On June 1, 2013, we continued our quest to have Kellan see all 30 MLB teams play a game live. The Brewers were on the “must see” list and they were in Philadelphia, and so were we.
For some reason, we were running a bit late getting to the ballpark. We arrived before the gates opened, but there was already a healthy-sized crowd there before we arrived:
The reason for the big crowd: it was Photo Day!
The Phillies’ website said fans could get photos of their favorite Phillies on field starting at 2:30. I didn’t know exactly what that meant for the pregame schedule. The stadium was going to open at 1:30. Would there be an hour of BP before moving on to the Photo Day festivities? No.
As we reached the seating bowl, the field was already set up for Photo Day. I wish I would have taken a picture of it from the concourse, but I just wanted us to get down there onto the field. Several gates to the field were open along the front row of the foul territory seats on both sides of the diamond. Fans could walk around pretty much the whole field (with limited exceptions, like in front of the Phillies dugout). In the outfield, there were two catwalk’esque runways put together on each side – two in LF and two in RF. The runways ran about half way out into the outfield grass from the warning track and fans could stand out in the OF waiting for the Phils to arrive.
At the beginning, we hung out down the 3B line…
…and in front of the Brewers dugout.
A bunch of Phillies ballgirls started circling the field…
…signing autographs for the kids (or, I guess, adults, too). Each ballgirl has her own baseball card and they personalize all of their autographs. Two of the 7 ballgirls we met up with *loved* the name “Kellan.”
Interestingly, while the fans were blocked from going in front of the Phillies dugout, there were no similar restrictions in front of the Brewers dugout. If a Brewer wanted to come out to the field to run, stretch or throw, he had to walk through the crowd. It was pretty awesome. (By the way, this was the exact same situation that they had at Photo Day at Fenway Park in April).
I bought Tim that cheesehead Kellan is wearing in the photo above while I was on a business trip to Milwaukee in 2012. I figured it would be funny to wear at a Brewers game, and this was our first opportunity. Guess what? Everyone loves a fan wearing a cheesehead. We could hear people commenting on it all around us while the boys were passing it back and forth.
The Brewers liked it too. Like Tom Gorzelanny who stopped to get this photo with the boys on his way back to the dugout:
By the way, we were hanging out right here because half of the warning track was blocked off for fans in wheelchairs, but there were none at the time so it was a totally unblocked view of the field.
Brewers coach, Lee Tunnell, liked the cheesehead too…
…he tossed a baseball to us after playing catch with several Brewers.
We hung out by the dugout a bunch because it was fun watching what was going on in there. Tim touched (and made me touch) this…
…burning hot TV camera. After touching it, I was surprised it hadn’t spontaneously combusted. It was firey hot from the sun, which was beating down hard on us.
I wanted to find Yuniesky Betancourt. I was hoping to get my picture with him because (1) he’s a ex-Mariner, (2) he’s always been very nice to us, and (3) I was wearing my Jose Lopez jersey (who was Yuni’s doubleplay partner and buddy while in Seattle). But Yuni was nowhere to be found during pre-game festivities.
With no Yuni in sight, Tim posed for a photo by the bullpen with Michael Gonzalez getting interviewed in the background:
When it seemed apparent that we wouldn’t find Yuni, we headed toward the outfield. Kellan was content sitting on my shoulders and didn’t want to get down for any photos. Tim got a photo in LF with the foul pole behind him:
Check out his sweet shirt in that photo – “Cheesehead Cowpants.” I got him that gem while on a different business trip to Milwaukee…actually, to Racine, Wisc. Pairing the Cheesehead Cowpants shirt with Tim’s banana shorts is one of my favorite non-Mariners gameday outfits. It’s pretty hilarious, no?
Here’s a random photo in LF:
We headed over to the RCF warning track below the pizza wedge…
…so we could see the players-point-of-view when we’re usually looking down at them from the pizza wedge.
Check out how easy it would be to pick off a homer in CF:
No jumping required.
While we were out in CF, several Brewers were in the upper (visitors’) bullpen. The last two to leave were coaches, including Marcus Hanel. As Hanel walked by…
…we said hi to him and he handed us a spare baseball, he had two in his glove and he took the other back to the dugout with him.
Of course, we had to check in with the Mariners on the out of town scoreboard:
Finally, Phillies players started making the rounds. The “rule” was you weren’t supposed to get individual posed pictures with the players, you know, because they didn’t have time to pose for a picture with everyone. I think that’s always the rule at all of the ballparks. Anyway, some of the Phils just walked around saying hi and shaking hands. Some walked a bit and then randomly stopped to take a photo with one or two fans (Chase Utley). Others posed for photos with every single fan who wanted a picture. That’s how it oughta be!
We ran all over from RCF to LF and out the LF catwalk trying to get a bunch of player photos and looking for certain guys. We missed a lot of guys while looking for other player or because the guy didn’t want to stop for a photo. Here’s who we met:
First up, right in CF, we met Joe Savery…
…and Jonathan Pettibone.
Right after we got their photos, I saw Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz coming our way from LCF. We missed some guys (like Antonio Bastardo) trying to make sure we didn’t miss Chooch. And, happily, we did not miss chooch…
…or Charlie Manuel. If you ask me, both Charlie and Tim have hilarious faces in that picture, and eerily similar at that. If you couldn’t tell, we were out on a walkway in LF when we ran into Charlie. We stayed out there most of the time and we kept going back because it was less crowded than the warning track.
If you ever go to Photo Day on a blazing hot day, I highly recommend taking squirt bottles. The players love squirt bottles, and so do other fans, for the most part. When we asked Justin DeFratus for a picture, he took off his hat and said, “First, you have to squirt me in the face.”
After DeFratus posed for a picture with Tim, he remarked at what a good deal he and Tim had made. It was a pretty good deal too. Tim’s a lucky boy. Not many people can say they’ve squirted a uniformed major leaguer in the face with a squirt bottle!
While Cole Hamels passed by behind, Ryan Howard posed for a picture from afar as Tim squirted his bottle in the air…
…and Ben Revere sported shiny glasses and one of the straightest bills in the league.
We had a nice Mariners-based chat with both Larry Anderson (a former Mariner)…
…and Gary “Sarge” Mathews, Sr. (who likes to wear fancy hats like Mariners announcer Dave Sims). L.A. was really very nice. He chatted with us a minute or two about the Mariners and the beautiful Kingdome. Sarge claimed that he was wearing hats before Dave Sims. On twitter, Dave later told me he and Sarge both started wearing hats in 2007.
How about a couple Washingtonians? Mount Vernon, WA’s Kyle Kendrick…
…and Spokane, WA’s Ryne “HOF” Sandberg. I asked Kendrick how his family was enjoying the detour around the collapsed bridge in his home town. Not surprisingly, they were not big fans of it.
Several years ago, three future Major Leaguers playing for the AA Reading Phillies (now the Reading Fightin Phils or the “Fightins”) came to my Reading-Berk Business Softball League game against the R-Phils front office and they heckled us mercilessly. Those players were Kyle Drabek, Mike Zagursky, and current Phillies reliefer Michael Stutes…
…who totally remembered it when I mentioned the softball game to him. Next to Stutes and Tim, that’s Tim “Spray Man” Cook and 2007 N.L. MVP Jimmy Rollins. Rollins was riding around on that utility truck behind him in the photo. He would ride a little bit and then hop up for a few pictures. We had to chase him all the way down one of the runways before filing meeting up with him on the warning track. When he saw Tim, he said, “Come on, Spray Man!” and then he squirted Tim three times in the face while I took this photo. Great memory!
After getting that pic with J-Roll, we wandered around trying to find the best N.L. bullpen catcher, Jesus Tiamo, but to no avail. So, we headed off to grab some ice cream:
Ice cream in the shady on a hot day is good stuff.
While we ate ice cream we watched the grounds crew take up the four white runways in the outfield. Soon, it was time for the pitchers to warm up. When Jesus Tiamo headed out to the bullpen, we wandered down into the pizza wedge and he promptly tossed a ball to Tim…
…and another to Kellan.
I asked Jesus if he was out on the field for the photo session, but he said he was not. That’s too bad. It would have been great to get a photo with him.
Before the game got started, we went to the play area…
…and then we played some games:
We were happy to see that Santa Claus…
…was spending his vacation in Philadelphia, and apparently roots for the Phils.
We played enough games to get 20 stamps…
…the exact number you need to win one of these Citizens Bank Park mini-bats. When the guy realized I had two boys, he through in an extra bonus bat!
The game had just started by this point. We decided to head to the upper deck to grab some food and sit in the shade. On our way across Ashburn Alley in CF, Tyler Cloyd induced Ryan Braun…
…to fly out to Ben Revere in CF to end the top of the first with no score.
Within thirty seconds of taking that last photo, I found a $5 bill on the ground in Ashburn Alley:
After circling around to the concourse in LF foul territory we spotted the Phillie Phanatic…
…riding his ATV down the switch back ramp. That was kind of amazing because we never see the Phanatic out and about in the stadium. He’s usually just on the field or on top of the dugouts at the end of the game.
On the upper deck concourse, Tim and Kellan did some fake hitting and base running before we grabbed some food:
Speaking of food, after buying our hot dogs, I found another $5 bill on the ground! That raised the my found-money-at-a-ballpark grand total up to $30, all at Citizens Bank Park.
We sat here…
…in section 421 while we ate our lunch:
So, by the way, there was some scoring by this point that I haven’t mentioned. In the top of the second inning, the Brewers scored two runs on a single to RF and a throwing error by Delmon Young. That made it 2-0 Brewers.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Phillies got on the board when Brewers’ second baseman Jeff Bianchi couldn’t handle a bases loaded knock by Kevin Frandsen. The Brewers got out of the jam without giving up any more runs. 2-1 Brewers after four.
The Brewers got that run back pretty quick. In the top of the fifth, Aoki hit a single followed by a triple by Jean Segura. 3-1 Brewers after five innings.
The Phils got one more run in the bottom of the sixth on a single by Erik Kratz. Back to a 1-run game, 3-2 Brewers after six.
We were just relaxing. And having fun with squirt bottles:
We were right up at the top of the upper deck seats. Check out what we could see behind us:
That’s the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot. I’m not sure when they put in the covered parking. I’d never noticed it before…but then again, we never park over there.
We decided to hit up the kids’ play area one more time before it closed. One our walk down to the concourse, I got this shot…
…of the stairs. I love how there is one solitary row right about the tunnel. That’s be a sweet place to sit someday.
Visiting the kids’ play area turned out not to be a great idea. The kids’ play area is pretty big and parents can only see one side of it at a time from the area below. The kids went up to play and I sat on the ground in front of the play area taking some notes in my notebook and putting baseballs in baggies. Tim and Kellan came running by a couple times after going down the big twisty slide.
But then I didn’t see them for a while. A couple times I heard some crazy kid screams from inside the play area. They were spaced out over a minute or two. I grew concerned that it was Kellan and he was stuck inside the play area up top somewhere. I started walking around the play area and I found this scene on the back side:
Actually, this wasn’t right when I got there. There is a steering wheel type toy up there. When Kellan tried to play with it, a kid a little shorter than Kellan with a mohawk started hitting Kellan and pushing him into the walls (I missed all of that). He apparently also bit Kellan’s finger (I also missed that).
When I found Kellan, Tim was trying to push Kellan and the other kid apart. Kellan was screaming and crying. The mohawk kid ran off to the right.
I had no clue what was going on at this point. I just knew that Kellan was going ballistic crying. I asked a Phillies employee (the lady shown in the picture above) if I could go up and get him because he wouldn’t come down. She said parents couldn’t go up after kids. A minute later, I saw her up there. I still had no clue what was happening – if Kellan and that kid were just fighting (i.e., both being bad) or what. Then I saw that lady up there. My first thought was that she was going to kick Kellan out for fighting with that kid. But she was up there to find the kid with the Mohawk. The other kids told her where he went in the play area and she went and kicked him out of there.
She then came back to see if Kellan was okay. While she was away, two moms came up to me and told me what happened with the kid with the mohawk. They were both super mad and they mentioned that the mohawk kid’s dad was standing below laughing as he tussled with Kellan. One said that she wanted to run up there and kick that kid out herself.
Anyway, I was calling up to Kellan and asking him to come down. He was just standing up there crying and wouldn’t move. That lady up there couldn’t really get him to move, but she point out to me that he could walk to the right and take the slide down. I finally got him to walk over there and slide down to me. He was still crying and screaming when he reached me. I picked him up and popped him onto my shoulders and the three of us got out of there right away.
As we walked toward home plate through the concourse, Tim told me all about what happened up in the play area and Kellan instantly fell asleep (it was a tiring altercation with the little mohawk kid).
We had a goal of getting some mathematical photos for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt, we headed to the RF foul corner, but we were too far away. So we headed to the SRO area behind the Brewers dugout.
In the top of the eighth inning, Jonathan Lucroy hit a solo homerun that put the Brewers up 4-2.
I’m happy to report that we were able to get both math photos that we needed:
And we got to see our Yuni Betancourt (unfortunately) not hit a homerun:
When Kellan woke up, he started spraying his bottle and eventually hit this cameraman:
I told Kellan not to do that, but the cameraman turned around and said, “no, please do!”
In the ninth inning, we ended up heading down into section 129:
Freddy Galvis led off the ninth inning with a solo homerun:
The crowd was excited for a Phillies comeback. Kellan was most excited about how thoroughly he had doused his face with his spray bottle:
Jimmy Rollins followed with a pinch hit single. Interestingly, Kyle Kendrick pinch ran for Rollins. Ben Revere sacrifice bunted Kendrick to second. Cesar Hernandez followed Revere. During his at bat, the Brewers picked Kendrick off second base for the second out of the inning. And, wouldn’t you know it, Hernandez then hit a double off the RCF wall. Had Kendrick not been picked off, Hernandez’s double would have tied the game.
With a one run lead still intact, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez intentionally walked Dominic Brown and then got Michael Martinez to ground out to end the game.
Brewers win 4-3.
Following the final out, it was super easy to get into the corner spot at the home plate end of the Brewers dugout. We got home plate umpire Tom Hallion’s attention and he bounce-passed a baseball to Tim off of the top of the dugout.
Tim hammed it up when someone took a shot of us…
…before heading to the gates.
The game ended at just about 7:00 p.m. and we ended up playing catch…
…in the parking lot for half an hour before hopping in the car or the ride home.
It was another great day at the ballpark!
2013 C&S Fan Stats
|17 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers|
|22 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 2, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 4, Mets 2|
|55 Baseballs – Mariners 6, Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 5, Dodgers 1, Umpires 4, Reds 4, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2|
|9 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field|
|30 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, 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|
|5 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo|
Citizens Bank Park is the closest MLB stadium to our house. But it is also sold out every single game. Its crowded. It’s expensive. It’s not nearly as easy as, say, going to a game in Baltimore or DC. That’s why it has taken me so long to get Kellan to a Phillies game. But on September 5, 2011, Labor Day, it finally happened.
Actually, that has been the plan all season. I bought tickets for this game months ago…before they were sold out, so I got them from the Phillies, instead of paying double in the “secondary market.”
All week, Colleen warned that the weather would be terrible. But I’m a big believer in ignoring weather reports and assuming things will work out for the best. When we arrived at the ballpark…
…the weather was perfect. Warm, but not too hot. Couldy, but try. Perfect.
Once the gates opened, we headed to our standard beginning-of-BP-in-Philadelphia spot – the LF corner in foul territory:
At the beginning of BP, only LF and Ashburn Alley are open to fans. In that last picture, you can see a yellow, plastic chain behind us, blocking us from entering the infield seats. Section 140 extends from foul to fair territory. It is the only foul territory open at the beginning of BP, and it is separated (because it is elevated) from the rest of LF. So it’s the perfect spot for us to hang out.
When we got to this spot, Tommy Hunter was playing catch on the warning track with Braves bullpen catcher Alan Butts. Hunter was out in LF and Butts was standing right below us with a guy in a khaki shorts and a polo standing with him. My thought is that the guy in shorts was spotting Butts – i.e., making sure a batted ball didn’t hit Butts.
A month ago, I had no clue who Butts was. But, as luck would have it, we were just in Atlanta on the GFS Roadtrip, so I knew his first name was Alan. As one of his throws sailed toward Hanson, I called out, “Hey, Alan!?” He looked up and said hi. I asked if we could get the baseball when he and Hanson finished playing catch, and he said “sure thing.”
As we waited for Tommy and Alan to finish playing catch, Alan’s khaki’d spotter walked up the foul line to grab a baseball that had rolled to a stop on the edge of the warning
As he came back to Butts, he wasn’t paying any attention to the batter. Just then, a Phillies righty launched a ball down the foul line. Usually, I am all over calling out “HEEEEAAAAADS!” when someone is an jeopardy of getting hit, but I was focused in on the ball. I didn’t think it would reach me, but I thought we had a good chance at a ground rule double. We’ll never know if it would have been a ground rule double or not, because it bounced hard off of the warning track and absolutely nailed Alan Butts’s spotter in the back of the head. He went down hard and was down for a couple minutes. It was ugly, and I felt bad that I hadn’t realized the situation and warned the guy.
I don’t think Colleen even noticed the situation; she was busy taking pictures of our cute little boys. Like this one of Kellan (whose hair was going crazy):
Shortly after the spotter got nailed (or maybe just before…I’m not 100% sure of the timing), a BP homer (actually, it must have been just foul) was driller right over us on a
line. None of the 10 or so fans sitting behind us was paying any attention to BP, I screamed “HEEEEEEEEAAAAADDDSSS UP!!!!!!!”
No one noticed, and it clanked off of one of the seats, bounced into foul territory and started rolling down the steps toward us. But there was a guy behind us in the seats and I could tell he’d get the ball before it got to us. Just then, I saw another ball dive into the seats in section 139 (in the LF foul corner). It ended up coming to a stop right next to
the fence along the field. I was the only person who saw it. I pointed it out to an usher and asked if we could go grab it – it was on the other side of the yellow chain, but probably only 10 feet from us.
Instead of letting us go get it, the usher went to retrieve it himself. Just then, Tim tapped on my back and shoved a baseball in my face: “Look what that guy gave to me!” It was the ball that had been hit over us. The fan behind us grabbed it and gave it to Tim. Tim handed it to me right as the usher was turning around with the other baseball
in his grasp.
I panicked for a second. The usher probably wouldn’t give us the baseball if he knew we just got the other baseball (and we didn’t want the other baseball from the fan). So I
hid the fan ball in my glove and accepted the other ball from the usher. I’m pretty sure that ball was hit by one of the Phillies, but with all of the confusion with the other ball being hit over us, I’m not certain. I guess it could have been Tommy Hanson over throw into the crowd, but that doesn’t seem very likely. For one thing, it wouldn’t make
sense that an overthrow would roll back to the fence along the foul line.
Anyway, I got the ball from the usher and then I turned around and thanked the fan for giving Tim the other baseball. But then I handed it back to him and asked him to give it to another kid. He ended up giving it to an older lady that was standing with him…maybe his mom. And he seemed happy to have it.
Luckily, Alan Butts didn’t see any of this. When he and Hanson finished playing catch, Tommy started to run off with the baseball. Alan called to him to toss it back. When he got it, he tossed it up to us as promised:
I’m not an NL guy. But I like Tommy Hanson. So it is cool to get one of his warm up baseballs.
My wife doesn’t get to Citizens Bank Park much, so I asked her if she wanted to head out to Ashburn Alley to see what there was to see. She agreed. But on our way out of section 140, we ran into Harry Kalas!
Out in CF, we checked out the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye. Then we did the speed pitch and Tim set a new personal best: 32 miles per hour!
We then went around the BBQ area and played the other games:
We were waiting for the rest of the stadium to open so we could head over to the pizza wedge. We had a lot of time to kill because RF wouldn’t open until 5:35, and it was only 5:00 p.m. So we decided to dine on dollar hot dogs while sitting among a throng of fans beneath the Richie Ashburn statue:
Tim and I finished our hot dogs while Kellan was still munching on his. I asked Colleen if it would be okay for me and Tim to run down into the seats in LCF while Kellan finished his food. She approved. Tim and I ran across Ashburn Alley and as we took our first step into the seats I saw a homerun ball flying at the seats about ten feet below us and about 10 feet in from the aisle. We kept running down the stairs as the ball deflected off the seats and bounced right in front of me. I made the catch right in stride. And then a guy down below yelled, “You’re right on time!!!” It was pretty cool.
Moments later, I took a picture of Tim holding the ball…
…and Tim Hudson standing in LCF down below the section. When I made the catch on that ball, I was standing in the aisle up by the lady in the white shirt and pink hat.
The ball essentially bounced over, around or through all of the fans sitting right there. We’d come down there because I knew Tim Hudson was there and we wanted to see if we could get a toss-up from him. But the whole entire section saw me catch that ball, so I felt a little funny about the idea of getting it and then going down and asking Hudson for a ball. So we just headed back to Colleen and Kellan.
Soon enough, the rest of the stadium opened and we headed toward the pizza wedge. We didn’t get the corner spot at the tip of the wedge because another father/son beat us there. Tim and I hung out in the front row and Colleen and Kellan sat directly behind us:
While we were in the pizza wedge, Dan Uggla put on an extreme homerun hitting clinic. First, he hit a homerun completely over the batters’ eye and into the Phillies Hall of Fame. I’ve never see that happen before. Next, he hit a bomb just to the leftfield side of the batters’ eye that landed on Ashburn Alley. That was just plain ridiculous.
Eventually, a Braves batter hit a homerun that landed in the last row of the pizza wedge (2 rows above and slightly to the right of Colleen as pictured in the last photo). It bounced down toward us, bounced into the back of Colleen’s seat (between her back and the seat back as she was ducking), and then bounced through the seat next to her (seat number 7 pictured above) where I grabbed it off of the ground.
That was good enough for us. We skipped out on the rest of BP and headed over to McFadden’s…
Colleen had never been to the McFadden’s at Citizens Bank Park before. The bar area was insanely loud and probably would have given Kellan a monster headache. But around the corner, they have a big dining room that was very mellow and essentially quiet.
We had a nice dinner before heading back out to the field:
The game was already starting when we headed out to the field, but we didn’t go to our seats. Instead, Tim had requested a visit to the Kids Play Area:
Both boys had a lot of fun in the play area. While it took a lot of coaxing, Kellan finally did go down the little kids’ slide. The pitching match-up was Derek Lowe vs. Cliff Lee. While we were in the play area, Michael Bourn made Lowe the loser when he smacked a grounder down the 3B line for a 2-RBI single. That was all Cliff Lee would need, but not all he would get, on this night.
We had seats in the upper deck. So when we left the play area, we walked up the winding ramp. We stopped on the 200 level for a picture…
…and then we continued racing up the ramp. Tim always makes me race him up the ramps. And when he gets tired, he announces that the race is over. When we reached the bottom of the last leg of the ramp, I got a picture of the boys with the Citizens Bank Park sign behind them:
And then we went and found our seats. I bought tickets to this game through the Phillies website at the beginning of the season. I knew they were in the upper deck, but had
no clue where. Turns out, they were in the very back row of section 424. It was actually a very nice view of the game:
From up top in section 424, we had a great view of the spots where “His Name Is” Dan Uggla hit his monster BP bombs…
…and we had walked right into the ricocheted BP homer.
And of the pizza wedge where the homer had sailed over us and then bounced back to us:
We don’t sit in the upper deck much, but we were having a great time and the tippy-top of Citizens Bank Park:
See how there is a chain linked fence directly behind our seats? This is what was on the other side of the fence…
…a massive drop off!
We also had a great view of home plate, as shown here when Ryan Howard drilled a single right back up the box in the bottom of the third inning:
Whenever she joins us at a game, Colleen takes lots of pictures of her three boys – most of which feature Tim making some kooky faces:
At one point in the game, we got some unexpected comic relief. The Phillies were listing off birthdays and anniversaries on the big screen and then they showed a lady standing in the crowd. She immediately saw herself on the screen and started doing some fairly provocative and hilarious dancing for the cameras. Meanwhile, he boyfriend was
kneeling next to her holding a box with a diamond engagement ring. She was completely oblivious and into her dancing. He must have said something because she stopped dancing and turned and looked at him. But she looked at his face, and somehow completely missed that he was holding out the engagement ring. He essentially lifted it up into her face so she couldn’t miss it…
…and then began the water works. She started crying like a little baby. Then she started hugging and kissing him. So, I think it is safe to conclude that she said, “Yes.”
Meanwhile, Cliff Lee was pitching a masterful game:
And, at least on one play, he received some stellar defensive help by Ryan Howard:
He ran with his back to home plate all the way to the wall and made a very impressive sliding-sliding-away-from-the-field catch.
Derek Lowe wasn’t having as much luck as Lee:
He gave up the third and fourth runs of the night in the bottom of the fourth inning on an 2-RBI single by Shane Victorino.
After Chase Utley hit a triple with one out in the bottom of the fifth…
…Lowe eventually gave up three more runs. First, Hunter Pence hit a double to score Utley. Then, Carlos Ruiz hit a score Howard and Pence. That made the score 7-0 Phillies.
And that was all she wrote for Derek Lowe.
Here is a nice picture I took of Tim, just for the heck of it:
When it was ice cream time, I was holding Kellan. So Mommy was on ice cream duty. Colleen sometimes wonders why I get so many ice cream helmets. She got her answers after she bought Tim this delicious, but incredibly messy, ice cream cone:
Ice cream helmets make a great souvenir AND they catch all of the melting ice cream. Cones are a delicious ice cream receptacle, but all of the melting ice cream runs down your hands and only your clothes.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Scott Linebrink replaced Derek Lowe and promptly gave up a solo homerun to Ryan Howard…
…; the first and only batter he would face. That made the score 8-0 Phillies.
The Phillies tacked on a ninth and final run in the bottom of the eighth inning on an RBI single by Placido Polanco.
We tried to beat the traffic, so we started making our way toward the exit as the game wrapped up. As we were walking through the upper deck concourse on our way to the ramp, Tim kept asking, “Why are we leaving? The game is still going! Why are we leaving!?” That’s my boy. I love that attitude. Bud, unfortunately, we needed to get home
sooner-rather-than later because Tim had just started kindergarten and he needed to rest up for school the next day. So we sacrificed the last three outs of Cliff Lee’s 9-0 complete game shut out win.
On the way toward the ramp, we got a parting shot of the boys with the scoreboard:
And that’s the story of Kellan’s first Phillies game.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|27/5 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/8 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers,
Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves]
|21 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3)).|
|76 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)|
|12/4 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park]|
|15/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke, Blake Beavan, Jamie Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]|
|2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star|
On Sunday, May 1, 2011, Tim and I set off for Philadelphia and our first non-doubleheader game of the season. Just like last May 1st, the Phillies would be taking on their division rivals, the New York Mets. Unlike last season, this game was a night game. In fact, it was the ESPN Sunday night game.
We arrived before the gates opened. But there was a problem: we were staring down 2.5 hours of batting practice, but while still in the parking lot we discovered that both Tim and I forgot to pack our gloves. Oh, no!
But on this date, baseball gloves were not necessary. With five lifetime baseball at Citizens Bank Park, we were about to have an unprecedented day.
Immediately upon entering the stadium, he headed to the LF corner and ran into former-Mariner, Raul Ibanez:
After a few minutes, we abandoned LF and headed to the Phillies Hall of Fame area behind the batters eye. We checked out the empty bullpens (and noticed a Phillies BP baseball down below in the entrance way to the bullpen area), peered around the batters eye to watch some BP…
While behind the batters eye, they opened up the rest of the stadium. So Tim and I headed to the corner spot in RCF (section 101, row 1, seat 1). There is some extra space in the corner pasted seat 1, Tim literally “hung out” there:
Phillies back-up catcher, Dane Sardinha, was shagging baseballs right in front of us. While we were trying to figure out who in the world Sardinha was, Antonio Bastardo ran down a fly ball in straight away CF and then tossed us our second baseball of the day:
The Phillies’ “Four Aces” (minus the day’s starting pitcher, Cliff Lee) were hanging out in front of Section 103…
At one point, this groundskeeper walked by…
…and grabbed that baseball out of the bullpen entrance way. He walked over toward us (by the way, RF was filling up, but for some reason, not a single person joined us in section 101), and tossed the baseball up to us. Amazingly, without any gloves that was our third baseball of the day, in all of the games we’d attended with glove-on-hand, we’d never got three baseballs at a Phillies game before.
Eventually, the Phillies vacated the field and the Mets started taking their hacks. Mets third baseman, David Wright, was putting on a show. He jacked homer after homer into the bushes behind the CF fence. In fact, we watched so many baseballs fly into the bushes, Tim found this little birdie in the bushes:
By the way, this was our view of Citizens Bank Park from section 101, row 1, seat 1:
While hanging out in the corner spot, there was one close call with a BP homerun. Some unidentified Mets batter hit a homerun directly over our heads. It sailed about 5 feet over our heads. In seat 1 of section 101, there is no second row and it was not possible to back up to try to bare hand the homer. It sailed into the Phillies bullpen, bounced off of the back wall, and came to rest in the middle of the bullpen grass.
A little bit after 7:30, Cliff Lee headed out to the bullpen flanked by pitching coach Rich Dubee and bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo:
As Lee started stretching, Dubee headed into the bullpen and grabbed some baseballs out of the baseball bag. Tim asked Dubee if he could have a baseball. Dubee motioned/shrugged as if to say, “sorry, we need these baseballs to warm up Cliff Lee” (it was a highly communicative shrug). Dubee made eye contact with me and I pointed toward that Mets homerun ball that had flown over our heads. Dubee nodded as if to say, “yep, that one is all yours.” He then called to Tiamo and pointed to the Mets homerun baseball and then to Tim, “Give it to that little boy.”
After Tiamo carried out Dubee’s instructions, I snapped this picture of the two coaches:
The fastest of Tim’s three pitches clocked in at 26 blazin’ fast miles per hour. He loved the speed pitch. On his way out, they handed him a ticket (everyone gets one). He was sure it was some sort of award for pitching so far. We wrote “26 M.P.H.” on the back so he’d remember how fast he tossed the baseball.
Just outside the speed pitch, Tim posed for this picture with the Tiamo-Dubee-Mets-homerun baseball in front of the Liberty Bell Citizens Bank Park sign:
It was a great pitching match-up for this game: Cliff Lee vs. Chris Young. Both pitchers were on their game.
After Jimmy Rollins drew a walk in the bottom of the first, Ryan Howard came to the plate ready to get the Phils offense going…
During the break in the action, Tim posed with his Raul Ibanez baseball and the Citizens Bank Park sign:
During the game, Tim spent a bunch of time agonizing over his All-Star picks:
The game was 0-0 through the first four innings. Then, with two outs in the top of the fifth inning, David Wright (another guy who Philadelphians really seem to dislike) hit a single and then scored the first run of the day on Carlos Beltran’s RBI double.
Between the top and bottom of the fifth, Tim and I ran over to section 138 so Tim could get his picture with Emily, the Phillies ballgirl:
Between innings (not sure which innings), the Phanatic was ripping his way around the ballpark on his four-wheeler. I got this cool picture where the Phanatic is in focus and pretty much everything else is blurred a little:
He was giving up some hits, but Cliff Lee…
After a lot of work and careful consideration, Tim finished his All-Star ballot:
Still training 1-0, the Phillies missed an opportunity in the bottom of the seventh when Ryan Howard was left on base. The inning ended in a bizarre fashion. With Howard on 3B and Ben Francisco on 2B, Phillies catcher Brian Schneider seemingly checked his swing to work a full-count with two outs. Finally, about 5 full seconds after the pitch, home plate umpire Jim Wolfe checked with his colleague over at 3B and Schneider was rung up.
It was the most delayed strike out call that I have ever seen.
And it was followed by the quickest ejection call I’ve ever seen.
Charlie Manuel came charging out of the Phillies dugout to argue with 3B umpire Lance Barksdale, I don’t think Charlie had even reached the pitchers’ mound when Barksdale tossed him from the game. Charlie continued on his way to Barksdale and got his money’s worth out of the argument:
In the top of the eighth, a Mets leftie (I think Ike Davis) hit a foul ball that skipped around in the crowd before being grabbed by a lady within 10 feet of our seats. Here is a picture featuring my shoe for perspective:
Right around this time, something odd happened. I got a text from Avi Miller:
“In case they didn’t tell you at Phils game: Obama making announcement tonight unscheduled. Related to national security.”
Then a second text:
“Was supposed to be 10:30, but they’re still setting up so it could be any minute. Speculation is it could involve anything like Gadhafi, Osama [bin Laden], or even Libya in general. Who knows. Has to be big to do a Sunday night sudden announcement.”
Then a third text:
“Multiple sources saying Osama is dead and in US control. Will let you know. Obama hasn’t spoken yet, but that’s what all the news sources are saying.”
While I was exchanging texts with Avi, fans all around the stadium were apparently receiving similar texts from their friends and family. What an odd place to be, I thought, to learn big international news like this.
Meanwhile, life and the game went on.
It was getting late in the game and the Phils were down 1-0. I was thinking about relocating over by the 3B dugout soon so we could try to get our first ever umpire baseball at Citizens Bank Park. First, I needed a picture of us in our seats. A guy sitting behind us was happy to help:
Then things go really interesting. It started in LF, but soon the whole stadium was chanting “USA! USA! USA!” I missed most of the best and loudest chanting, but I was able to capture a few seconds of it:
Obviously, something was up. I texted Avi to see what Obama had to say. His response:
“that’s why. Officially announced and confirmed. Osama dead. Killed by bomb about 10 days ago, they were waiting to confirm body.”
Of course, we have learned over the course of the last week that a lot of the initial news about this event were incorrectly reported. But the gist of Avi’s message was accurate: President Obama had announced that U.S. Forces had killed Osama bin Laden.
Every once in a while, the chants came back: “USA! USA! USA!” A very memorable way to learn this news, indeed.
We decided to head over toward the 3B dugout. It can be hard to get down into those seats because the ushers usually patrol it pretty rigorously. But we slipped into the back row of section 130 with no trouble. It was really windy in the concourse (it always is at Citizens Bank Park), and Tim was instantly freezing. There was no one sitting in the last row of section 130. So we slid by the usher, sat in the last row, and I instantly took off Tim’s shoes and helped him pull a pair of sweatpants over his shorts.
It must have looked like we belonged, because the usher never said a word to us. Here was our view in the ninth and tenth innings from the back of section 130:
In the bottom of the tenth, Ryan Howard crushed a fly ball to the warning track in deep CF field. I was sure it was a walkoff homerun, so I grabbed Tim and we ran down the stairs toward the umpires tunnel. But Howard’s hit died and was caught on the warning track.
We pulled up and grabbed some new aisle seats at around row 10. Here was our view for the rest of the tenth and part of the eleventh innings:
Finally, in the twelfth inning (at 12:01 a.m.), we made our way to the penultimate seats, second row behind the home plate side of the dugout (Section 129):
The game just kept going and going. No one could score. Both teams seemed capable of advancing baserunners to third base, but that was it. Inning after inning, third outs erased all of the would-be winning runs.
The Phillies fans needed something to inspire them to inspire their Phils to do something special.
Enter the Phillie Phanatic. He hopped onto the 3B dugout and started running down the length of the dugout toward us giving everyone high fives:
Inside my head I thought, “What was that!?”
I scan the field and wondered, “Are they throwing t-shirts into the crowd?”
I saw the guy immediately in front of me bend over toward the empty seat to his right, like he’s grabbing for a t-shirt on the ground or something.
But I didn’t see anyone throwing t-shirts! “What’s going on!?,” I thought.
The Phanatic stopped at the end of the dugout and looked down at us…or, more precisely, at the guy bending down toward the empty seat:
The guy was not happy. The Phanatic bent over, put his arm around the guy, and said something to him. He (the Phanatic) then walked over to an usher about ten feet away, and said something to him.
The guy sat down holding his bleeding face. I could tell he was fuming mad and...
An usher got someone in the Mets dugout to throw up a towel to clean up the guy’s face. Another usher brought a bag of ice. A medic-type-guy arrived and convinced the guy to leave the seats and go get checked out at the first aid station. The guy reluctantly left.
Oh, by the way, he was a Mets fan. After he left, the Phillies fans made numerous jokes at his expense.
Oh, by the way, while all of this was happening, Mets pitcher Taylor Buchholz struck out Phillies back-up catcher Dane Sardinha…
Now, back to the bloody guy. The big question: what the heck happened to him!?
I honestly don’t know. I was literally the closest person to him when whatever happened to him happened to him. But I didn’t see it because I was looking toward the Phanatic advancing from the 3B side of the dugout. All I saw was “something” red whiz by (something that I initially thought was a t-shirt being tossed into the crowd).
I heard people muttering something about the Phanatic kicking the guy. I don’t know what that means. The Phanatic was running down the dugout giving out high fives. Could he have accidentally got too close to the edge of the dugout and ran into the guy (who I believe was standing up at the time) at full speed? I don’t know. Was the Phanatic’s red leg the “something” that whizzed by me as I reached up for a high five (and was left hanging)? I don’t know.
Bottom line, I have no clue what happened except that this dude was standing their one second, and the next second he was dripping blood all over the front row and the top of the dugout. I did a search for news articles that might have mentioned the fan getting hurt and found nothing. I guess I’ll never know for sure what happened.
For the rest of the game, these two guys were on hand-and-knee sterilizing and cleaning the area:
Tim kept asking me why the guys were pouring *sugar* on the blood (they said it was an absorbing powder/gel substance that sucks up the blood) and telling me to point out to the guys that there was a peanut shell full of blood on the ground under the seat. Tim is very observant when it comes to peanut shells.
Anyway, soon after Paulino tossed us the third out baseball, he hit the game winning RBI hit in the top of the fourteenth. It was almost 1 o’clock in the morning.
It seemed as if the Phils were folding up shop for the night when they sent Cole Hamels in to pinch hit with one out in the bottom of the fourteenth:
Tim was really, really tired:
But soon, John Mayberry, Jr. struck out to end the game. Tim was so tired that I was holding him as umpire Jim Wolfe approached the umpires’ tunnel. I called his name. He looked up and saw us. He grabbed a baseball, and tossed it right to us. But an extremely large adult fan in the diamond club section leaned over a railing, reached in front of us with his bare hand, and deflected the baseball right into Tim’s face.
That was all the half asleep boy needed: he burst into tears. The guy didn’t even notice what he’d done as he scrambled for the loss baseball on the ground. Jim Wolfe, on the other hand, saw exactly what happened. And he hollered at me, held up a second baseball and tossed it to me and Tim.
After we caught the second umpire baseball, the guy who had knocked the ball into Tim’s face had learned what he’d done from some other fans (generally everyone around was very sympathetic to poor little Tim getting nailed in the face) and he came over and apologized.
As we headed up the stairs to the exit, I asked Tim to hold up the replacement umpire ball so we could get a picture…
The picture and our little exchange about the memory actually helped a lot. I think Tim was more stunned (and exhausted) than he was hurt. After our exchange, he dried his tears and reverted to his usual happy little self.
Wow, what a day. Our first non-doubleheader of the season ended up going 14 innings (and until 1 a.m.), we witnessed a memorable crowd reaction to the announcement about Osama bin Laden, we got a third out baseball, our first umpire baseball at this stadium, and 6 total completely gloveless baseballs (more than doubling our lifetime total of 5 previous baseballs at Citizens Bank Park), and we witnessed the mysterious fan injury as the Phanatic ran by giving high fives and all of the “biohazard” clean-up that followed.
2011 C&S Fan Stats
5/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
6/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets; Kellan – none]
2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles, Nationals)
15 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 4 Phillies, 1 Mets)
3/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park; Kellan – none]
10/6 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan – Mariner Moose]
*includes Spring Training
I really wanted to go to a Twins game this season so we could try to get one of those fancy “Target Field” commemorative baseballs. We had tickets to the Friday, June 18th game, but it was too soon after our return from the roadtrip. Finally, I found $12/ticket SRO tickets on Stubhub to the Sunday, June 20, 2010 game.
I didn’t realize (I am generally terrible at tracking “holidays”), but June 20th was fathers’ day. What better way to spend fathers’ day than at a ballgame with your son, right?
Upon entering the stadium, we discovered there was no BP. The The quest for a Target Field baseball was not looking good. We headed to the LF foul corner in hopes of getting a toss up from one of the several Twins playing catch in LF.
The quest was looking a little better when we got the corner spot down the 3B line. Perfect. It looked like this:
It was already hot, and Tim hates the sun, so we took off and headed over to the kids’ play area.
When we got to the play area, Tim modeled the Phillies “sarge” hat give away:
Tim’s last MLB kids’ play area was at the Oakland Colesium where the play area is rather blah’ish. But there is no blah in Philadelphia. Check it out:
By the way, in the bottom right, Tim’s left hand is giving a thumbs up, but his right hand is actually pointing (with his thumb) at the little metal ball that he successfully maneuvered to the middle of the puzzle.
After some playtime, we headed out to RCF to watch Roy Halladay warm up…
As Tim likes to point out, Halladay made some funny faces while throwing in the outfield:
Soon, Halladay and Pavano reported to the tiered bullpens:
Pavano was looking good too on the upper tier:
We started out with nachos in the SRO area behind the seats in DEEEEEP RCF:
…off of Roy Halladay. Orlanda “O-Dog” Hudson had stolen second during this at bat and he scored easily on Mauer’s single to stake the Twins to a 1-0 lead. That score would hold up until the fifth inning.
After the first, we aimlessly walked back and forth a bit in the OF concourse. I took this random shot of the concourse…
Eventually, Tim and I headed up into the upper deck seats in section 301, the deepest part of the ballpark. This was the view from almost the very top of the stadium:
…and then one of the “Fan Photos” camera people took a picture of both of us. In that picture, I am wearing Tim’s hat on top of my hat. While we were eating nachos, Tim took off his hat and I put it on top of mine for safe keeping. However, after taking these pictures, I looked at Tim and became alarmed. “Oh, no! Where did your hat go, Tim,” I asked? “Its on top of your head, silly daddy,” Tim replied. I’m pretty sure I was wearing double hats for about 15-20 minutes.
Next, we decided to head to the lower level to cool off in the covered concourses and get an ice cream helmet. Here are some (out of order views) from our walk from RF to home plate and over to 3B in the concourse:
In the left picture, that big photo of Roy Halladay hangs in the concourse just inside of the 1B enterance from Pattison Avenue. The middle picture shows a John Deere mini-truck with flashing sirens, something we see wizzing through the concourse almost every time we visit Citizens Bank Park. To the right, the photo of Brad Lidge and Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz hangs in the concourse behind home plate.
Finally we made it to the Old City Creamery down the 3B line. If you are ever in Philadelphia and want the BIGGEST and most sprinkle covered ice cream helmet of all time, make sure that THIS LADY…
…around the side corner register at the 3B Old City Creamery makes your helmet. She always goes crazy with the ice cream and just as crazy with the sprinkles — here is Exhibit 1. And it was more of the same on this day:
Halladay was still looking good in the fifth…
After ice cream, we wandered down the 3B line and between innings ran down and Tim got his picture with Phillies ballgirl, Bridgette…
…who also gave Tim an autographed ballgirl baseball card. Tim was pretty bashful about getting his picture with the ballgirl, but after I pointed out how she’d run onto the field to get stray foul balls, he thought it was pretty awesome. Now, he wants to get his picture with the ballgirls all the time.
After his first ballgirl picture, Tim requested a trip back to the play area. While we were on our way through the concourse heading over to the play area, Phillies back-up short stop Wilson Valdez poked a solo homerun of his own:
The play area was PACKED:
Carl Pavano meanwhile…
In the top of the 8th, Justin Morneau hit a solo shot to take the score to 4-1 Twins.
That was the score when Shane Victorino grounded out weakly…
Its never a good thing for a team when the opposing starter gets an at bat in the 9th inning, and that is just what happened at this game. Halladay’s relief, Chad Durbin retired Pavano…
Now, earlier in the game while Tim was eating his ice cream helmet, we got to talking to three guys. A dad and his teenaged (or maybe young twenties) sons. It was the usual discussion, they were admiring our Mariners jerseys and telling us they love Griffey. Out of nowhere, a lady came up to us and handed over 4 tickets to the section immediately behind the 3B dugout. The lady’s father was in a wheelchair and couldn’t get down to the seats so they were going to hang out in the handicapped area.
The other guys took three of them and said thanks. I grabbed the fourth ticket knowing we’d never sit there. But the ticket came in handy in the ninth inning. They almost always check tickets in the fancy areas at Citizens Bank Park and this ticket would get us down there to try to get an umpire ball at the end of the game.
In the ninth inning, we headed down. They checked our ticket and waved us down into the fancy seats. We grabbed some seats in row 11 of section 130. This was our view for the bottom of the ninth inning:
Tim had fun laying down in our empty row of seats:
Ryan Howard came to bat for the possible final out…
On Werth’s swing, Tim and I scurried down to the first row as close to the umpires’ tunnel as we could get, but the home plate umpire never looked our way.
It was looking like a zero baseball day (and a zero Target Field baseball season) for us. But as the Twins players and coaches streamed into the dugout, we noticed a guy throwing ball after ball after ball into the crowd. It was Twins hitting coach Joe Vavra…
A few minutes later, Twins bullpen coach and thirty year coaching veteran, Rick Stelmaszek…
Here is Tim showing off both of our prizes:
It was time to head out. On the way to our car, Tim just had to get his picture (once again) with the statue of Steve Carlton:
On our way our of the parking lot, well, while waiting for the cars to finally get moving, I snapped a panorama of the sports complex parking lots:
Citizens Bank Park, obviously, is to the far left. In the middle (far in the back) is the Eagles’ home, Lincoln Fnancial Field. And to the far right is the Spectrum. You can’t see it, but behind the Spectrum is the Wachovia Center (I think they still call it that — it was formerly the Core States Center and First Union Center).
And that’s all she wrote. It was a good fathers’ day. We drove home and spent the rest of it with my lovely wife and Tim’s lovely mommy, Colleen.
2010 Fan Stats:
16 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)
13 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)
10 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park)
11 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
8 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
5 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park)
Back in March, I did an entry of satellite images of the ball parks we plan to visit in 2010. The first four stadiums I listed in order and for the fourth game I mentioned, “Next, we’ll be sticking closer to home for a very special game at Citizens Bank Park.”
On May 1, 2010, Tim and I attended that very special game, and it turned out to be way more special that I imagined in the first place.
Let’s start with an explanation of why I said it would be special. If you look at our 2010 season goals (or our blog in general), you’ll see that we love Kids Run The Bases days. Coming into 2010, Tim had run the bases at Progressive Field (2008), Camden Yards (2009), Rogers Centre (2009), Citi Field (2009-10), Miller Park (2009), and Nationals Park (2009-10).
We’ve never been able to line up a trip to Seattle that coincided with a Kids Run The Bases day. So it is understandable that Tim has not run the bases at Safeco Field.
On the other hand, our failure to run the bases at Citizens Bank Park made no sense. It is, after all, the closest MLB stadium to our house. But in 2009, each of the kids run the bases days was on a business persons special day games. I couldn’t justify taking a day off of work to go to a day game in Philadelphia. So Tim was precluded from running the Citzens Bank Park bases.
I was perplexed at why a kids run the bases promotion would be doubled up with a business persons promotion. I have a colleague whose brother is the Phillies Senior V.P. of Marketing & Advertising Sales. So, I asked him about this odd situation. His brother had no answer…and life went on.
Fast forward to 2:28 p.m. on January 19, 2010, I’m diligently working away at my desk when I receive an email from my colleague that simply said, “Just for you.” It was a forward, so I scrolled down and found the following message from the inner-sanctum of Phillies management: “we added a run the bases on a weekend for your friend – may 1st.”
On Friday, April 30, 2010, my colleague called to make sure we were going to the game. His brother had called to remind him that they put this on the schedule for Tim so he hoped we’d be there. Of course! While the schedule said “sponsored by Modell’s Sporting Goods,” as we drove toward Citizens Bank Park we knew this Kids Run The Bases day was really brought to the kids of Philadelphia by Tim Cook.
Thank you, Phillies, for listening to the fans!
So lets get to the actual game. We arrived early for our first ever BP at Citizens Bank Park. A guy in a golf cart met us at our car and drove us to the LF gate. He also gave Tim a little green Citizens Bank pig key chain…which Tim named “Snortle.”
Outside the LF gate, Tim got his picture with a statue of Steve Carlton…
…which by my count makes Carlton the second person with whom Tim has got his picture with the real person and his statute (the first being Michael Jack Schmidt). He also got his picture with Joe Brown’s statue in the parking lot (that was actually after the game).
With Snortle in hand, we headed into the ball park. We had three goals for BP, two of which we would achieve.
First, get our picture with my all-time favorite pitcher, Jamie Moyer. Unfortunately, Moyer was in deep center field where the seats are maybe 15 feet above the field. No way to get a picture with a player there. So we just went out and stood near him.
Right after I took this picture, Tim yelled, “Hi, Jamie Moyer!” Moyer made eye contact with us and gave Tim a nice wave with his glove. Not just a little flip. A legit “hi, how you doing” wave. Very cool.
Soon thereafter, the Phils all started running toward the dugout, which is where we should have been. We might have been able to get Moyer’s attention while at field level. Anyway, I put Tim on my shoulders and we started to make our way toward the Phils’ dugout knowing that Moyer would be long gone by the time we got there.
That is when goal number 2 sealed the deal on not achieving goal number 1. Our second goal was to get a baseball. We’d only ever got one ball in all of our games at Citizens Bank Park. We made no real effort during Phils BP. We were just watching Moyer.
Then, as the Phils started running in and we started making our way toward the RF corner, I saw a Phils player on the field yelling up into the stands. I’d later figure out it was J.C. Romero. There were people lining the first and second rows and we were in row 4. Romero was motioning “up and over” with his finger. But it looked like he was motioning toward the very back of the section. I had no clue what he was doing. But he kept doing it. Finally, I said, “US!?!?!?” He said, “Yeah!” And held up a ball. Tim and I walked up to about row 7 and J.C. Romero lobbed…
…our second baseball ever at Citizens Bank Park directly into my glove. I handed it up to Tim and the crowd was happy to see the Phils reliever find a worthy recipient for the baseball. Our first ball at Citizens Bank Park was from Rockies first base coach (and former Mariner) Glenallen Hill. And we got a ball from Jimmy Rollins in D.C. last season. But this was our first baseball from a Phillie at a Phillies home game.
Thanks, J.C. Romero!
Goal No. 1 – failed. Goal No. 2 – complete.
Third goal, get Frank Catalanotto’s autograph. That might sound like an odd goal, but there is a back story (which we’ll get to).
The Mets were stretching in front of their dugout. We ran over there. I wrote out a quick and to the point sign…
…Tim grabbed the sign and popped up onto my shoulders. Literally within 10 seconds, we were communicating with Frank Catalanotto and arranging to meet in the first row about 30 yards down the 3B line. We got over there and we chatted with Frank, he signed our sign (shown above) as I dug through my backpack, and he posed for a picture with Tim…
That, my friends, is a picture of the first pitch of the first MLB game Tim ever attended back on September 12, 2006. Frank Catalanotto, playing for the Blue Jays, was the batter and he took a called strike from the eventual winning pitcher, Gil Meche.
I told Catalanotto the whole story. He thought it was awesome and he was SUPER COOL to us. It was awesome. For a non-game-related moment, this was one of the coolest and most memorable moments I’ve experienced at a ball park.
I have to give HUGE, HUGE gratitude to my dad for having the forethought to snap this picture while we were celebrating Tim’s first game. I absolutely love that he captured this moment for Tim and I am estactic about the idea of Tim having a picture of his first MLB pitch signed by both the batter and pitcher.
Hmmm….the pitcher. Gil Meche, be on the lookout for these two Mariners fans! Hopefully we can work it out this season.
At this point, the Mets hadn’t even started hitting yet. But it was blistering hot in the seating bowl and we already accomplished all of our BP goals except the Moyer picture, which wasn’t going to happen. So we took refuge in the shade…more specifically, in the kids play area:
…in that upper left picture, see that teenager in the upper tube? That guy works for the Phillies. His job is to control the traffic going down the slide. In the bottom right picture, Tim took “my order” about 2 dozen times and pretended to hand all sorts of food items out of those little holes to me
We went back to the play area several times throughout the day.
After our first play session, we headed toward the concourse behind home plate where I wanted to visit the ticket office. On the way, we got this picture of Tim and a fake Phanatic:
We made our way down to the Phils dugout to see if Moyer was around. He wasn’t. But then Roy Halladay popped out of the dugout and made his way to the bullpen and then the OF grass just outside of the bullpens…
After watching Halladay stretch a little, we went to our seats in section 104:
In those pictures, Tim is standing in the seat directly in front of ours. By the way, although he was a little sweatball, that is water from the water fountain on his shirt. He was having some water fountain difficulties just before these pictures.
Here is the actual view from our seats — Citizens Bank Park section 104, row 14, seats 4-5:
But we started the game in one of the many standing room areas behind the 3B field level seats. We were there to get our first close-up look at “Doc” Halladay. And this is what it looked like:
Then we grabbed an ice cream helmet for Tim and a couple drinks for both of us, and headed to our seats…
Jayson Werth stood almost right in front of us in RF. Here is what our view of the three outfielders looked like from our seats:
I brought my wife’s big fancy camera that takes quick sequence shots so I could get the Halladay shots above. I brought it out again for Raul Ibanez. Although I didn’t get anything too special of Raul, the shots are funny when you look at a bunch of them together…
Although he gave up three hits in the early innings, Halladay was dealing all day:
Early on, Pelfey was matching him pitch-for-pitch. But then came the fourth inning when the Phils offense did some damage.
Chase Utley started it out with a single:
Jayson Werth then hit an RBI single that found a bit of Alex Cora’s glove. Had Cora gloved the bloop single, it probably would have been a triple play because Utley was already around 3B and Howard was just a couple feet from 2B.
With two outs in the inning and a 3-0 score, things got real interesting. Tim had done a great job sitting in the seats for 3.5 innings. So I promised we would go back to the play area right after the third out. I packed up our belongings, including my glove.
Shane Victorino then hit a a three run homerun that I came within inches of getting. Here is another panorama from pre-game:
I was in seat number 4. Seats 1-3 were empty giving me a clear path to the aisle. The homerun landed in row 13 just across the aisle from us. The crowd collectively botched catching the ball and it fell to the ground. There was a girl in the first seat and I sort of dove over her in an effort to grab the loose ball. But as my hand was reaching toward the ball, the guy in the green hat (to the far right in the picture above) reached down and grabbed the ball cleanly by his feet. As I reached for it, I knew that guy would have to bobble it on the bare hand grab for me to have a chance. It was pretty exciting, but I missed out. Who knows what would have happened if I had my glove on my hand.
After the homerun, Tim asked me, “Did you smash your head when you jumped in there?” It was pretty funny. (FYI, as I type this, Chase Utley just hit a homerun off of Johan Santana that landed in Section 104 right around our seats).
After the inning, we headed back to the play area, which was over run by kids. It was kid pandamonium. And eventually Tim came out of the play set holding one shoe in his hand. He claimed that he got in a kid traffic jam in the tubes that de-shoed him. That was enough of the play area for Tim. So we got those nachos pictured above and headed back to our seats.
While we were in the play area, Rauuuuuuuuul Ibanez hit a two run triple to bring the score to 8-0 Phillies. Pelfrey was long gone. In the eigth inning, Frank Catalanotto pinch hit for the second Mets pitcher (Raul Valdez)…
The Phanatic was pumping up the crowd…
We watched the top of the 9th inning from the concourse behind the 3B dugout. When the game ended, we made our way down to the first row and we were in a good position to get a ball from home plate umpire Ron Kulpa. Well, as good as you can be without being in the diamond club. But Kulpa gave one ball to a 20-something girl in the diamond club and his line-up card to a guy standing with the girl…and then he was gone.
No problems. It had already been an extra-special day.
I took this panorama as the crowd started to clear out…
A couple Mets approached the far end of the 3B dugout and threw a couple balls into the crowd. But we were all alone at the other end of the dug out (still at the spot from which I took that last panorama).
One of the ball tossers was Mets bullpen catcher Dave Racaniello. For some reason, after throwing two balls into the crowd on the far end of the dugout, he walked down toward us and entered the dugout just below us. At the time, he had nothing in his hands, but a catchers equipment bag over his shoulder.
We were just standing there minding our own business when Racaniello took his first step down into the dugout. Right then, he looked up and saw Tim sitting on my shoulders. He looked at us like, “Hey, I got something for you.” He stopped and dug around in his bag and pulled out…
By the way, that is Tim’s green pig “Snortle” sitting on top of the Racaniello baseball.
It was time to run the bases. We made our way to the RF gate. On the way, I took this panorama from section 142…
Kids were already circling the bases. But we had to stop by the Phillies Wall of Fame, which is blocked off during games so fans don’t heckle the relievers in the bullpen (I guess that is the reason, at least). Here are some famous Phillies from the field and booth:
Then, Tim was off to the races:
The Phillies were great because they didn’t have a mob of workers kicking you out the second your kid crossed home plate (like some teams who will remain nameless). So I had time to take this field level panorama…
Great job, Phillies!
All-in-all, it was a great day at the ballpark and Tim was fast asleep only a few miles into our drive home.
2010 Fan Stats:
7 Teams (Orioles and Blue Jays; Phillies, Braves, Mets, Brewers and Nationals)
4 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles, Phillies, Mets, & Nationals)
13 Baseballs (3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 3 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets)
4 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
3 Player Photos (Frank Catalanotto, Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Autographs (Frank Catalanotto (2), Jeff Suppan and Scott Olsen)
3 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field)
Last week, I met two of the best baseball players of all time: Pete Rose and Steve Carlton. If you have a short attention span, this entry might not be for you. But if you’re up for it, here is the scoop:
Pete Rose (Friday, December 4, 2009)
I’d been looking forward to this luncheon for a couple months. Last year, I went to the first edition of this same luncheon and saw (and for about 30 seconds spoke to) Mike Schmidt. Its always fun to see one of the all-time greats up-close and personal and hear one of them give a speech. Pete Rose did not dissappoint.
Actually, I had a crazy day at work that day and missed most of the luncheon. When I arrived, Pete was already at the podium and had concluded his speech. But he continued to field questions from the audience for about 1/2 an hour. The guy was absolutely hilarious. He had every person in the place in fits of laughter.
I’ve been to a lot of charity breakfast, lunch and dinner banquets and heard a lot of featured speakers: Pete Rose was hands down the best, most entertaining and most intriguing I have ever seen. And, oddly, despite his world wide fame (or infamy), he was also the most accessible.
Last year, I approached Mike Schmidt before his speech. I was happy to get to say hello, shake his hand, and thank him for visiting our town. But it was obvious that Schmidt wasn’t totally confortable just hanging out and chatting with the public.
Rose, on the other hand, was the epitome of comfortable. After he concluded his Q&A session, he hung around and signed anything and everything that anyone asked him to sign…
While he was signing, Pete was still “on.” The guy is completely (COMPLETELY) at ease talking with ANYONE. Any question anyone had for him: he had an answer. Most people, however, just wanted his autograph. So, I just hung out next to him at the front of the autograph line and chatted with him while he signed. Eventually, the guy next to Pete in the picture above showed up to interview him (for this article) so I arranged for someone I know at the Bar Association to take my picture with Pete (thanks!) and I headed out.
I thought I’d share some of what Pete had to say, both during his Q&A session and during our post-presentation discussions…unfortunately, there were too many hilarious moments to remember them all (or even 1/2 of them), but I’ll do my best.
1. I was going to try to ask a question during the Q&A, but it ended before Pete got to me. So, the first question I asked Pete after the presentation:
“I heard a lot of TV this season that, if Jeter plays until he’s 43 or so, he might be able to break your hit record. What do you think?”
Pete was very diplomatic. I’m pretty sure that inside his head he was saying, “HELL NO!!!!” (Oh, by the way, Pete cursed at will during the Q&A session, which was just one more thing that made me think he is an authentic guy — Pete Rose doesn’t fake it). Anyway, Pete didn’t answer “HELL NO,” instead, he used some facts to lead me to the conclusion that there is no way Jeter is going to pass him. First, Jeter won’t get his 3,000th hit until he is 37 years old. That’s actually the same age Pete was when he got his 3,000th hit. Second, Pete remind me that he got 1,600 hits after he turned 35. (Actually, it looks like he got about 1,700 after turning 35 in 1976). By all accounts, Jeter would also need about 1,600 hits after turning 35. Third, those projections require Jeter to stay on his same pace until age 43, but it become a lot harder to play Major League baseball after age 41. I will have to take Pete’s word on that one. Anyway, Pete used those observations, body language and his tone of voice to indicate that he doesn’t think Jete is going to match his hit total.
I think Pete is right. Jeter has 2,747 hits right now at age 35. He needs 1,509 more hits to equal Rose. To do that by age 43, Jeter would have to average 188 hits per year between ages 36-43. Sure, Pete Rose didn’t get to 4,256 until age 45. But I ask you, do you see Jeter playing for the Yankees at age 45? And if not, do you see him playing for any team other than the Yankees? I don’t. And, I don’t. And I don’t think he’ll average 188 hits per season for 8 more years. But, hey, prove me wrong, Jeter. That would be pretty amazing.
2. During the Q&A session, Pete was talking about the 2009 World Series and he mentioned Ryan Howard’s poor performance, “I tell you what, Ray Charles could have struck out 13 times during the World Series. (Making batting motions) In fact, Ray Charles probably would have made a little contact. At least he could have heard the ball.”
World Series performance aside, Pete seemed to be generally down on Ryan Howard. He thinks the strike outs are unacceptable. He acknowledged that Ryan crushes fastballs, but he just can’t handle the off-speed stuff. He mentioned, “I’d fine my pitcher if he ever threw a fast ball to Ryan Howard. But for some reason, some managers still decide to do it about 50 times a season. They figure its early in the game, what the heck?”
3. Conversely, Pete was very impressed with Chase Utley, “The baseball was looking like a beach ball to him. Its really easy to hit a beach ball!”
4. After his presentation, someone asked Pete, “If you’d fine your pitcher for throwing a fast ball to Ryan Howard, would you fine Jimmy Rollins for hitting a home run?” Rose was perplexed: “What? No. Why would I? He’s going to hit his home runs.” It was suggested to Pete that J-Roll was struggling at the plate because he was trying to hit home runs. Pete disagreed. J-Roll isn’t trying to hit homeruns. He’s just not hitting for a high average. But even when you’re just trying to put good swings on the ball, a pro ball player like J-Roll is going to hit some home runs. So, no, Pete wouldn’t fine J-Roll.
But, this begged the question (and Pete asked it), “But just because you’re fast, does that mean you should be hitting lead-off?”
How about Alfonso Soriono someone asks? “I don’t know why in the world anyone would give him 18 million dollars.” So Pete wouldn’t hit Soriano lead off? “I’d bat him 7th. And you got to remember, he was a second basemen for the Yankees.”
5. This is when Pete made a statement that I just couldn’t endorse: “You know, the guy they love today is this ‘Ichiro’ (he pronounced it “itch-er-oh”). You know, anyone is going to get 200 hits in a season if they’re up 700 times. But, when you’re a lead-off hitter, you have one job and one job only — to get on base. Now, I had 4,200 hits, but I also walked 1,600 times [actually 1,566 times – 14th most of all-time]. He (‘itch-er-oh’) only gets about 30 walks.”
(By the way, all of these “quotes” are actually just paraphrases. Its not like I was recording the conversation.)
Okay. I stood there silent at this point. I didn’t have any need to argue with Pete Rose. He was being very cool and friendly to everyone. But, I think that Rose is off-base on his Ichiro assessment.
Yes, Rose averaged 71 walks per season compared to Ichiro’s 47 average walks per season – a difference of 24 on the positive side for Rose. But Ichiro has averaged 231 hits per season over the course of his career compared to 194 person season for Rose — a difference of 37 on the positive side for Ichiro. And, while I understand that Rose’s career numbers include his declining years toward the end, you have to realize that Ichiro’s MLB career number don’t include his numbers in Japan from age 20-26 when Ichiro was just flat out ridiculous at the plate:
As it stands today, Rose’s career on base percentage was .375 and Ichiro’s is a modestly better .378. But if you look at his years in Japan, Ichiro’s OBP increases (he was over .420 career in Japan).
One more thing, honestly, I can’t remember if Pete said “700 at-bats” or “700 plate appearances” per season. Pete never had 700 at bats in a season. Only a four people ever have (and one of them, Juan Samuel, did not get 200 hits that season). Ichiro has had 7000 at-bats exactly once in his career. Given those facts, I assume Pete meant plate appearances, not at-bats. If so, I’d note that Pete had over 700 plate appearances 6 times without collecting 200 hits.
So, while I have the utmost respect for the all-time hits king, Ichiro is the man. I wouldn’t want anyone else leading off for the Mariners. And I will reject all arguments or opinions to the contrary.
Sorry, I had to defend my Mariner. Now back to more good times with Pete Rose.
5. Pete said some things during his Q&A session that really gave you a peak into the inner workings of Pete Rose’s brain. You know what is in there? Baseball. And Winning.
First, Pete shared an extremely interesting story about why he was “Charlie Hustle.” Pete Rose’s dad (Pete Rose) was a blue collar guy and a star athlete in Cincinnati, OH in his own right. Rose mentioned that “I’m not the most famous Pete Rose in Cincinnati.”
Pete’s dad would come to games to watch Pete play for the Reds. He didn’t make a big deal about it. He didn’t come into the club house or try to capitalize on his son’s success. He just came to watch his son. Pete usually wouldn’t even see his dad at the game. Now, Pete won the NL batting title in 1968 (.335 in “The Year of the Pitcher“) and 1969 (.348). So, in 1970, Pete was already clearly a star. Pete’s dad came to the ballpark one day — I think Pete said it was a doubleheader. Pete hit well. But grounded out to second late in the game.
When Pete left the clubhouse after the game, he found his dad leaning against his car. Pete said hi to his dad. His dad responded, “In the eighth inning, when you grounded out to second, did you run it out?” Pete reflected on the game and then responded, “No, I guess I didn’t. You know, it was a good pitch and I missed it. I was mad at myself because I should have got a base hit on that pitch so I guess I didn’t run.” Pete’s father responded:
“When you do that you make me look bad! Don’t embarrass me in this town! When you hit the ball, you run as hard as you can until they hell ‘safe’ or ‘out.’ “
Pete’s dad then turned and walked away.
Pete’s dad obviously put a lot of pressure on him to do things the right way. I got the feeling that it wasn’t always easy for Rose. But you could tell he really respected and was grateful to his father for teaching him to do things the right way (well, with the exception of the gambling stuff, I guess).
6. The second thing that Pete said that really struck a chord with me what that at the end of 162 games, he was mad that the season was over. He was upset he had to go home and couldn’t play ball until the next season. That is a feeling that I don’t get from a lot of today’s players. But I think its a feeling that a lot of MLBloggers can relate to. I know that I miss the season the moment the final out is recorded.
Pete mentioned that he was at the ballpark every off day. “It was where I lived.” He loved hitting in the cages. He loved taking ground balls at whatever position he was playing or working on at the time. He just flat out loved baseball and playing it for a living. I can respect that.
7. In a non-baseball moment, Pete mentioned that he and Alex Rodriguez have exchanged text messages on a regular basis for many years. But when A-Rod started dating Madonna, A-Rod suddenly stopped returning Pete’s texts. Pete remarked, “He dumped me for Madonna!” Once A-Rod and Madonna stopped seeing each other and A-Rod moved on to Kate Hudson, A-Rod resumed his text message exchange with Pete.
8. During the Q&A session, somone asked, “Who would win in a head-to-head match up, the 1980 Phillies or the 2008 Phillies. Pete instantly responded, “They’d win. We’re all in our damn 60s!” After discussing some of the strengths of each team, Pete then commented, “Well, if it was Steve Carlton versus Cliff Lee [for Pete’s sake, we’ll pretend Lee was actually on the 2008 Phillies team], no one would win. We’d probably go nothing-nothing all night. Now, if it was Cole Hamels pitching (a BIG grin comes across Pete’s face), well, I’d like our chances.”
9. Okay, we’ve made it to the Ninth. The last story I’ll share is the big obvious story. Someone asked something along the lines of “What’s going on with your reinstatement and when (if ever) will you be in the Hall of Fame?”
The bottom line is that Pete has no clue. He said he thinks he’s being teased. For example, Selig just announced he’ll retire in three years. It didn’t sound like Rose was buying that story. He theorized that Selig is trying to wait to reinstate Rose until after Rose is too old to manage. Or, he thinks Selig is waiting until Pete dies. “But the joke’s on Selig, I’m gonna outlive him!” But, as I mentioned, the bottom line is that Pete doesn’t know when or if he’ll get back into baseball and into the Hall of Fame.
10. Oh, wait…we’re heading into extra innings. Two more brief comments. First, someone asked Pete if he’d ever hurt a catcher playing so hard. Pete responded, “Are you a baseball fan!? Where were you in 1970?“ He then told the story or lighting up Ray Fosse in the 1970 all-star game. Pete talked about the purpose of the game (“The purpose of the game is to WIN. That’s the only purpose. You play to WIN!”) and how you play the game (clean but hard). He said that, if you paid for a ticket to come to see Rose and his team play, he was damn sure going to do everything in his power to make sure you saw a win. And that is how it should be. He talked about hard (but clean) slides at 2B and pitchers brushing batters back with a inside pitch. This is all part of the game and so is running over a catcher if he is blocking the plate. In sum, Rose turned back to the guy who asked the question, “So the answer to your question, you bet I did.”
Okay, one more bonus Rose comment. At the end of his Q&A, he said, “Does someone have one more question?” A guy stood up and asked something like, “what do you think about all the discussion about wood bats vs. metal bats, etc., etc.?” Pete scans the audience, “Does someone have one more GOOD question?“
And that was my run-in with Pete Rose. I left the event a much bigger fan of Pete Rose (aside from his silly thoughts on Ichiro). He is a great lover of baseball. He is a great people person. He isn’t smug. He isn’t aloof. He isn’t better than me or you or the next guy. He’s just a guy with a lot of baseball knowledge and experience and a desire to share it with anyone interested in hearing about it. If you have a chance to go to a similar event featuring Pete Rose, I highly recommend it.
Steve Carlton (Saturday, December 5, 2009)
My Steve Carlton experience was much shorter and more ordinary, but it was cool nonetheless. Tim and I met “Lefty” at an autograph signing event at the Majestic Tent Sale at the VF Outlets in Reading, PA.
Every couple months, Majestic puts on an amazing tent sale at the VF Outlets and it is standard to have a free autograph signing event featuring a player or two from the Phillies or the Eagles. This is the second Hall of Famer I’ve run into at the Majestic Tent Sale. Last year, Michael Jack Schmidt followed his luncheon experience by signing at the Majestic Tent Sale the next day.
I learned that some people lined up to get free tickets for the Carlton signing at 1:30 a.m. the night (morning) before (of). I, on the other hand, had a connection and I landed two tickets without waiting in the cold dark and long ticket line in the morning…
…still we got to stand in the actual autograph line.
Eventually we made our way up to Lefty…
…and like Rose, he too was very nice. He’d have little 2 minute discussions with each person (assuming the person engaged him in conversation). He was extremely nice and cordial, and he went out of his way to connect with Tim.
Tim, however, was tired as could be after waiting through the autograph line. Luckily, he found some activities to keep him occupied…
Or laying his head on his mother’s shoulder.
Oh, yeah, and Carlton mentioned that he had a nice dinner the night before with Pete Rose at a local country club. That would have been an interesting dinner discussion.
So it was June 2007 by the time Tim’s second MLB game rolled around. Tim was about a year and a half old by this point and he was running around on his own and ready to have some fun at the game.
Unfortunately, Tim’s second game wouldn’t feature the Mariners. Instead, I introduced Tim to the National League and two teams competing for the N.L. East crown, the Phillies and the Mets. Tim’s second game would take place at his second MLB stadium, Citizens Bank Park.
At about 70 miles, Citizens Bank Park is the closest MLB stadium to our home in Berks County, Pennsyvlania. Philadelphia is the closest “big city” to our home. But in a year and a half of life, Tim had not yet visited the city where his parents met back in 1999. So, I decided to take him down early to see a tiny bit of the city before the game.
I had bigger plans, but time was running short before the game. So all we did was visit Rittenhouse Square:
I lived about 5 blocks from Rittenhouse Square when my wife and I met, and I’d walk through the Park everyday on my way here or there. Tim loved running around the Park for a short while. And then we were off to South Philadelphia.
We attended this game with a group of people from my office. Tim was a lucky little guy. His second game was also his second game in a suite! We arrived as the game was beginning, said our hellos, and started doing what you do in suites — we started eating tasty food:
Here is a look at the suite:
To the left, that’s a look from the entry way through the suite. To my left as I took that picture is a kitchenette area featuring various drinks, chips, crackers, dips, cheese trays, etc. And against the wall to the left (off camera) is a large flat screen for those who want to watch the game on TV rather than turning 90 degrees to their right and watching it live.
In the picture to the left, do you see the blue sky and clouds painted on the ceiling? The middle section of the ceiling looks like a nice sunny day and it has a picture of the Philly Phanatic skydiving into the suite. The middle picture is Tim pointing up at the Phanatic. He thought it was really cool.
Above to the right is a view of the field from the suite. When I took that picture, I was still standing in the main “suite” part of the suite. In front of me is a standing counter (actually, it also has tall chairs) and on the other side of the counter are three rows of stadium seating for the folks in the suite.
Here is a panaramic view of the field from the bottom of our three rows of stadium seating (featuring Tim in the bottom right corner):
Tim ran around the suite like crazy and provided comic relief for my colleagues. But after a while, he wanted to explore outside the suite. The main level of suites at Citizens Bank Park has its own concourse (just above the main concourse). Its just a big elevated walkway with access to all of the suites, but no concession stands, etc.
Tim and I exited our suite and he started running down the walkway toward home plate and then around toward LF. I took a video of him running and took the following screen shots from the video clip:
To the left is a view of the suite level concourse. This picture is just foul of third base. The suites and the field are to our right. The banners hanging to the left are hanging above the main concourse and are just inside what I consider to be the stadium’s main entrance (between home and 3B).
Above to the right is a view of the main entrance taken right around that hanging Jimmy Rollins banner shown in the picture to the left. Just to the left of the main entrance is McFadden’s Restaurant & Saloon. Across the street to the right of the picture you can see the Spectrum, which Pearl Jam is closing down this weekend. Click here for a peak inside the Spectrum and see how Pearl Jam tied the World Series and Seattle-connection, Raul Ibanez, into their recent concert.
Back to the game. We reached the end of the suite level concourse and I found someone to take our picture with All-Time Mariners Career Wins Leader, Jamie Moyer:
In 2006, I’d been hoping all season that Moyer would pitch for the Mariners during Tim’s first game, but sadly he was traded before the trade deadline…and before Tim’s big day at the park. If he had to be traded I was happy he went to Philadelphia where Tim and I would still be able to see him pitch.
After a little roaming around, we returned to the suite and it was time for an important “first” — Tim’s first ice cream at the ballpark (in fact, I think this was also his first ice cream of his life):
As you can see, it wasn’t Tim’s first ice cream helmet (not quite yet). But it started a grand tradition — ice cream at the ballpark — it is a tradition that would just be made better with the introduction of the ice cream helmet on a later date.
Of course, soon after the last picture, I captured another (related) “first”…
And then there was nothing left to do but get our picture with the field…
The game didn’t go so well for the Phils. They lost 8-3. The star of the game was Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran who went 4-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 3 runs scored. Paul LoDuca and David Wright also hit homeruns for the Mets.
Not much good happened on the Phils’ side of the box score. Ryan Howard was 2-4 with a homerun and 2 runs scored. Carlos Ruiz was also 2-4. But J.A. Happ earned the loss in his major league debut, and his only major league action in 2007.
This entry was supposed to be titled “Moyer’s 250 Bid – Take 2.” Unfortunately, our bid to see Jamie Moyer win the 250th game of his career failed before we even left for the game. I learned on Saturday night that Chan Ho Park would be pitching Sunday, May 17th in Washington, D.C. rather than Jamie Moyer. Moyer is a great pitcher. But its tough, even for a great pitcher, to get a win in a game you don’t pitch.
So Tim and I would have to focus on our other two main goals of the day – (i) checking out Nationals Park for the first time and (ii) participating in Kids Run the Bases after the game. Our pursuit of those goals met with great success, as explained in detail below.
Nationals Park can be both incredibly expensive and quite affordable, depending on how you want to “do” the stadium. For example, parking in the garage connected to the stadium is FORTY BUCKS!!! That’s ridiculous. On the other hand, the parking route we took was both an adventure and totally FREE! You see, the Nationals have arranged for their fans to park for FREE at RFK Stadium and then take a FREE shuttle bus to a point about 2 blocks from Nationals Park. Here is what it looked like:
Here is our first view of the Park walking from the bus:
Here is our first view of the field as we entered the Park from the LCF entrance:
As you might know, I am a Mariners fan. But alas, I did live in Philadelphia for three years and I have no NL allegiance, so i bought a Phillies BP jersey back in 1999 or so. I doubt I’ve worn it since 2000. But this was only my second Phils road game, so I thought I’d give it a try wearing the Phillies jersey and my Reading Phillies hat to see if some nice Phillies player would reward me and Tim for coming to see them on the road. Now, wearing the visitors’ jersey/hat even if you hate the team is a classic “ballhawk” technique. I am not a ballhawk, but generally I have no problem with the ballhawks doing it. But, personally, I felt dirty as heck wearing Phillies stuff, even though I was there rooting for the Phillies. It just hurt me right down to my Mariners core (in fact, I couldn’t do it without wearing a M’s shirt under the Phils jersey). Anyway, more on that later.
So, as we entered the stadium, we saw a bunch of Phils stretching behind 3B. So we headed over there where this was our view:
We headed down to the field level where they have a little trough (for lack of a better term) where there are just a couple seats in a big aisle). We watched the guys warm up amongst a sea of Phillies fans:
Yep, to the left, that is team leading (pick an offensive category) Raul Ibanez warming up his legs. To the right, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins stand in front for the national anthem while Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, Pedro Feliz and a trainer stand behind them.
After the anthem, the guys started playing catch and running (sorta) sprints:
In the photo to the left, you can see Jimmy Rollins playing catch with Chase Utley (off camera) and Ryan Howard playing catch with Shane Victorino. After a few mintues, Jimmy and Shane set their gloves down on the foul line with the balls sitting on the grass next to them. Then they started running sprints.
To the right, you can see that, after finishing playing catch with Victorino, Ryan Howard came over to the stands and started signing autographs for 5-10 minutes. As you can see, almost everyone down in the trough bunched up next to Howard in hopes of getting his autograph. We didn’t have a pen or anything worth getting the former NL M.V.P. to sign, so we stood our ground. The difference was, after Ryan started signing, we were pretty much standing all alone, no more sea of Phillies fans surrounding us.
Tim was on my shoulders (where his Mariners shirt was hidden behind my head). I was wearing my Phils jersey and R-Phils hat. We looked like a nice father-son Phillies fan combo. Jimmy Rollins took note. When he was finished running, he grabbed his glove and ball and took a couple steps toward the dugout. He then stopped, turned back toward us and fired his baseball directly into my glove. Nice – our first ball EVER from a Phillies player:
A few minutes later, the game started. The baseball we got from J-Roll looked the same, but I looked different:
J-Roll shouldn’t feel as if he got duped. We still rooted for the Phils. I just had to show my true colors during the game. Also, I did put my R-Phils hat back on after Tim got chocolate ice cream on his fingers and I thought he would get the white portion of my M’s hat chocolately. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Like usual, we had some cheap tickets. Not SRO, this time we were apparently high in the rafters of the RF foul territory stands. We never went to our section. Instead, we started walking around getting to know the stadium. Let me tell you something, unlike the team that plays there, Nationals Park is beautiful. Despite a couple negatives, it instantly ranks right up among my favorite ball parks.
Why don’t we take a look around? This is reverse order as we walked, but how about we start behind the plate in the third deck:
As you can tell, its a beautiful park. In addition to checking out this great park, Tim and I also had a goal of testing out our new digital camera. It has a great zoom – both optical and digital. Here are a couple pictures taken from various locations in the Park:
At top right, Ryan Howard is seen batting in the first inning. I took that picture from just behind the RL foul pole.
Below Howard, is Chase Utley also hitting in the first inning. I took this from the field level concourse behind all of the seats a little bit down the line from first base.
How about another panoramic? Here is CF from the field level concourse:
Okay, now, I took all of these panoramic views while walking around in the concourses circling the stadium. Although fans in their seats usually aren’t paying a lot of attention to the concourses, they are an important part of any stadium. Bad concourses make a stadium feel cramped. Open concourses from which you can see the field make the stadium feel bigger and they let fans maximize their time at the ball park (ex: they can still watch the game while standing in line for some food). Nationals Park has GREAT concourses. HUGE. Mostly all open. Not crowded. Excellent. Here are a couple examples:
Walk these great concourses and eventually you’ll find yourself in biggest open area I’ve ever seen inside a ball park:
The Field Level CF panoramic a couple pictures ago was taken on the opposite side of that escalator. The Second Deck CF panoramic and the pictures of Jimmy Rollins batting a couple more pictures above were taken from the second deck just to the left of the big “DC” sign and under the picture of the Nationals celebrating (they must have won a game?).
The black strip at the top center (where it says “GET YOUR”) is the “Red Porch.” I’m not quite sure what the deal is with the red porch.
The building to the right is a massively expensive parking garagle. The openings on the ground level are various fan attractions. The one with the yellow sign is a “stuff a bear” type place where you can make your own Nationals mascot. The “Strike Zone” at the far right of the picture has a batting cage where the ball shoots out of a video screen. When we watched it, Randy Johnson was pitching and the ball would shoot through the screen through his hand. Pretty cool. In the back, there was a similar game with pitching. I watched a guy pitch to Larry “Chipper” Jones.
And right behind me as I took this picture? The play area:
Tim loved this play set. From a father’s perspective, it seemed better than the playset at Safeco Field, but a not quite as good as the playset at Citizens Bank Park. The worst part about it is that it is massively far away from the field and there is no TV to watch the game. It would be perfect if the Nats would follow the Mets lead and put a BIG SCREEN on the back of the scoreboard for all of the parents watching their kids play in the CF play area.
Anyway, back to the tour. Here is a post-game picture from the deck of the aforementioned Red Porch:
And here is a picture looking at the Red Porch from the 1B field level seats:
Well, look at that…I stand corrected. The “Red Porch” is really called the “Red Loft.” Hmm…I’m wondering if that is the upstairs and the downstairs is called the Red Porch. I definitely heard someone call it the Red Porch during the game. Anyway, in the last panoramic, Tim and I took the pictures standing under the “Red” in the “Red Loft” sign in the last picture.
The only bad part of the concoures at Nationals Park is that the Red Porch/Loft cuts off all view of field as you walk from CF to LF (or vice versa). Same thing with the field level concourse behind home plate. Its just like Citi Field. They have field level suites and a restaurant that cut off all view of the game for *commoners* walking behind home plate. But I like the way the Nationals did it more than the Mets. The Mets concourse is like a dark cave that feels like it is 100 yards away from the game. The Nats concourse is bright and airy and it has a team store entrance and big pictures on the wall telling about the history of baseball in Washington, D.C…check it out:
But, back to the outfield. Here are some interesting statues on the back side of the Red Porch/Loft:
Well, look at that. I am right. The field level is called the “Red Porch” (as shown in the middle picture behind Frank Howard (who by the way shouldn’t have swung at that pitch, he’s reaching too far!)).
Note, PNC Park in Pittsburgh also has a Josh Gibson statue.
Back to the panoramic views, here is the RF corner from the third deck:
This picture leads to the final negative point about Nationals Park: the ushers guard the seats like they are made of gold. I had to sweet talk an usher to persuade him to let me and Tim sit in the BACK ROW of the LAST SECTION in the UPPER DECK! There is a fourth deck starting a little closer to home plate. But where I took this picture, we were literally sitting in the back row of the highest section at the greatest distance from home plate down the 3B line. Is that ridiculous or what?
So how did we get to sit in these coveted seat? I told the usher Tim’s ice cream was melting, we were all the way across the stadium from our seats, and I was looking desparately for a standing room spot with a standing counter where Tim could sit and eat his ice cream…but there are none in the third deck down the 3B line. So in the face of melting ice cream, the usher relented and let us take the empty seats in the empty row in the highest and most distant seats from home plate.
Here is Tim and his ice cream and, in the distance, the Washington Monument:
There is a big walking ramp down from the third deck to the field level in the LF corner. As I stood on that ramp, I took the picture of the Washington Monument to the right above. I said to Tim (sitting on my shoulders), “That’s the Washington Monument, Tim.” Two seconds later, some random 50’ish year old white-male-American walks up to me, “Are you serious? That’s the Washington Monument? Cool!” He was dead serious. It was p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c.
Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I posted this panoramic tour in reverse order of how Tim and I actually walked. We really came from CF to RF to home plate, to an ice cream stand in the third deck behind 3B and then out to the LF corner. On our walk from the ice cream stand to the LF corner, I spotted the Capitol Building from the concourse:
The picture to the right above is also taken from the ramp down to field level. But, once again, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Before heading down the ramp, I tested my camera out a bit more. Here are some more action shots:
Here we see J-Roll take a pitch and then hit another foul.
The top right picture of Raul Ibanez was also taken from the third deck in the LF corner. The others were taken elsewhere…as should be evident. In the bottom right, I’ve snuck a picture of Shane Victorino in with three Ibanez pictures.
Pretty much every swing I took a picture of at this game resulted in a foul ball, a foul pop out, or an infield pop out. No hits or homeruns to speak of.
Okay, so it was time to head down that ramp. From the ramp, I took this cool picture of the concourse going from the LF corner out to CF:
Note the vegetation growing on the roof of the concession stand. This prompted Tim to tell me that there are no plants growing on our roof because, “Our roof isn’t flat. Our roof is a triangle.”
Once we got down the ramp, we stood for a little bit behind the LF seats where we saw the Presidents race:
After the race, the Presidents headed out to CF and took pictures with fans. They were mobbed by people. I really wanted a picture with Teddy Roosevelt, who looked hilarious, but it wasn’t in the cards. The Presidents were a big hit at the game. They have George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt…and someone…I have no clue who the fourth President is. Anyway, the Nats also have a silly looking eagle named “Screech” (I think). But he is a pretty weak mascot. The Presidents were far superior.
After the race, we headed down into the LF seats and got a picture of the visitors’ bullpen (shown here with an inside-shot of the Nats bullpen):
This Phillies fan in the middle looked somewhat protective of the Phils’ bullpen. Note, the visitors’ bullpen (to the right) is grass, but the Nats’ bullpen (left) is turf. I’m not sure why this is, but my guess is that there is access through the Nats’ bullpen to a big tunnel system under the stadium. Possibly they drive vehicles through the Nats’ bullpen from time-to-time and put in turf so the grass wouldn’t get torn up. Just a guess.
We then headed back to the second deck in RF where we got one of the stadium fanfoto gals to take a picture of us with my camera:
Finally, we settled into some seats for the last 2-3 innings of the game. The ushers had apparently lost some of their motivation. He easily slipped into some really nice seats down the 1B line. Here was our view:
See that light stand all the way across the stadium in the LF corner? See that last section of seats on the third deck that hide the left side of the light tower? That is the section where I had to persuade an usher to let us sit for a couple innings (and to be clear, in case I wasn’t earlier, at first, he in fact told me that he “couldn’t do it” when I asked him if we could temporarily sit in the back row).
Anyway, there was no one else in our row in this section down the 3B line. However, there was a group of maybe 8 young 20s’ish year old Nats fans sitting two rows behind us. Tim flirted it up like crazy with two young gals. At the time, the Nats were winning 6-5 and the gals (and their whole group) were all smiles and giggles. Here is Tim cheesing it up for the ladies:
Tim’s new friends’ mood changed abruptly in the top of the eighth. With runners on first and second and no outs, Pedro Feliz laid down a nice bunt toward third. Zimmerman and Jesus Colome converged on the ball. Either could have grabbed it. Colome did and he made what seemed to be a perfect throw to first where second baseman, Anderson Hernandez, was covering first. By my first hand account, the throw was perfect and Feliz should have been out at first. Instead, Hernandez jumped out of the way of the ball and let it sail into foul territory down the 1B line. Both runs scored and Feliz made it to third. Anderson said he could not see the ball because of the crowd. I guess he isn’t used to having more than 10,000 fans scattered throughout the stadium. Amazingly, they gave the error to Colome for making a perfect throw that Hernandez simply failed to catch.
When this happened, the stadium exploded with Phillies cheers. But the people sitting behind us never uttered another word. Their win was gone
We actually missed the ninth inning and the Phillies win because we were lined up outside the RF side of the stadium — it was time for Kids Run the Bases! We were toward the front of the long, long, long line of kids. As we waited in line, an usher told me to take Tim off my shoulders, “you know, for safety.” Okay, whatever.
We started our run the bases experience with our standard picture by the RF wall footage sign:
Tim then stretched his legs with some pre-bases sprints down the RF foul warning track:
I took a shot of the Nats’ dug out (shown to the left, with the visitors’ dug out on the right):
Then Tim was off to the races:
The Nats seemed to have 100 people out there on the field working. It was impossible to navigate the warning track and get even a half-way decent picture of Tim rounding second, which was HIGHLY dissapointing.
But I got a great shot of Tim rounding third:
Then it was impossible to get a good shot of Tim scoring at home plate — that is more standard, I’ve never got a good picture of Tim at home plate yet in the three run-the-bases Tim has done so far.
We took a couple more shots as we left the field of play:
So, that was it. Our game experience was essentially over.
Particularly because the next weekend would be our first weekend not to go to a game this season.
In fact, we wouldn’t have another game until May 31st.
We walked around the LF seats a bit more.
We looked at the visitors’ bullpen close up outside of the watchful eye of that concerned Phillies fan.
We went up to the Red Loft where we took the pictures for that panoramic up above.
Then we sadly headed toward the CF exit, the same one we’d passed through just 45 minutes before to line up to run the bases.
At the bottom of the exit stairs, we turned right and we started walking down the street.
We spotted the end of the run-the-bases line. Only 30 yards long now. Those lucky kids still with all of that fun ahead of them.
We walked sorta close to the wall as we passed down the wide sidewalk.
Tim was on my shoulders again. That same usher who told me to take Tim down “you know, for safety” was still standing by the line.
She had to recognize us. We’d just spoken with each other 45 minutes ago. Everyone at the game was wearing bright red Phillies and Nats gear, and we were wearing dark blue Mariners gear.
But then she uttered seven magical words that let me know she most certainly did not recognize us, “Does he want to run the bases?”
I respond, pointing, “Oh, is this the line?” (as if we’d been looking for it for the past hour).
“Yeah! Have fun!”
Tim was officially (I certified it OFFICIAL), the last kid to round the bases and touch home plate and I got a great shot of it:
It was pretty awesome. All of the Presidents, Screech and a boat load of Nats employees were on the field (again preventing a good picture at 2B), and because he was the last kid, they all followed Tim to home plate. As you can see, as he stood at home, he was surrounded by employees and mascots all cheering for him. Very satisfying.
Plus, because we were last, we were able to right a past wrong — we got that coveted picture with Teddy Roosevelt — and it is a keeper:
A great day! We give Nationals Park two thumbs up.
One more game note: we saw Sergio Escalona make his major league debut and earn the first win of his career pitching the 7th inning for the Phillies. The day before the game, Escalona was assigned to the Reading Phillies. Good job, Sergio.
Season Fan Stats:
11 Games (double digits!)
5 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
11 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres, Dodgers)
9 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals)
5 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (AL West, NL East, AL West)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats))
I was out on a six mile run Tuesday night and I was doing some serious thinking. Hands down, Ken Griffey, Jr. is my all-time favorite baseball player. I can pretty much guarantee that fact will never change. Behind Griff, the past 8 years, Ichiro has been my second favorite. Edgar Martinez ranks right with Ichiro in my hierarchy. And I have loved Jamie Moyer for years. But I’d never officially put a ranking on him in my mental player archive. However, it only took me until my turn onto Papermill Road — a mere 1.7 miles into my run — on Tuesday night to make a big decision: Jaime Moyer IS my all-time favorite pitcher. That’s all there is to say about it. The guy is awesome.
So, you could imagine how excited I was to know that less than 24 hours later, on Wednesday, May 13th, Tim, Colleen and I would travel to Citizens Bank Park to hopefully witness Moyer win his 250th game of his career. I was also excited because it was my lovely wife’s first time to join us at a game since the first weekend of the 2008 season. Finally, I was excited because Colleen just got a new digital camera with an awesome zoom and she is an excellent novice photographer. So lets get to it.
Pre-game, we got a family picture for which Tim has a odd and ambiguous look on his face:
Of course, we also got a shot of the always loveable Phillie Phanatic:
Finally, it was game time. We started out in our familiar beginning of the game starting post — standing room behind section 130. We usually always start out here because its almost straight in (and a little to the right toward home plate) from the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park.
Colleen immediately tried out her new camera and its sequence feature. She took tons of awesome pitchers of Moyer frustrating the Dodgers in the top of the first. I put a bunch of them together to make this cool picture of Moyer getting an infield pop up:
Moyer started the game strong. Here he is getting Rafael Furcal to swing and miss (in another sweet picture by my sweet wife!):
You know what I find interesting about this excellent picture? Furcal’s pant legs. They are pulled down and cover his shoes. I notice that more and more these days. I think its funny. When I was playing ball in high school (during the early-mid days of Griff’s first tour of duty with the Mariners), the trend was to wear high top spikes with your pant legs tucked into the top of your spikes. (As Griff displays in this classic picture). Now-a-days, its as if people are ashamed of their shoes and want to hide them. We’ll come back to this fashion trend in later pictures in this entry.
After the first inning, we went and got Tim (and me) some extremely tasty french fries and Colleen a pretzel with cheese and shifted over to the standing room area directly behind section 124 (slightly off-center behind home plate toward the 1B side). I took this picture of tim eating a french fry with our *old* camera:
A funny story. As we bought the french fries, I asked the lady where I could find nachos. She pointed down the 1B line and said, “About four mobile stands down that way.” You see, Colleen wanted nachos, not a pretzel. As we started walking down the 1B side, I spotted a prime SRO opening behind section 124, so I asked Colleen if it was okay if Tim and I camped out there while she ran ahead to get her nachos. She said okay. Then she was gone for what seemed like forever. Seriously, I was wondering if she had been abducted or something. Finally, she came back with her pretzel. She said she walked all the way into RF and couldn’t find a nacho stand. I asked her she was looking at the mobile stands on the field side of the concourse rather than the permanent food stands on the back side. She said she was looking at the back side stands, but then looked at the mobile stands on the way back. So, we had to deal with a pretzel with cheese instead of the desired nachos. Still a little later, we headed over to the play area. As we started walking over there, I noticed that there was a nacho stand literally about 30 feet from where we had been standing. Oops!
Anyway, Colleen enjoyed the pretzel and cheese and we got some more great pictures behind home plate. Like this one of Raul hitting a foul ball:
And this one of Moyer watching a called strike:
And this one of Moyer again pitching strong in the top of the second:
The beginning of June will mark my 10-year anniverary of my move to Pennsylvania. The ten years has done nothing to my love for the Mariners. If anything, its only made me a more tired person because I have to stay up so late to watch the M’s on TV. Anyway, I’ve never really cared all that much about the Phillies. Sure, I cheer for them when I am at their games. On any given day, I have no clue what the Phils’ record is or what place they are in (except for when I discuss these things with my numerous Phillies loving colleagues at work). But deep down, I just can’t bring myself to actually care about any team but the Mariners.
The last couple years, however, it has been more fun for me to watch the Phils than it had been in previous years because Pat Gillick has brought a slew of ex-Mariners through Philadelphia: Moyer, Raul, Greg Dobbs, Freddy Garica (didn’t work out so well), Ryan Franklin, etc. I like to cheer on former Mariners (provided they aren’t playing for the Yankees or another team in the AL West). So the Gillick-era has made Phillies baseball much more enjoyable for me to watch.
That’s not to say the other guys aren’t good guys. The current Phillies squad it really chalked full of great guys who are excellent ball players — Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino, and Jayson Werth to name a few.
Obviously the squad is full of good ball players — they won the World Series and all – but Gillick really deserves some credit for putting together a group of quality guys. The 1993 Phillies were good too, but I could not stand most of their team, particuarly Curt Shilling and Lenny Dykstra, two of my least favorite players ever.
Anyway, lets get back to the game. After Moyer put together three solid innings and we polished off our first round of ball park treats, we took Tim over to the play area.
When we left the play area last week during the Braves/Phillies game, Tim declared he wanted to try to get to the top of the “Castle Play area” where the Phanatic is sitting “on his car.” Well, tonight was the night. If you click on that picture to get the jumbo version of it, you might be able to tell that its somewhat confusing how to get up to the top. There are a couple tubes right next to each other and the kids have to pass the first option and go to the second to find the enterance to the tube up to the top. Tim finally figured it out and ended up going up there 4-5 times. I could see it was just packed with kids up in that tubing at the very top that leads to a big spiraling slide down. He loved it.
Another funny note, do you see a guy in a blue shirt sitting in the window in the top red square? That is a Phillies employee who sits in there and makes sure the kids go down the slide *somewhat* one at a time.
[NOTE: As I type, Ichiro just hit a bomb off of Jon Lester. Excellent. Let’s come back M’s!)
Anyway, that guy sitting up in the red square is ushering the kids down the white slide and, between kids, he’s madly texting all of his friends. Ah, *kids* these days.
We were in the play area a good long while. Its a little annoying because you can’t see the field from the play area (bad planning, they should have put it in CF where dads could watch the game as their kids play). Additionally, the TV in the play area is over in the corner and it isn’t big enough. But worst of all, as we were away from the playing field, Moyer started struggling mighily. I snuck back into the field on the 200 level as Colleen watched Tim play. Here is a look from the RF corner:
(Also taken with our old camera)
Moyer gave up 5 runs in the 4th inning. So I had to cut Tim’s play time short so we could get back out to the field area and support Moyer. I always use “ice cream helmet time” as a way of getting him out of there. It worked.
We got Tim’s helmet over by the play area (which is next to the 1B stadium entrance) and then we walked all the way through the outfield and over to the LF corner to eat his ice cream in the same spot as he ate it for the Braves game last week. It was highly annoying going through the OF because it was jam-packed. I like a sparsely populated MLB park where people don’t get in my way. My biggest complaint about Citizens Bank Park is all the darn people! (My second biggest complaint is all of the wind in the concoures and my third biggest complaint is the TERRIBLE name (I prefer to call it, “New Vet Stadium”)). Anyway, on the walk, Colleen snapped this great picture of the Liberty Bell and the Directv Blimp (Tim loved watching that blimp):
When we got over to the LF corner, we founds a perfect SRO counter spot. I went and got some nachos for me and Colleen and some nice Philadelphian snapped this family picture:
[NOTE: ICHIRO JUST HIT HIS SECOND BOMB OF THE GAME!!! 392 FEET! MARINERS TAKE THE LEAD 5-4!]
During our second round of ball park snacks, Colleen took some more ex-Mariners picts to test out her new camera:
You know, I’ve never notice until seeing this picture of Moyer that *New Vet Stadium* has two rows of benches in the dugout. Interesting.
If you know my boy, you might know he is awesome. Likewise, you might know that he is a high energy kid. Well, after his ice cream with sprinkles he kicked the high energy into super-ridiculous-high-energy mode. The Phils were losing 7-1 and Tim was whining up a storm so Colleen was ready to head out in the 7th. I was going to concede. But with the lopsided score, the seats behind the Phils dugout were starting to clear out, and when the Phanatic went down to rally the crowd on top of the dugout, we followed him down and snagged some premium seats. Tim really enjoyed sitting behind the dugout so close to the Phanatic:
Between the innings, we tried to get Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth to throw us a ball. But it didn’t work. We also tried to get closer to the Phanatic in hopes of getting a personal picture with him. But this place is just so packed (as I mentioned) and its really hard to get to the Phanatic. Here is the best we could do:
Tim was sad he didn’t get a ball and didn’t get to hug the Phanatic, so he gave another funny look in yet another shoulder-top-photo:
In the bottom 7th/top 8th, we sat about 15 rows back. In the bottom 8th/top 9th, we sat about 4 rows behind the dugout. It was great for seeing the Phils up close and personal and taking some more action shots. And lo-and-behold, another ex-Mariner made an appearance — Greg Dobbs:
She took this picture of Clay Condrey and Pedro Feliz that, despite being blurry, I think is really cool:
At my request, Colleen took this picture of Joe Torre who, since the game was in hand, I like to think was pondering the Manny Ramirez situation:
By the way, there was a guy sitting right by us in the second row behind the Phils’ dugout who had a sign that said something like “PEDS: Clemens, A-ROD, Manny. Who’s Next, Joe Torre?” I got a chuckle out of it.
Next, Colleen just went off taking pictures of everyone (note she took 160 pictures at this game…well, I took a few of them):
Top left: Casey Blake whiffs at this pitch. A few seconds later, he’d deposit that same ball into the LF seats to make the score 9-1.
Top right: Ryan “R-Ho” Howard — check the pants over the shoes look?
Bottom left: Orlanda Hudson watches a pitch. Simultaneous with this picture, a highly annoying, most likely higly intoxicated 20-something gall was yelling “You suck Hudson. You suck Hudson” and then a number of things that shouldn’t be uttered in a family setting. Between obnoxious rants, she’s turn to Tim and say, “Don’t listen to me. Don’t listen to me. What I’m saying is no good. Listen to you’re parents. Oh, you’re so cute. You’re sooooo cute. Oh, boy, you’re cute. Don’t listen to me!!!” By the way, check Hudson’s pant legs.
Bottom right, Shane Victorino takes an awkward looking hack and hit the ball against the netting on the Dodgers’ dugout.
So, that’s it for the pictures. I hope you enjoyed. A couple closing remarks. For the third game in a row, we closed out a division with this game. The Dodgers were the final N.L. West team that Tim had not seen live. He has now seen every team in the AL and NL West and the NL East.
We ended up leaving after the top of the ninth (when Tim didn’t get the third out ball). At the time, Raul was batting 0-fer on the day. Of course, he’s a stud, so he hit a bomb once we left. Dang, we missed it!
[NOTE: Ichiro just intentionally walked in the 8th. Yes, R-E-S-P-E-C-T!]
Finally, with the loss, Moyer (obviously) did not get his 250th career win. But don’t fret. Tim and I will be in D.C. on Sunday to watch Moyer try to beat the Nationals for his 250th. Let’s hope he gets it done!
[NOTE: MARINERS WIN!!!]
Season Fan Stats:
10 Games (double digits!)
4 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, and Citi Field)
11 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres, Dodgers)
8 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies (3) and Mets)
4 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers)
3 Divisions Closed Out (AL West, NL East, AL West)
2 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2) and The Bird (O’s))
Well, I’m behind in my blogging due to a computer virus that took out my computer. But I’m back now. In the meantime, Tim and I the Braves and Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Now that we’ve seen the Braves, we have completed the N.L. East, our second completed division. Here was the scene as we walked from the Lincoln Financial Field parking lot:
Cole Hamels was pitching and was still winless on the season:
After watching a couple innings from the SRO area behind home plate, we headed over to the play ground where Tim had an absolute blast:
Next, we headed out to the left field corner where we got Tim an ice cream helmet. We’d never watched a game from that area. We liked it a lot. Very cool. Here’s the view:
And, as usual, Tim loved his chocolate ice cream helmet with sprinkles:
Yeah, he got passionate about that ice cream.
Next, we decided to head up to the upper deck:
And we got this panoramic view from the back row of the upper deck:
Later on, we headed back down to the field level where we watched the last couple innings standing next to one of the TV cameras. We got some shots of R-Ho:
“R-Ho,” why hasn’t that caught on? Come on?
Of course, we cheered on Raul Ibanez too:
So guess what? The Phillies won:
The scoreboard showed Hamels’ “W” and it was his first since the World Series:
I got some dude to take a not-very-good picture of Tim and I in front of the Phils’ dugout:
And I snapped a few extra picts for this dugout panoramic:
4 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, and Citi Field)
10 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres)
7 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies (2) and Mets)
4 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers)
2 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2) and The Bird (O’s))