drew Hutchinson (two guys I had never heard of before this game).  To that point, this foul ball by Joe Mauer was one of the offensive highlights of the so-far uneventful game:

Eventually, Kellan needed to get moving.  We headed to Target Plaza so he could stretch his travel-weary legs:

After running around for a while in Target Plaza, we headed upstairs in CF.  At the deepest part of CF, this is what the concourse looks like:

While I took some pictures, Kellan worked his arm muscles and abs:

Then we took a look at the bullpens:

And deep LF:

And straight away LF:

Then it was time for another leg workout.  Kellan ran up and down this ramp from the field level to the upper deck about 3-4 times:

At the top of the ramp, Kellan wanted a solo picture posing with the Twins pig:

And then it was more running.  He ran a lot!

Eventually, we headed back to our seats through the field level concourse.  I took a picture from the concourse behind the odd seats in deep RCF:

They are tucked under the upper deck seats.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Hutchinson loaded the bases and then walked in the first run of the game for a 1-0 Twins lead.

Before sitting down again, Kellan and I grabbed some two-toned dipping dots helmets:

Those are some sweeeeeeet helmets.  I love ‘em.  These are our first two-tone helmets.

You can see this in some of the panoramas, but I figured I should take a picture of the “have’s” seating on the fancy side of the moat:

On the last game of the 2011 GFS Roadtrip, Johnny Damon hit a ball off the top of the RCF wall at the Trop.  They called it a homerun.  I could tell with my unaided eyes that it had hit the bar on the top of the fence and bounced back onto the field without leaving the ballpark.  They reviewed it.  And eventually Damon was told to head back out to second base.

In the top of the sixth inning of this game, Jose Bautista became the second player in as many GFS Roadtrip games to hit a disputed shot to the wall:

With my unaided eye, I could tell it bounced in the bushes above the OF wall and it should be a homerun.  I was right.  After stopping for a few minutes at 2B, Jose was told to finish his trip around the bases:

The boys were growing restless and I still needed to tour around the upper deck in the infield.  We decided to make it a four-man trip.  First, we headed to a little hallway on the second deck on the 1B side where Tim got his picture with a model:

And then we headed all the wall down the RF line in the upper deck – where the usher told me to reposition myself to take these pictures (I must have been blocking the view of some people in a downtown building because there was nobody (and no seats) behind me):

Then we walked around the upper deck:

There were a lot of people in the concourse up there too.  Unluckily, as you circle around home plate, there is an elevated walkway so you can stay out of the concourse.

Circling around home plate, I asked an usher to take our picture…

…and he warmed me that the sun would blast us in the face in the photo.

As we walked, I continued to take photos of the field…

…and of my boys and dad:

As we walked, we saw an awesome play.   Someone hit a foul pop up behind 3B.  The Jays short stop Yunel Escobar rushed back to make the play, but he bobbled the ball up into the air and Jays left fielder Jose Bautista swooped in to snatch it out of the air for the rare 6-7 put out:

Tim and I climbed to the highest seats in LF for this picture:

And at the bottom of that section, I snapped this cute picture of Tim, Kellan and my dad:

As we headed back to the RF corner to head down to the lower level, Joe Mauer launched a deep drive.  It was the craziest I have ever heard a crowd go for a double:

We headed back to our seats, but then I realized I never went up into the RF bleachers.  So Tim and I headed over there.  On the way, we took this picture of the worst SRO area ever:

All you can see is the right fielder and a TV screen.  On the plus side, it is completely shaded (under the  RF bleachers).

The connection between the RF seats and the CF seats makes for some crazy angles at Target Field.  I wish I had done a better job photographing it.  But I did get this awesome picture of two lone seats at the top of a mini-flight of steps:

Then we *scaled* the RF bleachers.  It was like rock climbing, I would imagine.  At the top I got this panorama:

And this photo of nervous-from-the-height Tim:

Here are some fun angles that make it look like the bullpen is at the bottom of a hole:

And then it was time to slowly walk back down the steep steps:

Approaching the stairs down to Target Plaza, I got this picture of the plaza…

…and one of Tim in front of the Twins Live set.

Late in the game, Bautista was on first base and I was just sure something was about to happen.  I was right, they tried to pick him off first unsuccessfully:

It was dark now and the ballpark signs looked great – check it out:

The Blue Jays had pulled ahead to a 2-1 lead, and they held on to win the game, which pleased Tim.  He had declared the Blue Jays to be his team to win early in the game.

After the game, I had an usher take a family shot of us…

…and it took Tim a few minutes to realize I had duped him into posing for a Target Field bonus picture.  Haha!!

On our way out of the stadium, Tim (in quite possibly his oldest looking picture ever) showed his respects for the Great Willie “Ballgame” Bloomquist (#18):

So there you go.  One game down on the Roadtrip.  Another great night and another great stadium.  In the morning, we would drive to St. Louis for a couple games between the Cardinals and Cubs at Busch Stadium.  It would prove to be a super long drive, but well worth it.

2012 C&S Fan Stats

5/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)
9/8 Teams – Tim – Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins; Kellan – Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins
6 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 1, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2
25 Baseballs – Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 1, Umpires 3, Orioles 1, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1
3 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins   Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2
5/4 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field
2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist
2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck
3 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak

 

GFS 2011 Game 1 – Giants at Marlins (8/13/2011)

Its that time of year again.  Time for the fourth installment of the Annual Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip.  This will likely be the last Roadtrip with the original line-up.  In 2012, Kellan will likely come on board as the fourth Roadtripper.  But as for now, the cast of characters remains: Grandfather = Jim Cook; Father = Todd Cook; and Grandson = Tim Cook:

We flew into Tampa and stayed the night in a hotel.  In the picture above, we are about to pile into our rented Nissan Altima and head south to…

…Sun Life Stadium!  Note: that port-a-potty out front of Gate F is just one of the many luxury amenities the Marlins offer at the ballpark.

From a snagging a baseball perspective, my base goal was to get at least one baseball at each of the three stadiums we are visiting on this Roadtrip (Sun Life, Turner Field, and Tropicana Field).  As far as Sun Life Stadium goes, I was counting on this being our best bet.  It was a Saturday night game (presumably) with batting practice.  But then it started monsoon-caliber rain at our hotel about 15 minutes from the ballpark.  The gates weren’t scheduled to open yet, but we decided to head up to the ballpark anyway and just roam the concourses while clouds drained out all of their rain.

But then an amazing thing happened.  It was serious Noah’s Ark type rain at our hotel, but it was completely dry at the ballpark.  So we ran into the ballpark when it opened and were happy to find the Giants just starting to take BP.

Despite getting full-Giants BP, several things were working (quite effectively) against us: (1) the Marlins don’t like to let fans anywhere near their precious multi-purpose field, (2) the Giants have no power to right field (the only spot the ordinary fan can get to the front row on the field), and (3) the Giants (are quickly
proving to us that they) do not like fans.

We tried our luck in section 126:

That section is just on the CF side of the big tunnel that separates RF from CF.  The BP crowd was smaller on our side of the tunnel, but it would take a mighty blast to get a baseball out to us.  Tim relaxed in a multi-shaded orange seat right on the tunnel:

Only one homerun reached the deep RCF seats.  It landed about 3 rows behind us and only about 15 feet away, but I was blocked in by another couple fans and couldn’t even make a real attempt to catch the ball.  I say a “real” attempt because I did make an instinctual lunge toward the blocked off aisle as the ball came off
the bat – Sun Life Stadium punished me for this in the form of trying to break my shin on a cup holder bolted to the back of the seat in front of me.  Ouch.
A word to the wise:  at Sun Life Stadium, the rows of seats are narrow, the cup holders make them even narrower, and many of the seats fail to fold up.  So there are many, many opportunities to bash your knees and shins while passing through the aisles.

Meanwhile, the Giants literally tossed zero baseballs into three sections of seats in RCF.  BP ended with us still looking to secure our first ever baseball at Sun Life Stadium.  Our chances were not looking good and I was fearing that we might never get a baseball at this soon-to-be retired “baseball stadium.”  Even worse, without getting at least one baseball, we would not be able to get a Sun Life Stadium bonus picture point for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt!

Anyway, it was time to tour around a little bit.  We started by visiting the McDonald’s kids area:

The concourses on the 1B and LF sides of the stadium (which I assume match up with the sides of the Miami Dolphins football field) are largely empty (well, LF is completely empty).  But on this day, McDonald’s had  set up a couple face painting booths (FYI, I am about the biggest anti-face painting person on earth), two
basketball pop-a-shots, two football accuracy throwing things, and two baseball strike zone throwing things.  While my Dad wandered around looking for a hat and Sun Life Stadium baseball (FYI, they don’t have them) in the team store, Tim and I shot tons of hoops, tossed a few footballs, and pitched many, many strikes.

After the play area, we started the process of walking around the ballpark.  It was a shorter process than normal because the entire upper deck was closed, and the LF concourse is essentially unused.

First, we visited section 150 behind home plate:

Next, we grabbed some nachos and found some seats in section 106:

The nachos were good…

…but the cheese ran out prematurely.  The problem was that they only had one cheese holder and didn’t pour any cheese directly onto the chips.  That’s just not enough cheese.

While eating nachos, we noticed something that showed just how plain it is that the Marlins have second billing at Sun Life Stadium:

Yep, the stadium used to be called Dolphin Stadium, and the end seat on each row is adorned with a dolphin.

Since there is nothing in left field, we turned around after eating our nachos, and headed back toward home plate.  We were still baseball-less, so we decided to make an effort at a pre-game throwing baseball (something that I think we have only ever obtained once – from Ian Kinsler May 5, 2009).

Here is Tim hanging out in the “front row” by the dugout:

I say front row because it is row 1, but there are more seats below row 1.  They are right down on the field and you can’t get to them without those tickets.

As former-Mariner Greg Dobbs played catch below us, Tim had fun watching Billy the Marlin catch the “first” pitches:

He quite enjoyed little Billy too:

At one point, Billy came over to the first base side and gave Tim a happy point in exchange for Tim’s excited wave:

In that picture, you can see Greg Dobbs (No. 29) on the far left side of the picture:

Dobbs scooted way back past first base and played long toss before retreating to the dugout.   Dobbs was our best chance to get a baseball at this game.  He ended up with the ball just 15-20 feet below us.  He clearly wanted to give it away.  But the music was pumping loud through the stadium and Dobbs just couldn’t hear me.  If he had, I’m sure he would have given us the baseball.  Instead, he gave the ball to a 20-something fan in the true front row who had not even been paying any attention.  Dobbs essentially walked over and said, “Here, take this.”  Bummer.

My Dad headed out to RF where we had our tickets for the game.  Tim and I hung out behind the dugout for the top of the first inning to see if we could get a third out baseball (something we’ve only ever obtained once before – from Ronny Paulino earlier this season).

Cody Ross led off the game with the fly out to LF:

Jeff Keppinger followed Ross with a solo homerun to LF.  Eventually, Aubrey Huff struck out looking to end the first inning.  We were expecting the final out to be at first base, so we were nowhere near where we needed to be for a catcher toss-up.  So some other lucky fan got that third out baseball and we gave up and headed out to RF to meet up with grandpa:

This was our view of the game:

Tim “The Freak” Lincecum was pitching for the Giants…

…and he pitched a very solid game.

Eventually, Tim needed some ice cream.  I told him I would go get it while he stayed with Grandpa.  But when I turned toward CF in the concourse, there was no ice cream to be found.  It was time to explore again.

From CF all the way to the LF foul line, all two of the tunnels into the closed and/or non-existent seating areas were closed off.  In CF,the tunnels are covered with a blue tarp that serves as the batters’ eyes…

…and in LF two of the tunnels are open exclusively for cameramen.  Meanwhile, in the LF concourse, there is absolutely nothing going on.

I stopped off in section 107 where I took this panorama:

A couple more sections over toward 3B (probably section 105), I found this weird single seat at the back of the seating section:

My thought is that this seat is for the usher patrolling this section.

I checked in again at section 154 where this was my view:

While in section 154, I got some of my best photos of Lincecum:

Finally, I found ice cream helmets (vanilla/chocolate twist) and reported back to Tim and Grandpa.  As always, Tim enjoyed his ice cream:

We were ready for the weather to be blisteringly hot and disgustingly humid on this entire Roadtrip.  In fact, we failed to pack anything for the possibility of cold weather.  But the ice cream made Tim chilly.  He had to bundle up in my Mariners jersey…

…and snuggle with Grandpa for heat:

Meanwhile, I were still trying to figure out to come away from this game with a baseball.  I exchanged a bunch of texts with Ben “Benny Bang Bany” Weil, who in turn exchanged some texts with Mateo Fischer, and the word came back that  this tunnel…

…just past the third base dugout was the umpires’ tunnel.  So I surveyed it with my zoom lens and made our plan.

Meanwhile, the Giants tacked on a couple more runs to take the score to 3-0 Giants.  In the fifth inning, Nate Schierholtz scored from third on a wild pitch by Javier Vazquez.  And in the sixth, Cody Ross scored on a double by Aubrey Huff.  That was all the scoring for the night.

Mike Stanton was playing RF for the Marlins in front of us:

He has had some great games for me and Tim.  But he went 0-3 at this game.

From our seats, we had a nice view of the Marlins bullpen:

I thought the bullpen set up was pretty odd at Sun Life Stadium.  It is not that unusual for the bullpens to be located down the base lines.  But at Sun Life Stadium, the Marlins bullpen and the Marlins dugout are both on the first base line and the visitors’ bullpen and dugout are both on the third base line.  That’s odd because usually a baseline bullpen is located on the opposite baseline from the dugout so the manager can see his relievers warming up in the pen.

Tim found various ways to make wearing his dad’s jersey more fun:

The fans tried to get the wave going at one point.  So Tim decided that he and I should do our own wave:

In the eighth inning, Tim and I started to slowly make our way over toward the umpires’ tunnel.  First, we stopped in section 134 to take this panorama from just behind a big advertisement that blocks the view of numerous entire rows of seats behind “the Beach” area behind the Marlins bullpen:

Then we swung around to section 138 and got checked out the bullpen…

…and the beach:

And here is a panorama from section 138:

Two seconds after taking that panorama, a police officer in the Marlins bullpen told us we had to stay at least five rows back in the seats, which did not make much sense, but oh, well.

We headed up to the concourse and circled around to section 156 where the umpire tunnel is located.  The umpire tunnel is surrounded by blue seats.  The Marlins station ushers at the top of the blue seats and won’t let anyone down into them without a blue seat ticket.  So we found aisle seats in the orange seats just behind the blue seats.  Here was our view from section 156:

The umpire baseball attempt was going to be tricky.  There were two rows of people at the OF end of the tunnel, and one row of people at the infield side of the tunnel.  It seemed like our best bet would be to go directly above the tunnel, but that would mean home plate umpire Ron Kulpa would have to spot us long before
getting to the covered tunnel and make a lot toss over the tunnel to us.

But there was some more game to watch first.

Our new seats were just behind Greg Dobbs…

…and we had an excellent view of the action when Aaron Rowand grounded to Dobbs, and Dobbs threw him out at first.

My Dad was still lounging out in RF:

The Giants brought in Brian Wilson to close out the game:

I’ll tell you, I am officially sick and tired of hearing about his beard.  Can someone else win the World Series already so we can all forget that Brian Wilson has a big beard?

Anyway, Wilson and his beard did their job.  The Giants won 3-0.

After the game, Ron Kulpa did not hear us and did not give away a single umpire baseball.  We headed over to the Giants dugout for the relievers to make their way in to the dugout.  But , to our surprise, they never came.  They apparently have their own tunnel to the club house.  So the only person we saw at the dugout after
the initial victory high-fives was Jeff Keppinger as he was interviewed post-game.

Soon, my Dad found us and a Giants fan took our picture with a grumpy looking usher behind us:

On our way out of the stadium, we discovered there was a full batting cage with rotating arm pitching machine in the concourse behind the first base dugout:

So the first game of the Cook Grandfather-Father-Son Baseball Roadtrip was in the books.  A 7 inning shutout win by Tim Lincecum and the Giants.  With our final game at Sun Life Stadium being the next day at 1:10 p.m. and still sitting on zero baseballs at Sun Life Stadium, we left this game unsure whether we would ever
be able to say we got a ball at Sun Life Stadium.  If not, Sun Life would join Shea Stadium, old Yankee Stadium, and Chase Field as the only stadiums Tim has visited and not got at least one baseball.  We’ll visit Chase Field again, but Sun Life Stadium was in jeopardy of joining Shea Stadium and old Yankee Stadium on the never-gonna-happen list.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
20/3 Games (Tim/Kellan)
18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]
15 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (1))
55 Baseballs (7 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
10/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]
13/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
7/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U of Miam); Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]
1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]
2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)
* includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.

Comerica Park: A Diamond In The Rough (7/3/11)

Welcome to the longest entry in the history of this blog.

So we woke up in Toledo, Ohio, on the morning of July 3, 2011, hopped into the car and headed off to…

…Detroit, Michigan.  The Motor City!

I’ve wanted to go to Comerica Park for a long time.  But I heard a lot of negatives about Detroit (the city, not Comerica Park), and I did not know what to expect.  As we approached the city on I-75, one of the first high-rise buildings that we saw (not yet in downtown) looked odd.  It was about 20-stories high (I guess), and I soon noticed it looked so odd because I could see right through it.  I’m not sure if it was burnt out or what, but there were no windows and we could see completely through the building.

That didn’t seem right.

When we exited I-75, there was a building right at the top of the exit ramp (or right near it) that was half ripped down and demolished.  It is pictured above below the “Pure Michigan” sign.

Yikes.  Detroit was not looking good.

The quick drive through downtown did nothing to help the situation.  Every other building was boarded up or burnt out.

As we approached Comerica Park, things started to look a whole lot better.  But then we pulled into a $25 parking lot directly across from Comerica Park’s batters’ eye.  Here is a photo of Tim standing in the parking lot with the stadium behind him:

The parking lot was a disaster.  Huge pot holes.  I mean huge.  Like pot holes that you could fit a smart car into.  That’s not an exaggeration…or much of one.  As we walked to the parking lot exit, Tim asked me the most hilarious and sad parking-lot-based question of all time:  “Was there an earthquake in this parking lot?”

I broke into laughter.  It really looked like there could have been an earthquake.

So…it was officially our worst ever introduction to a Major League stadium.

But you know what?  It was all worth it.  Comerica Park is essentially the definition of the old saying “A diamond in the rough.”

Comerica Park is AMAZING!  I loved it.  I loved it so much that Tim begged me to stop taking pictures at one point.  All-in-all, we got about 450 pictures.  And this entry is going to have a ton of them.

We arrived probably half an hour before the gates opened and we took a walk around the place.  We first approached the stadium at the RF
gate (Gate A):

The tigers lurking above the gates are awesome, but this is only the second coolest gate at Comerica Park.  After taking a handful of pictures at this gate, we made our way down the street to probably the coolest gate in MLB history – the first base gate (Gate B):

Tim was a little timid standing below that big tiger paw.  He felt a little safer tucked inside the tiger’s tail:

This gate is pure awesomeness.  It is actually so big and awesome that I failed to capture it in photos.  I would have had to back away across the street to get the whole thing,
and I’m kicking myself not for not doing it.

This gate is a built into a semi-circular cut out in the side of the stadium’s outer wall.  The actual gates and that huge tiger are right in the middle of the gate area.  On either side, there are more menacing looking tigers lurking above, seemingly ready to pounce on the fans below:

Both sides of the gate are also adorned by a gigantic baseball bat:

Note that Tim is standing at the base of that bat and he looks teeny-tiny…and the bat is so tall that I couldn’t even get the knob into the picture from across the street.

All along the outer wall of the stadium along the RF-1B side (hmm…I am not certain, but I don’t think they were on the other sides of the stadium) there were these big tiger head thingys:

Cool.

Maybe there is a good time to mention my general assessment of the stadium’s design.  It seemed to me like the architects/planners thought of every little detail.  They wanted you to know at all times that you were at the Tigers stadium.  In every ballpark you see lots of team emblems, etc.  But the Tigers did an awesome job *Tigerifying* Comerica Park.  If there was a little open space, they filled it with a Tiger, or a Tiger’s “D” logo, or the word “Tigers” or something cool and appealing to the eyes of the fans.  They did an awesome job and it was really cool walking around just taking in all of the sights.

After spending some time at Gate B, we turned the corner and walked down the home plate side of the stadium – click here to see a map of the stadium.  There were gates looking into the concourse and we could see we were right behind home plate…and there was nothing happening on the field.  We ran across the street and got this picture with the “Comerica Park: Home of the Detroit Tigers” sign in the background:

Further down the road, there was a set of double doors at the “Tiger Den” with another menacing looking Tiger designed into the door:

In the picture above to the right, there are there orange cones in the distance.  Those are set up in front of the doors where the Giants were entering the stadium.

Just past the Tiger Den, we rounded another corner (at the Beer Hall) and found a Ferris Wheel inside the stadium along the 1B side:

The 3B side of the stadium is situated along Brush Street and on the opposite side of the street Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions.

After walking down the street, we rounded the corner back onto Adams Street – where we had parked in the earthquake lot.  That street provides a clear view into the ballpark.  We took
some shots of the series of statues along the outfield concourse:

These statues seem to have been designed by the same artists who did the statues inside the LF gate at Nationals Park.

Gate time was approaching, so we headed back to the 1B gate and found a spot second in line at one of the turnstiles.  While waiting the final ten minutes before gates opened, Tim asked me to take a picture of these big “gold” bats…

…and I requested (to myself) that I take a picture of this plaque listing all of the people Michiganders have to thank for Comerica Park.  As we waited for the gates to open, I had already taken about 65 pictures.  And soon we were let into the ballpark and there was a whole lot more stuff for me to photograph.

When the gates finally opened, we headed down into section 116 and surveyed the situation.

  • No batting practice;
  • Two Giants playing catch in CF; and
  • Several Tigers gathering down the LF line to play catch.

As everyone was running over to LF to watch the Tigers’ pitchers warm up.  We headed over to section 101 in CF where this was our view:

It was Madison Baumgartner and Matt Cain who were playing catch.  After a while, Cain ran back to the Giants dugout on the 1B side of home plate.  Baumgartner’s work wasn’t complete just yet.  He headed into the bullpen to throw from the mound.  At that point, there was officially nothing happening anywhere near us, so we relocated to section 150 to watch Baumgartner continue his throwing routine:

A bunch of Giants fans joined us above the bullpen and when Baumgartner finished his routine, he tossed the baseball to a Giants fan.

With no BP, a big crowd around the Tigers pitchers, and no other Giants throwing on the field at this point, I was thinking it would be very difficult to end up getting a baseball at this game.  But I was really hoping we would beat the odds and come away with at least one baseball because we really wanted one from Comerica Park and it might be years before we ever get back to Detroit.

We walked over to the LF foul pole area, but there were tons of people gathered around just a few Tigers.  It was pointless to stay there.  Just then some Giants pitchers came out to play catch along the 1B line.  But it was packed by the time we got there.  So we gave up, and headed over to the dugout.

This was our view from the first row of section 121:

And the move worked out.  As a Giant (I am pretty sure it was Jeremy Affeldt) ran back into the dugout and tossed his warm up baseball into the crowd while he was still down the 1B line.  Then when he got right in front of us, he reached into his back pocket, pulled out his back-up baseball and tossed it up to us.

Success!  A baseball from Comerica Park:

It was officially time to explore!

Our self-guided ballpark tour started with a panorama from section 127:

Then we headed into a little nook on the side of the concourse on the 3B side.  It was the area where we had already seen the ferris wheel from outside the ballpark:

Check out the big baseball fountain to the right in that picture.  Cool, eh?

We didn’t ride the Ferris Wheel at this point.  Instead, he headed back into the 3B side concourse…

…in search for the carousel that I had heard about.  After a bit of wandering around and then finally asking an usher, we found the tiger-go-round tucked into a circular food court-type area:

You cannot really tell in that last picture, but all of the traditionally merry-go-round *horses* on this carousel are ferocious-looking tigers.

Tim wanted to ride both carousel, but the line was huge.  So I told him we could come back during the game when I suspected the line would be much shorter.  So we continued on our
tour.

We headed up the stairs next to the carousel and found ourselves here:

Looking to our left, we could see back down into the 1B side concourse:

Comerica Park has a bunch of these banners hanging with players from the past.  I’m not sure what the significance of the years are – they all seemed to be even decade years.  So maybe, for example, that 1980 banner in the foreground simply means that Jack Morris pitched for the Tigers in the ‘80s.  Between the Morris 1980 banner and the 1970 banner to the right, there is a weird contraption down below on the concourse floor.  You’ll notice it is resting on tires, stands pretty high up into the air, and is topped with “D” and a “1970.”  The Tigers have a bunch of those throughout the field level concourse as well.  Again, my thought is that they feature players and artifacts from the decade identified at the top of the display.

Heading out into the seating area, we got a panorama of Comerica Park from section 215…

…and another from section 210:

While behind the 200 level seats, we spotted something cool – the back side of those huge tigers lurking above Gate B (you can also see the tops of both of the huge bats rising from the ground in front of the gate):

Instead of seats, the second level in RF features a patio area (a/k/a the Pepsi Porch) and a long elevated walkway that runs all the way out to center field.  Most of the way toward CF, I took this picture from the elevated walkway looking down the stairs toward Gate A:

And then I turned around and got this panoramic view of the field (also featuring the Pepsi Porch):

When we walked all the way out to the end of the elevated walkway, we could see the top of the batters’ eye:

Detroit being the Motor City and all, the batters’ eye features two muscle cars.  We also noticed a lot of water on the top of the batters eye, which I original thought was pooled rain water.  But during the game we realized that there is a fountain on top of the batters’ eye that shoots streams of water high into the air.

On our walk back across the elevated walkway, I got this panorama that gives a better view of the Pepsi Porch form behind:

Remember how I said the Tigers filled every empty space with a Tigers logo or something Tigers-based?  While walking across the elevated-walkway, Tim found something that perfectly proved that point – a drain:

Look at that!  It has (1) crossed bats and a baseball, (2) the word “Detroit,” (3) the “D” from the Tigers’ jerseys, (4) the word “Tigers” in a ferocious tigers-ish font, and (5) baseballs circled with stars.  Awesome.  These are almost certainly the best drains in all of MLB.

While walking on the elevated-walkway, we also found a fan assistance booth where the worker-lady was happy to fill up Tim’s water bottle with some refreshing ice-water.  Then she laid this bad-boy on Tim:

Together, the certificate and Tim’s shirt combine to tell the story:  “Welcome to Comerica Park – Life is good!”

Next, we walked all the way out to the LF corner and took a bunch of panoramas.

First, section 219 (which is right above the tiger-go-round):

Switching over to the 300-level, we took our behind-the-plate panoramic view of Comerica Park from section 326:

Behind third base, we got this view from section 334:

Then we headed out into the concourse, where we found this awesome picture  (it was some sort of really big advertisement)…

…of Cecil Fielder walking on the roof of old Tiger Stadium.  Man, I wish I Tim and I could have visited Tiger Stadium.  From watching games on TV, it looked gloriously old-fashioned.  I was appalled when the closed it and opened this new-fangled Comerica Park place.  Well, if they had to replace (and then tear down…oh, no!) old Tiger Stadium, they couldn’t have done a better job replacing it.

Back out in the 300-level cross-aisle, we got this panoramic view of Comerica Park from section 342:

Finally, we reached the perfect spot to get Tim’s Comerica Park bonus picture for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:

Check out that awesome scoreboard with full-color Tigers on the prowl.  Outstanding!

When Tim and I were looking for the perfect spot for this picture, an usher came over and complimented me for wearing my baseball glove on my head.  He said it showed that I was really a baseball player.  I thought that was cool.  Thanks, usher guy!

Tim is not a big fan of heights, so you can see him sitting in the front row and waiting patiently for me in this panorama that I took from the top of section 344:

I just noticed that I can see our car in that picture.  Cool.

Anyway, it was finally time for the game to start, so we bought a hot dog and nachos and reported to our seats in section 144, where this was our view of the game:

The Tigers have a bunch of quality players, and we focused our action-shots on the big two – rightfielder Magglio Ordonez…

…who my mom roots for because she loves his name (“Magglio,” not “Ordonez”), and the baby-faced veteran slugger (who also hits for a mighty-fine average), Miguel Cabrera:

It was All-Star announcement day and the Tigers seemed to have a bunch of All-Stars (Cabrera, Valverde, Avila…).   Each time another all-star came to bat or entered the game, the PA announcer announced the all-star selection and the place went wild.

After eating our lunch and watching a few innings from our seats, Tim reminded me of those rides.  So we left our seats and headed toward the ferris wheel.  In several ways, Comerica
Park’s infield field level reminded me of Camden Yards.  It has the same type of umpires’ tunnel directly behind home plate and a similar cross-aisle that runs all the way around the place.
So we didn’t miss any of the action as we made our way along the cross-aisle and toward the Ferris Wheel snapping pictures.

First, we got this panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 141:

Another from the cross-aisle behind section 135:

And yet another from the cross-aisle behind section 132:

Going back to the Camden Yards comparison, there are actually two thing about Comerica Park’s infield that are even better than Camden Yards (which is hands down one of the best stadiums in MLB):  (1) the cross-aisle has a bunch of handicapped-accessible seating section that make the cross-aisle probably twice as wide (or more) as the Camden Yards cross-aisle
(which also features handicapped-accessible seating) and (2) (and this is a huge advantage in Comerica Park’s favor) it has an open concourse above the cross-aisle.  More specifically,
immediately above the cross-aisle is a section of really cool and unique seats…I don’t even know how to describe it, almost like huge, comfy lawn furniture (it is pictured below, way below)…and behind that section is seating is the field level concourse complete with standing room area where anyone with any ticket can watch the game.  The closed field level concourse, in my opinion, is really the one and only design error that they made at Camden Yards.  It is so nice to be able to walk from one section to another in the concourse without
having to miss any of the game.

Finally, we made it to the Ferris Wheel:

We were really lucky.  There was almost no line at all when we arrived at the Ferris Wheel.  But by the time we were up top inside the Ferris Wheel, the line reached almost all the way to the field level concourse.

Normally, you have to buy tickets for $2.00 to ride the Ferris Wheel (and carousel).  But Sundays are “Kids Days” and all kids ride the Ferris Wheel and carousel for free (parents still have to pay).  So we bought my ticket, made our way through the short line, and hopped into one of the little baseballs:

Before heading over to the carousel, we checked in on the game again.  Right when we made it back down to the cross-aisle, Brennan Boesch hit a homerun to tie the score up at 1-1 (the Giants had scored a run in the top of the fourth when we were in line for the Ferris Wheel):

We hung around a little bit and watched Mags and Miggy hit (or try to, they both got out):

On our walk over to the carousel, I took a picture of the “1980” display in the concourse:

When we reached the carousel, the line was semi-reasonable, it did not quite wrap all the way around the carousel.  We hopped in line thinking that tickets must be sold right up by the front of the line (like with the Ferris Wheel), but then I noticed a ticket sales booth off to the side.  We got out of line so I could buy my ticket and about 40,000 people took our place in line.  By the time we got my ticket, the line wrapped all the way around the carousel TWICE!

I told Tim we would have to come back later.  That line was going to take forever.

So we walked the field level concourse toward RF and all the way back around to our seats in section 144.  On the way, we got this panorama from the standing room area behind the “Kaline’s Corner” section:

This next one is from the standing room area in the walkway that runs behind the batters’ eyes and it was taken almost directly above where we were standing in the section 101 panorama (way above):

There was a little opening in the batters’ eye, and snuck our camera through and got this batters’ eye view panorama:

Here is another really cool feature of Comerica Park:

See the people all the way to the right on the opposite side of the fence?  They’re watching free baseball!  The walkway from LCF to RCF runs along Adams Street and people can stand along the Adams Street fence and watch the game.  I don’t know if the Tigers like that, but I think it is great.

Here is a look down into the bullpens:

The closer bullpen is the visitors and the one in the LF corner is the Tigers bullpen.

Standing in the same spot as the bullpen picture above, I turned toward the field and got this panorama from the walkway above section 151:

It was ice cream time.  We grabbed some helmets…

…and found some ice cream seats in our section.

Here’s a look at the one area in which Comerica Park has room for improvement:

The scoreboard has three screens.  A bit one in the middle and smaller ones on either side.  Only the smaller screen on the CF side of the scoreboard is a full-color screen.  The other two are the black background with yellow text type of screen that has been around for ages.  I assume that someday soon the Tigers will install a huge high definition screen.  Once they do that, Comerica Park may be almost perfect.

Here is a second panorama of Comerica Park from section 144 (better than the one from the beginning of the game):

Here’s another unique feature of Comerica Park:

It is a switch-back ramp for wheelchairs to descend from the field level concourse to the cross-aisle.  Pretty cool, idea.

I wasn’t surprised to see tigers designed into the arm rests of the seats:

After eating our ice cream, it was time to give the carousel line another shot.  Once again, we walked over there through the cross-aisle.  We stopped and hung out in the cross-aisle behind section 119…

…for a while because things were getting interesting in the game.  It was the seventh inning and the visiting Giants were leading by one run (3-2), but the Tigers loaded the bases…

…for Magglio Ordonez.  Maggs ended up ripping a liner right up the middle into centerfield…

…brining in the tying and go-ahead runs for the Tigers.  (Note:  right as I was about to  get a photo of Johnny Peralta scoring the go-ahead run, an ecstatic Tigers fan jumped up and
half blocked my shot, but you can still see some of the action).

With the rally still going, we headed over to the carousel.  The line only went about three-quarters of the way around it, so that was good.  We hopped in line and Tim modeled his give-away prize:

All kids got this Justin Verlander super hero cape!  Super V!  They were actually pretty cool.  Tons of kids (and even some adults…including the entire grounds crew) were wearing them throughout the game.

Finally, we made it through the line and Tim found a spot on one of the biggest and fiercest looking Tigers on the tiger-go-round:

The Tiger was angry, but Tim was happy:

The tiger-go-round was actually pretty cool.  The tiger *jumped* really high sending Tim high above me as I stood next to his Tiger’s sharp teeth.

By the time we finished up at the tiger-go-round, it was the bottom of the eighth.  We grabbed a nice standing room spot right behind home plate…

…and there was tons of room to run in case someone sent a foul ball our way (but no one did).

We had a great view into the Tigers’ spacious dugout along the 3B line:

As the game headed into the ninth inning, Tim and I grabbed some seats in the row directly above and to the 3B side of the umpires’ tunnel:

It was section 128, row 15, and it looked like this:

My one complaint is that the padding around the door to the umpires’ tunnel does a pretty good job of blocking the view of a portion of the batters’ box.  At Camden Yard, the entrance to the umpires’ tunnel is lower and less noticeable.  Still, these were some awesome seats and we were happy to get the chance to see 2011 All-Star Jose Valverde…

…close out the game for a save and a 6-3 Tigers win.

We were even happier that home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez tossed his final umpire ball of the day up to us just before disappearing into the tunnel below:

It is always great to get an umpire baseball.  And it we were pumped to get one at our first game ever at Comerica Park.

Thanks, Manny Gonzalez!

The game was over, but our day at Comerica Park was not.  It was Kids Run The Bases day!  Hooray!

On our walk to the long, long line, we snapped this picture of the funky seating section above the field level cross-aisle:

And then we took this panorama from the top of section 128:

It was a long and slow moving line, but it was cool to get to see the tunnel that runs from the batters’ eye…

…and down under the RF seats.  Of course, we touched the batting cage on our way by.

The Tigers staff was very cool during Kids Run The Bases.  Some teams rush you through there, others let you savor the experience.  The Tiger, who as far as we could tell have totally nailed the whole *fan experience* concept, were of the “savor it” variety.

We started our savoring with some photos with the 330’ foot sign on the RF wall (fair territory)…

…and with the Comerica Park sign (foul territory).

Tim then did his best Johnny Cash…

…he “walked the line” – the foul line, that is.  And it wasn’t just chalk foul line.  The Tigers have something (wood, hard plastic, or something) set into the ground.  These are some of the little things the fans get a chance to notice during Kids Run The Bases, and we greatly appreciate that opportunity.

Of course, no one tried to rush us along when we stopped on the foul warning track to get a father-son picture with the scoreboard in the background:

Then we approached the first base area.  There was a roped off chute to the right and the remainder of the warning track to the left, and there was a young ballpark attendant standing at the opening of the chute calling out “Kids to the right, parents to the left!”

When we approached, I directed Tim into the Kids chute and asked the gal, “Any chance I can chaperone him?”  She looked quickly left-right-left right, and fanned her hand toward the field, “Just go, just go!”

So I followed Tim out toward first base…

…we motored into second base where Tim called out, “Hi, Tiger!” and another young ballpark attendant answered, “his name is Paws!” just as Tim was getting ready to stomp on second:

As we past six-hole, I sped up and leaned down next to Tim to try to get a father-son-running-the-bases picture…

…but Tim thought I was trying to race him and he turned on the afterburners and I barely got us both in the shot:

We were running too fast to get a good picture at third base, but I got Tim running toward home…

…and then getting ready to (oh, no, illegal, illegal!) slide into home!

SAFE!  (“Hey, kids, no sliding!” called out the friendly guy manning the home plate area).

As we exited the home plate area, they had a lady stationed on the warning track whose sole purpose was to make sure everyone exited toward 3B and no one turned left (back toward
1B).  But when I asked her, “Can we go get his picture by the big “D?,” she did same quick left-right-left-right surveying of her surroundings and then looked toward home while he responded, “I don’t see you!  I don’t see you!”

Thanks!

So we were able to get this awesome picture by the big Tigers’ hat-style “D” painted behind home plate…

…, which is reminiscent of our picture of Tim with the big Pirates “P” painted behind home plate at PNC Park.

Hey, teams who hurry everyone through kids run the bases (I’m taking to you Mets, Nationals, Phillies), take a cue from the Tigers (and the super-West-Coast-relaxed Padres) and let the fans really enjoy the Kids Run The Bases experience.

On our way by the 3B dugout, a fan took our picture with Tim’s baseball from Manny Gonzalez:

Then we walked as far as we could down the LF line (past the first 2-3 exits) so we could maximize our time on the field.  Before leaving the field, I took a self portrait with Tim on my shoulders and the scoreboard in the background.  A friendly usher saw and ran over and offered to take this picture:

The Tigers staff are cool folks.

Thanks to everyone at Comerica Park!

Then, as if there was some sort of competition to see who could be the last person to be nice to us at Comerica Park, an usher approached us right as we left the ballpark and asked, “Is he a Tigers fan?”  With Tim up on my shoulders, I responded, “We’re Mariners fans!”  The usher dug into his pocket and pulled out a baseball.  Reaching up to hand it to Tim, the usher said, “We like Mariners fans too!”

Thanks!

I’m serious.  Comerica Park is awesome!  Well, done Tigers!

We were literally the first car parked in the parking lot.  When we arrived at our car, there were only about 4-5 other cars left.  We had a awesome, full day at Comerica Park.  And before hoping in the car, we took one more panorama as a parting shot:

In the famous word of the Terminator:  “[We’ll] be back!”

2011 C&S Fan Stats
16/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
16/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants and Tigers; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
12 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1))
48 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 3 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels, 2 Indians, 1 Giants, 1 Tigers)
8/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field]
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]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; 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.

The Ohio Cup (7/2/11)

I’ve been trying to get Tim and I to Comerica Park for a couple years now.  It has never seemed to work.  My original plan this season was to work it  into our Texas trip back in May, but the flights just wouldn’t work.  So we came up with a new plan:  Fourth of July weekend road trip to Cincinnati and Detroit.

Cincinnati was up first.  We hit the road in the evening on Friday, July 1st and drove to a hotel in Pittsburgh.  On Saturday, July 2, 2011 we headed off to Cincinnati to take in a game in the “Ohio Cup” series – Cleveland Indians vs. Cincinnati Reds.

But the game wasn’t until 4:05 p.m., and it was only about a four hour drive to Cincinnati.  No matter what, we were going to get there before the gates opened.  So, when we were about 50 miles out from Cincinnati, I called Colleen and asked her to look up the address for Moeller High School – Ken Griffey, Jr.’s high school (and, oh, yeah, Barry Larkin’s too)!

First, we pulled up to the scruffy looking practice baseball field (The Tom Fitz Athletic Fields) behind the school…

…where I imagined Griffey playing ball as a teenager.  We ran the “bases” (there weren’t really any bases) and took some lefthanded hacks (without a bat) at the plate.  Ah, it felt just like we were “The Kid” himself.

Up above a hill out in right field, there were really (really!) nice looking soccer and football fields.  It made me think that there must be other baseball facilities somewhere else.

Anyway, we pulled around to the front of the school and got a few pictures:

In the picture above to the right, Tim is pretending he is Griffey walking into school.

Just as we were able to leave, a guy exited the main doors (where Tim is approaching in that picture above) and started packing some stuff into a van.  I ran over and asked him if he knew where the baseball team plays.  He was very nice and we ended up striking up a 10 minute conversation.

It was probably obvious since we were wearing Mariners clothes and I was asking about the baseball fields, but I felt compelled to explain to him, “We’re ‘Griffey people.’”  His reply was priceless:  “So are we!”

It ends up that the guy was Griffey’s U.S. History teacher back in the mid-1980s.  He shared a handful of Griffey stories with us that were incredibly awesome to hear.  Nothing overly important or exciting.  Just tidbits about Griffey the high schooler and Griffey the man returning home after being traded to the Reds in 2000.  It was a cool behind the scenes glimpse at my all-time favorite ballplayer.

The least shocking story was that Griff wasn’t exactly a model student.  He apparently gave a lot of “I’m gonna play professional baseball” responses when prompted by his teachers to take his schooling more seriously.  They would remind him, “You know, lots of people say that, but it doesn’t work out for most.”  And as his teacher told is, Griff would always assure the, “but it IS going to work out for me.”

If were really the discussions (and I have no reason to doubt it), it certainly looks like Griff proved himself right.

One other story I thought was cool to hear is that Moeller used to use a baseball field a couple miles away that was behind a Thriftway store.  It had no fence and Griff would jack bombs over the outfielders that would roll and roll forever.  He was so good at it that his teammates referred to the field behind the Thriftway as the “Griffway.”

Oh, yeah.  And he mentioned that Griffey spent some time practicing on that scruffy field behind the school, but that’s it.  He never played games there.

And with that, lets continue on to Cincinnati.

Great American Ball Park is interesting.  Downtown Cincinnati (as far as I can tell) is essentially situated on a hill that runs down to the Ohio River.  Route-71 comes into downtown
and cuts across downtown at 3rd Street – at the bottom of the hill – just above the river.  The big downtown buildings are up the uphill side of 3rd Street and Great American Ball Park is tucked into the little space right between the buildings/3rd Street/Route-71 and the Ohio River.  If you park in downtown, you have to walk across the bridge…

…to get to the stadium.  (Those pictures were actually taken after the game…so everyone is walking away from the park instead of to it.)  In the picture above to the right, you can see that the ballpark is tucked between two buildings.  The building to the left the Reds front office and the building to the right is the main team store and the Reds (very cool) Hall of Fame.

Here is a look as you get closer to the stadium…

…and that picture to the left is a huge engraving (I guess that’s what you would call it) on the end of the front office building.

This approach leads you to the gates right behind home plate.  There are a bunch of statues in the area in front of the home plate gate:

In the picture above to the right with Tim facing the statue of the pitcher, Tim explained that he was being the catcher and he was telling the pitcher what pitches to throw.

When we arrived, it was still about 20 minutes before gate opening.  And it was really hot.  We scooted around to the third base gate, where it was somewhat shady, and we hopped in
line.  While in line, we spotted our first (of many) Griffey jerseys of the day:

After entering the ballpark and stowing our two new Dusty Baker bobblehead/toothpick holders, we headed to section 109:

The Reds were hitting, but they were almost finished, and the Indians pitchers were starting to report to the LF line to warm up and do some throwing.  BP got packed quick.  My hunch was that we wouldn’t come away with a baseball from GABP.  But after the Indians pitchers finished up throwing, an Indians batter hit a ball behind 3B that veered over into foul
territory where an Indians pitcher fielded it right in front of us.  When I asked if he could toss it up to Tim, he walked over and handed it directly to Tim.

As he walked away, I called out, “Wait!  What’s your name!?”  He reply, simply, “Tony!”  I thought that was pretty funny.  We’re on a first name basis, you know?  I later checked the roster and found that Tony’s last name is Sipp.

Here is a picture of Sipp walking away from us…

…and Tim smiling for the camera with his baseball:

Thanks, Tony!

Okay.  We had a ball from GABP and that was enough for us.  We’d only been to this ballpark once before so it was officially time to do some exploring.  We started by heading behind home plate, where we got this picture of Tim (again posing with his Tony Sipp baseball):

Tim looks pretty sweaty in that picture, but it is really water.  It was so hot that we kept dousing Tim’s head with cold water.

Here is a panoramic view of Great American Ball Park from the cross aisle right behind section 121:

Next, we headed down into the seats behind the third base dugout and got this panorama from the second row of section 117:

Although no one checked our tickets when we headed down into the seats behind the dugout, I got the feeling that someone was supposed to have done so.  There was hardly anyone in the seats behind dugout, but lots of people down the foul lines and in the outfield.

They definitely were checking the tickets of anyone who dared stand in the front row behind the dugout.  But they did let Tim stand there long enough to get this picture:

There is a big steamboat looking thing above the batters’ eye in CF and Tim requested that we go out there and check it out.  So that’s what we did…well, we tried to.  You can’t actually get out onto that steamboat unless you are part of the group that has the steamboat for the game.

So we just stood around in upper deck next to the steamboat for 10-15 minutes.  Here was our view:

One Indians player in CF was clearly having more fun than anyone else on the field.  I had no clue who he was.  The last group of hitters was only two guys and I am pretty sure they were pitchers preparing for their final interleague games.  They hardly got the ball out of the infield.

But they did get one ball out to the “fun guy” in center field.  He was way out there in CF.  After gloving the baseball, he started walking toward another player in LCF.  I didn’t say a word, but I held my glove up.  As he walked, he noticed us and he threw a laser to me.  It was an amazing throw considering the height and distance the ball traveled.

Here is “fun guy” and Tim with our first ever upper deck toss up:

I took pictures of the guy and tried to get a close up of his glove…where it appeared that his name was embroidered.  In the best photo, I could tell the first name was “Cade” and the last name looked like it started with “Dur.”  The roster told me that Chad Durbin now pitches for the Indians and Wikipedia told me that Durbin has a son named Cade.  So there you go, thanks are due to Mr. Durbin.

Thanks, Chad!

This picture taken later in the day illustrates Durbin’s impressive throw:

Interesting side note, the baseball that Durbin threw up to us is a minor league baseball.  It is so scuffed and dirty that it is impossible to read which MiLB league it is from, but it clearly appears to have the MiLB logo instead of the MLB logo.

Next, we headed over to the LF corner of the upper deck and got this panorama from section 406:

And then we got a picture of Tim from the same spot:

After running up to the top of the seats, we got this panorama from the top of section 406:

Next, we headed over into the infield.  We headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium and found a nice spot where we could get a good picture of Tim with his Chad Durbin baseball and the Great American Ball Park sign for the MyGameBalls.com scavenger hunt:

After climbing up to the top of section 510, this is what it looked like:

Zooming in, here is a look at the batters’ eye steamboat:

Tim was not feeling the tippy-top of the upper deck.  Too high.  So we headed down to the upper deck concourse.  I kept dousing Tim’s head with water.  When we visited the restroom after leaving section 510, Tim noticed his wet hair in the mirror.  Before leaving the restroom, he asked me to help him spike his hair up into a mohawk.  When we headed back
into the concourse, this is what Tim’s hair looked like:

Speaking of the concourse, this is what it looks like in the upper deck behind third base at Great American Ball Park:

It was time to circle the upper deck and take some more panoramas.  First, section 516…

…section 423…

…a picture of the two of us between panoramas…

…section 430…

…and finally a panorama from the cross aisle above section 436:

That was enough of the upper deck for us, so we headed down to the field level and got this panorama from behind section 139:

Section 139 is right next to the visitors bullpen.  This is what the bullpen looks like:

The bullpens were actually pretty interesting to me.  A lot of stadiums where the bullpens are not side-by-side seem to put the visitors’ bullpen out in the direct sunlight and the home bullpen in a shady area.  The Reds, however, did the opposite.  Pretty early in the game, the visitors’ bullpen was in the shade while the Reds relievers were still in the direct sun.

There is a great standing room area in CF just to the RF side of the batters’ eye.  Here is a panorama that I took from that SRO area just behind section 146:

We were in the SRO area when someone-or-other sang the National Anthem.  Just behind the plate, Mr. Redlegs and Rosie were standing with hands over hearts:

Mr. Redlegs is very similar to Mr. Met.  But if you ask me, Mr. Redlegs is hands down the superior mascot.  The Rollie Fingers ‘stache really sets him apart…as does his retro Reds hat.

We had seats in the direct blazing sun in RF so we started hearing that way.  As we walked behind the Reds bullpen, we noticed something interesting:

Aroldis Chapman was down there signing autographs.  Of all of the players at this game, Aroldis is the player with whom I most wanted Tim to get his picture.  While that was out of
the question, we were hoping Chapman would sign Tim’s baseball from Tony Sipp.  Soon after we arrived at the stairs up above Chapman, he called it quits and walked into a door opposite the bullpen.  We waited patiently.  And then he reappeared.  I called his name and I’m pretty sure that he only stopped because he saw Tim.

When Chapman stopped below us, he was holding a Gatorade-type bottle in one hand and he motioned for me to toss the Sipp baseball down to him.  At this point, he had the drink in one hand and the baseball in the other hand, he motioned for me to toss down our pen.  I figured he would just let it hit the ground and then pick it up.  But he showed some major hand-eye coordination by catching the pen at hip level with his index finger.  It was very impressive.

After he signed the ball and tossed us the ball and pen, I shouted out a big “Gracias, Aroldis!”  That put a huge smile on his face.  During this interaction (and while previously watching him signing autographs), we were probably 10 feet above Chapman’s head and it was impossible to chat with him.  Nevertheless, it was clear that the guy conveys a ridiculously warm/nice/pleasant attitude.  He really seemed like a great guy.

Here is a picture of the Chapman autograph.

Finally, it was time for the game to start.  We headed to the Skyline Chili stand right behind section 103 and grabbed some nachos and a cheese coney…

…and then we headed down to our seats in section 103.  This was our view from section 103, row C, seats 13-14:

It was crazy hot in our seats.  I could tell that we wouldn’t be able to stay in these seats for too long, which was unfortunate because they were great seats.  But I knew we’d last at least a couple innings because Tim was going to town on our big pile of nachos:

It was good to see the Reds play again.  We haven’t seen them since 2008, Griffey’s last year with the Reds.  During his time in Cincinnati, I watched tons and tons of Reds games.  They have a lot of new players since then, and a lot of players that were there in 2008, but have really matured over the past several years.  Like this guy…

…2010 N.L. MVP Joey Votto.  In that at bat, Votto is about to ground out in the first inning.

This was a low scoring game.  The pitching match-up was Fausto Carmona vs. Homer Bailey.  We sat in our assigned seats through the second inning and the score was 0-0.

We were overheating (well, Tim was), so we headed to the standing room area in RCF which is set up as a big misting station.  It really felt amazing in there.  We stayed under the
mist-sprayers for a long time and we got soaked:

Meanwhile, former-Mariner Mickey Brantley’s son Michael Brantley hit a 3-run homerun in the top of the third inning.  That would be all the runs that the Indians would score during this game, and it was all they would need to win.

While we were interested in the game, we were just as interested in seeing as much of Great American Ball Park as we could.  After we were thoroughly misted, we decided to head in the opposite direction of our seats and keep exploring.

As we headed toward the 3B side concourse, we looked up and took this shot of the big toothbrush-style light stands:

We lingered in the SRO area behind section 118 for a while.  It looked like this:

And then we cut through the concourse and found a nice standing room spot behind section 130:

Aside from the Brantley bomb, Homer Bailey was looking pretty good:

An inning after the homerun, Bailey had no problem retiring Brantley on a weak pop up to short stop:

We decided to wander aimlessly around the ballpark and it quickly paid dividends.  We ran into both Slider (the visiting Cleveland Indians mascot) and Gapper (the “B-list” Reds mascot…or at least that is how I would rank him compared to Mr. Redlegs):

In the concourse behind home plate, there is a really cool looking Reds logo set into the floor:

And some cool (and really big) mosaic pictures on the wall…

…check out Ken Griffey, Sr. in the mosaic to the left (of course, Sr. (wearing number 30) was an instrumental part of the “Big Red Machine” back in the day).  Junior has got the Hall of Fame stats, but Senior has got the rings (2 of them).

Behind section 119, there is a big staircase that is mostly blocked off and is used as a SRO area:

That’s where we were standing in the bottom of the fourth inning when Jay Bruce…

…flied out to CF.  I would have got a great action shot of the Grady Sizemore and Austin Kearns running into each other just before Sizemore made the catch, but a lady walked into my pitch and totally ruined it.  Booo!

We decided to stop by at this little bouncy house/slide thingy…

…on our way to the very impressive Reds team store:

Two notes: in the upper right picture, that is a game-used Dusty Baker jersey Tim is pointing to with his thumb and in the bottom right picture Tim is throwing a one-seamer on the
baseball seams on the floor of the team store.

Upstairs in the game-used area, we found this cool old Big Red Machine black-and-white photo on the wall…

…which again features Ken Griffey, Sr. (wearing number 30).  Lets see if I can name the rest of the Big Red Machine (from left-to-right):  Pete Rose, Ken Griffey Sr., Joe “Everyone’s Favorite Broadcaster” Morgan, Tony Perez, George Foster, Johnny Bench, Cesar Geronimo, and Dave Concepcion.

After perusing the team store, we headed over to section 126…

…but just for a minute.  We had our sights on ice cream helmets.  So we headed toward the first base side concourse where we had got our ice cream helmets back in 2008.  As we approached the ice cream place, Mr. Redlegs was approaching walking in the opposite direction.  I asked Mr. Redlegs if he could pose for a picture with Tim.   Mr. Redlegs’ handler
shut us down explaining, “we’re in a rush to get somewhere.”  But Mr. Redlegs was having none of it.  He leaned in and gave Tim a big hug:

Awesome!  Thanks, Mr. Redlegs!

The ice cream helmet line was ridiculous.  It was as if every fan at the game was in line.  We were in line for at least a full inning.  But when we got to the front of the line, it was worth the wait.  They had about 6 (maybe 8) toppings, and they were free and unlimited!

We both got twist soft serves.  Tim got smashed up M&M’s with whipped cream and a cherry (which he got specifically to give to me) and I got smashed up Reese’s pieces.  Delicious.

We reported back to our seats (well, our section at least) to eat our ice cream in the hot sun:

Just for kicks, we got this shot of Tim smiling with a belly full of ice cream:

It was still too hot to stay in our seats for too long.  So we headed back to the misting SRO in RCF.  On our way, we noticed that the Reds had a reliever warming up in the bullpen:

As I watched the game from the front of the SRO area, Tim whipped a wet wipe (from ice cream face clean up) around in the sunny mist trying to make rainbows in the mist:

It is pretty interesting watching the game from this SRO area.  Sometimes it looks like you are watching the game on a HD television.  But at other times, it looks like you are watching it through a thick fog (or mist) or a light fog:

That’s our buddy Tony Sipp pitching in those last two pictures.  He gave up a solo homerun to Joey Votto, but still earned a “hold.”

Here is what it looked like in the SRO area behind section 145 when the mist was blowing in the opposite direction:

We were going to stay at a hotel 3.5 hours north in Toledo, Ohio after this game.  So we decided to head over to the SRO areas behind home plate to watch the end of the game.  The plan was to make a quick exit once the game ended.

Here was our view, once again, from the concourse behind section 126 (or so):

With the score at 3-1 Indians, it was still anyone’s game as the Reds pitched to the Indians in the top of the ninth:

While we were in position, I figured I better get a shot looking into the Indians dugout.  Here is what it looked like:

The Reds needed two runs in the bottom of the ninth and they had the heart of their order coming to the plate.  With one out and one on base, Brandon Phillips couldn’t get anything going:

Phillips struck out for the second out of the inning.

Joey Votto batted next and lined a single to leftfield on this inside-out swing:

With the tying runs on base, Scott Rolen came to bat with two outs as the potential winning run.  But he struck out to end the game.

Indians win 3-1.

On our way out the of the ballpark, Tim did a “rounding second” pose on the “statue” base near by the Ted Kluszewski statue:

We also got a couple fake batting poses to try to recreate a picture that we took outside Great American Ball Park in 2008:

Although we missed a lot of the game because of all of the exploring we did around the ballpark, we had a great time.

And the great time didn’t stop just because we had a 3.5 hour drive ahead of us.  It was the night of July2nd and people were out in full force lighting off their own fireworks demonstrations.  Tim had a great time watching the fireworks and didn’t fall asleep until after 11:00 p.m., right we pulled up to our hotel.

2011 C&S Fan Stats
15/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)
14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians and Reds; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]
11 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1))
45 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels, 2 Indians)
7/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park; Kellan – Camden Yards,
Citi Field]
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]
5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; 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.

Kellan’s Game Log

This entry provides a map through Kellan’s MLB adventures, featuring a picture from every regular season game he has attended along with the final score, date, location and a link to the relevant game report.


k-1-2-3-4.jpg1.  Athletics 9 defs. Mariners 0 (Safeco Field – Oct. 1, 2010)

2.  Athletics 4 defs. Mariners 3 (Safeco Field – Oct. 3, 2010)

3.  TBD 2011

4.  TBD 2011