A great thing about Spring Training is that its much easier to meet, chat and get your photo with players on your favorite team. We love to get pictures with Mariners, and that was a major goal during our recent trip to Peoria. So, let’s take a look at what we got.
At Mariners Spring Training the best spot for getting your picture with a Mariner is in the long strip of grass leading from the batting cages behind the Mariners administrative office to practice field M3. There is a roped off strip down the length of the grassy area where the players walk out to the practice fields. That is where we got most of the following pictures.
First up, we ran into Adam Moore:
Moments later, it was Garrett Olson’s turn to pose with Tim:
The Mariners have two superstars — Ichiro and Felix Hernandez. We’ve wanted to get a picture with Ichiro for a long time. But its almost impossible. Felix, however, is another story. We got our picture with him in 2009 at Fenway Park. Tim was happy to meet up with Felix again in Peoria:
Before this trip, neither Tim nor I had ever got our picture with a major league manager. Well, new Mariners manager Eric Wedge was all over the place at Spring Training. And he was happy to lean in real close and smile big for this picture with Tim:
Note: In that picture, Tim is looking at me (taking this same picture on my camera) and Wedge is looking at my mom. This was a common problem during Spring Training. We got a bunch of pictures where one person is looking at one camera and the other is looking at another camera. Oh, well.
Our first baseball of spring training came from Mariners reliever, Chris Seddon. Moments later, Chris was posing for a picture with me and Tim:
It was actually quite funny. We took a first picture with Chris and me standing up straight behind Tim. Then Chris suggested that we get down on Tim’s level, which resulted in the picture above. Personally, I get a chuckle out of it each time I look at Seddon leaning with his hands on his knees and smiling for the camera. Seddon also took time out to say hello to the King of Camden Yards, Avi Miller:
Moments later, David “The D.A.” Aardsma rolled by on his flatbed golf cart and posed for a picture with Tim:
D.A. had surgery recently and was on crutched at the beginning of our trip. However, by the end of our trip he was off the crutches and hobbling around under his own power. At the end of the trip, we also got DA to sign a baseball for us:
I was quite excited to get this picture of Tim with Mariners phenom, Michael Pineda:
Before this trip, I’d never seen Pineda in person. Let me tell you, you cannot miss him. He is HUGE! If he wasn’t crouched down with Tim in this picture, his knees would probably be at Tim’s head level! (Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but he is huge). Pineda also signed this baseball for us:
Former and new Mariner Miguel Olivo was extremely nice to Tim:
After signing a baseball for us, Miguel crouched down and started chatting with Tim. He tried to shake Tim’s hand, but Tim was holding a fist full of authentic Arizona rocks. Instead of a handshake, Miguel was treated to a look at the rocks Tim had collected during catcher’s BP. Here is a look at the baseball Miguel signed for us:
For our first foray into the 2011 MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt competition, Tim got this picture with Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik:
He always gets excited when I mention we live in Pennsylvania, where he was raised. The first time (of many) we saw Jack on this trip, it was just barely drizzling. Jack was passing by us when he asked me “did you bring this [the rain] with you?” This is a common question that anyone from Seattle gets asked whenever they are in another state and it starts raining. I personally have had to answer this question about 40,000 times in my life. I responded, “Not me, we just flew in from Pennsylvania.” Jack was already past me (driving a golf cart) when he heard this and he immediately stopped and came back to ask me where we live in Pennsylvania.
Another top Mariners executive (and minority owner) was usually hanging around the fields during our trip. It was Howard Lincoln, Mariners Chairman, CEO, minority owner, and representative of the Mariners corporate majority owner, Nintendo. This picture of Tim and Howard Lincoln is another MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt picture:
Note: In this picture, Tim is standing on the back of a golf cart. If you click to enlarge the picture, you can see a tag hanging over the steering wheel that says, “Jack Z.” Yep, that was the golf cart Jack was driving when he asked if we brought the rain with us.
As already shown in our recent entry, we had a great interaction and got several pictures with…
The day we got the Milton Bradley bat was crazy. Its the same day we got the Luke French autograph (featured in our last entry). It was the same day as the Howard Lincoln picture. And it was the same day as the next six player pictures.
First up at the end of the daily workout session, Franklin Gutierrez a/k/a “Death to Flying Things”:
Next up, Mainers firstbaseman, Justin Smoak:
This was as good as we could do with respect to getting our picture with top Mariners prospect Dustin Ackley:
We also didn’t get a traditional, posed picture with Mariners outfield prospect, Greg Halman:
We had a nice chat with local Seattle product and all around good guy, Matt Tuisasosopo:
Tim was right with us during these last five pictures, but he didn’t want to get in any of the pictures. I was bummed about it because we’d still never had a picture with both Tim and Kellan and a player — every picture has either been one or the other.
That all changed when Ryan Langerhans passed by us. Tim asked Ryan to sign our Greg Halman baseball and then all of us posed for this picture:
Lower left: Justin Smoak 17
Lower right: Ryan Langerhans
At Mariners/Padres Fan Fest at the Peoria Sports Complex’s main stadium, Tim got this picture with Greg Zaun:
It’s Tim’s first picture with a Padre. See that baseball Zaun is holding? The first 400 kids at Fan Fest got a little back pack with Mariners and Padres baseball cards, a baseball, a sharpie and some other stuff in it. The baseball wasn’t a ROMLB. It was some random brand with an advertisement for a baseball card shop on it. It wasn’t a great baseball for autographs, but Tim ended up having a bunch of people sign it. Actually, its unfortunate he didn’t use our spare ball that a fan gave Tim a couple days earlier for all of those autographs. Oh, well, Tim was quite happy to collect a bunch of autographs on his door prize baseball.
Thanks again, Luke!
Our final picture with a Mariner was this group shot with the Mariner Moose, also at Fan Fest:
As you can see, Spring Training was excellent in terms of getting pictures with Mariners. We didn’t get our picture with Ichiro, but we knew that was a long shot, even at Spring Training. Other than Ichiro, the only player who I really wanted to get a picture with, but failed to do so, was Mariners pitcher, Jason Vargas. But maybe we can track him down during the regular season. We will see.
On June 13, 2010, two factors [incredibly awesome seats + extremely relaxed stadium staff during Kids Run The Bases] combined to result in one of the longest, more picture laden game reports that we have ever produced. Here it goes.
We woke up at the KOA in Chula Vista and hit the local Denny’s for breakfast. Then we came back, got ready for the Mariners game at Petco Park and used the spare time we had before the game to play in the KOA’s play area:
It was an afternoon game, so it was still morning when we got to the park. I know an extremely cool guy named Al who lived most of his life in our area in PA, but now lives in San Diego. Back in November 2009, he mentioned that he has the ability to get incredibly awesome seats at Padres games and offered to get them for us for this game. I was unsure if it would actually happen so I bought cheap outfield tickets before the season started to be sure we had tickets.
Al was planning to join us for at least part of the game so we arranged to meet him at the stadium. But we arrived about 45 minutes before him. So we used the cheap outfield tickets to head inside for BP. After Tim collected his Padres batting helmet giveaway, we headed in and found there was no BP today. Even worse was the fact that Tim couldn’t play in the Beach because it was closed. There was a “breakfast in the park” event on the warning track and I guess they didn’t want loud kids right next to the people who were literally eating breakfast at tables on the warning track.
Only two Mariners were on the field when we arrived.
Mr. Ryan Rowland-Smith was doing his running and stretching routine in LF…
Soon, Chone Figgins and Casey Kotchman came out to play some catch. While they were playing, I noticed that my Dad had wondered off. I wasn’t sure where he had gone. When Figgins and Kotchman finished playing catch…
…Kotchman walked back to the dugout. As I watched him approach the dugout, I saw that my Dad was the only person standing directly above the dugout — and he was wearing a Mariners shirt. Kotchman rewarded him with the his and Figgins’ warm up baseball.
Tim and I headed over to the dugout to hang out with my Dad. The stadium was empty and it was a cool “morning in the park” type atomosphere. People were quietly getting ready for a day of baseball. At one point, a guy started mowing the infield:
The Padres helmets came with number stickers. I put “18” on the back of Tim’s helmet. When we were standing behind the dugout with my Dad, Tim asked me to put a “5” on the bill of his helmet. Then he told me to put a “1” in front of the “5.” I did…
…and then Tim said, “5-1 just like Ichiro!” He was a little bummed out when I told him that we’d really done “15” — Milton Bradley — not Ichiro’s “51.” A second later, Al called us and we left the stadium and met him out front. Because we’d be entering the stadium again on new tickets, I told Tim he would get another helmet and we could put Ichiro’s “51” on it.
We headed out the exit in LF and then we circled…
My Dad, Tim, Al and I headed to our seats, which were in the 18th row directly behind home plate. They were amazing seats. A bunch of Mariners pitchers were playing catch down the 3B line, so Tim and I headed over there while my Dad and Al hung out chatting in our seats.
We stayed in the same place and watched a couple different sets of M’s pitchers play catch. First, Jason Vargas (foreground below) and Luke French (background below) played right in front of us. At one point, French threw a low and inside (for a righty) pitch that Vargas couldn’t handle…
…it trickled right by Vargas and into my glove. I immediately scooped it up and tossed it back to Vargas — he needed the ball and I couldn’t stand in the way of my team’s pitchers getting their work in. When I tossed the ball back to Vargas, I asked if we could get the ball back when they were finished. He said, “Maybe.” Unfortunately, the maybe turned into a “no” because Vargas and French got into a deep discussion about grips on the ball (see inset picture) and they kept handing the ball back and forth as they walked back to the dugout.
Next, David Aardsma and Brandon League started stretching right in front of us. The D.A. gave Tim a smile and a little wave…
…which Tim thought was pretty cool. After playing some warm up catch, League started pitching to Aardsma with the D.A. crouched on the foul line. Early on, a pitch trickled by the D.A. and I scooped it up. As I tossed it back to Aardsma, I asked if we could get it back after they finished playing catch. He gave me a more definitive answer than Vargas, “Yeah.”
As we waited for League and Aardsma to wrap up, former All-Star Chad Cordero walked by and was happy to sign an autograph and pose for a picture with Tim:
Tim was working on another All-Star ballot while we watched the pitchers warming up. League was still pitching to Aardsma. Eventually, Tim asked me if I would pick him up. For the first time, I took off my glove (set it on the wall) and bent down to pick up Tim.
The hard tossing Brandon League uncorked a wild and blazing fast ball past Aardsma. From the corner of my eye, I saw it skip off the outer edge of the warning track. As I lifted Tim up, the ball violently hit the very top of the padded wall…at literally the top inch of the wall. People shreaked as they thought the ball was going to smash me and Tim. Had the wall been an inch shorter, it would have slammed into my side. And it would have really hurt, I could tell. An usher came to ask us if we were alright. Luckily, the wall was just high enough and the ball bounced back onto the grass on the 3B side of Aardsma.
Soon, League and Aardsma switched positions and League was crouched on the foul line catching the D.A.
The day before, Ryan Rowland-Smith had told us that he has daily discussions with Cliff Lee about pitching. Today, we watched first hand as…
Eventually, Aardsma snuck a pitch by League and, for the third time, I scooped the ball up off of the warning track and threw the ball back. This time, I asked League if we could get the ball when they were finished. Instead of making us wait to find out the answer, he walked over and grabbed his wild pitch ball that had almost taken me out, and he tossed the baseball to me.
Soon thereafter, Lee and RRS headed over to RF so RRS could do some work off of the mound in the M’s bullpen. We decided to head over there as well. Actually, we didn’t know they’d gone over there. We just saw action in the M’s bullpen and figured we should see what was happening.
When we got over there, Lee was chatting up a Padre in the OF grass right next to the bullpen and RRS was pitching to Cook & Son Hall of Famer Jason Phillips:
Between pitches, Phillips saw us and said hi. After RRS finished his work, Jason came over to the fence and chatted with us a bit. It was nice to chat with him. As we were splitting up, I asked if I could get his picture with RRS and he asked if we wanted a baseball. So, after he hooked us up with a ball — our ninth overall from Phillips and our 7th stadium getting a ball from him — he went to grab Ryan. But Ryan was busy talking to Rick Adair. When RRS was finished, he said hi to us and I asked if I could get his picture with Phillips. So, he grabbed Jason and they posed for the picture above.
Ryan knows that Jason is a Cook & Son Hall of Famer because he saw it on our blog, so he understood why I wanted their picture together. But I have no clue if Jason knows about the C&S Hall of Fame. I guess I should ask him later this season.
After the picture, Tim and I started heading back to our seats and Tim tapped me on the leg and quietly asked, “Can I ask Jason Phillips something?” (FYI, Tim pretty regularly asks me extremely quietly if he can ask people questions). We headed back over to the bullpen and I got Jason’s attention and said, “The little guy has something he wants to tell you.” Tim yelled out, “My favorite baseball players are the MARINERS!” That gave Jason a big smile.
Then we headed to our seats. Check this out:
Here was the view:
So you want to hear something crazy? We literally just left the bullpen where we were talking to Jason Phillips and we arrived at our seats where we discovered we were sitting right next to Jason’s family. Prodded by a very nice and talkative federal employee, we all started chatting. I ended going over and sitting right in front of Mr. Phillips for a bit and discussing our many run-ins with his son. He told us an interesting piece of trivia that I did not know: Jason Phillips hit the 5,000th homerun in Mets franchise history off of Randy Wolf of the Phillies. (FYI, Ken Griffey, Jr. achieved the same accomplishment for the Mariners in 2009).
The reason the whole discussion started in our section is because Jason’s dad was wearing some huge rings and the federal employee asked him what they were. Here is a look at one of the rings:
Jason’s dad is on a softball team that has won the world championship twice in the last couple years. And these were some huge and legit looking rings. Two seconds after this picture, Tim asked Jason’s dad if he could have this ring.
By the way, this wasn’t the only championship ring in our immediate vicinity. This ring was sitting on a finger two rows behind us on the opposite side of the stairs…
You might have noticed in the panorama a couple pictures above that there were military people standing at each position on the field. Sundays at Petco Park are military appreciation days. There were a bunch of military people on the field before the game…
This meant that the Padres were also wearing their camoflague jerseys…
…which I am showing off in this picture because I think the contrast in the first kid’s face and Heath Bell’s face is hilarious. That kid gunned the ceremonial first pitch to the backstop…and the throw would have been behind a left handed batter.
Soon, the game was underway. Ichiro led off with a walk…
This view of home plate was so great, I could hardly stop myself from taking pictures of every at bat.
I cannot thank Al enough for hooking us up with these seats. It was a joy to watch King Felix dominate the Padres from this amazing view:
The only downside about these seats was that they were right out in the open beneath the hot sun. No shade at all. Tim is a big fan of shade, and not so much of the sun. But we cooled the boy off with an ice cream helmet…
…early in the game. By the way, that is Jason Phillips dad three down from Tim wearing the royal blue hat and about to pop some seeds in his mouth. He was decked out in Blue Jays gear to support his other son, Kyle Phillips. And that is Al sitting right next to Tim.
The last time I saw King Felix hit in interleague play, he hit a grand slam off of Johan Santana. Today, he was all about sacrifice bunting…
Leading off the bottom of the third, Scott Hairston got the first Padres hit of the day off of King Felix, and then something crazy and horrible followed.
Tony Gwynn, Jr. hit this pitch on a low line to CF (see how Gutierrez is already reading the ball to be a little off toward LF)…
…and at the last minute, Gutierrez swooped in to try to snar it. But it fell a tiny bit short and rolled all the way to the wall. Gwynn was off to the races and he did not stop until he had a stand up “quadruple.”
I don’t think that I have ever witnessed a professional “inside the park homerun” before, Tim definitely had not. After witnessing this one, I think they should be called “quadruples” because they are a whole lot more like triples than they are homeruns. They’re fundamentally different than homeruns. Pretty exicting. I just wish the Mariners could have had a “do over” because Gutierrez catches everything and given a second chance, I know he would have caught this one too.
All of sudden, we were losing 2-0 despite the fact that Felix Hernandez was generally dominating the Padres. We needed some offense, and Milton Bradley was happy to provide it…
Soon, Tim needed some relief from the sun. So we took a walk in the shady concourse that turned into a tour of the remaining part of Petco Park that I didn’t see the day before. We headed up to the upper deck in RF…
By the way, check out the kids sitting digging in the sand with their backs turned to the field. Not a bright idea. Hopefully no kid ever gets (or has already gotten) tagged by a homerun into the Beach.
On our way back over to foul territory, a nice fan took our picture (with Ichiro batting in the background):
…I describe it as “weird” because from most places in the stadium these flags range from very hard to see to impossible to see. In fact, I never noticed them until walking by them…for the second time.
Even from above, Felix looked dominant:
Tim did his best attempt at standing at attention when this kind Marine officer (at least I’m guessing he is an officer, he appeared to be in charge of the rest of them) agreed to pose for a picture with Tim:
As we made our way down the walkway ramps to the field level, I took this shot showing the interesting architecture of Petco Park:
…and exploded a bunch of peanut shells. See that funny straw hat on the lady sitting in front of Tim in the top right picture? That old lady was unintentionally hilarious. She was a Padres fan and her husband was a Mariners fan who used to live in Seattle. At random times throughout the day, she would aggressively mutter “hit it over the fence! hit it over the fence!” at her Padres batters and she would sound disgusted if the Mariners did anything good.
Luckily, the Mariners gave her a few more opportunities to sound disgusted.
Going into the top of the 8th inning, the score was still 2-2. The Padres starter, Clayton Richard, had gone 7 innings giving up only 5 hits and 2 runs, but they lifted him for Luke Gregerson in the 8th.
Gregerson started off by giving up an infield single to Chone Figgins. Two batters later, Jose Lopez smacked this ball…
Although nothing more came of it, it was fun to see Milton Bradley talk home plate umpire Angel Hernandez into a hit by pitch later in the inning…
In the top of the 9th, the Mariners were still leading 3-2 when Joe Thatcher took the hill for the Padres. Thatcher promptly surrendered a single to Mariners catcher Rob Johnson. It was Rob’s third hit of the day and I later learned that it was only the second 3-hit day of his career. Interestingly, we were also present for his only other 3-hit game last season.
Felix Herandez came to the plate next and sacrificed his favorite catcher over to second base.
That brought Ichiro to the plate. Ichiro and the Mariners were looking for a little insurance for their slim 1-run lead. Ichiro started by bunting the first pitch foul…
Tim and I like to try to get a ball from the umpire after a game. But in the first four games of the roadtrip we hadn’t even tried. Since we were already sitting so close to the umpires’ tunnel at this game, we figured we might as well give it a shot.
The umpires’ tunnel at Petco Park is at the home plate side of the visitors’ dugout. In the bottom of the ninth, with Felix back on the mound gunning for a complete game, we headed over to try to stand in the cross aisle right behind the tunnel. An usher saw us and suggested that we sit in some of the open seats nearby. He pointed out some seats that he had in mind.
I asked him if it would be okay to go a little closer to the umpires’ tunnel. He said, “Oh, you want to try to get a ball after the game? Sure!” And he let us take these seats right above the tunnel:
In that picture, Felix Hernandez is about to walk down into the dugout. He got the first batter in the bottom of the ninth, but then surrendered a single to Adrian Gonzalez. When Scott Hairston hit an infield grounder, everyone in the stadium thought it was a game ending double play. But Hairston beat it out and Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu decided to pull Felix and put in David Aardsma.
Felix was upset about not getting to finish the game. But on his fourth pitch, the D.A. induced a pop fly by Nick Hundley and the scoreboard showed the happy totals:
After the almost double play, the usher came by to give us some advice on getting a ball from the umpire. He was very nice. But with the pop fly out, we had plenty of time to get into the corner spot right at the back of the dugout and side of the umpire tunnel.
Angel Hernandez walked off and walked right over to Tim and handed him this baseball…
…5 seconds later, 3B umpire “Cowboy” Joe West walked by and grabbed the baseball back from Tim and started walking into the tunnel with the baseball. He then turned back around and brought the ball back to Tim. He was very amused by his little prank. And we used the opportunity to give Joe West some high fives and then get this awesome picture (above left) of Tim and West.
I had wanted real bad to get a picture of Tim with an umpire for the mygameballs.com photo scavenger hunt. It seemed to me like it was the hardest picture in the competition to get. The umpires generally don’t linger on the field after games. They take off quick. So the fact that West decided to play a fast one on Tim and take his baseball back was the perfect opportunity.
Thank you, Joe West! And thank you, Angel Hernandez, too!
Our day at the ballpark wasn’t finished just yet. It was Kids Run The Bases time!
The line started deep in the Park in the Park…
We entered the field through a ramp next to the bleachers and beach:
The line took a while to finally get into the field. But finally we made it! And it was awesome. Some stadiums have strict policies and strict ushers enforcing them during Kids Run The Bases. Our first sign of the relaxed attitude was that an usher agreed to take this picture of us kneeling in front of the “400” foot sign:
We stopped right by the usher who took that picture so I could get a shot of Tim with the field behind him…
We always try to get our picture by the RF foul pole and OF fence distance marker. This turned out being one of my favorite pictures ever…
…first I told Tim to stand next to the “322” like he was playing outfield. Then I told him to jump against the wall like he was trying to catch a baseball. I absolutely love that jumping picture. Check that out, he’s hanging in the air!
The relaxed usher attitude carried over to the bullpen. Tim played a little catcher…
…by the way, we seemed to be the only people running around taking fun pictures on our walk to home plate. Sure, some people were taking pictures with the field behind them. But I didn’t see anyone else snapping pictures by the wall or in the bullpen. They missed out on some great photo opportunities!
Here is another random shot with the field behind Tim…
The Padres did a great job with the actual run too. They spaced the kids out really well. When we walked up, I must have looked like I wanted to follow Tim (which I did) because the 1B usher said to me, “Go for it!” So I followed Tim with my camera ablazing…
My dad stayed in the seats behind the 3B dugout where he got this video on his camera:
After the run, the ushers were still pretty relaxed. I got our standard “with the dugout” picture…
By the way, see those two windows behind the LF fence? Those go into the Padres team store. There is a door from the team store into a little triangle standing area just behind the fence where fans can watch the game from field level through the chain link OF fence.
After that last picture, we headed out to our car…
We stayed at the Chula Vista KOA again. After the game, we took a little dip in the pool…
…and then went to dinner at an amazing Mexican restaurant in a little strip mall. It wasn’t an impressive place from the outside, but the food was delicious and the people were extremely nice. So, if you’re in Chula Vista, be sure to check out Casa Del Taco.
2010 Fan Stats:
14 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres and Nationals)
32 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 1 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 5 Umpires, 1 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres)
8 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO 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)
We woke up in Pamona, California on the morning of Saturday, June 12, 2010, and were excited to venture further south through California, passed Angel Stadium in Anaheim (not Los Angeles), down the coast…
…to the city of San Diego, and then a little further south to our cabin waiting for us at the KOA in Chula Vista, California. But more than anything, we were excited because over the next two days we’d be watching our Mariners try to battle out of a slump and win some ball games.
After taking a dip in the pool at the KOA, we were off to Petco Park…
Tim loves a good sand box, so he was in sand box heaven. By the way, Tim was sporting a full Mariners uniform to this game — Ichiro jersey T-shirt, baseball pants, stirrup socks, and an M’s hat. I told him that maybe Ichiro would ask him to play with the team.
The CF gate opens half an hour earlier than the rest of the stadium and provides access to the bleachers and the beach. The “bleachers” are incredibly unique at Petco Park, check them out…
As Tim played with the dozens of buckets, shovels and other toys, the Padres were taking BP. Eventually, a ball rolled to the wall in the deepest center part of the beach and Luke Gregerson moseyed on over to pick it up right in front of me and my Dad.
As he picked up the ball, I asked him:
Todd – (Pointing at Tim) “Hey, could you please toss that ball over for my son over there in the Ichiro shirt?”
L.G. – “Ichiro shirt!?”
Todd – “Yeah, Ichiro shirt. But, hey, my Dad here works as an usher for Padres spring training games in Peoria!”
L.G. – Really?
Dad – Yep.
L.G. – (Tosses the ball)
Todd – Thanks!
I had no clue who the player was, but it said “57” on his back and my computer tells me that number 57 on the Padres is Luke Gregerson. So…
By the way, here is a panoramic view through the beach from a couple rows back in the bleachers…
Something funny happened when we were in the beach. The Padres pitchers, including team jester Heath Bell, were running sprints in RF when a baseball rolled to the middle of the warning track toward the RF side of the beach. When Health Bell finished up his work and started walking over to LF, a girl called out to him and asked for the baseball. He walked over and with his foot pushed the ball up against the wall (which is simply a chain link fence in the beach) and said, “there you go!” and then he ran off.
Then the girl, who was probably about 8-10 years old grabbed the ball through the fence and passed the ball back-and-forth from hand-to-hand as she went up the fence. When she got to head level, her dad picked her up so she could continue going up the fence passing the ball back-and-forth to herself. Finally, she was at the top of the fence and passed the baseball over the top to herself. I’ve never seen anything like that before at a game. Pretty cool.
Here is another view from the beach area — taken by my dad…
While we were hanging out in the Beach, a guy named Scott (who just commented on our last game) — Hi, Scott! — came up and introduced himself to me and said he enjoys reading our blog and checking out our pictures. Its always cool to meet someone who enjoys following along with our adventures on MLBlogs.
Soon, the rest of the stadium opened and we headed behind the batters eye toward the LF seats. On our way over there (as we passed a big concert stage), we ran into a mariachi band…
Anyway, we swung around to the field leve seats in LF where we hung out for just a few minutes…
…in that last picture that is Heath Bell crouched down like a catcher and a Padres player and ball boy looking kid were taking turns pitching to him. Later, Heath was practically wrestling the kid in the OF. Bell was having himself a good old time during BP.
To get from LF to the seats in foul territory down the 3B line, you have to go behind the Western Metal Supply Co. warehouse and up a couple flights of stairs. And that is what we did when we saw the Mariners come out and start stretching in front of their dugout.
Tim and I went down the 3B line and an usher informed us that we had to sit down to watch BP from foul territory. WHAT? That’s just weird. But whatever. This is the view from where we sat down:
As i was taking pictures, a nice guy who was probably in his sixties walked over and put a baseball in Tim’s hand and walked away before I could tell him he should give the ball to another little kid. I guess a lot of kids like it when some random fan gives them a baseball, but Tim has got a bunch of balls already in his life and the few times it has happened, I always tell the generous would-be ball giver that Tim has already got a ball and he should give the ball to another little kid. But this guy took off before I could say anything. “Hmmm…,” I was thinking, “what are we going to do with this random baseball?”
Meanwhile, the Mariners were jogging back-and-forth in front of their dugout…
…as they ran back toward 3B for the final time, Cook & Son Hall of Famer Ryan Rowland-Smith was at the front of the pack and he immediately noticed us sitting in the front row a couple sections passed 3B. He gave me a nod and I have him a wave with my glove.
Thirty seconds later, RRS was sitting on the wall chatting with me…
…and signing that ball the random fan had just given to Tim. We got RRS to sign baseball for us last season, so after he signed this ball, I gave it to my dad who has never got RRS’s signature.
Here’s the deal, RRS is awesome. He hung out sitting on that wall and chatting with me, my dad and Tim…
We talked about all sorts of cool stuff, but I am going to keep our conversation private becaues I didn’t ask RRS if he would mind if I shared our conversation on here. But I will note that one of the coolest parts was when RRS talked about the conversations he has on a daily basis with Cliff Lee as he tries to overcome his early season struggles. He got down in a catcher’s crouch and was showing us what locations he has been hitting and what locations he should be hitting. It was extremely cool to get a behind the scenes glimpse into the work that goes into being a professional pitcher.
By the way, did you notice that they stationed a security guard to stand behind RRS as he chatted with us? Not only that, the ushers actually let us stand during BP so we could chat with RRS. I guess that is one of the perks you get when a player comes over to chat with you at Petco Park.
Oh, yeah. I should also mention that I was wearing the jersey that RRS gave me!
Eventually, we went our separate ways.
We headed out to the LF corner. And right when we got there, Ian Snell tossed us a baseball. The Mariners were just starting to get into the cage by this point. So we decided to head over to the Padres dugout to watch Ichiro hit. On the way, I took this shot of the the concourse down the 3B line:
…Tim decided to tie himself in knots with the Padres scarf that they gave away to the fans at this game. After the first group of Mariners finished hitting they all ran out into the infield to pick up stray baseballs and return them to the basket at the pitchers mound. The pitcher was M’s batting coach Alonzo Powell. As he grabbed a ball just in front of the mound, I called out, “Hey, Alonzo!” He looked up and my Dad and I both flashed him some leather. He tossed the ball over to my Dad for his first baseball at Petco Park.
Next, we headed out to RF where this was our view:
The front row was shoulder to shoulder. A couple Mariners pitchers were in LF including the D.A., David Aardsma. Soon, a ball got over his head and rolled the wall in front of us. I shouted, “Hey, D.A.!” He looked up, made eye contact with me, and tossed me the ball on a weird angle as he walked back to his spot in LF.
And this is what I don’t like about a getting a toss up in a crowded area. The ball was plainly, 100% without a shadow of a doubt intended for me and Tim, and I caught it without moving my feet whatsoever. However, with the weird angle on which Aardsma threw us the ball, I ended up catching the ball 6 inches in front of a young (22’ish year old), moderately good looking girl. I don’t think anyone would have thought anything about it if I just handed the ball over to Tim, but to me it felt a little funny. Actually, it didn’t feel funny, because I knew the ball was intended for us. But it felt like it probably looked funny (does that make sense?). So instead of handing the ball to Tim, I just opened my glove, held it out for the girl (who was there with her boyfriend), and let her grab the ball out of my glove. And she did just that, without a “thank you” or the slightest hint of acknowledgement that I’d just done something nice for her, which was not very cool in my book.
The worst part is that the situation with the girl threw me off and I don’t think I even thanked the D.A.
So, thanks, D.A.!
BP wrapped up, we headed out to the Park in the Park. First, we checked out the Tony Gwynn statue:
I took another panorama from the beyond the CF wall of the Park in the Park in the Park…
Next, I took what very well may be the coolest panorama that I have ever taken…
Next, it was off to the other side of the seats right next to the warehouse, where I took this shot:
…then it was up to the second deck, which is some sort of special deck. It seemed like they don’t let you into these seats generally, but the usher said I could go in to take some pictures. Here is what it looked like from there:
Soon, I found myself right next to the warehouse. I wanted to get into the warehouse, but I didn’t know if I could. There was a sign in the concourse behind the warehouse that said there was a private party going on there. So, I went into the seating area and got this panorama right next to the warehouse…
…a stadium worker had just walked into the hallway. There was no rope and no one to say I couldn’t go in there, so I did. As I walked down the hallway, there were a couple open doors with soda fountains and random food prep paraphenalia strewn all about. At the other end of the hallway, there were two food server type stadium workers and neither of them said anything to me.
At the end of the hallway, I took a right and there was a narrow walkway that led out to the porch on the top of the warehouse. There was an usher standing in the middle of the walkway and two garbage cans blocking the way. I walked up and acted confused for the guy, “Are we on the warehouse? Am I not supposed to be here? Hey, can I go out there real quick to take a picture?” The guy looked a little confused right back at me and then said, “sure, okay.”
So, I made it out on top of the warehouse! And this was the view:
I headed back behind home plate and got this panorama:
I headed toward RF and got this picture…
Franklin Gutierrez walked on this pitch:
The Padres then intentionally walked Bradley…
It was time to head to our seats. I got this panorama on the way to our seats…
Tim played in the beach until they cleared out all of the non-bleacher ticketed fans. They made it to our seats shortly before I did. Tim was hungry so we got our customary nachos:
After the Mariners left three runners on base in the top of the first, the Padres showed them how to take advantage of scoring opportunties. David Eckstein led off with a single and was replaced on first after Chase Headley hit into a fielder’s choice. Adrian Gonzalez then blasted a two run bomb to put the Padres up 2-0. Unfortunately, that was all the offense the Padres would need.
Still, it was a good game and the Mariners were in it until the end thanks to a solid outing (despite the loss) by Cliff Lee — somehow I failed to take a single picture of Lee at this game.
In the second inning, the M’s cut the Padres lead in half. It started with Rob Johnson’s double down the RF line:
In the bottom of the second, I snapped this picture of Tony Gwynn, Jr. hitting a single on a swinging bunt:
I am not positive about this, but I think Gwynn (who I have probably seen play before) completes the third father-son set that I have seen play in the majors. Others include Ken Griffey-Ken Griffey, Jr. and Cecil Fielder-Prince Fielder. Maybe there have been others, but not that I can recall.
The next time Ichiro came to the plate, he grounded out. But check out the interesting stat that they put on the big screen during his at bat…
Soon, it was time for some ice cream. I walked all around the field level concourse looking for ice cream helmets. Here are some views from the concourse:
In that upper right picture, that big wall to the right is a slanted wall that runs from the upper deck all the way down to the ground outside the stadium. I finally found the “Kettle & Cone” stand where they have ice cream helmets. The tricky thing about finding it is that it is not on the main concourse. Rather, it is behind the concourse (if that makes sense) on the 3B side near home plate. Actually, in that upper right picture (with the slanted wall) if you click on it to view it full sized, you’ll see part of a red sign over a opening in the wall to the right. The red sign says “MERCADO” and the opening in the wall is a hall way that leads back behind the concourse to a big bar and a couple different food stands. That’s where the ice cream helmets can be found.
And this was my ice cream helmet’s view of the game from my seat in section 120, row 29, seat 1:
After showing you the Padres bullpen toward the beginning of this entry, I mentioned that I would show you the visitors’ bullpen at Petco Park a bit later. Well, in this picture of Figgy playing 2B, you can see the visitors’ bullpen in the background:
During this game, Tim fell in love with the all-star ballot. As shown here, with Grandpa’s assistance he kept busy…
Cliff Lee gave up his third and final run of the night in the fourth inning and then went on to pitch 7 innings, giving up 7 hits. Cliff actually went an inning deeper in the game than the Padres starter, Wade LeBlanc, who also gave up 7 hits in his six innings. The difference in the game was that LeBlanc and his relievers (including the baseball giving Luke Gregerson) kept the Mariners baserunner, just like Milton Bradley here in the sixth inning…
In the 7th or 8th inning, we decided to head out to the Park in the Park to see what the game looks like from out there. Before departing our seats in section 120, a nice fan took our picture…
…by the way, I bought some wet wipe before this game because I had forgot to bring any on the trip. I usually use them to wash down Tim’s chocolate covered face after he devours an ice cream helmet. Unfortunately, after buying the wipes, I misplaced them under the car seat and never took them to a single game on this trip. Therefore, like in this picture, Tim’s face was a bit chocolatey a lot during this trip.
We grabbed a spot on the hill in the PITP, and Tim stood in front of us and hit fake pitches and circled faked bases. Here he is standing at his fake home plate…
You know what, I took a video of Tim hitting a fake homerun, here it is:
Although it was only a two run game when Lee handed the ball off to the M’s bullpen in the 8th inning, the M’s relieves quickly put the game out of reach. Sean White got only one out in the 8th inning, but gave up 3 runs. Brandon League got the final two outs in the 8th and gave up one more run. Actually, to be more precise, I should mention that two of Sean White’s runs actually scored on a 3-run homerun that League gave up to pinch hittig Oscar Salazar.
Between the Salazar homerun and the victory, the batters’ eye was shooting blasts of fire into the air a lot in the evening hours at Petco Park:
We decided to hang out in the PITP for a bit to let the crowd thin out a bit, but then we realized the crowd was getting bigger. There was a post game concert in the PITP. So, we had another nice fan take our picture…
To book end the game, I took another picture of Petco Park from the parking lot…
In just about 12 hours, we would be back at Petco Park for a day game and hoping to see our second Mariners win of 2010.
2010 Fan Stats:
14 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels and Athletics; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres and Nationals)
11 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies, Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)
8 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park)
10 Player Photos (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
7 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
4 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park)
On April 19th, Tim and I headed to Philadelphia for our second game of the season, first in Philadelphia, and Tim’s first time seeing the Padres. In fact, I picked this game because I wanted to check the Padres off of Tim’s list. My goal is for Tim to have seen every MLB team play live by August 17, 2009 — when we will see the Royals play the White Sox in Chicago.
We had Standing Room Only tickets for this game. Personally, I think SRO are a great option for us. They are cheap and they come with no seats attached…Tim isn’t a fan of sitting in seats unless he has another kid there to entertain him. Otherwise, he likes to roam and see the park and all it has to offer. We did a lot of roaming at this game and got a lot of pictures to compile for panaramic views. Here is the first (behind section 131 or 130):
Citizens Bank Park has standing room behind the last row in the 100 level all the way from the LF corner to RF (out there by the bullpen, just above Shane Victorino in this picture). Many seating sections have a standing counter just behind the back row, which are absolutely perfect for me and Tim. Generally, I’ll stand and watch the game while Tim will scarf down his favorite ball park treats. While we stood here, Tim had his first ice cream helmet of the season! We try to get ice cream helmets at every stadium we visit. So far, last season and this season, only Camden Yards has dissappointed us thus far on the ice cream helmet front. The 3B field level ice cream place has consistently offered the biggest ice cream helmets we’ve seen at any park. Check it out:
Hey, check out that guy over Tim’s right shoulder in the first picture. Recognize that guy? Oh, yeah. That’s former Mariners great, Raul Ibanez. I recently named him as a reserve on my All-Time Mariners team. Actually, he is the best and most consistant in the storied history of the Mariners. However, I had to bump him to the bench so I could slide Jay Buhner into a position he played only 16 times in his Mariners Hall of Fame career.
One thing I enjoy about the Phillies is that they, thanks to former GM Pat Gillick, always have a fresh stock of former Mariners. The most notable in recent years include the M’s all-time winningest pitcher, Jamie Moyer (the number 2 starter on my All-Time Mariners list), Freddy Garcia (my no. 4 all-time Mariners starter), benchman extraordinaire, Greg Dobbs, Ryan Franklin, and now, Ibanez. This was my first game seeing Rauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuul as a Phil, so I stocked up on lost of Raul picts, plus a special one below. However, getting to that, lets compare to pictures that illustrate my Mariners-Phillies connection theory.
This first picture is of the mighty Ibanez stepping into the box at Safeco Field back on July 19, 2008. Just above the Indians catcher, you’ll see Mariners all-time third-base coach Sam Perlozzo giving Raul the “rip a homer” sign. Okay, now fast forward back to our current game.
Here is a shot of Raul leading off 2B after hitting double for the Phighting Phils. And, who, I ask, is coaching Raul around the basepaths over there at 3B? Why, its all-time Mariners 3B coach, Sam Perlozzo! Like I said, there is always a host of former M’s to cheer while in Philadelphia, and this game was no except.
While Tim ate his ice cream a couple things happened. First, Raul Ibanez dove for a low liner hit by some Padre…not sure who. He missed it and it went to the wall for a run scoring triple. The hitter than scored a few minutes later. So, the general feel was that Ibanez was on the hook if the Phils lost a close game. Second, and on a happier note, the Phillies Phanatic made an appearance near-by. Apparently, it was the Phanatic’s brithday. After meeting the Orioles Bird last week, Tim really wanted to meet the Phanatic. But it wasn’t in the cards. Nevertheless, it was entertaining to watch him:
Anyway, back to the game. After Tim polished off his ice cream, it was time to start roaming the park. First, we stopped by to see the World Series trophy (located in the LF nook by the “Schmidter” stand) and headed up the ramp to the upper-deck.
Here is the view from up there:
As you probably known, the Phillies’ hall of fame announcer, Harry Kalas, died a week ago in the broadcast booth before a game in Washington, D.C. Outside the stadium there was an fan memorial to HK on the Mike Schmidt statute. The Phillies also painted HK’s signature on the field with a notation “HOF 2002.” One of the main reasons I wanted to go up top was to get a picture looking down on the Kalas signature:
While up there, we took the opportuntiy to get a few more shots including the skyline, the bullpens / Ashburn Alley, and a video Harry Kalas singing “God Bless America” on the big screen (actually taken from Ashburn Alley after coming down from the upper-deck):
While in the RF upper-deck, I took some pictures to make this panaramic view:
While standing here, we took a minute to tie Tim’s shoe. Then we started walking toward center field. While en route to center, about 30 second after this photo, Chase Utley hit a home run that went just below us.
Next, we headed down to Ashburn Alley and, from there, cut over to the 1B side where I took more photos for a very similar panaramic view one left below and 1-2 sections over from the last one:
Not much happened in the game while we were in the upper deck. After Utley hit his home run, Adrian Gonzalez hit one for San Diego. By the time I took the photos above, the Phillies were batting in the bottom of the 7th and trailing 4-2 (remember the Ibanez missed diving catch discussed above!).
During the 8th inning, we found ourselves stationed almost directly behind home plate. It was a great place and we were able to get a space at the standing counter where Tim enjoyed some popcorn while sitting on my shoulders (as he had been doing for most of the game after his ice cream).
The spot was perfect for getting some more shots for a panaramic view:
In the bottom of the 8th, Jimmy Rollins, mired in an early-season slump, pinch hit. I got this shot of the pitched ball approaching J-Roll…he’d swing at this pitch and hit a homerun into the LF seats:
After Jimmy’s HR, the game moved to the 9th with the Padres still leading 4-3. Tim and I came full-circle and finished the game standing behind section 130. Ryan Howard led off the bottom of the 9th with a single. And that set the stage for redemption: Raul Ibanez strode to the plate ready to atone for his missed play early in the game. Raul did not disappoint. I got the following picture as the pitched ball approached Raul’s bat for what would a split second later become a game-winning, walk-off homerun (you can see the ball a couple feet in front of Raul right on the grass/dirt line of the 1B line:
As you might have guessed, the place went crazy. Lot of cheering by happy Phils fans. I was quite pleased that a former Mariner was the star, and that Tim got to see Raul hit a home run. Actually, it was a great game for HRs: Utley, Rollins, Ibanez, and Adrian Gonzalez.
I should note that Ryan Howard hit a triple in the first inning, but we missed it because of the terrible parking situation caused by the combo of a baseball game and hockey playoff game occuring roughly at the same time that day.
During the celebration, I got someone (actually that guy in green at the far left of the last picture) to take a picture of me and Tim:
Another great game!
Season Fan Stats:
2 Stadium (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park)
4 Teams (Orioles, Rays, Phillies, Padres)
1 Ice Cream helmet(s)
2 Awesome Days of Baseball