So here’s the deal: April 14, 2013 was awesome. April 14, 2013 was really, REALLY awesome. And it all started on April 13th. Our buddy from Baltimore, Avi Miller, arrived at our house in Pennsylvania around 1:00 p.m. We packed up the car and then Tim, Kellan, Avi and I hit the road en route for Rhode Island:
We passed over the George Washington Bridge in NYC, and eventually made it to Warwick, RI around 8:00 p.m. I gotta say that the low light of the drive was when the entire side of the boys’ bag of chex mix ripped off and the entire bag of snacks dumped onto the floor of my car. After checking into our hotel, we all headed to Bertucci’s for dinner, where Avi promptly spilled a big iced-water all over the place.
The following morning, Kellan woke up bright and early at 6:00 a.m. We hit the pool for a bit and then we hit the road north toward Boston.
We parked in the lot on the corner of Ispwich and Landsdowne and hit the street:
As the picture in the center above shows, we had a big day on tap: at 1:35 p.m. we would see the Rays face off against the Red Sox here at Fenway. Then at 8:05 p.m., we planned to be down in New York to see the Orioles battle the Yankees.
We started off our Fenway experience with a walk around the exterior of the ballpark. It was 10:00 a.m. and we had an hour to kill before the early gates would open for members of Red Sox Nation (that includes us). We got some photos of Tim and Kellan posing with some signs and logos on Yawkey Way:
Around the corner on Van Ness, we got a shot of Tim and Avi with a big Fenway Park sign behind them:
Down at the other end of Van Ness, Tim and Kellan posed with a statue of Ted Williams and a little boy:
As you can see, two sailors and a girl were hanging out in front of the statue of Williams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky and Dom Dimaggio. I thought they’d probably clear out if I offered to take a picture for them. But no dice. After I took their picture with the statue, they just kept standing there. So I just snapped a picture of the statues with them in front of it.
Around the corner (I guess that would be back on Ipswich), the Rays were all piling out of the team bus and heading into the ballpark. The only guy I recognized in civilian wear was Fernando Rodney:
We headed back down Landsdowne so Avi could check out the Bleacher Bar:
As shown above to the right, I noticed something really interesting: there is a head level window above the urinals in the little boys’ room so the gents can keep an eye on the bar and CF from the john.
Around 10:30, we jumped in line with the Red Sox Nation folks. We ended up standing next to a guy who is hands down the biggest Matt Albers fan in all of New Englands. While the boys snacked on all sorts of goodies, Avi chatted up the Albers fan.
At 11:05, we headed into the ballpark and ran up to the top of the Green Monster. This was Avi’s first game at Fenway Park! Tim, Kellan and I have been to Fenway before, but none of us had ever been out in the seating area up on the Monster. It was pretty cool. Check out the view from Monster Section 4:
And Check out this merry band of baseball fans:
There wasn’t going to be any BP at this game, but I still wanted to try to get at least one baseball. I had a master plan to get it done: find amazingly nice Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi. When we were up top on the Monster, I spotted Scott and another Rays coach walking out of the Rays dugout and heading toward the visitors bullpen in RF. So Tim, Kellan and I quickly headed off to the bullpen. We made it there by the time Cursi arrived.
As Scott entered the bullpen, I said hi and struck up a little conversation. I explained to him that the boys and I were doing both Fenway and Yankee Stadium TODAY and we were hoping that we could get a souvenir baseball at both games. I asked if there was any way Cursi could help us out. “Sure,” Cursi responded, “I can help you out with that”:
In fact, Cursi said he’d give us one dirty baseball and one clean baseball. The dirty baseball that he tossed to me and Kellan was actually a beautiful game-rubbed up ball. He then looked at Tim and asked if he had his glove. Unfortunately, it was still packed in my backpack. I tried to hand Tim my glove, but Tim told Cursi that he didn’t need one. And he was right. As show above, Cursi flipped the second ball up to Tim and he made a nice bare-handed catch.
Cursi then asked us more about our day. “Are you flying? Taking a train?” “Driving,” I responded. Then he told us about 10 times in a row to “be careful, guys!” I thought that was pretty funny because last year at Safeco Field Cursi warned us a bunch to be careful about foul balls hit during BP.
Cursi is really awesome. Everyone should be this cool.
While Avi chatted some more with Cursi, Tim, Kellan and I headed up to our seats in section 38, row 19. When we were up there, we took our Fenway Park bonus baseball picture for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
Then we headed over to the Ted Williams red seat homerun marker…
…and Avi met us up there to get a picture of his own with the red seat.
Nothing was going on yet, so we headed into the concourse under the bleachers. Avi was loving Fenway Park. It’s really unlike any other ballpark, even Wrigley. I got a cool shot of Avi and Tim under a bunch of support beams with painted concession signs:
Then we headed back into the bleachers and Tim and Avi got another posed photo:
And then we noticed something awesome. Remember the no BP thing? Well, the reason for no BP was because it was photo day at Fenway Park. And the “something awesome” we noticed was that they had just opened the big garage door in CF and were letting the small crowd of fans down onto the warning track. We darted out to CF, and then head over to the bullpens.
Avi demonstrated his homerun robbing skills:
On the other side of the bullpen wall, Cursi was getting ready to catch Matt Moore. Tim and I each took a photo of Cursi behind the bullpen plates:
My picture is to the left: he is posing for a close up. Tim’s picture is to the right: Cursi had just caught a throw from Moore.
Here is my absolute favorite action photo of the day:
If you cannot tell, that is Matt Moore throwing a ball right at us (well, a little to our left) as we peaked over the bullpen wall from the warning track. If you look closely, you can see the ball in the air. How awesome is that, huh?
I was holding both boys to look over the bullpen wall. Then I did a big spin around and Avi photo’d us looking in four different directions (with four cool backgrounds). First, the visitors bullpen:
Second, home plate:
Third, the CF bleachers:
Fourth, the glorious Green Monster:
We headed out to CF where I got a great panorama featuring Avi:
All four of us were absolutely loving being out on the field at Fenway. We approached the “Monstah”:
An usher took a strategically posed photo of us…
…between the “BAL” and “SEA” signs.
Avi needed a closer look at his O’s “BAL” sign:
And I needed a close up of the boys in front of the Outs and “H” indicator lights.
Tim had the great idea of taking photos looking straight up the Monster:
In the photo above to the right, check out the awesome dent in the green “HIT” light. I love it! I wonder who peppered balls off of that light to contribute to that dent.
Of course we needed some pictures in the LF corner:
I had to get into one myself too:
Down the LF line, we used one of the baseballs from Cursi to get an action photo of Kellan:
And then came the mascots. Wally the Green Monster obviously likes Mariners fans more than Orioles fans:
How funny is it that the Celtics have a real-guy as a mascot:
You can’t tell in that last photo, but the Bruins mascot had hijacked Tim’s Mariners cap. See how Tim is taking a self-photo of himself and the Patriot? He did that a bunch of times. I was pretty bummed because Tim deleted all of his self-photos before I could see them. He said none of them were any good, but I bet they would have been great. Oh, well.
We could go anywhere on the warning track except in front of the Red Sox dugout. The hilarious part was that the Rays had to walk through the crowd of people to get from the dugout to the field and back. We had some great up-close access to the Rays dugout:
And then the Red Sox started circling the field. Kellan didn’t want to get off of my shoulders so almost all of the pictures are only of Tim. Tim got his picture with 11 different Red Sox including Daniel Nava and Alex Wilson…
…Andrew Bailey and Pedro Ciriaco…
…former Mariner, Mike Carp…
…former Oriole Koji Uehara (who liked Avi’s Joneys jersey) and Will Middlebrooks…
…Joel Hanrahan (who gave Avi some grief about his O’s attire) and Jonny Gomes…
…and Alredo Aceves and Clayton Mortensen:
Mortensen also commented about Avi’s O’s jersey, but then he told Tim that he couldn’t knock a Mariners jersey because he is from the Northwest.
We forgot to bring a water bottle and Tim was getting thirsty so we left Avi on the field and headed into the concourse to grab some water. When we bought our water, the cash register lady told us to be sure to get some free food for Tim and Kellan and the nearby concession stand – kids eat free in April at Fenway!
We grabbed two free kids meals…
…and headed to the seats so the boys could chow down. I’m happy to report that neither of the little guys spilled ketchup or mustard on their white M’s shirts! Success!!!
And then it was back down to the field for us. We circled the outfield in reverse…
…and headed over to the famous Pesky Pole:
And then they started to usher the fans off of the field. We met up with Avi again in LF and the four of us dragged our feet as much as we could and ended up being the very last fans to leave the playing field!
Then we headed behind home plate:
Check out this great photo:
I think that photo really puts into perspective how tiny Fenway Park is. Mentally compare that photo to any other ballpark…the others will look a whole lot bigger.
We took Avi out to the LF foul concourse to see the big lego Fenway…
…and we checked out a big picture of Teddy “Ballgame.”
And then it was out onto Yawkey Way with us (Yawkey Way is both outside and *inside* the stadium. We ran into Big League Brian…
…and listed to some great music by a local band.
Tim and Kellan both tried their hand at the speed pitch:
And then we back inside and upstairs:
It was Wally the Green Monster’s birthday and he had a little party on the field with his buddies:
We hung out for a while behind section 9:
While doing so, an usher repeated told us that there were extra seats so we should sit down. I told her we didn’t have seats anywhere near there and we were just roaming around taking pictures…but she insisted. Ultimately, we relented and begrudgingly grabbed some $90 seats:
Where this was our view:
We didn’t even stay there until first pitch. Speaking of first pitch, here is it:
It was Clay Buchholz vs. Desmond Jennings. Buchholz was on fire during this game. Neither Jennings nor Evan Longoria…
…got hits in the first. Neither did anyone else in a Rays uniform for a long time.
We headed out to our seats via the in CF via the cross aisle behind the grandstand.
Oh, yeah, that reminds me of a funny story. On our way down the elevator (actually, this might have been later in the game), I asked the elevator operator, “We want to go to the level that is at the top-back of the grandstand, what’s that level called?” She had no clue what I meant and took us all the way down to level 1 (the lower concourse). I peaked out of the elevator and said, “No, one up from here.” She hit “2’ and when the elevator door opened again, she announce, “Grandstand level.”
Oh, I guess that’s what the level at the top-back of the grandstand is called, the grandstand level.
Anyway, walking across the back of the grandstand, Kellan (wearing his knit frog hat) did his best Green Monster impression…
…and then we got some ice cream helmets (on Avi…thanks, Avi!).
After the ice cream, Kellan was a little grumpy, he was starting to get a bit tired (nap time). I took him to the restroom. While we were out there, the Red Sox scored four runs (Kellan and I missed all of them!). During the scoring frenzy, Tim took a great action photo (unfortunately, his camera doesn’t have a very big zoom):
That is Pedroia getting thrown out at home while the Rays pitcher, Alex Cobb, lays on his back flaying his legs.
Instead of heading back up to the seats, Tim and Avi came down and met up with me and Kellan. And then we all headed back to LF to look at the lego Fenway again. While we were looking at the lego Fenway, a lady (who was with her daughter) asked us if we got our “welcome kit” from guest services (which was right behind us). Avi went over and asked for a welcome kit and they gave him 4 of them, one for each of us. They are just little plastic baggies with a couple things in them. The highlight by far is that they each had a packet of real Fenway Park dirt!
Next, we headed up to the foul corner of the Monster. You can get up there onto the Monster in foul territory without tickets, but you need Monster tickets to get into fair territory.
Here’s a sorta-panorama from up there:
And here is Dustin Pedroia a split second before grounding out:
Here’s a picture with no story, I just liked the angle:
While up on the Monster, we got pictures of the parking garage across the street behind the Monster…
…and down a hallway leading to the suites on the second level (or maybe the third level…not the “grandstand” level).
I’d never known how to get up top down the LF line. From the foul corner of the monster, we saw another set of stairs leading upward so we followed it. And check this out…
…that beautiful view is from section 18.
Kellan got all huffy-puffy while I was taking that panorama.
He wanted down off my shoulders. And when I put him down, he bolted down and around the corner behind section 18. I ran after him, and there is where he was running:
He had apparently noticed Mickey on our way up to section 18 and he needed some Mickey Mouse!
Here’s a little patio area behind section 18 (and some other sections)…
…, which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me because you can’t see the field from this patio, whatsoever.
We circled back toward RF. On our way, here is a view from the aisle way between sections 12 (left) and 10 (right):
Avi and the boys were having fun checking the place out:
Here’s another view from between section 10 (left) and 8 (right):
Then (after running back-and-forth a bit because I forgot my backpack in section 10) we made our way back to section 9 where we chatted with the same lady who had forced us to sit in the expensive seats before the game. She explained how we could get out to the upper deck porch out in RF.
Here is a party porch area where you need special tickets to get into it:
And here is what it looks like in the SRO area down there behind section 27’ish…
…and behind section 37’ish:
A lady took our picture. I’m not sure why Avi didn’t jump into the picture…
…maybe because that random other guy jumped in into Avi’s spot??
Then we headed down to the bar area all the way out in the RF corner…
…until we decided to settle in again in the SRO area in section 37.
It was the seventh inning by this point and the score was still 4-0 Red Sox. Our plan was to leave at 4:00 (regardless of whether the game was over) so we could get on the road to New York. It was fast approaching 4:00.
And then Avi realized something important: Clay Buchholz was pitching a no hitter!
We decided we couldn’t leave during a no hitter. Avi started to actively root for a Rays hit…I was fine hanging out longer if it meant we got to see a no-hitter.
We decided to head out to the tunnel way out in CF so we would be close to our car. If the Rays got a hit, we would bolt. We made this decision with 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th. The Rays pulled Cobb and put in Jamie Wright who, without throwing a single pitch, picked Shane Victorino off first base to end the inning.
Kelly Johnson came up first in the top of the 8th inning and promptly broke up the no hitter. We were still heading out to CF and we promptly changed our focus toward the exit in the RF corner. Before we reached the exit, Sam Fuld hit into a double play. And then we slipped out of the stadium and hightailed it over to the parking garage where we had to wait for one of the valet guys to get my car off of the top of one of these elevator machines:
And then we were on the road for New York. The traffic was terrible getting to the freeway, it probably took us 10-15 minutes, during which time the Red Sox scored one more run.
Final score of game 1: 5-0 Red Sox over the Rays.
Once we got to the freeway (aside from one quick wrong turn), the trip down to New York was all smooth sailing.
Check out my passengers:
Avi actually only slept for about 10 minutes. Two funny things happened during the drive. Both Tim and Kellan slept the entire way from Boston to New York. About midway in the drive, Tim woke up briefly, looked around and said, “Is it another day now?”
While Avi was asleep, he said to me, “That’s not a real state!”
The Orioles vs. Yankees game started at 8:05. We pulled into the parking garage just a few minutes before game time. Avi ran ahead and made it into the field for first pitch. I had to change Kellan’s diaper (he’s only 2, you know), but we still made it into the field in time to watch the first pitch to the second batter of the game.
Here is the most ridiculous part of our entire day: although I was carrying all sorts of stuff, the Yankees usher made me put everything down and get out my tickets to prove to him that Tim, Kellan and I were entitled to enter section 239…
…hands down the worst section of seating in all of MLB (probably the worst section in all of professional sports).
Here’s what our view looked like from our seats in the third row of section 239:
Notice that even in the third row, you cannot see any of RF.
Want to see a little trick that the Yankees’ architect played on the fans sitting in section 239? Check this out:
Pretty neat huh? It looks like you can see right through the glass of the Mohegan Sun sports bar and you can see all of RF. But that’s not the case. That is actually a reflection of LF (you can see Vernon Wells out in LF and again in the reflection in the window). They really did an amazing job lining up that glass. Check out how the reflection of the upper deck exactly matches up with the real upper deck all the way across the stadium and the field level exactly matches up with the field left on the 1B side.
Shortly after arriving, it was time for a second round of hot dogs for the day…
…, but we had to pay for these ones.
We also had a second helping of hot chocolate…
…, which I didn’t mention but we also got at Fenway. In the background, Avi is giving his assessment of Yankee Stadium. We also got a second helping of ice cream:
When I got the boys their ice cream and hot chocolate, I got myself a pretezel:
It was hands down the worst pretzel that I’ve ever had. I told Avi that I thought it was left over from last season. He got a kick out of the comment, but it wasn’t far off.
The match-up for this game was Hiroki Kuroda for the Yankees against Wei-Yin Chen for the Orioles:
In the fifth inning (with the game still scoreless), we decided to take a walk and explore around a bit. We were in the SRO area behind section 104…
…ended up scoring 3 runs, including a second deck homerun by Brett Gardner. That homer made the score 3-0 Yankees.
We headed over to the “Great Hall,” which I prefer to call Bronx Central Stadium because it looks more like a train station than a ballpark:
After the people at Fenway being so incredibly nice, Avi was not feeling the customer service policies at Yankee Stadium, particularly the constant instructions for me to take Kellan off of my shoulders.
Avi also was not very happy about this highly obstructed SRO view in the 200 level:
When we got back to our seats (actually, we went one section over into section 238), Tim and Avi had a little fun with Avi’s iPhone camera:
The front row cleared out so the boys were able to stand right above planters at the front of the section:
Unfortunately, Kuroda ended up pitching a complete game shutout.
After the game, Orioles bullpen coach Rudy Arias tried to toss a baseball to Tim, but it feel short. An usher saw it all happened and made sure the ball was thrown back to Tim.
Thanks, Arias and Usher!
Both boys posed with the ball and the Yankee Stadium sign for the MyGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt:
Before leaving our section, we got a group shot in the bleachers:
And then we headed over to section 102 (or so) to meet up with Zack Hample. And this picture with Zack (who has snagged more baseballs at Yankee Stadium than anyone else on MyGameBalls.com) earned us a couple more bonus points in the scavenger hunt:
Each time we see Zack, he gets a picture fist bumping Tim. But after our long day, Kellan wasn’t interested in fist bumping and Tim was took excited to stand still:
We ended up giving Zack a ride home from the game:
It was pretty amazing that he fit in there because there is almost no room whatsoever between Tim’s and Kellan’s car seats.
Before we left Zack’s place in Manhattan, Zack took a parting shot photo of me and Avi:
And then it was more driving. We got back to our place after 2:00 a.m. Avi had class in a few hours. I invited him to stay the night, but he hopped into his car and headed home.
Long, long day. But more importantly, an awesome day:
2013 C&S Fan Stats
|6 Teams – Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees|
|5 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 1, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2|
|10 Baseballs – Royals 4, Phillies 3, Rays 2, Orioles 1|
|3 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium|
|11 Player Pictures – Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen|
September 12th is one of the best and most joyous holidays on the calendar. The holiday dates back to 2006 and marks a wonderful occasion – Tim’s in-person introduction to Major League Baseball and our Seattle Mariners. This is the story of Tim’s Sixth MLB Anniversary!
A little background is in order before we jump into the day’s events.
On September 12, 2006, we celebrated Tim’s first MLB game. It was a wonderful Mariners victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
On September 12, 2007, by total dumb luck, we ended up at Citizens Bank Park to witness the Colorado Rockies absolutely wallop the Philadelphia Phillies 10-0. When I realized during the game that it was the first anniversary of Tim’s MLB debut, I decided right then and there that I would make every effort within my control to take Tim to a Major League Baseball game on September 12th every single year.
And every single year since 2006, September 12th has been an awesome day for us.
On September 12, 2008, we visited Arizona with my folks and saw Brandon Webb win his 20th game of the season over the visiting Cincinnati Reds.
On September 12, 2009, we were thrilled to see the Orioles beat the Yankees in New York.
On September 12, 2010, we were in Washington, D.C. to watch the Marlins beat the home team Washington Nationals with Tim’s Poppy.
On September 12, 2011, we headed down to Baltimore and had a great time watching the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Baltimore Orioles.
I originally had a couple additional goals for Tim’s MLB Anniversary that have fallen by the wayside over the last couple seasons. First, I wanted to see two different teams play every season on September 12 (i.e., no repeat teams) until we could see the Mariners play again on Tim’s MLB Anniversary. Along the same lines, I wanted to visit a different stadium every year on Tim’s MLB Anniversary, at least until we could make it back to Safeco Field for another anniversary game.
Last season, our no-repeat-teams goal fell apart when we saw our second MLB Anniversary game featuring the Baltimore Orioles. This year, our no-repeat-stadiums goal was thrown on the scrap heap, too.
Planning was very difficult this year. September 12 was a Wednesday. I originally wanted to head up to Toronto to see the Mariners in a rematch of Tim’s MLB Debut game. But that wasn’t going to work for a mid-week game.
Our second plan was to head to Queens to see the Mets take on the visiting Nationals. That game would have preserved our no-repeat-stadiums goal and it was our plan for a long time. But in July or August, I got news that I had a very important business appointment scheduled for the early afternoon on September 12th in Philadelphia. With traffic, we live about 1.5 hours from Philadelphia. Tim would be in school until 3:10. Going to NY was out of the question.
Next, I thought about the Phillies…but their game was scheduled to start at 4 p.m. That was a no go, as well.
So, I looked back to Baltimore, site of Tim’s Fifth MLB Anniversary, and found that the Orioles would be playing the Rays on September 12, 2012 at 7:05 p.m. It was an exact rematch of last season’s MLB Anniversary game. It would obliterate all of our secondary stadium/teams goals. But with a little help from Colleen, I figured we should be able to make it to the game, and that was the only goal that really mattered. BP would be out of the question. But at least we should be able to make it for the game. So that was the plan.
Here is what had to happen to make it happen:
Colleen and Kellan picked Tim up from school at 3:10 and immediately hopped on the road down to Philadelphia. I was detained until around 4:30. When I freed up, I called Colleen to find they were still stuck in traffic. I hopped in my car and drove across Center City Philadelphia. Colleen and the boys reached Philadelphia while I was still stuck in traffic. I met up with Colleen and the boys at 30th Street Station in West Philadelphia.
The boys then hopped into my car and we hit I-95 South toward Baltimore. My GPS told me we were going to arrive at Camden Yards around 6:30. But traffic crawled coming out of Philadelphia. We broke out of the traffic around the Delaware state line. By that time, my GPS said we would arrive at the stadium around 7:10 – five minutes after game time.
Traffic was non-existent in Delaware and Maryland and we picked up a few minutes. After the boys spent around 4 hours in the car, we arrived at the Camden Yards parking lot right next to the Ravens stadium.
Avi Miller purchased our tickets while we were still in the car and very kindly came and met us at the gate to save us some time getting into the ballpark.
The game actually started while we were still parking our car and B.J. Upton hit a leadoff homerun to put the Rays up 1-0 while we were walking toward the stadium.
So we missed a few batters, whatever, we were at the ballpark for some MLB Anniversary baseball action!
So, each of the last two seasons, we had exactly one game per season at which we didn’t get a baseball. I don’t really worry about having a *streak* of getting a ball at each game – in fact, I have no clue what our current *streak* is – but I’ve had a goal of trying to complete a full-season getting at least one baseball at each game we attend. After this game, we would only have two more games this season. With no BP or other pre-game festivities, this would be our greatest challenge of the season.
During the home half of the first, we hung out behind home plate just in case an Oriole wanted to hit us a real game foul ball (something my boys have never caught and I haven’t caught since, probably, 1995). We hung out in the ideal spot:
We had no luck, but the Orioles did. On the strength of singles by Nate McLouth, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters and Wilson Betemit, the Orioles scored two runs to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
By the way, this was a huge game for the Orioles. They were one game back in the east behind the first place Yankees who were facing the struggling Red Sox in Boston.
After the end of the first, we decided to head down the 1B line cross-aisle to say hi to Avi, and then go grab some pizza. While we were chatting with Avi, Carlos Pena led off the top of the second inning and smacked a foul ball directly to where Tim is standing in that last picture! Aye…we would have had a great shot of catching it had we stayed put.
It was pizza time. The outfield was totally packed. Instead of going in search of some pizza seats, the boys dined at Jim Palmer’s feet:
While we were hanging out with Jim, I noticed there were a couple other news statues out there – like Cal Ripkin, Jr.:
We decided that our best shot at getting a baseball at this game was to hang out in the new SRO area behind the visitors’ bullpen:
Here was our view for large chunks of this game:
Essentially, we split time during this game between the bullpen SRO area and the kids’ play area. It was time to hit the kids’ play area. Before heading over there, Tim wanted to check out the new statues. First he played catcher for Eddie Murray:
And here is a look at the whole Ripkin statue:
And then we headed down Eutaw Street…
…toward the play area. We cut through the cross-aisle behind the RCF seats…
…and then the flag court so we could watch a few seconds of the game on the way to the bouncy house:
The new bouncy house this season is great, except for one pesky thing. It is bigger and better for the kids. But the old bouncy house had a big loosely-knit net wall on one side that was great for taking pictures of the kids bouncing inside. The new one has a tight-knit net on all sides and it is impossible to get a good action shot of the boys bouncing inside.
The boys always enjoy getting a picture with the big Oriole bird bobbleheads…
…and the pig:
After playing in the play area, we planned to get ice cream helmets. There is an ice cream stand in the concourse down the 3B line. I figured we would get some helmets there and then head back to the bullpen area to eat ‘em. But as we passed behind home plate, we ran into our friend and Camden Yards regular Matt Hersl. When I mentioned that we were on our way to grab some ice cream, he reached into his backpack and pulled out two little cups of carvel ice cream and handed them over. That was pretty odd…, but, hey, thanks, Matt!
We headed out to LF and grabbed some ice cream seats in the cross aisle:
And then we headed back to the kids’ play area again:
I’ve gotten ahead of myself here. I should mention that the Rays scored a second run in the bottom of the third. For most of this game, the score was tied 2-2.
Late in the game, we headed back to the bullpen SRO. Tim spotted a HUGE bug on the front wall of the visitors’ bullpen:
Alex Cobb had started the game for the Rays and pitched 4.2 innings. After Cobb, the Rays cycled in a new pitcher pretty much each inning. Jake McGee in the fifth-sixth, Wade Davis in the seventh, and Joel Peralta in the eighth.
Rays bullpen catcher, and all-around nice guy, Scott Cursi was warming up pitchers all night below us:
Well, that’s not completely accurate. Cursi didn’t’ catch each of the pitchers. Some of them he just watched and consulted with another Rays catcher. Anyway, the game was still tied 2-2 in the top of the ninth. The Orioles brought in closer Jim Johnson. Meanwhile, Cursi was warming up Kyle Farnsworth in the Rays’ bullpen.
Johnson had a rough inning. After retiring the first batter, he gave up a single to Jeff Keppinger. Joe Madden sent Rich Thompson in to pinch-run for Keppinger. After Ben Zobrist flew out to CF, Thompson stole second.
Around this time, I realized that once we made it to the bottom of the ninth, the Orioles could win it on one swing with a walk off homerun. So I decided we would head to home plate once the game moved to the bottom of the ninth to see if we could get into position to go for an umpire baseball.
With two outs, Evan Longoria then hit a soft grounder down the 3B line that was ruled an infield hit. As Thompson broke hard for third, Manny Machado charged the ball hard, scooped it up in his bare hand and made a hard fake throw toward first. Thompson bit on Machado’s fake throw and rounded third hard. Machado instantly spun and threw behind Thompson to Orioles short stop J.J. Hardy. One throw later, Matt Wieters tagged out Thompson as he headed back toward 3B.
And that ended the top of the ninth inning.
I was all set to head toward home plate as Scott Cursi took the final warm up pitch from Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth headed toward the CF gate to enter the game and Cursi headed toward the bullpen bench. Before we left to walk toward home, I called out Cursi’s name. He looked up and tossed us Farnsworth’s warm up baseball. We shouted “THANKS!” and then started to turn toward home plate, but Cursi yelled for to us to stop. We looked back, and he pulled another baseball (an absolutely pristine Camden Yards 20th Anniversary commemorative baseball) out of his back pocket and tossed it to us too.
I must say that Scott Cursi has been amazingly cool to us this season. We saw the Rays play in five games and he tossed us SEVEN baseballs and spent a little time chatting with us in Seattle.
Thanks again, Scott!
Moments after Cursi tossed us those baseballs, we ended up sliding into a row of seats right behind home plate:
After making the key fake throw to help bring the top of the ninth to a close, Machado led off the bottom of the ninth and smacked a single into LF. He then took second on a sacrifice bunt by Robert Andino.
Usually, September crowds at Camden Yards are tiny and lifeless. This year was different. The Yankees had already lost to the Red Sox by this time so they were only half a game ahead of the Orioles. In other words, if Machado could touch home plate the Orioles would pull into a first-place tie with the Yankees.
The crowd was standing at attention, ready to erupt at a moment’s notice:
Right about this time, Avi (somewhere in the stadium) sent out the following tweet:
And, I was sort of a fortune teller. No, Adam Jones didn’t come to the plate in the ninth and the Rays hadn’t taken the lead, but Nate McLouth hit a single to RF for a walk-off win.
The place was going crazy: Orioles win! Orioles win! Orioles win!
As all of the craziness was going down, Tim, Kellan and I hustled down the stairs toward the umpires’ tunnel where (like Thompson an inning earlier) we got totally faked out by a bit of misdirection.
The home plate umpire is the only umpire who carries baseballs during a game (obviously). At this game, Marvin Hudson was the home plate umpire. When the first umpire ducked into the umpires’ tunnel, he handed out two baseballs on the other side of the tunnel. As he passed us, we called out, “Mr. Hudson!” and the umpire just walked right by us. We called his name one more time and then I realized something looked odd. He didn’t have baseball pouches on his hips or a face mask like a home plate umpire always carries off the field. Then, the umpire turned around and, looking at us, pointed behind him. We turned around and looked back toward and the field and the other three umpires. Right then, Marvin Hudson reached out and handed a beautiful rubbed up commemorative baseball to Tim:
I still have no clue who the first umpire was or why he had two baseballs. I’ve never seen a non-home plate umpire hand out baseballs after a game. Very odd.
Anyway, the whole stadium was partying for their now *first place* Orioles and Nate McLouth was, predictably, the recipient of a congratulatory pie to the face:
We got a celebratory MLB Anniversary picture before heading toward the gates:
On our way to the gate, Tim got his picture with this guy:
We have no clue what that guy is all about, but we see him all over the place in Baltimore and he’s a cool looking dude. So, naturally, Tim wanted a picture with him.
Now, I’d still never paid Avi for our tickets. So we ended up meeting up with him outside of the LF gate. After I handed over a tiny bit of money (because O’s tickets are incredibly cheap…and I hope that remains the case next season), we played a whole bunch of catch with Avi:
We had a blast playing catch with Avi after the game. It was the perfect end to another great MLB Anniversary game.
As we finally started to head toward our car, I told Tim got give me a big “six” with his fingers for one final Sixth MLB Anniversary picture and he delivered possibly the most awkward looking “six” possible:
This one was difficult from a planning and execution standpoint, but September 12th always delivers great times. I can’t wait to see where September 12th takes us next season for Tim’s Seventh MLB Anniversary!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|24/22 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves|
|40 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 5, Phillies 7, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2, Marlins 4|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|136 Baseballs – Mariners 22, Marlins 7, Mets 21, Nationals 8, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 10, Pirates 3, Rockies 4, Braves 1|
|22 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park 2, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1, Shea Stadium ’08 2, Nationals Park ’08 2|
|12/12 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Marlins Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park, Citizens Bank Park, Marlins Park8/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose (2), Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird|
|7/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley, Scott Cursi; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney|
SAAAAAAAAAAAAAFECO FIELD! Yes! On August 13, 2012, accompanied by my parents, Tim, Kellan and I finally made our way to Safeco Field.
We were in town to visit my folks and brother for the week and we would be taking in three Mariners games including two games against the Rays (but not Felix Hernandez’s perfect game, which occurred two days after this game while we were just across downtown Seattle at the Space Needle) and one game against the Twins.
Sadly, these would be our final Mariners games of the season. Coming into this game, our Mariners season record was 2-1. With one win this week, we would assure ourselves of at least a .500 Mariners record. And with 2 or more wins, we would enjoy a *winning* Mariners season. Whatever happened, our 2012 Mariners season would be better than our 1-8 2011 season record. So let’s get to it!
Colleen sat this game out. But the boys, my parents and I arrived right around 5:00 p.m., twenty minutes after the CF and “The Pen” gates opened and ten minutes before the whole stadium opened.
Tim and I hustled in from the *Kingdome* parking lot while my folks and Kellan took a more leisurely stroll to the stadium. Tim and I headed into The Pen and grabbed a spot behind the M’s bullpen:
Oliver Perez (who is wearing No. 36 in the photo above to the left) quickly fielded a ball right in front of us and lobbed it over the bullpen right to us. If the throw was a couple inches higher it would have hit the screen that protects the out-of-town scoreboard and fallen into the bullpen. Luckily, it didn’t and I was able to make the easy grab.
All three games at Safeco Field this season, The Pen area was way more crowded than I remember it being last season.
Shortly, we met up with my folks and Kellan and then the rest of the stadium opened. We headed up the stairs behind the visitors’ bullpen and made our way down into the seats in foul territory. Right when we arrived in foul territory, the Mariners hurried off the field. It was sad.
Tim and my mom ran off to explore a bit. Kellan and I stood…
…along the foul line waiting for the Rays to finish up their stretching and head out to the field to take BP. My dad hung out with us too:
Eventually, James Shields and Matt Moore started playing catch down the LF line:
Kellan and I headed over to watch them. On Shields’ first throw after we arrived, Matt Moore just flat out missed the ball. He put his glove up and it just sailed right by it and into CF. Although it was the simplest and straightest throw possible, I jokingly yelled to Shields, “That’s just nasty, James!” He turned around and, with a smile and a shrug, made a little motion a little hand throwing motion to show he agrees that he just has filthy *stuff*
After Moore returned with the baseball, they each made about four more throws and then decided to relocate about 50 feet closer to the OF wall. As Shields started to walk down the LF line, he looked back and saw we were still there. He then bent down and grabbed that baseball that you can see sitting on the ground in the last picture and tossed it to us.
By the way, if you go see the Rays and attend BP, keep an eye on James Shields. He’s a guy who knows how to have fun during BP. Many teams have a *fun* pitcher like him and, in fact, the Rays have two (Shields and David Price). Shields interacts with fans and runs around like crazy trying to make highlight reel catches. Last season at Camden Yards, we saw Shields make a great catch to pick off a would-be BP homerun into the Orioles bullpen.
Anyway, Kellan and I headed back down the LF line toward the dugout just to see what was going on over there. As we made it to the dugout, Desmond Jennings (shown here getting ready to take his hacks in the cage)…
…ran in from the field and tossed a baseball to us on his way toward the dugout.
Next, something bizarre happened:
Tim and my mom were sitting about 30 rows up just past third base. Kellan and I stopped by to chat and see what they’d been up to and then we started walking back out to the LF corner to meet up with my dad. As we were cutting across a row of seats, a Mariners maintenance guy was walking up one of the aisle holding a seatback that he’d just removed from one of the seats right off the field.
As the guy passed by, I jokingly asked if we could get a souvenir Safeco Field seat back. He stopped, looked at the seatback with a quizzical look, and then looked at me, “Well, I was just going to throw it away. You really want it?” Of course, I did! He explained that he had to take it somewhere to find a match to replace it. He said he would be back in a few minutes and would give it to me.
And there you go, our first ever souvenir seatback.
I have a HUGE backpack that I got while in school so I could carry a dangerously heavy and large compilation of text books. I figured this seat back would fit in it. And it almost did. But, no, it didn’t. Luckily, my backpack has straps that wrap around the back and clip on the opposite side. I was able to use these straps to strap the seatback onto my backpack.
If you want to get some strange looks, walk around a MLB ballpark with a seatback (that is obviously from that stadium) strapped to your back.
After my mom took that last picture, she and Tim headed off to the kids play area. On their way, they ran into the loveable Mariners Moose:
Last season, my folks and Tim determined that he wouldn’t be able to play in the play area this season because he would be too tall. There is a little sign that says you must be under a certain height to play in the play area. Anyway, he was taller than the max height now, but they didn’t question it. He played until his heart was content.
Meanwhile, Kellan and I hung out with my dad down the LF line. When we met up with him, Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi out-of-the-blue walked up and handed Kellan this baseball:
That is Cursi pictured just above this baseball. This was our third time seeing the Rays play this season and our third baseball from Cursi – one per game.
That was all of the action down the LF line. We hung out and I took some cute pictures like this:
I kept hoping someone would hit a foul ball into the stands that my dad could catch, but no one hit a single ball into the stands while we were over there.
Eventually, my dad decided to head out to the play area to see Tim and my mom. A few minutes later Kellan and I followed him over there. But before heading into the play area, we checked out the action in CF and I got an awesome picture of Kellan just chilling:
Then it was off to the play area for some playing:
After a whole bunch of playing, we left the play area and the boys tossed some coins into the little fountain:
And then I spotted the Mariners pig:
I’m not sure why the boys look so darn serious in this picture.
We all headed down to The Pen area to watch Blake Beavan…
…warm up for the game.
Eventually, the rest of the relievers made their way out to the Mariners bullpen:
Recently, Shawn Kelley and Lucas Luetge have been joking with each other a lot on Twitter. A day or two before this game a new Twitter account had popped up called “@Luetgeshair” that was providing tweets directly from Lucas Luetge’s hair. I had a feeling that Kelley was the mastermind behind @Luetgeshair.
So when Kelley (as well as Stephen Pryor and Josh Kinney) signed the Scott Cursi baseball for Tim…
…, I mentioned @Luetgeshair to Kelley. I asked him if he knew who was behind @Luetgeshair and suggested that I assume it was him. He chuckled and gave a *whaaat…who….meeee?* response that pretty sealed the deal…yep, I’m pretty darn certain that Kelley is @Luetgeshair.
I told Kelley that I was going to send a picture to @Luetgeshair. He was all for it. And here it is:
…and here it is, here.
Beavan doesn’t have a great record, but I see good things coming from him. He’s had a good bunch of solid outings. We watched him warm up a bit more once he moved to the bullpen:
And then it was both game and dinner time:
Kellan did have his own seat and it was actually pretty packed in RF, at least down in the lower seats, so Kellan spent a lot of the game on my lap. So I spent a lot of time taking picture of him, like this one featuring a cheesy mess on his face:
But Kellan was a bit restless, so I also spent a decent amount of time following him around exploring the concourses:
Here’s hands down cutest picture from Kellan’s time sitting on my lap during this game:
As for the game itself, everything went smoothly for Beavan in the first two innings. But then came the third inning. The Rays exploded for five hits and four runs and the half inning seemed to last forever. The major damage was done on a 2-run LF upper deck jack by B.J. Upton. The other two runs were scored on a single by Desmond Jennings and a double by Ben Zobrist.
Other than the tough fourth inning, Beavan settled down and pitched sixth other solid innings. The big problem is that the Mariners were doing nothing at the plate.
Anyway, we were in section 109, row 32, seats 1-4. I was holding Kellan in seat 1 and there just wasn’t enough room. So at one point, I moved back about five rows and sat in the first seat directly across the aisle. This resulted in Kellan walking-and-down the step…
…over and over again to see me for two seconds and then see grandma and grandpa for two seconds. Eventually both boys spent some time up there with me. And I got this shot of Tim showing off his new autographed baseball:
But Kellan still wanted to roam so we headed over to the Dave Niehaus statue for a picture:
We miss you, Dave!
Next, we headed over to the CF SRO by the end of the Mariners bullpen. Right when we walked up an usher gave Kellan a Mike Jackson baseball card…
…and a minute later another usher gave Tim a Mariners Moose card. Getting cards at the ballpark is always fun.
We grabbed the only open spot on the SRO counter behind the bullpens:
The spot was open because the barrier between the Mariners’ and visitors’ bullpens completely blocks the view of the infield.
Soon the end spot opened up at the other end of the Mariners bullpen. It was the bottom of the fifth inning and this was our view as Trayvon Robinson led off the inning with a triple:
Eric Thames followed Robinson with a RBI single. Hooray! The Mariners were on the board! The score was 4-1 in favor of the Rays.
Mariners rookie reliever Carter Capps started warming up. Here’s a comparative view of my view from above the counter…
…and Kellan’s from below the counter.
At one point, Kellan noticed a big “Classic Mariners” picture of Norm Charlton and he ran over to pose with it:
Jamie Moyer was right next to Norm and, you know, he is the winningest Mariners pitcher of all-time and an all-around great guy, so I had Kellan post with his “Classic Mariners” picture too.
It was already getting late in the game and the boys hadn’t had any ice cream! So we headed back to our seats to meet up with Tim and my folks. There is an ice cream place in the concourse right by section 109 so we got ice cream on our way back.
I knew that Tim would want chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. And I knew that the lady would give scoop a HUGE helmet full of ice cream so I decided to just get one for the boys to share. It worked out just fine with Tim did eating most of it:
Late in the game, I took the following panorama from our seats in section 109, row 32:
And then all of us headed over toward the 3B dugout. We’ve only ever got one umpire baseball at Safeco Field. There seemed to be some open seats around the umpires’ tunnel so we decided to give it a go.
We watched Shawn Kelley give up a single and then strike out the side in the top of the ninth:
Before the bottom of the ninth inning, Tim, Kellan and I headed down to section 136, row 18:
For some reason, my folks stayed in some seats by the concourse. Kyle Seager led off the bottom of the ninth with a single. With Seager waiting on first base, we had a great view of John Jaso as he and the rest of the Mariners tried to mount a ninth-inning comeback:
This was the third time we’d seen the Rays play in 2012 and they had lost the both of the previous games on walk-off homeruns by the hometeam (Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the Red Sox and Jim Thome for the Phillies) so I had high hopes in the bottom of the ninth.
But it wasn’t meant to be. Jaso struck out, Jesus Montero grounded out, and then Trayvon Robins stuck out to end the game.
Getting an umpire ball also was not meant to be.
But, hey, a great post game family photo was mean to be:
And then we headed toward the gates:
On our walk to the car, we discussed how hilarious it was that during the whole game not a single Mariners employee stopped to ask me why I had a Safeco Field seatback strapped to my backpack.
Well, despite the loss, it was a great night and great to be back at Safeco Field sharing some quality time with family and the Mariners.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|18/16 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves|
|27 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Mariners 1, Phillies 2, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|99 Baseballs – Mariners 16, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 8, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1|
|17 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1|
|11/10 Stadiums – Tim – Safeco Field, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Safeco Field, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park7/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Mariners Moose, Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird|
|6/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|9 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez, Shawn Kelley, Steven Pryor, Josh Kinney|
Our plans for Saturday, June 23, 2012 changed several times leading up to the day of the game. After several years of just me and Tim going to games together, Kellan had been to the last 11 in a row with us. I was thinking it would be good for Tim to get some one-on-one time and do an old school Tim-and-Dad game. We were going to go to see the Rockies and Phillies mid-week and then bring Kellan with us again to this weekend game. Then Tim got sick. The mid-week game was out and I thought I would just take Kellan to the weekend game. Then Tim gave his germs to Kellan and started feeling better, although he still had the remnants of a rash that went along with his sickness. So the final plan was to just take Tim to the weekend game while Kellan stayed home with mommy and rested up and recovered.
So that is what we did.
It was interleague play and the Phillies were hosting the Rays in an afternoon game set to start at 4:05 p.m. We headed down in time for the gates to open.
We were probably 15-20 people back in one of three lines at the LF gate, but somehow when we stepped down into the LF seats, we were literally the first fans in the OF. It was pretty strange. Probably 45 people beat us into the stadium, but I had no clue where they’d all gone.
We ran down to the first row and did two things. First, I asked Juan Pierre if he could toss a baseball to Tim when he eventually got one. He said yes. And he tossed the very next ball he got to us…although, for some reason, he threw it to me instead of Tim.
Second, we got Tim’s picture wearing a Justin Bieber shirt during BP:
He is doing a little “heart” shape with his hands. Apparently, Justin Bieber does that. Although, I should note that I only know that from watching Jimmy Fallon’s hilarious parody of Bieber. Big thanks to Dan Sauvageau in Denver. He got Tim this shirt for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt while we were in Denver. But there was no BP the day he gave it to Tim so we didn’t get the picture. I have carried this shirt to every game since that day and always forgotten to get the picture. To stop that trend, Tim put the Bieber shirt on at home before leaving for this game so we wouldn’t forget again. We covered up that shirt within minutes of getting the picture.
Big thanks, Dan!
No knock on Kellan, I love going to games with that little guy. But, wow, it is so much easier to do BP (and the entire game) with just me and Tim. For starters, I don’t have to carry Tim at all.
After getting the baseball from Juan Pierre and getting the Bieber picture, we headed out to RCF. I wanted to see if Michael Stutes was around – frankly, I don’t even know if he is still on the Phils rosters. I didn’t see him. Most of the Phils pitchers were still running in RF.
Eventually, Joe Blanton broke off from the pack and walked along the warning track retrieving baseballs that had been hit out there while no one was there to shag them. There were 2-3 baseballs on the track directly below us.
Blanton grabbed the first and tossed it to a Phillies fan to our right. Then he grabbed the second ball and threw it in to the bucket. But the third ball? He tossed that one up to Tim…
…and Tim gloved it with no problems.
It was time to find some shade.
We headed to the back of section 140 where some shade was reaching the seats.
At our last game at Citizens Bank Park, we headed over to section 140 and an usher (who I am told is named Bernie) gave Tim a baseball. Well, as we were a full section away from section 140, I could already tell that the exact same thing was going to happen at this game.
And, sure enough, it did:
So, I just got a new camera because my last camera was *almost* destroyed on the GFS Baseball Roadtrip. Our new camera has a “sweeping” panorama feature. Here is my first use of the new panorama feature:
Not too shabby.
So we had three baseballs already and tons of time left during BP. Tim wanted to stay in the shade and I didn’t have Kellan to hold or try to keep him safe. So I decided to put on Tim’s 10 inch glove…
…and try to catch a homerun on the fly (something I have never done at Citizens Bank Park) while Tim sat in the shade at the back of the section taking pictures:
Tim LOVES taking pictures. I gave him my old camera to use since I had the new one. And he snap, snap, snapped pictures…until he finished the job of sending that camera to the junk heap.
I stood in the aisle next to Tim (sitting in the second seat) and ran around trying to catch a homerun. But nothing came anywhere near us.
When the rest of the stadium opened to the public, we headed over to the pizza wedge:
Nothing came near us during the rest of Phillies BP.
While not much was going on, Tim noticed this camera:
I wondered if it was an MLB Network ballpark cam.
I noticed something interesting when the Phils cleared the field, three of the Phillies pitchers walked into the tunnel in the RF foul corner instead of walking to the dugout:
The transition from Phillies BP to Rays BP was odd. The Rays were still stretching by the dugout when the Phils headed to the clubhouse. They just kept stretching and stretching. There was a lot of dead time before the Rays really started hitting.
Before the Rays started hitting in earnest, a sole batter started hitting. It was Rays starting pitcher, James Shields…
…and one of his hits rolled to a stop directly below Tim (and directly below the “399” sign on the wall). There were zero people in the OF shagging baseballs. I had a feeling that we would end up getting that baseball once the Rays took to the field.
And we did. Eventually, Hideki Matsui’s interpreter, Roger Kahlon (thanks to Josh Leuke identifying Kahlon for me on Twitter), walked out into RF and tossed a few baseballs back to the bucket. He didn’t see the baseball all the way out by the dugout. But I waved at him and pointed and the baseball and Tim. That did the trick. He turned and walked toward us…
…and tossed the baseball up to Tim. Again, Tim made a nice catch.
After getting that baseball from Kahlon, we decided to resume the picture taking and homerun-catch-attempting. We moved over to section 103. Tim sat in the shade toward the back of the section and I stood in the aisle a couple seats down from Tim.
I had one near perfect chance to catch a homerun. It landed about 15 feet from where I was standing when it was hit. All I had to do was move down the stairs about 5 rows. It was hit right to the aisle. But…
…this guy with no glove standing in the aisle completely boxed me out as I tried to walk past him. He didn’t realize he was doing it. The ball was hit to the RF side of the aisle. He moved to that side right as I was trying to pass him. He literally pushed me right into the row and made it so I couldn’t pass. He made no effort to walk down a few rows to make the catch. While I was trapped in the row, another fan ran over and caught the ball on the fly.
That was my chance. I didn’t come anyway near another homerun.
Toward the end of BP, we went over to the bullpen again. Tim and I both noticed this plaque on the wall in the Phillies bullpen:
I’ve never notice that before. Right after BP ended, Phillies bullpen catcher Jesus Tiamo grabbed a baseball out of his equipment bag and tossed it up to Tim. But he tossed it too high and I had to catch it, in Kellan’s tiny glove. This is what the scene looked like:
As you can see, we also did a little sub-amateur birding in the bullpen.
After Tim took a few more pictures, we headed for the upper deck to do some stadium exploring. The first thing we noticed, right upon exiting the field level seats, is that the speed pitch from past seasons…
…is gone and a Chickie’s and Pete’s is no in the location of the old speed pitch area. Chickie’s and Pete’s used to be in the concourse above the RF end of the bullpens. This Chickie’s and Pete’s was not here at the first game we went to this season (neither was the speed pitch). It’s too bad. That speed pitch was pretty cool.
Our original post-BP plan involved getting some pizza and heading to the upper deck above the “pizza wedge.” But then Tim asked if we could pull the old switcheroo – one of his favorite moves of the season – where we get ice cream first and dinner second. So, we just walked around for the time being.
We headed up to the second deck and got two panoramas from section 206. The first was using my camera’s sweep panorama function…
…and the second was an old-fashioned stitched panorama:
I like them both, but I prefer the old-fashioned method.
We ended up taking a long, round-about path to our favorite ice cream spot. We traversed the upper-deck from the RF foul pole to third base. Along the way, we ran into the Liberty Pig:
We found the other Phanatic pig (shown out of sequence) down by the kids’ play area during the game.
We ended up taking a flight of stairs down to the field level to find Tim’s ice cream. At the top of the stairway, we stopped to get this panoramic photo of (what I have always considered to be) the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park:
While heading down the stairs, we stopped off at the Hall of Fame suite level. The guys guarding the door let us pop inside to get Tim’s picture with the wall of baseballs:
That wall of baseball runs almost all the way from foul pole to foul pole on the Hall of Fame suite level. It is a whole lot of baseballs!!!
When we reached the field level, we grabbed Tim’s ice cream helmet, exchanged some tickets to a future game, and then walked to our seats for the start of the game.
Along the way, we stopped to get Tim’s picture with a card board cut out of the Phillie Phanatic:
The top of the first was just about ending when we got to our seats in section 104. When the Rays took the field in the bottom of the first, Hideki Matsui was stationed almost directly in front of us:
Unfortunately, our seats were in direct sunlight. I was fine with it, but Tim was not a fan. He crouched down on the floor beneath our seats to eat his ice cream helmet:
While I watched Hunter Pence at the plate and Juan Pierre swiping second…
…, I knew we had to find somewhere else to sit. Our seats were awesome. But they just wouldn’t work for Tim.
I quickly spotted some seats that would work in the upper deck:
After Tim finished his ice cream, we ditched RF.
On our way to the upper deck, we stopped by the kids’ play area. While we were there, the Rays scored 3 runs on a Ben Zobrist single, Jose Lobaton walk, Jeff Keppinger 2RBI double, Elliot Johnson walk, and James Shields RBI groundout.
After the play area, we headed up the escalator…
…stood in front of some mist-blowing fans in the second deck, and then headed up to the upper deck.
While walking over to section 427, I noticed that the pub in the upper deck has an incredibly apt pun-laden name…
…the High & Inside Pub.
While we were en route to our new seats, Jimmy Rollins hit a 2-run homerun to bring the score to 3-2 Rays. We couldn’t see the homerun from where we were walking, but we could hear the crowd going crazy for J-Roll.
We ended up sitting in the back row of section 427, right under one of the light stands:
If we moved over a bit to see around the light stand, it looked sort of like this:
Directly behind us, there was a chain linked fence that looks out over the main entrance to Citizens Bank Park:
It was pretty nice and relaxing up there in the shady upper-deck. We kicked back and ate our pizza dinner. Here was my beverage-eyes view of the game during our dinner:
The upper deck is often times a good spot for action shots. In the bottom of the fourth, I captured Jimmy Rollins hitting a single to RF and then taking second on the throw to 3B:
Juan Pierre followed J-Roll and I captured him hitting the 17th homerun of his 13-year career:
It was a 3-run jobber that gave the Phils a 5-3 lead.
We were having a great time in the upper deck. I took a couple self-portraits to capture the moment, but they didn’t turn out too good. Here is the best of them:
And here is a random shot of BJ Upton at bat:
Tim was using my old camera to take a bunch of ballpark photos. At one point, he turned around and started shooting photos outside the stadium…
…we saw a cute father-son scene going down out front by the Michael Jack Schmidt statue. Pretty cool scene. The funniest part was that this father-son combo were leaving the game in the fourth inning! But they were obviously have a great time together, so it was pretty cool to spy on their good time for a few seconds.
I got another cool action sequence of James Shields pitching:
So we were having a great time in the upper deck. The shady seats were really great. But we couldn’t stay put for too long. At one point, I noticed that the shadow of the upper-deck was reaching across the field from LF all the way behind home plate.
We stood up and tried to see if we could find ourselves in the shadows on the field. But we couldn’t.
Then I realized how we could find ourselves in the shadows. We had to go to the far end of the upper deck out by the LF foul pole.
As we approached the last section, we could already see our shadows out in LF:
Then we got one of my favorite pictures we have ever got at a MLB stadium:
Check out Tim’s shadow on the LF foul pole. My shadow is in the LF grass just to the right of the shadow of the foul pole.
The view down by the foul pole is pretty good too. Here is what it looked like while J-Roll grounded out to end the sixth inning:
Before heading back down to the field level, I snapped a picture of Tim with Center City Philadelphia in the background:
And then we headed down the switch-back ramp to the field level. From the ramp, we stopped and took two panoramas using my new cameras *sweep* function, this one…
…and this one:
After running down the first two parts of the ramp, we stopped on the 200-level and took the big escalator back down to the field level:
We hung out and watched the action from the SRO area for a bit. We saw Matsui fly out to LF to end the top of the 7th:
The kids’ play area closes at the end of the 7th inning. So quickly headed over there so Tim could play for about 5 minutes. And then headed back to the SRO area behind the 3B side. We wanted to make an attempt at getting an umpire baseball. It was going to be near impossible because the seats were still packed behind the 3B dugout and, of course, we weren’t even down there.
In the top of the ninth, we ended up finding some nice seats in about the 7th row. It looked sort of like this as Jonathan Papelbon pitched to BJ Upton:
After retiring Upton, Papelbon gave up a single to Matsui:
Papelbon had not blown a single save opportunity this season…until this game that is. Starting with a 2-run lead, Papelbon twice had the Rays down to their final strike. The crowd was on their collective feet. We were inching down toward the third row where there was a decently clear path to the umpires’ tunnel. And twice Papelbon gave up RBI singles instead of recording the final out of the game.
The save was blown. And we were heading to the bottom of the ninth.
The bottom of the ninth did not last long. Jim Thome…
…pinch hit to lead off the inning. And he hit a walk off homerun to end it.
I hate when closers blow a save and are then awarded the win minutes later when his team picks him up. Well, that’s what happened with Papelbon. He vulture the win from his teammate, Raul Valdez.
I should note that Thome’s homerun was a historic blast. It was his 609th homerun, bringing him into a tie with Sammy Sosa at seventh on the all-time career homerun list. Let’s hope Thome passes Sosa, but doesn’t climb any higher on the list (next would be the undisputedly better than Thome, Ken Griffey, Jr.).
But that’s not the sum total of the historic value of the Thome blast. It was also his 13 career walk-off homerun, breaking a tie with Mickey Mantle and making Thome the undisputed all-time career leader in walk-off homeruns. (Note: Like Griff, Mickey Mantle was also undisputedly better than Jim Thome).
Anyway, we got into pretty decent position for an umpire baseball, decent for a non-Diamond Club attendee at Citizens Bank Park. But Jim Joyce tossed all of his extra baseballs into the Diamond Club.
But we didn’t leave empty handed. As the Rays relieves and bullpen staff made their way into the dugout, Rays bullpen catcher Scott Cursi tossed Tim our final baseball of the day.
By the way, in an interesting side note: we have been to two Rays games this season. The Rays lost both of them on walk-off homeruns in the bottom of the 9th. And Scott Cursi tossed us a ball as he entered the dugout both times.
So, thanks again, Scott!
Before we headed out, we had two different ushers take pictures of us:
It was a great reprise our 2-man team for this game. Kellan will be back with us for our next game. But I think I’ll definitely do at least one more *just Tim and Dad* game this season. We’re a great 2-man team!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|13/11 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates|
|20 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3|
|75 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 1, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3|
|11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1|
|10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park1/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr; Kellan – Fredbird|
|2/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki|