I’ve been trying to get Tim and I to Comerica Park for a couple years now. It has never seemed to work. My original plan this season was to work it into our Texas trip back in May, but the flights just wouldn’t work. So we came up with a new plan: Fourth of July weekend road trip to Cincinnati and Detroit.
Cincinnati was up first. We hit the road in the evening on Friday, July 1st and drove to a hotel in Pittsburgh. On Saturday, July 2, 2011 we headed off to Cincinnati to take in a game in the “Ohio Cup” series – Cleveland Indians vs. Cincinnati Reds.
But the game wasn’t until 4:05 p.m., and it was only about a four hour drive to Cincinnati. No matter what, we were going to get there before the gates opened. So, when we were about 50 miles out from Cincinnati, I called Colleen and asked her to look up the address for Moeller High School – Ken Griffey, Jr.’s high school (and, oh, yeah, Barry Larkin’s too)!
First, we pulled up to the scruffy looking practice baseball field (The Tom Fitz Athletic Fields) behind the school…
…where I imagined Griffey playing ball as a teenager. We ran the “bases” (there weren’t really any bases) and took some lefthanded hacks (without a bat) at the plate. Ah, it felt just like we were “The Kid” himself.
Up above a hill out in right field, there were really (really!) nice looking soccer and football fields. It made me think that there must be other baseball facilities somewhere else.
Anyway, we pulled around to the front of the school and got a few pictures:
In the picture above to the right, Tim is pretending he is Griffey walking into school.
Just as we were able to leave, a guy exited the main doors (where Tim is approaching in that picture above) and started packing some stuff into a van. I ran over and asked him if he knew where the baseball team plays. He was very nice and we ended up striking up a 10 minute conversation.
It was probably obvious since we were wearing Mariners clothes and I was asking about the baseball fields, but I felt compelled to explain to him, “We’re ‘Griffey people.’” His reply was priceless: “So are we!”
It ends up that the guy was Griffey’s U.S. History teacher back in the mid-1980s. He shared a handful of Griffey stories with us that were incredibly awesome to hear. Nothing overly important or exciting. Just tidbits about Griffey the high schooler and Griffey the man returning home after being traded to the Reds in 2000. It was a cool behind the scenes glimpse at my all-time favorite ballplayer.
The least shocking story was that Griff wasn’t exactly a model student. He apparently gave a lot of “I’m gonna play professional baseball” responses when prompted by his teachers to take his schooling more seriously. They would remind him, “You know, lots of people say that, but it doesn’t work out for most.” And as his teacher told is, Griff would always assure the, “but it IS going to work out for me.”
If were really the discussions (and I have no reason to doubt it), it certainly looks like Griff proved himself right.
One other story I thought was cool to hear is that Moeller used to use a baseball field a couple miles away that was behind a Thriftway store. It had no fence and Griff would jack bombs over the outfielders that would roll and roll forever. He was so good at it that his teammates referred to the field behind the Thriftway as the “Griffway.”
Oh, yeah. And he mentioned that Griffey spent some time practicing on that scruffy field behind the school, but that’s it. He never played games there.
And with that, lets continue on to Cincinnati.
Great American Ball Park is interesting. Downtown Cincinnati (as far as I can tell) is essentially situated on a hill that runs down to the Ohio River. Route-71 comes into downtown
and cuts across downtown at 3rd Street – at the bottom of the hill – just above the river. The big downtown buildings are up the uphill side of 3rd Street and Great American Ball Park is tucked into the little space right between the buildings/3rd Street/Route-71 and the Ohio River. If you park in downtown, you have to walk across the bridge…
…to get to the stadium. (Those pictures were actually taken after the game…so everyone is walking away from the park instead of to it.) In the picture above to the right, you can see that the ballpark is tucked between two buildings. The building to the left the Reds front office and the building to the right is the main team store and the Reds (very cool) Hall of Fame.
Here is a look as you get closer to the stadium…
…and that picture to the left is a huge engraving (I guess that’s what you would call it) on the end of the front office building.
This approach leads you to the gates right behind home plate. There are a bunch of statues in the area in front of the home plate gate:
In the picture above to the right with Tim facing the statue of the pitcher, Tim explained that he was being the catcher and he was telling the pitcher what pitches to throw.
When we arrived, it was still about 20 minutes before gate opening. And it was really hot. We scooted around to the third base gate, where it was somewhat shady, and we hopped in
line. While in line, we spotted our first (of many) Griffey jerseys of the day:
After entering the ballpark and stowing our two new Dusty Baker bobblehead/toothpick holders, we headed to section 109:
The Reds were hitting, but they were almost finished, and the Indians pitchers were starting to report to the LF line to warm up and do some throwing. BP got packed quick. My hunch was that we wouldn’t come away with a baseball from GABP. But after the Indians pitchers finished up throwing, an Indians batter hit a ball behind 3B that veered over into foul
territory where an Indians pitcher fielded it right in front of us. When I asked if he could toss it up to Tim, he walked over and handed it directly to Tim.
As he walked away, I called out, “Wait! What’s your name!?” He reply, simply, “Tony!” I thought that was pretty funny. We’re on a first name basis, you know? I later checked the roster and found that Tony’s last name is Sipp.
Here is a picture of Sipp walking away from us…
…and Tim smiling for the camera with his baseball:
Okay. We had a ball from GABP and that was enough for us. We’d only been to this ballpark once before so it was officially time to do some exploring. We started by heading behind home plate, where we got this picture of Tim (again posing with his Tony Sipp baseball):
Tim looks pretty sweaty in that picture, but it is really water. It was so hot that we kept dousing Tim’s head with cold water.
Here is a panoramic view of Great American Ball Park from the cross aisle right behind section 121:
Next, we headed down into the seats behind the third base dugout and got this panorama from the second row of section 117:
Although no one checked our tickets when we headed down into the seats behind the dugout, I got the feeling that someone was supposed to have done so. There was hardly anyone in the seats behind dugout, but lots of people down the foul lines and in the outfield.
They definitely were checking the tickets of anyone who dared stand in the front row behind the dugout. But they did let Tim stand there long enough to get this picture:
There is a big steamboat looking thing above the batters’ eye in CF and Tim requested that we go out there and check it out. So that’s what we did…well, we tried to. You can’t actually get out onto that steamboat unless you are part of the group that has the steamboat for the game.
So we just stood around in upper deck next to the steamboat for 10-15 minutes. Here was our view:
One Indians player in CF was clearly having more fun than anyone else on the field. I had no clue who he was. The last group of hitters was only two guys and I am pretty sure they were pitchers preparing for their final interleague games. They hardly got the ball out of the infield.
But they did get one ball out to the “fun guy” in center field. He was way out there in CF. After gloving the baseball, he started walking toward another player in LCF. I didn’t say a word, but I held my glove up. As he walked, he noticed us and he threw a laser to me. It was an amazing throw considering the height and distance the ball traveled.
Here is “fun guy” and Tim with our first ever upper deck toss up:
I took pictures of the guy and tried to get a close up of his glove…where it appeared that his name was embroidered. In the best photo, I could tell the first name was “Cade” and the last name looked like it started with “Dur.” The roster told me that Chad Durbin now pitches for the Indians and Wikipedia told me that Durbin has a son named Cade. So there you go, thanks are due to Mr. Durbin.
This picture taken later in the day illustrates Durbin’s impressive throw:
Interesting side note, the baseball that Durbin threw up to us is a minor league baseball. It is so scuffed and dirty that it is impossible to read which MiLB league it is from, but it clearly appears to have the MiLB logo instead of the MLB logo.
Next, we headed over to the LF corner of the upper deck and got this panorama from section 406:
And then we got a picture of Tim from the same spot:
After running up to the top of the seats, we got this panorama from the top of section 406:
Next, we headed over into the infield. We headed up to the tippy-top of the stadium and found a nice spot where we could get a good picture of Tim with his Chad Durbin baseball and the Great American Ball Park sign for the MyGameBalls.com scavenger hunt:
After climbing up to the top of section 510, this is what it looked like:
Zooming in, here is a look at the batters’ eye steamboat:
Tim was not feeling the tippy-top of the upper deck. Too high. So we headed down to the upper deck concourse. I kept dousing Tim’s head with water. When we visited the restroom after leaving section 510, Tim noticed his wet hair in the mirror. Before leaving the restroom, he asked me to help him spike his hair up into a mohawk. When we headed back
into the concourse, this is what Tim’s hair looked like:
Speaking of the concourse, this is what it looks like in the upper deck behind third base at Great American Ball Park:
It was time to circle the upper deck and take some more panoramas. First, section 516…
…a picture of the two of us between panoramas…
…and finally a panorama from the cross aisle above section 436:
That was enough of the upper deck for us, so we headed down to the field level and got this panorama from behind section 139:
Section 139 is right next to the visitors bullpen. This is what the bullpen looks like:
The bullpens were actually pretty interesting to me. A lot of stadiums where the bullpens are not side-by-side seem to put the visitors’ bullpen out in the direct sunlight and the home bullpen in a shady area. The Reds, however, did the opposite. Pretty early in the game, the visitors’ bullpen was in the shade while the Reds relievers were still in the direct sun.
There is a great standing room area in CF just to the RF side of the batters’ eye. Here is a panorama that I took from that SRO area just behind section 146:
We were in the SRO area when someone-or-other sang the National Anthem. Just behind the plate, Mr. Redlegs and Rosie were standing with hands over hearts:
Mr. Redlegs is very similar to Mr. Met. But if you ask me, Mr. Redlegs is hands down the superior mascot. The Rollie Fingers ‘stache really sets him apart…as does his retro Reds hat.
We had seats in the direct blazing sun in RF so we started hearing that way. As we walked behind the Reds bullpen, we noticed something interesting:
Aroldis Chapman was down there signing autographs. Of all of the players at this game, Aroldis is the player with whom I most wanted Tim to get his picture. While that was out of
the question, we were hoping Chapman would sign Tim’s baseball from Tony Sipp. Soon after we arrived at the stairs up above Chapman, he called it quits and walked into a door opposite the bullpen. We waited patiently. And then he reappeared. I called his name and I’m pretty sure that he only stopped because he saw Tim.
When Chapman stopped below us, he was holding a Gatorade-type bottle in one hand and he motioned for me to toss the Sipp baseball down to him. At this point, he had the drink in one hand and the baseball in the other hand, he motioned for me to toss down our pen. I figured he would just let it hit the ground and then pick it up. But he showed some major hand-eye coordination by catching the pen at hip level with his index finger. It was very impressive.
After he signed the ball and tossed us the ball and pen, I shouted out a big “Gracias, Aroldis!” That put a huge smile on his face. During this interaction (and while previously watching him signing autographs), we were probably 10 feet above Chapman’s head and it was impossible to chat with him. Nevertheless, it was clear that the guy conveys a ridiculously warm/nice/pleasant attitude. He really seemed like a great guy.
Here is a picture of the Chapman autograph.
Finally, it was time for the game to start. We headed to the Skyline Chili stand right behind section 103 and grabbed some nachos and a cheese coney…
…and then we headed down to our seats in section 103. This was our view from section 103, row C, seats 13-14:
It was crazy hot in our seats. I could tell that we wouldn’t be able to stay in these seats for too long, which was unfortunate because they were great seats. But I knew we’d last at least a couple innings because Tim was going to town on our big pile of nachos:
It was good to see the Reds play again. We haven’t seen them since 2008, Griffey’s last year with the Reds. During his time in Cincinnati, I watched tons and tons of Reds games. They have a lot of new players since then, and a lot of players that were there in 2008, but have really matured over the past several years. Like this guy…
…2010 N.L. MVP Joey Votto. In that at bat, Votto is about to ground out in the first inning.
This was a low scoring game. The pitching match-up was Fausto Carmona vs. Homer Bailey. We sat in our assigned seats through the second inning and the score was 0-0.
We were overheating (well, Tim was), so we headed to the standing room area in RCF which is set up as a big misting station. It really felt amazing in there. We stayed under the
mist-sprayers for a long time and we got soaked:
Meanwhile, former-Mariner Mickey Brantley’s son Michael Brantley hit a 3-run homerun in the top of the third inning. That would be all the runs that the Indians would score during this game, and it was all they would need to win.
While we were interested in the game, we were just as interested in seeing as much of Great American Ball Park as we could. After we were thoroughly misted, we decided to head in the opposite direction of our seats and keep exploring.
As we headed toward the 3B side concourse, we looked up and took this shot of the big toothbrush-style light stands:
We lingered in the SRO area behind section 118 for a while. It looked like this:
And then we cut through the concourse and found a nice standing room spot behind section 130:
Aside from the Brantley bomb, Homer Bailey was looking pretty good:
An inning after the homerun, Bailey had no problem retiring Brantley on a weak pop up to short stop:
We decided to wander aimlessly around the ballpark and it quickly paid dividends. We ran into both Slider (the visiting Cleveland Indians mascot) and Gapper (the “B-list” Reds mascot…or at least that is how I would rank him compared to Mr. Redlegs):
In the concourse behind home plate, there is a really cool looking Reds logo set into the floor:
And some cool (and really big) mosaic pictures on the wall…
…check out Ken Griffey, Sr. in the mosaic to the left (of course, Sr. (wearing number 30) was an instrumental part of the “Big Red Machine” back in the day). Junior has got the Hall of Fame stats, but Senior has got the rings (2 of them).
Behind section 119, there is a big staircase that is mostly blocked off and is used as a SRO area:
That’s where we were standing in the bottom of the fourth inning when Jay Bruce…
…flied out to CF. I would have got a great action shot of the Grady Sizemore and Austin Kearns running into each other just before Sizemore made the catch, but a lady walked into my pitch and totally ruined it. Booo!
We decided to stop by at this little bouncy house/slide thingy…
…on our way to the very impressive Reds team store:
Two notes: in the upper right picture, that is a game-used Dusty Baker jersey Tim is pointing to with his thumb and in the bottom right picture Tim is throwing a one-seamer on the
baseball seams on the floor of the team store.
Upstairs in the game-used area, we found this cool old Big Red Machine black-and-white photo on the wall…
…which again features Ken Griffey, Sr. (wearing number 30). Lets see if I can name the rest of the Big Red Machine (from left-to-right): Pete Rose, Ken Griffey Sr., Joe “Everyone’s Favorite Broadcaster” Morgan, Tony Perez, George Foster, Johnny Bench, Cesar Geronimo, and Dave Concepcion.
After perusing the team store, we headed over to section 126…
…but just for a minute. We had our sights on ice cream helmets. So we headed toward the first base side concourse where we had got our ice cream helmets back in 2008. As we approached the ice cream place, Mr. Redlegs was approaching walking in the opposite direction. I asked Mr. Redlegs if he could pose for a picture with Tim. Mr. Redlegs’ handler
shut us down explaining, “we’re in a rush to get somewhere.” But Mr. Redlegs was having none of it. He leaned in and gave Tim a big hug:
Awesome! Thanks, Mr. Redlegs!
The ice cream helmet line was ridiculous. It was as if every fan at the game was in line. We were in line for at least a full inning. But when we got to the front of the line, it was worth the wait. They had about 6 (maybe 8) toppings, and they were free and unlimited!
We both got twist soft serves. Tim got smashed up M&M’s with whipped cream and a cherry (which he got specifically to give to me) and I got smashed up Reese’s pieces. Delicious.
We reported back to our seats (well, our section at least) to eat our ice cream in the hot sun:
Just for kicks, we got this shot of Tim smiling with a belly full of ice cream:
It was still too hot to stay in our seats for too long. So we headed back to the misting SRO in RCF. On our way, we noticed that the Reds had a reliever warming up in the bullpen:
As I watched the game from the front of the SRO area, Tim whipped a wet wipe (from ice cream face clean up) around in the sunny mist trying to make rainbows in the mist:
It is pretty interesting watching the game from this SRO area. Sometimes it looks like you are watching the game on a HD television. But at other times, it looks like you are watching it through a thick fog (or mist) or a light fog:
That’s our buddy Tony Sipp pitching in those last two pictures. He gave up a solo homerun to Joey Votto, but still earned a “hold.”
Here is what it looked like in the SRO area behind section 145 when the mist was blowing in the opposite direction:
We were going to stay at a hotel 3.5 hours north in Toledo, Ohio after this game. So we decided to head over to the SRO areas behind home plate to watch the end of the game. The plan was to make a quick exit once the game ended.
Here was our view, once again, from the concourse behind section 126 (or so):
With the score at 3-1 Indians, it was still anyone’s game as the Reds pitched to the Indians in the top of the ninth:
While we were in position, I figured I better get a shot looking into the Indians dugout. Here is what it looked like:
The Reds needed two runs in the bottom of the ninth and they had the heart of their order coming to the plate. With one out and one on base, Brandon Phillips couldn’t get anything going:
Phillips struck out for the second out of the inning.
Joey Votto batted next and lined a single to leftfield on this inside-out swing:
With the tying runs on base, Scott Rolen came to bat with two outs as the potential winning run. But he struck out to end the game.
Indians win 3-1.
On our way out the of the ballpark, Tim did a “rounding second” pose on the “statue” base near by the Ted Kluszewski statue:
We also got a couple fake batting poses to try to recreate a picture that we took outside Great American Ball Park in 2008:
Although we missed a lot of the game because of all of the exploring we did around the ballpark, we had a great time.
And the great time didn’t stop just because we had a 3.5 hour drive ahead of us. It was the night of July2nd and people were out in full force lighting off their own fireworks demonstrations. Tim had a great time watching the fireworks and didn’t fall asleep until after 11:00 p.m., right we pulled up to our hotel.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|15/2 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|14/4 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians and Reds; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels and Mets]|
|11 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1))|
|45 Baseballs (6 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 3 Orioles, 2 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 1 Rays, 2 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 1 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 2 Angels, 2 Indians)
|7/2 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park; Kellan – Camden Yards,
|11/7 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|5 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|6/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|1/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington); Kellan – N/A]|
|1 Line-up Card (Royals vs. Rangers)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|
On August 14, 2010, Tim and I hopped in the car and hit the road to meet up with our Mariners in…
…the “Mistake on the Lake” — Cleveland, Ohio!
As of this morning, we had seen the Indians play 5 times and they were 5-0 (3 wins over the Mariners, and 1 win a piece over the Twins and the Angels). We were hoping to witness our first Indians loss today (hint, hint: see the title of this entry).
Cleveland is about a 6 hour drive for us so we made a weekend of it. We stayed at the Doubletree. Here was the view from our room on the 12th floor…
Our hotel was a mile from Progressive Field and Tim was happy to ride on my shoulders for the whole walk to the ballpark. As we approached the CF gate (Gate C), we passed through a little park area with rock monuments for the Indians and the LeBron-less Cavaliers…
We pulled up to Gate C half an hour before it opened. In fact, not even the ticket windows at Gate C were open yet. So we got a picture…
We still had plenty of time before the gates opened, so before buying our tickets we headed over to the home plate entrance…
And then we headed back to the main ticket office and bought tickets for this and the next game. Across the street in the little courtyard-type-area between The Jake and Quickens Arena, the Indians were all set up for Kids Fun Day:
So we headed over toward the LF gate and looked inside the stadium…
About ten seconds after peaking into the stadium, the rain started coming down. It was light rain, but we decided to head back over to Gate C where we could stand undercover and out of the rain. By the time we got there, it was absolutely pouring rain and the “cover” did not help because it was blowing in and soaking everyone.
It was massive, massive rain.
They ended up opening the gates a few minutes early because they felt sorry for us poor folks getting drenched in the rain. We headed into the concourse in RF to take cover.
Tim and I were standing in the concourse in deep RCF just watching the rain when I got a bright idea. No one was in the RF stands. No one at all. I decided to run down to the front row to check for something that I had only ever read about on other MLBlogs, but never myself witnessed in real life — easter eggs.
Well, after three separate trips down into the seats, I was ridiculously soaked but we had these guys tucked into our backpack:
Seven (7!) easter eggs, including a smudged Target Field baseball. Four of the baseballs were under random seats between the first to third rows in RF to RCF. The other three were found inside folded chairs a good 10-20 rows up in CF. The balls were SOAKED. However, they have dried nicely and are quite normal now.
Soon, the rain stopped and the grounds crew started working like mad to ready the field for the game, particularly the Lake Erie-esque centerfield…
At the Jake, the fans are confined to RF/RCF until 6:00 p.m. for a 7:05 game. So we couldn’t go into the infield to watch the M’s warm up. The guys were having fun as they did their work. As you can see to the right above, Chris Seddon has both arms over his head. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but the song that was playing kept saying to put your hands up…or something like that. Each time, Seddon and several others would hold their arms up until some other trigger in the song permitted them to lower their arms. Some of them would continue playing catch with their arms held straight above their heads. There were some pretty hilarious straight armed throws.
As the M’s started filing into the bullpen, this guy tossed us a baseball…
Well, soon enough, this number 50 starting pitching in the bullpen.
“Hmmm…,” I thought again, “I guess Adam must have changed his number.” I texted my lovely wife, and moments later she responded, informing me that Tim and I owed a big “thank you” to Mr. Jamey Wright.
(And it turns out that Adam has changed to number 10, possibly in honor of former Mariners catcher Dave Valle. Who knows?)
Anyway, all of a sudden, we had 8 baseballs in our backpack. We’re not big numbers guys when it comes to getting baseballs — our goal is just to get one at a game — but I gotta admit that I was intrigued by the prospect of hitting double digits (even if aided by 7 easter eggs).
Soon, everyone was gone except Felix Hernandez and Jason Phillips…
I should mention that I had a brief but nice chat with Jason. I congratulated him on his recent marriage (the wedding ceremony was held at Safeco Field after a Mariners game).
While we were chatting, Tim yelled down to Jason, “My Daddy found four baseballs under the seats!” I thought that was pretty hilarious. But I later told Tim its better not to announce something like that to a player on the field.
The next picture tells two stories:
First, before everyone headed back to the dugout, John Wetteland (who is pictured in the middle) took a big crow hop and fired a ball against the RF wall right in front of the Mariners bullpen from about 100 feet out. Tim and I were standing in the corner spot at the front of the bullpen (where we had stood while chatting with Phillips). A few minutes after Wetteland fired the baseball against the wall, Felix Hernandez walked over, grabbed the ball and tossed it to us.
We’ve never got a baseball from Felix (although we have got one very dirty baseball from Erik Bedard after he and Felix used the baseball to warm up before a game in Boston), and I was really excited to get one from a guy who could someday become the most winningest pitcher in Mariners history.
Second, as illustrated by the other red arrow, Felix uncorked a wild throw to Jason Phillips that ended up about 20 rows up into the stands. They didn’t have another ball and the crowd hadn’t been let into the rest of the stadium yet, so Jason just hopped into the stands and walked up the stairs until he found the baseball.
Finally, the tarp came off of the field…
It was close to 6 o’clock when Tim crashed…
Finally, the rest of the stadium opened up…
At this point, with the baseball from King Felix, we were sitting on 9 baseballs. We visited the home plate area to scout out the umpire exit. We figured they would exit through the door right in the middle of that last picture and then walk down the stairs just to the left. We were hoping the home plate umpire might help welcome us to double digits for the first (and most likely last) time.
Soon, the guys were back on the field getting ready for the game. And as the Mariners relievers made their backwards facing walk out to the bullpen, we spotted the pink backpack for the first time this season…
The 2010 Mariners bullpen…
…doesn’t look much like the 2009 Mariners bullpen. But they seem to have a lot of fun just like the guys did in 2009.
When the game started, we found ourselves sitting at the back of section 144. That is where we were when Ichiro connected for his 149th hit of the season leading off the game in the top of the first inning:
We went and grabbed some nachos for dinner and came back.
This was our view as we enjoyed our dinner and the beginning of the game:
We were still absolutely soaking wet. Particularly our feet. I took off Tim’s shoes and rung out his socks. His poor little toes looked like he’d been swimming for the last 3 hours. We had to do the unspeakable. We headed to a kids’ oriented team store in the concourse in the RF corner and bought Tim some new socks…Indians socks. I got him short socks so the Indians logos would be hidden under his shoes. All you could see was the navy and red stripes around the top of the socks.
In the third inning, the M’s were still winning 1-0 when Ichiro came to bat again. Tim decided to get his picture “with” his favorite player…
By the way, Ichiro grounded out.
Tim decided to do a lot of thumbs upping and thumbs downing…
One of the Mariners best stories of the year, Jason Vargas, was on the mound for the M’s…
Tim kept mentioning some flags on top of a building way out in the distance. We couldn’t tell what the bottom flag was, so I tested out my zoom…
In the top of the fourth inning, the Mariners took a 2-0 lead when Mitch Talbot walked Ichiro with the bases loaded.
Unfortunately, the Indians came back to tie it 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning on a double by Jayson Nix and a single by Andy Marte.
I felt bad for Marte. I know nothing about the guy. Literally, nothing. But they sure seemed to dislike him in Cleveland. There was all sorts of negativity being spewed at him from the stands, which is too bad. I’m not a big fan of fans trashing their own players. Maybe you trash a player at home among like-minded friends or family. But if you are a fan of a team, what good does it do to loudly yell derogatory comments at the player while he is trying to help your team win? It doesn’t make any sense.
With the score knotted at 2-2 moving at the end of fourth, we decided to *quickly* run to the ice cream stand for some ice cream helmets. Somehow we didn’t notice the fancy ice cream stand with helmets almost directly behind where we were sitting. Instead, we headed to the concourse behind home plate where we have gotten ice cream helmets in years past.
Here is a view of the concourse as we headed toward home plate:
This *quick* ice cream helmet run was a total debacle. They no longer had ice cream helmets behind home plate, so Tim had to get a waffle cone, which he loved but created a huge mess. And it took forever to get the waffle cone. While we were in line, the Mariners went crazy and all we could do was watch it on big flat screen TVs.
Russell Branyan hit a solo bomb to lead off the fifth innning.
Jose Lopez followed with a single, and then Gutierrez and Kotchman both grounded into E5’s courtesy of…uh, oh…fan unfavorite, Andy Marte. That did not help his cause.
It also didn’t help Marte’s cause that Josh Bard followed his two errors with a grand slam to run the score to 7-2, still with no outs.
Finally, we made it back into the stadium, just in time to see the Indians record 3 outs to end the inning.
We relocated to the standing room area in LF. Tim was able to sit on the cement base of the railing as I stood above him watching the game…
Actually, we did see one Mariners hit in the fifth inning before the Indians finally recorded the third out. And it was Ichiro’s 150th hit of the season:
While in the OF, I decided to take some shots of our outfielders right as Vargas was delivering a pitch. Interestingly, Franklin Gutierrez and Michael Saunders were up on their toes ready to get a jump on any swing…
In the top of the sixth, the Mariners tacked on two more runs on a 2-run homerun by Casey Kotchman:
Not even Slider with his flame throwing electric guitar…
Well, maybe Slider helped a little bit. Jayson Nix hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 9-3. But that homerun would cap the scoring for both teams.
In the late innings, we moved a little further out into LF. We hung out during the seventh and eighth innings in the handicapped accessible seating area at the front of the LF bleachers.
This was our view:
In the top of the ninth, we found ourselves behind home plate, but at the very top of the field level seats, above the cross aisle.
Here was our view:
By the start of the bottom of the ninth inning, we found ourselves in the first row directly behind home plate:
It also gave us a nice view of the Mariners dugout:
Before we proceed, lets make sure we focus on the important stuff:
It would turn out that seemingly 1,000 people converged on the umpire exit after the final out. So the odds were low of us getting an umpire baseball. But it turned out that the odds were irrelevant becaues home plate umpire Mike Reilly sailed by everyone and didn’t unload give out a single baseball.
Oh, well. It seemed our chances are getting that 10th baseball were all but expired. Which was just fine with us. We decided to head over by the Mariners dugout to be close to the post-game celebration as our victorious Mariners cleared off of the field.
And guess what? Mariners third base coach (and former Mariners outfielder) Lee Tinsley spotted us (Tim was on my shoulders) and tossed us our previously unimagineable TENTH baseball of the day:
Our day was still far from concluded. For the second year in a row, we were treated to the Indians annual post-game “Rock’n’Blast” fireworks show. It is a big fireworks show set to music. I’m not sure if this is standard or not, but all of the music in the show was by bands inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, which is in Cleveland.
As they prepared the field, Slider shot tons of shirts and other stuff into the stands. Deep into the stands. Tim was all excited to try to catch one…
Soon, it was time for one of the coolest (maybe *the* coolest) fireworks show we’ve ever seen.
Here is a little taste of it that shows (i) awesome fireworks and (ii) Tim’s unbridaled excitement:
After the fireworks, Tim hopped back up onto my shoulders and I walked us the mile back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.
It was awesome to see our first Indians loss ever, and even better to see our third Mariners win of the season.
2010 Fan Stats:
18 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox and Indians; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, and Nationals)
16 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (2), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics & Nationals)
50 Baseballs (9 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 3 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 7 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs)
11 Stadiums (Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, PETCO Park, Angel Stadium of Anaheim, AT&T Park, Progressive Field)
13 Player Photos (Jamie Moyer, Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Mike Cameron, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto, Billy Wagner, Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver and Scott Olsen)
2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
9 Autographs (Ryan Rowland-Smith (2), Omar Vizquel, Chad Cordero, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joel Piniero, Frank Catalanotto (2), Billy Wagner (2), Jeff Suppan, Tommy Hanson, Jeff Weaver and Scott Olsen)
6 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards)
After returning home from Boston back in July, it started to hit me that, if Griff decides to retire after this season (and I sincerely hope he DOES NOT), Tim and I would never see him play again. I didn’t like that idea. So I reviewed the rest of the M’s schedule to see if they would visit anywhere even remotely near southeastern Pennsylvania.
They had one more trip to Cleveland on the books. Cleveland is in northeastern Ohio, and Ohio borders Pennsyvlania to the West. I determined that fits within the definition of “anywhere even remotely near southeastern Pennsylvania.”
Therefore, just 4 days removed from the conclusion of a wonderful roadtrip with my dad, Tim, my wife Colleen and I piled into the car and headed across Pennsylvania on the PA Turnpike.
After camping out a night in Washington, PA, we headed north up the Ohio turnpike to Cleveland and after taking 80N-to-480W-to-77N-to71 we cruised into town on 9th Street and this was our view:
Ah, Jacobs Field…the Jake. (I think that is a typo on the sign, that’s not how you spell ‘Jacobs’). It was good to be back to the first field where Tim ran the bases. And it was great to be in the same city as the Mariners.
We came into the city early to see what we could see in the Land of Cleve. Unfortunately, we knew nothing about the city…except that its on a BIG lake. We ended up driving through downtown and spotting the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Browns Statium. So we turned left down a street heading toward the water. Next, we turned right down a long road that ran by some water and an airport before finally reaching a marina. Here are some pictures of what we saw:
Check out that lake! Tim was asleep when we pulled up to the marina. We woke him up and pointed out the huge lake. He responded, “No, Daddy. That’s not a lake. That’s an ocean!” Its big. In that top right picture, that’s the R’n’R Hall of Fame. Below, is a Blue Angels jet resting on a stand in front of a Navy facility by the airport. Pretty cool stuff.
And, that was the extent of our city touring. We had a game to go to!
After parking in a garage a few blocks away, we walked up to a misty Jacobs Field. The clouds were just spitting a little bit. No need for an umbrella or a hood. And I figured it would be no problem for BP.
I was wrong.
Colleen and I had made a deal. We would come early to this game so I could watch some BP. But we wouldn’t come early the next day (which was a day game and might not have BP anyway). But as a approached the gates, I could see the in field was covered. No BP.
There was a sign that said the stadium was open at Gate C. So walked over to Gate C in RCF:
In front of the Gate C entrance, there is a statue of Bob Feller (middle) with which Tim posed. I didn’t think it was a very good statue, at least compared to the extremely life-like statues at U.S. Cellular Field. [NOTE TO THE MARINERS: When Griff does eventually retire, use whomever made the statues at U.S. Cellular for his statue. Also, use a classic Griff pose, not the pose with both arms over his head after hitting a home run.]
As we entered Gate C, there were two display cases just inside the gate with lists of the two teams’ starting line ups. Oh, no…no Griff!
Despite my disappointment (which I was prepared for because I knew a lefty was pitching for the Indians), I thought it was a cool feature to have the line-ups posted like that.
Below is a view of the RF concourse…
…we quickly learned that we were trapped in the RF seats and/or concourse until 6:00 p.m. — a full a hour away…and most of the food stands were not yet open (and as I mentioned, no BP). What ever would we do to kill the time?
We walked down into the field level seats as close to the RF foul pole as we could get (the Mariners bullpen is between the seats and the foul pole. Here was our view:
The big draw on the field was Ichiro. He played catch (with his interpreter, I believe)…
…and then he did some running.
Then a couple Mariners relief pitchers played catch by the tarp over the in field. Because we were stuck in RF, we couldn’t get very close. I couldn’t recognize anyone from out there except David Aarsdma.
Ardsma and his buddy were the last two playing catch. His partner threw a ball passed him that rolled out and sat in the grass just off the tarp behind second base. Aardsma pulled another ball out of his pocket and finished playing catch.
When he was finished, he walked out to grab the ball behind second. We were now all alone in the seats in RCF. I called out, “Hey, D.A.!!!!!”
The D.A. immediately picked up the damp ball and threw it REALLY far and directly into my glove:
After throwing the ball to us, a bunch of people in RF yelled Aardsma’s name and he turned and threw his other baseball on a line all the way to the back of the RF seats. The throw was very impressive.
Here is a panaramic view from where we caught the ball from Aardsma:
By the way, Aardsma’s second throw landed at the top of that last section, just under the overhang.
Here is a view to our right:
Next, we went to Heritage Park.
Heritage Park is the Indians’ outdoor Hall of Fame. Its pretty cool. As you can probably tell from the bottom picture, Tim and I played catch in Heritage Park. Colleen didn’t think it was appropriate to play catch in there. I told her they’d tell us to stop if they didn’t like it.
After a couple minutes, a stadium usher type standing behind the plaque in the bottom left corner of the picture above called me over. Uh, ho. I figured we were, indeed, getting shut down. I walked over to him.
Todd – “Yes?”
Usher – (pulling a baseball from his pocket and whispering while staying behind the column) “Throw this one back to him.”
So, how about that? Instead of getting told not to play catch in Heritage Park, we were rewarded with a ball. Not bad.
Tim was happy to add another ball to his collection.
After playing some more catch, we walked down the stairs to the lower section of Heritage Park. While down there, Colleen found this:
This was literally the first and only plaque Colleen read. So, as a big-time migraine sufferer, she was mighty surprised to see she’d picked the plaque of a ball player whose “Career was curtailed after 1941 season by migraine headaches.” That is something you don’t hear every day.
Finally, they opened the rest of the stadium. We were eating some nachos by this time. We relocated to the seats just a little bit down the line from 1B. We were at the top of the section when two individuals popped out of the M’s dugout and started walking toward the bullpen. One of them was Jason Phillips, whom you might remember from our trip to New York and Boston in July. We had a couple interactions with Phillips in Boston and New York this season, and he’d already given us 5 baseballs so far this season.
I ran down to the first row and arrived there just as he passed:
Todd – “Hey, Jason!”
Phillips – (looks over and give me a big smile) “Hey, how you doing, buddy?”
Todd – “Good, man. Nice to see you. Any chance of you hooking us up with a warm up ball today?”
Phillips – (I couldn’t understand exactly what he said, but it was something like) “I’m sure we can make that work.”
Then he said something like, it would be a little bit because he had to do some stuff first.
I went up to talk to Colleen and Tim. And we relocated down to the bottom of the field section. Eventually, Jason and Felix Hernandez started playing catch, and we watched:
Tim and I hung out in the RF foul corner and scoped out the scenery…
…like this weird little “chalking” machine that really shoots white spray paint onto the ground…
It didn’t do a very good job. A chalk line looks about 10,000 times better than this painted line, even after the guy took two passes at it.
We scoped out the bullpen, which has a seating area in the front with the pitching mounds behind…
…just above the OF fence in foul territory, we noticed what looked like a wedding party.
In a little bit, Jason came back out and went into the bullpen again. Again, he looked over to us and gave us the “hold on a minute” finger. He put on some shin guards in the bullpen and grabbed his catchers mitt.
Then he walked out of the bullpen, came straight over to us and set a nice looking ball showing some warning track dirt marks into my glove.
Then we all posed for a picture:
“Thanks, Jason!” He has been mighty cool to us this season and I am hoping he sticks on with the Mariners as bullpen catcher and eventually as a coach (that is, unless he has an opportunity to make a comeback as a player).
Next, we headed out to our seats in the LF bleachers — Section 184.
I trudged up the stairs and into the upper CF corner in Section 185 and took this panaramic view:
Here is Mike Saunders, who made an error in LF and got hounded for the rest of the game by a bunch of guys three rows behind us:
Of course, Tim wanted to play catch several times during the game. And he wanted to play in the tunnel from the LF concourse into the LF bleachers. I told Tim we’d certainly get kicked out of the tunnel and told to either stop or move elsewhere…
…I was wrong. Instead, we were encouraged by the Section 184 usher. In fact, you can see him watching us in the picture to the right. He thought it was great that we were playing catch in the tunnel, even as people passed in and out of the tunnel.
Here is another action shot: (i) to the right, Fister nailed someone in the head (he was okay) and everyone gathered around to check him out and (ii) Josh Wilson about to catch a pop up…
…see that bat boy running in from the right side in the Josh Wilson pop-up picture? There was a runner on 3B and that kid came sprinting in like he was Usain Bolt. The guy behind us got all excited and thought it was the runner trying to score. He was right to get excited. It was pretty strange to see that bat boy come sprinting in like that.
Midway through the game, the Indians mascot, Slider, came to our tunnel with a pizza and gave it to some guy in Section 185. Tim and I left our seats and I asked Slider’s chaperone if we could get a picture with slider — of course we could:
Soon it was time for ice cream. We had to walk to the Pierre’s booth behind home plate. On the way, I took this action shot of Mariners rookie pitcher, Doug Fister, through the foul pole:
The Jake has some interesting art hanging around the park. Here is one of Pronk.
The game itself was a good one, but disappointing. The Mariners led most of the game on the strenth of an Indians error and a Russell Branyan HR in the first inning. But we wouldn’t score again and the Indians would tact on a run at a time in three different innings. The game headed to extras.
Griff didn’t play, but I could see him in the dugout…
…he started carrying around a bat while wearing his batting gloves. The M’s had pinch hit for DH Mike Sweeney late in the game (or maybe it was pinch ran for him) with Ryan Langerhans. I was sure Griff would pinch hit for Langerhans in the 10th or 11th inning. With his bat in hand, it looked certain. But then the Indians brought in another lefthanded reliever, and the M’s kept Langerhans in to bat. So, no Griff. Bummer
Late in the game, Colleen wore my new grey zip-up sweat shirt. And Tim wanted to share the hood:
Tim was happy to have “mommy” join us for this game.
In the bottom of the 11th, Luis Valbuena (a former Mariner) hit a walk off homerun. Double bummer.
To make up for dissappointing us by beating our M’s, the Indians put on a huge and extremely cool Rock’n’Roll Fireworks show. We had to relocate to the infield seats (you’ll see why below). On our way, we got a nice family picture (featuring Colleen’s nice new hairdo and fireworks being set up behind us).
We would be back the following day and we’d be hoping with all our might that Griff would be in the line-up.
Season Fan Stats:
26 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
12 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, and “Jacobs” Field)
24 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, White Sox, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Cubs, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals, Marlins, Pirates, Astros, and Brewers — and sort of the Giants)
22 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (5), Mets, Nationals (3), Red Sox (3), Yankees, Twins, Cubs, Brewers, White Sox, and Indians (and 1 Brewers Cheese Fries Helmet))
25 Baseballs (14 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies, 1 Red Sox, 1 Umpire, 1 Nationals, 1 Pirates, 1 Twins, 1 Astros, 1 Royals, 1 Indians)
MLB Closed Out (NL Closed out on 8/16/09, AL Closed out on 8/17/09)
4 Autographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Ronny Cedeno, Ryan Perry)
4 Player/G.M. Photographs (King Felix Hernandez, Jason Phillips, Jack Zduriencik, Ryan Perry)
10 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose, Orioles Bird, Slider (Indians), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats), 4 Running Sausages (Brewers) — Honorable Mention: The Green Monster statue bench)