Coming into this season, one of my goals was to get Kellan to seven stadiums in 2011: Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium and PNC Park. We were set to end the season at Safeco Field, and he’d already been to games at Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field, and Yankee Stadium. As we hit mid-September he had visited all of them but PNC Park and Nationals Park. While PNC Park was a lot cause, there was still an option for Nationals Park.
I pitched a family trip down to Colleen’s sister’s house in Virginia for the weekend of September 17-18 with an extended-family ballgame on the 18th in DC. It all fell into place perfectly.
On the morning of September 18, 2011, Tim, Kellan and I hopped into our car and drove north to Nationals Park for BP. The plan was for Colleen, Kimberly (my sister-in-law), Kevin (brother-in-law), Gill (nephew) and Kate (niece) would join us at game time.
It turned out to be a very special time before the game started. Although there was no BP to speak of, I soaked up 2.5 great hours in the ballpark with my boys – the first time Tim, Kellan and I had been to a ballpark alone, just us three guys. Despite there being no BP, we kept busy and found a lot of ways to have fun.
By far the worst part of the day was right when we walked into the ballpark and I tried to take a picture of Tim and Kellan with one of the statues by the CF entrance. I knew I had forgotten to charge my camera battery, but I was hoping it would have enough juice to last the day. Not quite. It was dead and was good for a grand total of zero pictures. Aye, aye, aye! I had to rely on my cellphone for pre-game pictures.
We started out in the LF corner. There were a bunch of Marlins playing catch along the LF foul line. We made our way down into the first row:
[Note: there wer probably 6 Marlins along the foul line in the picture above and to the left, but they are all hidden behind Kellan’s noggin]. There were a couple other fans there just sitting and watching. The ballpark was completely silent. I only recognized one Marlin down on the field – Brian Sanches. So when he finished warming up and ran toward the foul line to return his baseball to the bag, I broke the silence. “Hey, Brian!” was all it took for Sanches to send his warm up baseball our way.
When the ball smacked into my glove, the 8-10 other fans in the section were whipped into a minor frenzy. Despite the fact that they were all at the ballpark 2.5 hours early (which would make you assume they know what goes on during BP), it was as if they never even considered that a player might toss you his baseball if you asked him. The section was silent no more. And as Tim, Kellan and I headed back up to the concourse; several more baseballs were sailing into the stands to the happy fans we left behind.
After a quick stop in the red seats in deep LCF (where there was truly nothing happening), we headed to the second deck in RF. Section 237 to be exact. Several Nationals pitchers
were warming up down below:
We kept an eye on Stephen Strasburg. We’d never seen him before and I wanted to check out what all the hype was about, even if just during pre-game throwing. Next to Strasburg was his Nationals teammate Tom Gorzelanny. When Tom finished up throwing, I called his name and I flashed him my glove when he looked up. I could tell he was going to throw us the baseball, but it was also clear that he was concerned about Kellan…who I was holding. There were absolutely no other fans in our section or the next one over (in foul territory). Gorzelanny decided to throw the ball into the next section so we could just go pick it up. But his plan back fired. The ball hit a seat and took a big ricochet and bounced back down onto the warning track.
Gorzelanny moseyed over and retrieved the ball. On his second attempt, he decided to throw it over us. It landed about five rows behind us and bounded right back to me. I caught it with my glove as I held Kellan in my right arm. I always think it is particularly awesome getting a toss up to an upper-deck. This was only our second ever. Very cool.
Before heading off to the play area, we decided to watch Strasburg a bit more. Tim and I sat a couple seats apart from each other so Kellan could run back and forth between us. While we hung out, Tim took a panorama with my cellphone:
I thought I should document the three guys being at the ballpark alone, so I took this really horrible picture…
…where we completely block out the view of the ballpark.
On our way to the play area, Tim stopped us at the top of the stair way down to the field level so he could get his picture with the Mariners logo on the side of the CF parking garage:
Kellan is way too small for the play area. So while Tim played like a mad man, Kellan and I hung out in a little screened in room under the play area. Kellan and I played a little catch…
…and, between throws, I wrote down notes about our first two baseballs of the day.
After spending some time in the play area, we decided to get a bite to eat. We walked from the play area in the deep CF concourse area all the way around the RL foul pole, around home plate, and to a concession stand behind 3B. We grabbed some peanuts and hot dogs and then went and sat in the corner spot down the LF line:
Four Marlins were playing catch along the foul line. I only recognized one of the players, Anibal Sanchez, who was the closest Marlin to us.
As we nibbled our food and watched the Marlins warm up, Abe Lincoln moseyed on by us. I told Tim to stay put, and then I ran a section over toward 3B, handed Kellan over to our 16th President, and snapped this picture (on the left)…
…after Kellan and I returned to the corner spot, Abe headed toward the LF foul pole and Tim announced he wanted his picture with Abe too. So we ran after him once again and got the picture above on the right. Note that Tim is still holding his hot dog.
Shortly after we returned to the corner spot once again, Anibal Sanchez and his partner finished playing catch. Tim was sitting in the second seat and I was standing next to him holding Kellan. Sanchez turned around and saw us. He walked over and held the ball out to Kellan. Kellan gave Anibal as inquisitive look and then reached out and grabbed the baseball. Kellan then immediately cocked his arm back and threw the ball back in Sanchez’s direction. Anibal grabbed the ball and handed it to Kellan again. Again, Kellan cocked his arm back, which prompted Sanchez to jump into an athletic ready position, and tossed the ball back again. After two more back-and-forths, Anibal grabbed the baseball, handed it to Kellan, and very sweetly said, “You keep it this time,” and then he turned and jogged off toward the dugout. It was an awesome little interaction.
A few minutes later, some more Marlins started playing catch in the grass just behind 3B. We slid around there and were soon rewarded with a toss-up from Ricky Nolasco.
Hey, thanks, Anibal and Ricky!
We decided to head back to the play area. On the way, a kind usher took our picture:
And then Tim requested that I take a picture of this silly face:
As we passed by the statues in LCF, the Presidents were out there. But after reflecting upon his Abe Lincoln interaction, Kellan decided that the Presidents were way too scary for his liking. But he did let us get close enough to get this picture of Tim and Teddy:
After Tim hit some whiffleballs….
…Kellan and I played some more catch in the screened in area below the play area, and Tim played like crazy again.
It was getting really close to game time now. Colleen called and let me know that they were getting really close to the stadium. We planned to meet them in our seats. But first, we watched Mike Stanton…
…warm up behind 3B and Marlins starting pitcher, Brad “Aloha, Mr.” Hand…
…warm up in the visitors’ bullpen.
As game time rolled around, we reported to our seats. Soon enough, Colleen arrived…
…along with Kimberly, Kevin, Gill and Kate. (Collectively, we’ll call them the “Martelons”).
We had some great seats in section 108:
The best thing about September is that you can get really cheap tickets on stubhub for teams who are long out of the playoff races. These seats were normally $36/ticket, but I picked them up for $10/ticket (plus all of the ridiculous online fees).
Tim and Kellan had a great time in the seats with their cousins:
The Nationals got on the board first. In the bottom of the second, Chris Marrero hit a sacrifice fly plating Jonny Gomes for the first run of the game.
Colleen brought her very good, but bulky, camera so our picture quality improved once she arrived. But her camera is not nearly as convenient as mine. I didn’t end up taking any action shots until the bottom of the third inning, when I captured Jason Werth as he hit a couple foul balls and then took a called strike three (on this pitch):
A few minutes later, Colleen was standing in the stairway when Kellan decided to get really comfortable with the glass partition separating the stands from the LF foul warning track:
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Nationals extended their lead to 4-0 on an 2-RBI single by Danny Espinosa followed by an RBI ground rule double by Marrero.
In the top of the fifth, Gaby Sanchez hit a solo homerun to make the score 4-1 Nats.
After the kids watched Thomas Jefferson win his 28th Presidents’ race of the season…
…we took to our feet…
…and made our way back to the kids’ play area:
Actually, everyone else but Kellan and I went to the play area. I had another idea. Kellan and I zoomed over to the RF foul pole. It was an inning break and the Nationals outfielders were playing catch. We were at the foul pole about 2 minutes total and after Jim Lett tossed us our final baseball of the day (Thanks, Jim!), we made our way back to the play area:
The Martelons had never been to Nationals Park before. So after we left the play area, we took a little walk around the stadium.
First, we headed up to the second deck in RF where Colleen took this cute picture with me and the kids:
What I think is so funny about that picture is the combination of Kate leaning her head on Tim’s shoulder while Tim is looking up at me and Kellan. Funny. Meanwhile, Kellan was trying to rip up a Steven Strasburg baseball card that was inserted into that little magazine he is holding.
When Mike Stanton stepped to the plate, I asked Colleen to take a picture of him hitting a homerun. Stanton didn’t cooperate. So Colleen had to settle with taking this awesome picture of Stanton hitting a single:
After we circled around toward first base, an usher took a hilariously disorganized picture of all of us:
We had no real plan. We were just walking around looking at stuff and taking pictures. When we passed behind home plate, I got this panorama from the concourse behind section 314:
Kimberly took the kids (minus Kellan) up into the 400 level seats for another picture:
All of this walking around (in my arms) really tuckered out Kellan. So he took a little nap…
…that lasted for the rest of our walking tour and for a while when we were back in our seats.
When I returned to our seats with Kellan, Colleen and Kimberly took the other kids to get ice cream helmets…or so I thought. I was shocked when Tim came back with this non-collectible ice cream receptacle:
Yikes! Oh, well. Tim still enjoyed his tasty ice cream.
In the top of the seventh, Brett Hayes hit a 2-Run homerun. That made the score 4-3 Nationals. But that was as close as the Marlins would get to the Nationals.
There was a comical moment in the top of the eighth inning. Mike Stanton was at the plate and it looked like he was hit by a pitch. He ran to first, but the umpires called him back. I personally had no clue what was going on. But Jack McKeon came out and went crazy arguing his point. The McKeon argument was humorous on its own. But the really hilarious part was Nationals left fielder (and former Mariner) Michael Morse:
Morse was cracking up over McKeon’s antics. And several times he interrupted his stream of giggling to do an exaggerated “yeeeerrrrrrr outtta here!” hand motion (like he was ejecting McKeon from the game. Morse was still laughing about McKeon’s antics after Stanton returned to home plate and struck out to end the inning.
Not much else happened in the game. At the end of the day, the final was a 4-3 win for the Nationals
But, hold up, our day was not over quite yet. It was KIDS RUN THE BASES DAY!!!
We hopped into the long line outside the stadium, where Tim entertained us with some harmonica:
(FYI, Tim loves to play his harmonica, but has no clue how to actually play the harmonica).
I was super excited for Kellan’s first Kids Run the Bases. He’d never circled Major League bases before, and I couldn’t wait for it. Colleen took this shot of me and Kellan in foul territory along the first base line:
Sadly, the Nationals have a policy against allowing parents to chaperon their kids around the bases. That killed the dream. Kellan is way too young to run around the bases on his own. He would have ended up in CF with a throng of Nationals employees chasing him. I was pretty bummed out over this turn of events, but what can you do?
While Kellan watched from the warning track, Kate…
…, and Gill…
…had a lot of fun on the base paths.
Ah, it was another great day at the ballpark. It has been an amazing season getting Tim and Kellan’s cousins out to the ballpark with us at both Camden Yards and Nationals Park. Next year, I’ll figure out a way to get them up to Citizens Bank Park!
As we walked back to our car, Colleen asked Kimberly to take a family picture of us in front of this “The Yards” sign:
I have no clue why she wanted a picture with this “The Yards” sign, but hey, she did, so I’m including it here.
Only three more games for us in the 2011 season and, HOORAY HOORAY, they would all be at Safeco Field!
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|30/6 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|21/10 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Nationals]|
|23 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (3), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (3), Pirates (1)).|
|96 Baseballs (16 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 8 Orioles, 5 Umpires, 4 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 6 Phillies, 2 Mets, 6 Rays, 8 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove
Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 9 Marlins, 1 Pirates)
|13/5 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee
Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field, PNC Park; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park]
|18/9 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez***, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe, Michael Saunders, Chad Durbin, Russell Branyan, Brandon League***, Brendan Ryan, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin
Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|21 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon, Brandon League, Jaime Navarro, Brendan Ryan, Dan Cortes, Josh Lueke,
Blake Beavan, Jamey Wright, Jack Zduriecik, Carl Willis, Tom Wilhelmsen, Casper Wells, Mike Cameron, Brandon Guyer, Russ Canzler, Scott McGregor)
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|10/3 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond, Abe Lincoln; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird, Abe Lincoln]|
|3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field,
Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]
|2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.***2011 All-Star|
After starting out our 2011 season with an outstanding doubleheader in Baltimore (Tim’s first doubleheader), our second game was slated to be the Marlins at Phillies on Saturday, April 16, 2011. Unfortunately, rain wiped out most of the games in the NE region of the United States that day, including our game in Philadelphia.
The Phillies rescheduled the game for June 15th, thus freeing us up to travel to the Nation’s capital on April 17, 2011 for our second consecutive single-admission doubleheader, featuring the Milwaukee Brewers and the Washington Nationals.
The action was slated to start at 1:10 p.m. I was confident there would be BP, so we arrived 2.5 hours early. The Nats and Brewers did not disappoint. There was full batting practice by both teams.
After a 30-second stop in the LF seats, we headed over to RCF – section 143 – which was practically empty. A few minutes later, a Nationals batter hit a ball onto the warning track in deep CF. Nationals bullpen coach came walking out toward CF with his fungo bat in hand…
…I waived to get his attention, then pointed to the baseball on the warning track and then to Tim. He nodded and started walking toward the ball. He had a long walk. At the same time, a groundskeeper behind the CF wall saw the ball and walked out to get it. I yelled down toward him, “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!”
Luckily, he grabbed the ball and tossed it to Coach Lett. Lett turned and, true to his nod, fired the baseball to my waiting Rawlings glove.
Thanks, Jim Lett!
By the way, it was one of the ultra-soft leather “Training” baseballs that the Nationals like to use for BP.
A few minutes later, we relocated to the seats next to the Nationals bullpen at section 139. There was a group of Nats in RF. They tossed a few baseballs to Nats fans.
Finally, this happened…
Thanks, unidentified dude!
All the while, a 45’ish year old dad of two 10-12’ish year old boys was yucking it up in the first row of section 140 because his boys had been the recipients of several toss ups. He was quite happy…until one of his boneheaded boys dropped his baseball down into the gap between the seats and the RF wall. Doh!
The guy was perplexed. What to do!? The groundskeepers in the bullpen said they couldn’t do anything about it. Even if they could, it would require accessing a gate and walking between the wall and the stands. They had no reason to go out of their way to do it to help the dad of the newly baseball-less boy.
Tim and I were down in the first row looking at the boy’s baseball. Then we started watching the groundskeepers spray painting the pitching rubbers bright white…
…I looked back toward my right and witnessed something absurd. The Dad of the baseball-less boy climbed down into the gap – a good 10-15 feet down – and grabbed the dropped baseball, and another BP homer that found the gap.
As he was climbing up, I could see security running from multiple directions with rage-filled faces, ready to sink their verbal teeth into this apparently clueless dad.
I was amazed later to learn that they didn’t eject him from the stadium. But they did remove him for the outfield seats for the remainder of BP. The truly amazing thing was that the Dad was bold enough to yell at the security people (really just retired guys working as ushers) that he only did it because no one would go get his baseball.
UNSOLICITED ADVICE: If you (or your kid) get a baseball, put it in your pocket or backpack. If you don’t, and you eventually drop it into a 10-15 gap behind the outfield wall, DON’T CLIMB DOWN THERE TO GET IT!!! Just live with your boneheaded move.
Next, we relocated to the middle of section 141 where this was our panoramic view of Nationals Park:
Tim sat and munched on some crackers while I incompetently watched a BP homerun land two rows directly in front of me. Had I climbed over even just one row of seats, it would have been an easy on-the-fly grab. Oh, well.
When the Brewers came to bat, we relocated to the second deck in search of a Monster Prince Fielders Bomb. I’m a fairly nervous father of an extremely-high-energy-low-attention-to-danger son. So I told Tim he had to stand behind this glass barrier if he was going to stand in the front row:
Fielder did, in fact, several (maybe 4) homeruns into the second deck. One of them landed about 3 rows above me and bounced directly over my head (too high and out of reach) and back down onto the field.
That was the only one that was anywhere near us. Another was 3 sections toward CF and I started to run for it before totally biting it trying to jump a row a seats. Tim thought it was pretty comical. He described it to his mommy by saying that my “neck hooked onto one row of seats and his feet hooked onto another row of seats and his body just hung in the air!”
At another point, a Brewers pitcher spotted us all alone in section 241 (literally no one within 100 feet of us) and fired a baseball to us. Well, he meant to throw it to us, but he launched it about 8 rows above us. I didn’t even see it land. I ran up a couple rows, walked row-to-row and could not find it anywhere. Meanwhile, a 12’ish year old kid ran from two sections over. He saw the ball, grabbed it and then laughed at me for missing out on the baseball clearly meant for me and Tim. I went back over to Tim and he said, “That boy stole our baseball!!!” It was pretty funny. I explained to him that I couldn’t find it (it blended in was nudged under the back of a seat and blended in with the white pavement) and he had a right to grabbed it if he could find it.
Still, the next day, Tim told his mommy how the boy “stole our baseball.” Yep, it was pretty funny.
Anyway, after Prince Fielder finished hitting, I told Tim we could go to the kids play area for a bit. But first, we walked toward RF foul territory and got this picture with the Nationals Park sign in the background:
In addition to the normal play fort-thingy, the Nats put in an inflatable batting station. And it was a really nice one with an excellent red plastic bat (that fit time perfectly). It was a long line to bat and we made our way slowly to the front. A little girl who had no clue how to hit was directly in front of Tim in line. On her first swing, she completely missed the ball, and then took a ferocious backswing and unintentionally drilled a perfect line drive directly into Tim’s nose.
Tim was not pleased.
And he shed some big time water works.
Once he calmed down, he took it out on the whiffleball:
He was trying to hit a Popfly over the hitting station like he had done at Spring Training in Peoria.
As the game was set to start, we bought some expensive, but quite tasty, chili nachos (more just “meaty” nachos)…
We had seats in section 105, but we started the game in section 104. Here was our panoramic view of Nationals Park from our temporary seats in section 104:
After an inning or two, it started to fill up in LF so I figured we should go get some ice cream and return to our actual ticketed seats.
On the way to get ice cream, Tim managed to destroy this water fountain:
On the way back to our seats, Tim struck a pose with his fancy (and too expensive ($8) M&M’s vanilla ice cream helmet):
In our real seats in section 105, we sat next to a nice Nats fan who Tim chatted up like nobody’s business. The Brewers took an early 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Casey McGehee in the first and pitcher Yovani Gallardo in the fourth. Faced with the deficit, the Nats fan put on a rally hat, which prompted Tim to do the same:
Hard hitting Danny Espinosa followed in the bottom of the fifth with a 3-run homerun. Here he about to score the fourth Nats run of the game:
As we approached DC by car, Tim saw a big battle ship in the Anacostia River. I knew you could see the ship from the concourse in RF foul territory. Eventually, we decided to head over there to look at the ship.
On the way, we walked through the 200 level “Conference Center” concourse. For some reason, we’d never been on this level before. We got this panoramic view of Nationals Park from the concourse behind section 203…
Before leaving this spot, we got a nice picture of Adam LaRoche grounding out to Prince Fielder…
Next, we decided to continue on toward RF to see the battle ship. The only issue is that the suite level indoor concourse was in our way – and we couldn’t access it. So we took an elevator up to the top deck. Check out who was in our elevator:
It was Jake the Hoya. Tim charged into the elevator when it opened and was totally freaked out when he saw Jake standing there. He was too scared to get a picture with Jake. Even as we exited the elevator, he was hustling to get away from big, bad Jake.
On the final portion of our walk toward the RF concourse where we would be able to see the battleship, Ivan Rodriguez hit the 310th homerun of his Hall of Fame-to-be career.
That made the score 7-2 Nationals.
Finally, we made it to the spot – and there was the ship!
Before heading down the concourse ramps, Tim pointed out the Capitol Building:
Tim wanted to hit again. But he was scared of a repeat nose-bashing. So he hid behind me as we made our way through the line:
We hustled down toward the front of the section at the last out, but we were too late and missed out on getting a baseball from the home plate umpire. So, we stood around, chatted with a fan from Seattle, and got our picture taken above the visitors’ dugout:
As we shuffled around in the fancy seats between games, I kept an eye open for discarded tickets on the ground. I figured a lot of Nats “fans” wouldn’t be up for two games. I was right. We ended up finding 4 really nice tickets.
There was a 30 minute break between games. Among the first Brewers to come out to warm up for game two was former-Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt:
Before the second game started, we got a great picture of Tim and Teddy Roosevelt:
We had an even better ticket than the section1 114, row L seat. But I wanted to wait to make sure they were empty.
We decided to go to the kids play area one more time. On the way to the play area, I took a picture of what would become “our” ticketed seats for the rest of the game:
And Tim wanted a picture with the blossoming trees behind section 106:
After some playing, we reported to our section new section. I showed the usher our ticket for seat no. 3, but asked if it was okay if we sat in the empty seats in the middle of the section – I think it was no 25’ish. He told us it was no problem.
So, here is a picture of Tim standing in front of my seat:
Game two was a good one. It was tied 1-1 for a long time. The decisive blow came in the bottom of the seventh when Danny Espinosa hit a bases clearing 3-run triple to put the Nats up 4-1. T he Nats would eventually win 5-1.
Toward the end of the game, Tim got on the (really) big screen for flashing some fancy dance moves:
When they put him up on the board, everyone in the two sections behind us gave him a big cheer. It was really cool. Later, he could be overheard telling people in our section how, “I was on TV dancing!”
We stayed in our seats until the end of the game. When the final two people made their way in from the Brewers bullpen, we were still hanging out and Marcus Hanel rewarded us with this baseball:
And that was it. Our second doubleheader of the season was in the books.
Before heading out, we had a Nats employee take our picture:
2011 C&S Fan Stats
4/0 Games (Tim/Kellan)
4/0 Teams [Tim – Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals; Kellan – none]
2 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles, Nationals)
9 Baseballs (3 Rangers, 1 Orioles, 1 Umpire, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers)
2/0 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park; Kellan – none]
10/6 Player Photos* [Tim – Felix Hernandez, Adam Moore, Garrett Olson, Chris Seddon, David Aarsdma, Michael Pineda, Miguel Olivo, Ryan Langerhans, Greg Zuan, Mark Lowe ; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans]
3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]
1 Autograph(s) (Mark Lowe)
1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)
2/1 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt; Kellan – Mariner Moose]
*includes Spring Training
On Sunday, September 12, 2010, Tim and I headed out of the house early in the morning en route to Tim’s Fourth MLB Anniversary game. I had debated in my head for months about which game we would attend. It was between Marlins @ Nationals or Phillies @ Mets. We’re more interested in the Phillies and Mets. But we already saw the Phillies on Tim’s First Anniversary. So, we hopped in the car and headed south to Washington, D.C. for a date with the Marlins, Nationals, and Tim’s “Poppy” (his materal grandfather, who I call Kevin).
In addition to all the excitement surrounding it being Tim’s MLB Anniversary game, we had the opportunity to do something special at this game. If we could manage to get two baseballs at this game, Tim and I would hit the 100 baseball mark on the fourth anniversary of Tim’s first baseball (which was given to Tim by Blue Jays September call-up, Davis Romero).
It was a drizzly morning. We arrived right as the gates opened (2.5 hours before game time), but there was no batting practice. When we arrived, there was no action on the field at all. But a Marlins pitcher was throwing in the bullpen out in LF.
I had no clue who he was. But I noticed he had his name stitched on his glove, so I zoomed in…
As we watched Sanabia throwing under the supervision of his pitching coach, Poppy arrived. In addition to the three of us, there were a few other people (maybe 5 or so) watching Sanabia pitch.
When Sanabia finished up, he walked under us and I called out, “Hey, Alex, any chance you could toss up that baseball for my son (pointing at Tim).”
And just like that, Tim has baseball number 99 in his hands:
After a while, some Nationals gathered around the bullpen in RF. We took Poppy, who was visiting Nationals Park for the first time, over to RF to look down into the Nats bullpen. But then some Marlins came out. Given the options, I thought it would be a lot better to get number 100 from a Marlin. So we headed back over to LF.
We couldn’t go into the infield seats until 12:00 o’clock. So we just hung out in the outfield and watched…
We made our way to the LF foul line where we stood behind a pitcher who we’d never heard of before (despite the fact we’d actually seen him pitch two innings against the Phillies the weekend before). I used my zoom to figure out…
Poppy wandered off to find a hot dog for lunch while Tim and I watched the action on the field. Finally, Buente and his partner finished up and Buente started walking toward the baseball bag. There were literally zero other fans along the foul line with us. As Buente passed right in front of us, I recycled my question to Alex Sanabia, “Hey, Jay, any chance my son could get that baseball?”
Buente took 1-2 more steps toward the bag and then took a sharp left turn and walked the baseball over and handed it to Tim. I was quick to ask if he’d hang out for two seconds to get his picture with Tim…
100 Thank yous, Jay Buente!
After Buente walked away, Tim turned toward me and held the ball high over his head and yelled with excitement, “We have 100 baseballs!”
Wow – that’s cool!
We were just about to go meet up with Poppy when Marlins pitcher Brian Sanches wandered by. We got Sanches to autograph a spare baseball we had in our bag (FYI, when fans insist on giving baseballs to Tim (meaning, I cannot talk them into giving it to another kid), we use them for autographs. This ball was from Cleveland.).
Then Sanches, who seemed to be an incredibly nice and genuine guy, posed for a picture with Tim:
Finally, we met up with Poppy. I had a hot dog, but Tim wasn’t hungry. After eating, it was time to walk around the stadium with Poppy. First, we stopped in LF to get our picture with a guy in a Cowboys jersey for the MyGameBalls.com Photo Scavenger Hunt.
Next, we headed into the upper deck to check out the Capitol Builiding and Washington Monument. We got a photo of Poppy, Tim and the Capitol building:
Sosa looked up and I flashed my glove at him.
Jorge was holding a baseball and he reared back and cocked his arm like he was going to give it a mighty toss up to me. Then he stopped and made an exaggrated “oh, my arm is hurt” look and pointed to his arm. Then he gave a big chuckled and went along on his way. I’ve always thought it would be cool to catch a baseball in the upper deck and this was the closest we’ve ever come to doing it.
Oh, well, on with the stadium tour. We walked around to the RF side and gazed upon the river (just like we’d done the weekend before with my cousin, Nathan). Out in the distance, Poppy pointed out Fort McNair…
…where a young Poppy just back to the States after a tour in Vietnam met a young Grammy (Tim’s maternal grandma). The story goes that Poppy was to be reassigned to Texas to finish out the final year of his military commitment. After a tour in southeast Asia, Poppy wasn’t too excited to spend another year away from his home in the northeast. So he headed to the Pentagon to meet with some military big wigs and request a change of assignment to be closer to his home in New Jersey. The officer in charge couldn’t get him to New Jersey, but he offered to change Poppy’s assignment to a job in Washington, D.C. Poppy jumped at the opportunity, and Grammy (who worked for the officer) was in charge of typing up Poppy’s change of assignment orders.
Eventually, Poppy would begin courting Grammy. They’d marry. Have a daughter. Have another daughter. Have both daughters move away to Philadelphia where the younger daughter would meet and eventually marry a guy who had just moved to Philadelphia from Seattle. The younger daughter and the guy from Seattle would have a kid. They’d take the kid to his first baseball game on September 12, 2006. Poppy would also attend the kid’s first game. And fourth years later, Poppy, the guy from Seattle, and the kid would go to another baseball game on September 12, 2010, where Poppy would point out the building where the whole the whole story began. And then they would all go buy some more hot dogs and nachos, and then report to their seats in CF.
Here was their view:
Once again, Nyjer Morgan was playing CF for the Nationals…
This is what it looked like as we watched the game:
Tim ate some extremely unimpressive nachos…
…he still liked them despite their relative unimpressiveness to other nachos Tim had enjoyed this season. In the picture above to the right, he is pretending that the chip is his mouth wide open. Four year olds are easily entertained.
There was some more unusual entertainment early in the game…
…a squirrel ran across the outfield. Eventually, he’d run up and down the chain link fence in front of the Nationals bullpen. They should have chased that squirrel down and taken him away in handcuffs for running on the field during the game.
Hey, there was a game played too.
Mike “The Beast” Stanton was in the house. And he brought a big bat with him…
Then things got a little interesting. Bonafacio stole second. Nats pitcher Jordan Zimmermann tried to pick Bonafacio off of second, but threw the ball high and behind second baseman Adam Kennedy. Kennedy should have caught the ball, but it tipped off of his glove and scooted into shallow RF.
Bonafacio took off for third with blazing speed. Meanwhile, Kennedy jogged after the loose ball like he was bored and had nothing better to do. Bonafacio had his afterburners on. I shouted, “HE’S GONNA SCORE!!!” And that is just what he did. He scored from second base on a failed pick-off move and Kennedy’s laziness in chasing the ball. This is what Kennedy looked like as he hung his head in shame:
Mike Stanton was not pleased that the Nats had closed the gap to 3-2. In the top of the third inning, Stanton flexed his muscles again on this pitch…
Starting in the bottom of the third, the Nats would score one run an inning for the next three innings. And the Marlins scored a single run in the fourth. None of those runs were particularly exciting or notable, other than the fact that one of them was credited to future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez (on a weak grounder to 2B in the bottom of the fourth inning).
So that made the score 6-5 Marlins after five innings.
In the middle innings, Tim enjoyed an anniversary ice cream helmet…
And, we cheered on everyone’s favorite running President, Teddy Roosevelt…
Yeah, we were having fun. It was a great day:
Of course, no homeruns came anywhere near us.
In the sixth inning, Tim wanted to go to the kids play area. That’s when the drama began. Tim was so excited he was running up and down the outfield stairs as Poppy and I followed him. On his way up the stairs, Tim tripped and smacked both shins on the edge of a concrete stair and his forehead right on the top of the next stair up.
He went crazy with the water works.
It was legitimate water works. He had scrapes on both knees and over his left eye.
Tim no longer wanted to go to the play area. He wanted to go to the first aid office and get some bandaids. So that’s what we did. He was still huff’n and puff’n.
As we walked to the office, I snapped this picture of our new buddy, Brian Sanches…
The people in the first aid office had just the thing to cure Tim’s blues. In addition to some bandaids, they gave him a plastic cup with a metalic silver Nationals “W” on one side and a metalic silver picture of Nationals Park on the opposite side. Between the bandaids and the cup…
We grabbed some seats around 1B just in time to see Adam Dunn bat again. He hit this foul ball…
Here was our view from the seats we found in section 133:
Heading into the top of the ninth, we decided to swing around to the 3B side to go for an umpire ball. But as we walked through the concourse behind 1B and about to duck into the closed off tunnel behind the fancy clubs and restaurants behind home plate, I noticed that the guard watching the entrance to the fancy seats directly behind home plate was leaning far over a railing watching something in the seats.
We decided to walk in there like we belonged and see what would happen. With Tim on my shoulders I breezed right by the usher and into the fancy seats. Right as we got into the seats, someone hit a pop foul ball about 10 feet away from us. As people were going for the ball, Tim and I took some seats undetected. Interestingly, there was a ticket in the drink holder where we sat down so we were golden incase someone came and asked to see our ticket.
This was our view from section 124:
With all of the commotion from the foul ball, I didn’t even realize that I had no clue where Poppy was. I called his cellphone and discovered that another usher stopped him as he walked into the fancy seats behind us. I guess that foul ball really helped us out. Anyway, it was the ninth inning and Poppy told us to enjoy the fancy seats and he’d meet up with us after the game.
Now, the “fancy” seats behind home plate are segregated between the “fancy” seats, the “really fancy” seats, the “ridiculously fancy” seats, and the “outrageously fancy seats.” We were in the “really fancy seats.”
However, I realized we could still go for an umpire baseball if we could get into the “ridiculously fancy” seats (or, heaven forbid, the “outrageously fancy” seats) at the end of the game. Actually, if we could get into the “outrageously fancy” seats, an umpire baseball would be almost guaranteed. But we had no fanciful thoughts about making it into the “outrageously fancy” seats.
We headed over to the far side of section 119, where this was our view:
Those stairs to the left lead down into the “ridiculously fancy” seats. An usher sits right at the bottom of the stairs, to keep people with mere “really fancy” seats out, no doubt. I figured we could probably get down there and sweet talk her, if need be, right at the end of the game so Tim could ask for an umpire ball in the “ridiculously fancy” seats.
First, Tim did some kung fu:
After Ian Desmond grounded out to end the game, things went even better than we could planned. We rushed down the stairs. The usher at the bottom of the stairs stood up and walked toward the field. As she made her way to the field, she opened a gate to the “outrageously fancy” seats.
All of a sudden we found ourselves in the IDEAL spot. In that kung fu picture above, there is a little kid wearing a bright blue shirt in the first row at the far left side of the picture. That is where we were standing when home plate umpire Wally Bell walked off of the field.
Essentially, when a kid stands in that spot with no other kids present as the umpire comes off the field, that kid is going to get an umpire baseball. It is close to guaranteed.
And when Wally Bell set this baseball (baseball no. 101) in Tim’s glove…
Thanks, Wally Bell!
Okay, so the game was over and it was time to go meet up with Poppy. We had to exit the seats and make our way around the concourse toward CF. But we were in the first row of the fanciest seats at Nationals Park. We had to get a picture:
Sounds good to us!
It was dark in there. These were the best pictures I could get of the bar and the area behind the bar:
That bar (above to the right) is directly inside the glass doors directly behind home plate at Nationals Park. The picure above to the left is taken from the 1B side of the Lexus Club. To the left and behind those big panels that spell “NATIONALS” is restaurant-style seating.
To the far 1B side of the club there is a wall of windows. In the windows closer to the field you can watch the Nationals take BP in the underground cages…
It was pretty sweet in there. One cool thing that I tired unsuccessfully to photograph was a hallway with pictures of a whole bunch of U.S. Presidents throwing out first pitches at MLB games. Sadly, the lighting in there was so weird (and we needed to get back to Poppy so I rushed and) none of my pictures came out.
Anyway, we headed back out of the field, circled the concourse, met up with Poppy, and went and got in line for KIDS RUN THE BASES!
This was Poppy’s first Kids Run The Bases and only the second MLB field he’d ever walked on before (the first being Camden Yards where he once attended a wedding).
Poppy stood in for me in our traditional Kids Run The Bases right field distance marker picture:
Running the bases, as always, was awesome:
A nice fan took a picture of the three of us on the field to mark the occassion:
We got our 100th baseball.
Spent some great quality time with Poppy.
Visited the Lexus Club.
Ran the Bases.
Other than maybe “not bashing your head on a concrete step,” what more can you ask for in a day at the ballpark? Not much.
It was another great MLB anniversary.
2010 Fan Stats:
20 Teams (Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Angels, Twins, Athletics, White Sox, Indians and Yankees; Phillies, Dodgers, Pirates, Braves, Mets, Brewers, Padres, Giants, Nationals and Marlins)
21 Ice Cream Helmets (Orioles (3), Phillies (3), Padres (2), Pirates (2), Mets, Dodgers, Athletics, Nationals (3), Indians, Yankees)
58 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 2 Angels, 3 Athletics, 3 Brewers, 4 Nationals, 2 Blue Jays, 8 Umpires, 2 Phillies, 1 Mets, 4 Braves, 1 Orioles, 1 Dodgers, 1 Padres, 1 Giants, 2 Twins, 1 White Sox, 7 Easter Eggs, 1 Yankees, 2 Marlins)
12 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, Yankee Stadium)
15 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, Jay Buente, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)
2 Retired Player Photos (Jim Palmer, Bert Blyleven)
1 Umpire Photo (“Cowboy” Joe West)
10 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, Brian Sanches and Scott Olsen)
8 Kids Run The Bases (Citizens Bank Park, 2 Nationals Park, Citi Field, PNC Park, PETCO Park, Camden Yards, Progressive Field)
This entry was supposed to be titled “Moyer’s 250 Bid – Take 2.” Unfortunately, our bid to see Jamie Moyer win the 250th game of his career failed before we even left for the game. I learned on Saturday night that Chan Ho Park would be pitching Sunday, May 17th in Washington, D.C. rather than Jamie Moyer. Moyer is a great pitcher. But its tough, even for a great pitcher, to get a win in a game you don’t pitch.
So Tim and I would have to focus on our other two main goals of the day – (i) checking out Nationals Park for the first time and (ii) participating in Kids Run the Bases after the game. Our pursuit of those goals met with great success, as explained in detail below.
Nationals Park can be both incredibly expensive and quite affordable, depending on how you want to “do” the stadium. For example, parking in the garage connected to the stadium is FORTY BUCKS!!! That’s ridiculous. On the other hand, the parking route we took was both an adventure and totally FREE! You see, the Nationals have arranged for their fans to park for FREE at RFK Stadium and then take a FREE shuttle bus to a point about 2 blocks from Nationals Park. Here is what it looked like:
Here is our first view of the Park walking from the bus:
Here is our first view of the field as we entered the Park from the LCF entrance:
As you might know, I am a Mariners fan. But alas, I did live in Philadelphia for three years and I have no NL allegiance, so i bought a Phillies BP jersey back in 1999 or so. I doubt I’ve worn it since 2000. But this was only my second Phils road game, so I thought I’d give it a try wearing the Phillies jersey and my Reading Phillies hat to see if some nice Phillies player would reward me and Tim for coming to see them on the road. Now, wearing the visitors’ jersey/hat even if you hate the team is a classic “ballhawk” technique. I am not a ballhawk, but generally I have no problem with the ballhawks doing it. But, personally, I felt dirty as heck wearing Phillies stuff, even though I was there rooting for the Phillies. It just hurt me right down to my Mariners core (in fact, I couldn’t do it without wearing a M’s shirt under the Phils jersey). Anyway, more on that later.
So, as we entered the stadium, we saw a bunch of Phils stretching behind 3B. So we headed over there where this was our view:
We headed down to the field level where they have a little trough (for lack of a better term) where there are just a couple seats in a big aisle). We watched the guys warm up amongst a sea of Phillies fans:
Yep, to the left, that is team leading (pick an offensive category) Raul Ibanez warming up his legs. To the right, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins stand in front for the national anthem while Chase Utley, Jayson Werth, Pedro Feliz and a trainer stand behind them.
After the anthem, the guys started playing catch and running (sorta) sprints:
In the photo to the left, you can see Jimmy Rollins playing catch with Chase Utley (off camera) and Ryan Howard playing catch with Shane Victorino. After a few mintues, Jimmy and Shane set their gloves down on the foul line with the balls sitting on the grass next to them. Then they started running sprints.
To the right, you can see that, after finishing playing catch with Victorino, Ryan Howard came over to the stands and started signing autographs for 5-10 minutes. As you can see, almost everyone down in the trough bunched up next to Howard in hopes of getting his autograph. We didn’t have a pen or anything worth getting the former NL M.V.P. to sign, so we stood our ground. The difference was, after Ryan started signing, we were pretty much standing all alone, no more sea of Phillies fans surrounding us.
Tim was on my shoulders (where his Mariners shirt was hidden behind my head). I was wearing my Phils jersey and R-Phils hat. We looked like a nice father-son Phillies fan combo. Jimmy Rollins took note. When he was finished running, he grabbed his glove and ball and took a couple steps toward the dugout. He then stopped, turned back toward us and fired his baseball directly into my glove. Nice – our first ball EVER from a Phillies player:
A few minutes later, the game started. The baseball we got from J-Roll looked the same, but I looked different:
J-Roll shouldn’t feel as if he got duped. We still rooted for the Phils. I just had to show my true colors during the game. Also, I did put my R-Phils hat back on after Tim got chocolate ice cream on his fingers and I thought he would get the white portion of my M’s hat chocolately. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Like usual, we had some cheap tickets. Not SRO, this time we were apparently high in the rafters of the RF foul territory stands. We never went to our section. Instead, we started walking around getting to know the stadium. Let me tell you something, unlike the team that plays there, Nationals Park is beautiful. Despite a couple negatives, it instantly ranks right up among my favorite ball parks.
Why don’t we take a look around? This is reverse order as we walked, but how about we start behind the plate in the third deck:
As you can tell, its a beautiful park. In addition to checking out this great park, Tim and I also had a goal of testing out our new digital camera. It has a great zoom – both optical and digital. Here are a couple pictures taken from various locations in the Park:
At top right, Ryan Howard is seen batting in the first inning. I took that picture from just behind the RL foul pole.
Below Howard, is Chase Utley also hitting in the first inning. I took this from the field level concourse behind all of the seats a little bit down the line from first base.
How about another panoramic? Here is CF from the field level concourse:
Okay, now, I took all of these panoramic views while walking around in the concourses circling the stadium. Although fans in their seats usually aren’t paying a lot of attention to the concourses, they are an important part of any stadium. Bad concourses make a stadium feel cramped. Open concourses from which you can see the field make the stadium feel bigger and they let fans maximize their time at the ball park (ex: they can still watch the game while standing in line for some food). Nationals Park has GREAT concourses. HUGE. Mostly all open. Not crowded. Excellent. Here are a couple examples:
Walk these great concourses and eventually you’ll find yourself in biggest open area I’ve ever seen inside a ball park:
The Field Level CF panoramic a couple pictures ago was taken on the opposite side of that escalator. The Second Deck CF panoramic and the pictures of Jimmy Rollins batting a couple more pictures above were taken from the second deck just to the left of the big “DC” sign and under the picture of the Nationals celebrating (they must have won a game?).
The black strip at the top center (where it says “GET YOUR”) is the “Red Porch.” I’m not quite sure what the deal is with the red porch.
The building to the right is a massively expensive parking garagle. The openings on the ground level are various fan attractions. The one with the yellow sign is a “stuff a bear” type place where you can make your own Nationals mascot. The “Strike Zone” at the far right of the picture has a batting cage where the ball shoots out of a video screen. When we watched it, Randy Johnson was pitching and the ball would shoot through the screen through his hand. Pretty cool. In the back, there was a similar game with pitching. I watched a guy pitch to Larry “Chipper” Jones.
And right behind me as I took this picture? The play area:
Tim loved this play set. From a father’s perspective, it seemed better than the playset at Safeco Field, but a not quite as good as the playset at Citizens Bank Park. The worst part about it is that it is massively far away from the field and there is no TV to watch the game. It would be perfect if the Nats would follow the Mets lead and put a BIG SCREEN on the back of the scoreboard for all of the parents watching their kids play in the CF play area.
Anyway, back to the tour. Here is a post-game picture from the deck of the aforementioned Red Porch:
And here is a picture looking at the Red Porch from the 1B field level seats:
Well, look at that…I stand corrected. The “Red Porch” is really called the “Red Loft.” Hmm…I’m wondering if that is the upstairs and the downstairs is called the Red Porch. I definitely heard someone call it the Red Porch during the game. Anyway, in the last panoramic, Tim and I took the pictures standing under the “Red” in the “Red Loft” sign in the last picture.
The only bad part of the concoures at Nationals Park is that the Red Porch/Loft cuts off all view of field as you walk from CF to LF (or vice versa). Same thing with the field level concourse behind home plate. Its just like Citi Field. They have field level suites and a restaurant that cut off all view of the game for *commoners* walking behind home plate. But I like the way the Nationals did it more than the Mets. The Mets concourse is like a dark cave that feels like it is 100 yards away from the game. The Nats concourse is bright and airy and it has a team store entrance and big pictures on the wall telling about the history of baseball in Washington, D.C…check it out:
But, back to the outfield. Here are some interesting statues on the back side of the Red Porch/Loft:
Well, look at that. I am right. The field level is called the “Red Porch” (as shown in the middle picture behind Frank Howard (who by the way shouldn’t have swung at that pitch, he’s reaching too far!)).
Note, PNC Park in Pittsburgh also has a Josh Gibson statue.
Back to the panoramic views, here is the RF corner from the third deck:
This picture leads to the final negative point about Nationals Park: the ushers guard the seats like they are made of gold. I had to sweet talk an usher to persuade him to let me and Tim sit in the BACK ROW of the LAST SECTION in the UPPER DECK! There is a fourth deck starting a little closer to home plate. But where I took this picture, we were literally sitting in the back row of the highest section at the greatest distance from home plate down the 3B line. Is that ridiculous or what?
So how did we get to sit in these coveted seat? I told the usher Tim’s ice cream was melting, we were all the way across the stadium from our seats, and I was looking desparately for a standing room spot with a standing counter where Tim could sit and eat his ice cream…but there are none in the third deck down the 3B line. So in the face of melting ice cream, the usher relented and let us take the empty seats in the empty row in the highest and most distant seats from home plate.
Here is Tim and his ice cream and, in the distance, the Washington Monument:
There is a big walking ramp down from the third deck to the field level in the LF corner. As I stood on that ramp, I took the picture of the Washington Monument to the right above. I said to Tim (sitting on my shoulders), “That’s the Washington Monument, Tim.” Two seconds later, some random 50’ish year old white-male-American walks up to me, “Are you serious? That’s the Washington Monument? Cool!” He was dead serious. It was p-a-t-h-e-t-i-c.
Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I posted this panoramic tour in reverse order of how Tim and I actually walked. We really came from CF to RF to home plate, to an ice cream stand in the third deck behind 3B and then out to the LF corner. On our walk from the ice cream stand to the LF corner, I spotted the Capitol Building from the concourse:
The picture to the right above is also taken from the ramp down to field level. But, once again, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Before heading down the ramp, I tested my camera out a bit more. Here are some more action shots:
Here we see J-Roll take a pitch and then hit another foul.
The top right picture of Raul Ibanez was also taken from the third deck in the LF corner. The others were taken elsewhere…as should be evident. In the bottom right, I’ve snuck a picture of Shane Victorino in with three Ibanez pictures.
Pretty much every swing I took a picture of at this game resulted in a foul ball, a foul pop out, or an infield pop out. No hits or homeruns to speak of.
Okay, so it was time to head down that ramp. From the ramp, I took this cool picture of the concourse going from the LF corner out to CF:
Note the vegetation growing on the roof of the concession stand. This prompted Tim to tell me that there are no plants growing on our roof because, “Our roof isn’t flat. Our roof is a triangle.”
Once we got down the ramp, we stood for a little bit behind the LF seats where we saw the Presidents race:
After the race, the Presidents headed out to CF and took pictures with fans. They were mobbed by people. I really wanted a picture with Teddy Roosevelt, who looked hilarious, but it wasn’t in the cards. The Presidents were a big hit at the game. They have George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt…and someone…I have no clue who the fourth President is. Anyway, the Nats also have a silly looking eagle named “Screech” (I think). But he is a pretty weak mascot. The Presidents were far superior.
After the race, we headed down into the LF seats and got a picture of the visitors’ bullpen (shown here with an inside-shot of the Nats bullpen):
This Phillies fan in the middle looked somewhat protective of the Phils’ bullpen. Note, the visitors’ bullpen (to the right) is grass, but the Nats’ bullpen (left) is turf. I’m not sure why this is, but my guess is that there is access through the Nats’ bullpen to a big tunnel system under the stadium. Possibly they drive vehicles through the Nats’ bullpen from time-to-time and put in turf so the grass wouldn’t get torn up. Just a guess.
We then headed back to the second deck in RF where we got one of the stadium fanfoto gals to take a picture of us with my camera:
Finally, we settled into some seats for the last 2-3 innings of the game. The ushers had apparently lost some of their motivation. He easily slipped into some really nice seats down the 1B line. Here was our view:
See that light stand all the way across the stadium in the LF corner? See that last section of seats on the third deck that hide the left side of the light tower? That is the section where I had to persuade an usher to let us sit for a couple innings (and to be clear, in case I wasn’t earlier, at first, he in fact told me that he “couldn’t do it” when I asked him if we could temporarily sit in the back row).
Anyway, there was no one else in our row in this section down the 3B line. However, there was a group of maybe 8 young 20s’ish year old Nats fans sitting two rows behind us. Tim flirted it up like crazy with two young gals. At the time, the Nats were winning 6-5 and the gals (and their whole group) were all smiles and giggles. Here is Tim cheesing it up for the ladies:
Tim’s new friends’ mood changed abruptly in the top of the eighth. With runners on first and second and no outs, Pedro Feliz laid down a nice bunt toward third. Zimmerman and Jesus Colome converged on the ball. Either could have grabbed it. Colome did and he made what seemed to be a perfect throw to first where second baseman, Anderson Hernandez, was covering first. By my first hand account, the throw was perfect and Feliz should have been out at first. Instead, Hernandez jumped out of the way of the ball and let it sail into foul territory down the 1B line. Both runs scored and Feliz made it to third. Anderson said he could not see the ball because of the crowd. I guess he isn’t used to having more than 10,000 fans scattered throughout the stadium. Amazingly, they gave the error to Colome for making a perfect throw that Hernandez simply failed to catch.
When this happened, the stadium exploded with Phillies cheers. But the people sitting behind us never uttered another word. Their win was gone
We actually missed the ninth inning and the Phillies win because we were lined up outside the RF side of the stadium — it was time for Kids Run the Bases! We were toward the front of the long, long, long line of kids. As we waited in line, an usher told me to take Tim off my shoulders, “you know, for safety.” Okay, whatever.
We started our run the bases experience with our standard picture by the RF wall footage sign:
Tim then stretched his legs with some pre-bases sprints down the RF foul warning track:
I took a shot of the Nats’ dug out (shown to the left, with the visitors’ dug out on the right):
Then Tim was off to the races:
The Nats seemed to have 100 people out there on the field working. It was impossible to navigate the warning track and get even a half-way decent picture of Tim rounding second, which was HIGHLY dissapointing.
But I got a great shot of Tim rounding third:
Then it was impossible to get a good shot of Tim scoring at home plate — that is more standard, I’ve never got a good picture of Tim at home plate yet in the three run-the-bases Tim has done so far.
We took a couple more shots as we left the field of play:
So, that was it. Our game experience was essentially over.
Particularly because the next weekend would be our first weekend not to go to a game this season.
In fact, we wouldn’t have another game until May 31st.
We walked around the LF seats a bit more.
We looked at the visitors’ bullpen close up outside of the watchful eye of that concerned Phillies fan.
We went up to the Red Loft where we took the pictures for that panoramic up above.
Then we sadly headed toward the CF exit, the same one we’d passed through just 45 minutes before to line up to run the bases.
At the bottom of the exit stairs, we turned right and we started walking down the street.
We spotted the end of the run-the-bases line. Only 30 yards long now. Those lucky kids still with all of that fun ahead of them.
We walked sorta close to the wall as we passed down the wide sidewalk.
Tim was on my shoulders again. That same usher who told me to take Tim down “you know, for safety” was still standing by the line.
She had to recognize us. We’d just spoken with each other 45 minutes ago. Everyone at the game was wearing bright red Phillies and Nats gear, and we were wearing dark blue Mariners gear.
But then she uttered seven magical words that let me know she most certainly did not recognize us, “Does he want to run the bases?”
I respond, pointing, “Oh, is this the line?” (as if we’d been looking for it for the past hour).
“Yeah! Have fun!”
Tim was officially (I certified it OFFICIAL), the last kid to round the bases and touch home plate and I got a great shot of it:
It was pretty awesome. All of the Presidents, Screech and a boat load of Nats employees were on the field (again preventing a good picture at 2B), and because he was the last kid, they all followed Tim to home plate. As you can see, as he stood at home, he was surrounded by employees and mascots all cheering for him. Very satisfying.
Plus, because we were last, we were able to right a past wrong — we got that coveted picture with Teddy Roosevelt — and it is a keeper:
A great day! We give Nationals Park two thumbs up.
One more game note: we saw Sergio Escalona make his major league debut and earn the first win of his career pitching the 7th inning for the Phillies. The day before the game, Escalona was assigned to the Reading Phillies. Good job, Sergio.
Season Fan Stats:
11 Games (double digits!)
5 Stadiums (Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
11 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Phillies, Mets, Nationals, Braves and Padres, Dodgers)
9 Ice Cream Helmet (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals)
5 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (AL West, NL East, AL West)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats))