We woke up at the Millennium Hotel in Cincinnati on the morning of July 6, 2013, ready for some more great Mariners baseball action. Unfortunately, we woke up to a rain soaked city. For a few hours in the morning, I could not imagine the game getting played. I was thinking rain out all the way.
We passed the morning hours by being incredibly lazy in the hotel room:
By the way, Kellan is flexing his muscles to show off the tattoo that he got at the dinosaur place the day before.
Eventually, we decided we needed to run to the parking garage to grab an umbrella. No luck. So the boys, Avi and I trekked around rainy downtown Cincinnati looking for umbrellas. On our walk, we passed by a shiny metal…thingy…that made us look like we were in a house of mirrors:
And then it was off to Skyline Chili for some traditional Cincinnati food:
It was scheduled to be a 4:10 start. We had nothing else to do. So after lunch, we headed over to the ballpark:
It stopped raining on our walk. Still, we were doubtful there would be BP. When we walked into the lobby to the Reds Hall of Fame, we were informed that the early BP tour was cancelled because the teams would not be taking BP. So this was our third Mariners game of the season and third time not getting to see the Mariners take BP. So sad.
We decided to tour the very awesome Reds Hall of Fame. Here are some random shots that explain very little about the first room you enter at the Reds Hall of Fame:
Note the big Ken Griffey, Jr. autograph on the wall. Very nice.
Ringing this entire room there are autographed baseball cards from what appears to be almost everyone who has ever played for the Reds. When you first walk in the door, there are autographed cards from the very beginning of the organization, and it just moves through the years as you walk around the room. Relatively near the end, we found Griff (far right below)…
…there is also a computer on the wall on which you can look up past Reds (middle aboe is the info page for Griff).
Down the hall, Avi found a board for visitors to leave their own autographs. Avi had the bright idea for us to sign in blue sharpie, which stood out in the sea of mostly black ink:
I signed for Kellan since, you know, he was 2 at the time and can’t sign his own name. By the way, I’ve historically worn number 18 so I signed an “18” next to my name like I’m a Big Leaguer. Tim signed his “55,” the number he has worn every season of his Little League career to date. Kellan wanted a number of his own and he pulled “6” out of thin air. Avi had no number to add to his signature, which was quite sad. Sorry, Avi.
Down at the end of the hall, I took this picture out of the window:
It looks cool out there. We have to check out that area next time we’re in Cincinnati.
Before heading upstairs, we headed into the baseball stadium designed auditorium…
…and watched a cool little video about the history of the Reds.
The stairs and the entire area upstairs was crazy because there were some former Reds signing autographs up there, and a long line of Reds fans started on the stairs and ran all the way to the other end of the building where the payers were signing.
We had to wait for a break in the line to get this picture of the boys…
…with a whole bunch of Joe Morgan’s rings.
Upstairs there are some interactive attractions for the kids, including this pitching set up:
Behind home plate you can look through the umpire’s face mask and call balls and strikes. On the other side, there is a sensor on the wall that calls actual balls and strikes based on your pitches from the mound.
In another room, there is a little play area for the kids:
There was a crazy kid in there who was hyping Tim and Kellan up, until he hurt himself by falling through a hole in the ceiling/floor – he fell from the upper level of theplay area back down to the lower level.
In other news, check out Avi’s cool baseball glove chair.
Here are some other random areas in the upstairs portion of the Reds Hall of Fame:
Avi and Tim celebrated with a bunch of Big Red Machine statues:
Above to the left, that is Tim and Ken Griffey, Sr. (formerly known simply as Ken Griffey during his days with the Reds).
At the far end of the upstairs, we finally found the former Reds who were signing autographs (I still have no clue who they were)…
…and we walked (quickly) through the Hall of Fame gallery.
We walked quickly through the gallery because I noticed out the window that THE GATES WERE OPEN!
I had no clue what was going on. We knew when the gates were supposed to open, and it wasn’t supposed to be for another 10-15 minutes…or so we though. So we scurried out of the Hall of Fame and into the ballpark.
When we reached the field…
…there were absolutely no players anywhere to be found. The frustrating thing is that there were a bunch of spike marks all over the warning track. The Mariners had already been out there throwing and we missed seeing them. So, so, so very sad.
We sat around and did absolutely nothing for a long, long time. Actually, not nothing. Avi and Tim talked over how to score a baseball game:
And Kellan took a half hour nap on my shoulders:
Avi eventually went off to explore the ballpark a bit. Tim, Kellan and I headed out to the Mariners bullpen in RF…
…when reclamation project Jeremy Bonderman prepared for his final game as a Mariner (maybe his final game of his career):
See Danny Farquhar (No. 40) in the bullpen in that last picture? He came over and ended up talking to a guy next to us for a while. He signed a few baseballs and tossed them up to the guy. After they finished chatting and Farquhar returned to the bullpen, the guy mentioned that he was Farquhar’s little league coach. I thought that was pretty cool.
It was also pretty cool when Jason Phillips came over and tossed us a couple baseballs after Bonderman finished warming up for the game:
Jason is always a cool dude. It’s always great to see him.
Something else cool happened when we were over by the bullpen. Alice Cooper threw out the ceremonial first pitch:
Check out Alice’s awesome choice of jersey number! 18! Excellent.
We hung out by the bullpen until just a few minutes before game time. From there, we headed around the batters’ eye on our way to our seats in the LF upper deck. Check out these tall guys we passed on our way:
This game started almost exactly like the day before (unfortunately, it didn’t end like the previous day’s game).
The boys and I went to get some nachos before heading to our seats. We walked around the back side of the nacho stand to watch the first pitch:
Actually, we watched Brad Miller’s entire lead-off at bat. He grounded out.
Then we bought our nachos – check ‘em out!
Like the day before, when we returned to our seats after watching the first batter of the game, the Mariners were leading 2-0. Endy Chavez had followed Miller with a single, and then Kyle Seager hit a 2-run bomb. Excellent.
Here was our view from the back of section 405:
We had a great time clowning around in the back row:
And, of course, eating some ice cream:
Yes, we ate all of our food at this game out of helmets:
Here’s something you don’t see everyday from the bleachers of an MLB stadium…
…a coal barge passing by RF.
Here’s something else you don’t see everyday at an MLB stadium (unless you are me)…
…an ice cream-drip-stained Mariners hat. I’ve committed to wearing this hat to every MLG game we attend until I have worn it at all 30 MLB ballparks. It has been to 29 of the current ballparks, all but Chase Field. The plan is to get to Chase Field again next season and then retire this trusty old hat.
The actual game action is too sad to track in detail here. This Dustin Ackley double…
…was a highlight. But there were many lowlights. The Mariners got creamed.
But we managed to have lots of fun anyway up high in the LF bleachers:
Check out this huge load of stuff I was carrying:
That’s a pretty standard amount of stuff for us. During April games, my backpack is even bigger because I stuff it with jackets and other warm clothes too.
Tim took a ton of pictures during this game. Here are four of them:
Top Left: Endy Chavez taking a pitch.
Top Right: Kendrys Morales taking a big hack.
Bottom Left: Jeremy Bonderman delivering a pitch while Kyle Seager gets ready at the hot corner.
Bottom Right: Mike Zunino hitting a line drive…that was caught for an out.
After each of the Mariners 14 strike outs (11 at the hands of Reds starter Mat Latos), these things shot fire:
Kellan and I went and explored this restaurant down the LF line:
I believe it is called the “Machine Room.” It is pretty cool looking for a sports bar, but I’m not sure why you would want to go to a sports bar WHILE YOU ARE AT a Major League game.
Toward the end of the game, we took a walk. On the way out of our section, Kellan wouldn’t get down from my shoulders, so here is a picture of only Tim at the front of section 406:
Avi went off looking at stuff. The boys and I headed over to the dinosaur area, but it was closed. So we went to this standing room area…
…, which is behind home plate just slightly off to the 1B side. As you can see from the big 9-screen-in-one-screen above the concourse in that last picture, Danny Farquhar came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth inning for the Mariners, and he gave up four runs. It was ugly.
The silver lining was that the Reds fans felt comfortable with a 13-4 lead heading toward the ninth inning and they took off in droves. We noticed a ton of open seats on the 3B side so we headed over there.
This was our view in the top of the ninth:
When the game ended, home plate umpire Alan Porter walked right below us into the umpires’ tunnel. He paid no attention to us or any of the other fans.
We headed down to the other side of the dugout. As the Mariners relievers headed toward the dugout, I snapped this picture:
As you can see, Tom Wilhelmsen is in the process of swinging his arm back to underhand a baseball to Tim. I didn’t notice this at all when I was taking the picture. I snapped the picture and then lowered my camera to find a ball flying right at us. Tim snatched it up with no problem.
We got a final group shot before heading back to the hotel and our car:
Then we drove until around midnight…
…and stopped at a hotel in Triadelphia, West Virginia, where they had this cool pancake machine at the free breakfast the next morning:
Before driving the rest of the way home the following morning, we stopped at Cabela’s to look at some live fish and stuff animals:
We had the most fun with the big bad bears:
It was another great weekend of baseball and another excellent road trip with Avi.
2013 C&S Fan Stats
|17 Teams – Mariners, Royals, Phillies, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Nationals, Marlins, Pirates, Blue Jays, Twins, Tigers, Mets, Brewers|
|30 Ice Cream Helmets – Phillies (jumbo) 2, Phillies (normal) 2, Red Sox 2, Yankees 2, Orioles 4, Nationals 2, Pirates 2, Blue Jays 2, Tigers 6, Mets 2, Reds 4|
|76 Baseballs – Mariners 11, Royals 4, Phillies 11, Rays 2, Orioles 7, Dodgers 1, Umpires 7, Reds 9, Nationals 1, Marlins 4, Pirates 1, Blue Jays 2, Twins 3, Tigers 1, Mets 3, Yankees 2, Brewers 2, Red Sox 6|
|10 Stadiums – Citizens Bank Park 2, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards, Nationals Park, PNC Park, Rogers Centre, Comerica Park, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park|
|32 Player+ Photos – Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, Hisashi Iwakuma, Carter Capps, Daniel Nava, Alex Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Carp 2, Koji Uehara, Will Middlebrooks, Joel Hanrahan, Jonny Gomes, Alfredo Aceves, Clayton Mortensen, Rick Anderson, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Savery, Jonathan Pettibone, Carlos Ruiz, Charlie Manuel, Justin DeFratus, Ryan Howard, Ben Revere, Larry Anderson, Gary “Sarge” Matthews Sr., Kyle Kendrick, Ryne “HOF 2005” Sandberg, Michael Stutes, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Rowland-Smith|
|10 Autograph – Hisashi Iwakuma 2 (English & Japanese), Carter Capps, Ryan Hanigan, Jesus Tiamo, Mike Carp 2, Ryan Rowland-Smith 2, Felix Hernandez|
August 6, 2012 marked our only Mariners game at Camden Yards of the season. So we had to make the most of it. We arrived in plenty of time, got out tickets, and waited for those gates to open up and let us at our Mariners:
When we made our way into the stadium, the Orioles were hitting and our Mariners were stretching in front of their dugout. So that’s where we headed. As we approached the dugout, Stephen Pryor was walking down the line a bit to throw his glove in the grass outside of the *stretch zone* — I asked and he happily agreed to pose for this picture with the boys:
I think Kellan’s face in that picture is hilarious. He simply refused to smile at the time. He does that at times.
We were safely out of foul ball zone so I could let down my *don’t hit my boys* guard. But moments after that picture with Pryor, an Orioles batter ripped a foul ball off of a protective net and it bounced over to the warning track and rolled to a stop just below us. I reached over and grabbed it.
Thank you, very much, Orioles batter and lucky ricochet!
Then we headed above the dugout and watched our guys chat with each other…
…and then go through their stretching routine.
As the stretching began to wind down, I decided we should head down the LF line so we could claim a nice spot (among the 10 fans over there in foul territory) to watch the M’s play catch. As we started walking down the line, I saw that Jason Phillips was standing on the foul warning track chatting with some guy (a non-uniformed Mariners employee). As we were walking, Phillips looked up and saw us and he walked over to the bag of baseballs and grabbed one.
Phillips was deep in conversation when we reached Phillips, but he walked over and set the baseball in Tim’s glove.
Since he was deep in conversation, we didn’t wait around to chat with Phillips. We just continued down the line. We stopped about one section in from the foul pole and an Oriole immediately hit a baseball foul right behind us. It trickled down the stairs right to us.
With Ichiro no longer on the team, King Felix is by far Tim’s new favorite Mariner. At this game, he was sporting his white “Hernandez” t-shirt jersey that the Mariners gave my folks when they were invited to a game in the owners’ suite earlier in the season. As all of the players made their way down the line, they stopped about 2-3 sections down from us and gathered around Phillips.
I pointed out Felix to Tim and Tim screamed, “Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii, FEEEEELIX!” Felix turned around and said “hi” and waved at Tim. He then looked back-and-forth like he was searching for something. He was. It was the baseball bag. He went over, grabbed a ball, and launched a arching pop fly in Tim’s direction. Tim tried to navigate the seats in the first row, but the ball fell one seat short. No catch, but Tim easily picked up the commemorative Orioles Park baseball from the folded seat.
Moments later, Felix started signing autographs. We scooted over to the small gathering of people around Felix. I was holding Kellan but another fan helped guide time right into the thick of the group…
…(you can see his hat just under the arms of the guy in the royal blue shirt) and King Felix stepped back from the group to get an extra good hold on the ball as he put a beautiful signature right on the sweet spot of the baseball he had just tossed to Tim.
Thanks, again, Felix! (And congrats again on the Perfecto!)
On our drive home, Tim was looking at the Felix autograph while chatting on the phone with his mommy and explaining the autograph. He said something hilarious: “Felix’s autograph is so cool. It’s part signature and part letters! You know how most autographs are just scribbles like a signature? Well, this is both signature and letters!!!” (That’s a paraphrase, by the way).
Once the Mariners started playing catch, we stationed ourselves between Oliver Perez and Shawn Kelley:
Perez was playing catch with King Felix while Kelley played catch with Lucas Luetge.
This was some of the coolest *catch watching* in which we have ever participated. Perez, who apparently has a crazy-strong arm, and Felix were playing long toss and Felix just kept scooting back-and-back-and-back. Eventually, Perez threw a homerun over the CF fence and into the batters’ eye. The grass in the batters’ eye is elevated so Felix was able to see Perez when he went up to retrieve the ball. So Perez and Felix ended up playing catch from the batters’ eye to the LF warning track for a minute or two. It was mighty impressive!
When Felix came back into CF it got even more interesting. Felix nearly threw a ball into the seats. Perez had to drift all the way back to the wall and reach up to get the ball. Then, Felix threw a ball about one full section to our right. It was definitely going into the stands. I raced over there and there was zero doubt in my mind that I was going to catch it. The throw was so offline and high that it didn’t seem like Perez was even going for it. But then, as I reached up to make the easy catch at head level, Perez came flying in and made a running/jumping catch about one foot in front of my glove!
The whole thing was a ton of fun to watch.
Felix and Perez finished with some shorter harder throwing:
And then Felix came over to the wall and started signing autographs again. Tim really wanted to get his picture with Felix, but there were too many people at this point gathered around trying to get an autograph. So we backed away from the scene…and got rewarded for it. As Felix signed autographs, Perez slowly walked toward the dugout. Tim was just goofing off minding his own business in the front row when Perez walked up behind him and handed over the highly entertaining Perez-King Felix warm up baseball. Awesome!
While all of this was going on with Felix and Perez, I had also been communicating a bit with Shawn Kelley. Kelley seems to be a super cool guy, a great dad and a big fan of kids. And if you follow him on Twitter, you’ll see he’s pretty funny too.
Well, my goal was to get a picture of him with the boys. At times while players warm up, you can make eye contact or get in a word or two without disturbing their process. I used these little breaks in the action to ask Kelley if the boys could get a picture with him after he was done warming up.
It was funny because he kept motioning like, “You want my autograph?” And I would respond, “That would be cool too, but I really want a picture with you.”
Then, wouldn’t you know it, Kellan fell down and scraped his knee a bit (he does this all the time) right as Kelley wrapped up his throwing. Kelley still thought we were asking for an autograph. But all of our baseballs were put away and I didn’t feel like pulling one out. I really just wanted a picture of him and the boys. Because of the sniffling due to the scraped knee, the picture ended up being just Tim and Shawn:
Probably also due to the sniffling from the scraped knees, before leaving Shawn reached out and handed his warm up baseball to Kellan. And it actually did the trick perfectly! Kellan loves when he gets a baseball. His eyes lit up and he yelled, “Baseball!”
And, hey, it was an Orioles Park commemorative (as was the Perez-Felix warm up baseball!)
Double thanks, Shawn! Keep up the good work!
Once all of the pitchers were finished playing catch, we decided to head out to LCF by the bullpens. Blake Beavan was out there and he decided to toss us this:
While out by the bullpen, Kellan and I were hanging out in one row and Tim was sitting right in front of me. We spend most of our BP time in foul territory so we catch very few homerun balls. In fact, I’m pretty sure the last time I caught a BP homerun on the fly at Camden Yards was in 2004 before Tim was born. Well, it is time to reset that clock. Now, it has been since August 6, 2012.
A Mariner took a mighty hack and hit a screaming liner right to me. Here is a reenactment of where I caught it, right above Tim’s head:
Yeah, he was busy eating a Nature Valley bar at the time.
That was it for BP. Time to hit the kids’ play area. We cut through the cross aisle around home plate and had an usher take our picture on the way:
After a vigorous bouncy house session, Tim and Kellan played on the too high and dangerous play fort…
…and then Tim did some pitching:
As Tim was unleashing his fastball fury, a fan walked by and yelled something like, “Looking good, King Felix!!!”
After the boys did some playing, we headed over to the bullpen to watch Jason Vargas warm up for the game:
He was looking pretty good. And he had just been named A.L. Pitcher of the Month for July. So I was hoping for good things from him in this game.
Once again (this is becoming the norm this season), Tim requested to do the old switcheroo – ice cream first, dinner second. So we did. We grabbed some ice cream helmets and found some seats in (approximately) section 62:
But something was amiss. Kellan wanted nothing to do with his ice cream. Instead, he just wanted to get out of those seats ASAP:
In that picture, he is trying to squeeze by me into the aisle. He screamed throughout the national anthem. I knew we couldn’t stay there. Oddly enough, he calmed down the second we left this section.
We moved to some nearby handicapped accessible seats in the cross aisle…
…and, instantly, Kellan’s screaming turned to smiles:
But he still didn’t want his ice cream. So, as Dustin Ackley led off the game for the Mariners…
…, I took one for the team and ate Kellan’s ice cream.
The Mariners failed to score in the first. Then it was Vargas’s turn:
Although he gave up two hits (including a double), he also got through the first inning unscathed.
Unfortunately, Chris Tillman kept retiring Mariners batters while Vargas gave up three runs in the bottom of the second. They were the only runs Vargas would give up over eight otherwise strong innings of work. But the Mariners just weren’t hitting.
We followed ice cream with a tasty pizza dinner:
I can’t remember who the batter was, but one piece of excitement was when one of the Orioles hit a single into LF and his bat traveled almost as far as the baseball. Here is Kyle Seager retrieving the barrel of the bat from shallow LF:
While we were still eating our pizza, the Oriole Bird wandered by on his way to deliver some birthday wishes to several fans. He stopped to pose for a picture with Tim (and his pizza crust):
Kellan kept a watchful eye on the big, scary Bird:
When the Bird wandered by again, after delivering a gift bag to a second birthday celebrating fan, Tim went over to say hi again and the Bird swiped the hat right off of Tim’s head…
…and proceeded to munch on it in his big beaked mouth. Tim got a great kick out of the Bird’s antics.
In the fifth inning, Camden Yards regular Matt Hersl stopped by to say hi. He also asked me, “is it too early to mention the no hitter?” Indeed, Chris Tillman was throwing a no-no at the time. I quickly responded, “No, Tillman is throwing a no hitter!!!”
That did the trick: Mike Carp came up moments later and rapped the first Mariners hit of the night into LF.
Matt also mentioned that a guy who he described as “Alex from Seattle” was looking for me. I had no clue who that was. But we were soon pleasantly surprised when Alex “Not from Seattle but wearing a Mariners t-shirt” Kopp approached.
We last saw Alex at PNC Park on June 9th (for MyGameBalls.com’s Ballhawkfest 2012). Since then, Alex has started his first job out of college. It was great to catch up with Alex for an inning or two…during which Alex had a great (but unsuccessful) chance at catching his first ever game foul ball. Don’t worry, the next day he would catch a Nick Markakis game homerun on the fly in the flag court).
Around the sixth inning, we witnessed one of the worst scenes we’ve ever witnessed at a ball park. It looked sort of like this:
Here’s what happened. We ran over to the moon bounce for a second round of bouncing. Some kids were in the bounce so we had to stand in line. I was holding Kellan and getting him ready (taking his shoes off) when they started letting the next group of kids into the moon bounce. Tim ran up and jumped into the moon bounce. Right as I started to approach with Kellan, a 45-ish year old dad with a 4-ish year old son walked up and asked the moon bounce attendants to call for help. The sat down on the corner of the moon bounce mat, about 2 feet in front of us, and the kid’s head was bleeding like crazy. You can see the dad in the blue shirt and orange hat on the right side of the photo above, with blood all around them on the ground.
My mom was an ICU nurse and she tells me that head wounds bleed a lot. But, man, I’ve never seen anything like this. The kid was drenched in blood. My first instinct was to shield Kellan from seeing what was going on. Another Mariners fan was standing right there (in the hot and sweaty evening air) and he freaked out (in a good way). He ripped off his (no doubt sweaty) shirt and tried to give it to the dad to wipe up the kids’ blood. The dad was very thankful but declined because he had something of his own to clean up the kid.
I have no clue what happened to the kid. My first thought was that he fell off of the terribly dangerous looking and tall play set, but I didn’t see any blood on the ground over there.
All sorts of cops and security people ran over. The dad did a great job comforting his boy and calling for more help.
Meanwhile, Tim was bouncing in the moon bounce and I circled around the side so Kellan wouldn’t see too much of what was going on. All of a sudden, a 30-ish year old lady took a backwards dive right onto the cement. Someone yelled that she was having a seizure, but she was not moving at all. My guess is that she passed out from watching the kid with the bloody head. Whatever happened, she wasn’t moving at all. She no doubt bashed her head hard of the cement when she fell. Her daughter (shown on the far left sitting on the ground wearing pink) started to totally freak out.
The lady seemed to be with some other people who started to tend to her. They all called for more help and scream out for another ambulance (the dad had already asked for one for the boy).
Just then, they let the kids out of the moon bounce. The bloody kid was practically sitting on Tim’s shoes so he had to go right up to the dad and kid to get them. Actually, you can see Tim’s hat directly above the dad’s orange hat as he is grabbing his shoes. Once he ran over to me and put on his shoes, I got my boys out of there as fast as humanly possible.
There was bad mojo in the air and I wanted none of it. I have no clue why that cop appears to be smiling/laughing for my camera. It was a very serious and unpleasant scene. It might just be a bad picture and he wasn’t really smiling. Who knows.
We got out of there and headed back to the cross-aisle:
Soon, we headed behind home plate. The Mariners were still losing 3-0. They did eventually score one run in the 8th inning and they definitely had opportunities to score a second and third run, but they just couldn’t do it.
We headed behind the dugout in the cross-aisle to watch the 8th and 9th innings. Interestingly enough, the usher at the top wouldn’t let us stand in the cross aisle (that’s a new one on me at Camden Yards), instead she *made us* sit in the fancy seats behind the home plate end of the dugout:
Okay, usher. If you insist!
I took a bunch of unimpressive action shots as the Mariners tried unsuccessfully to tie up the score.
Seager hit a 1-out single in the top of the ninth:
At this point, a homerun would have tied up the score.
Mike Carp grounded out sending Seager to 2B:
Casper Wells hit a weak grounder for an infield single:
Now, with two outs, a homerun would have put the Mariners ahead and a gapped would have probably at tied it.
But, as I mentioned, it wasn’t to be. Eric Thames (not on this pitch) grounded into a game ending fielder’s choice:
That sent out Mariners in-person season record to 2-1. Alas, no undefeated Mariners season for us in 2012.
After the game, an usher took our picture behind the Mariners dugout:
And one our way out of the stadium, I took this panorama from right next to the batters’ eye:
Thankfully, our next three games would feature the Mariners at Safeco Field. Hooray!
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|17/15 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/17 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates, Braves|
|26 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 5, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 2|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|95 Baseballs – Mariners 15, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 4, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 13, Athletics 2, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2, Braves 1|
|17 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 9, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1|
|10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park6/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Oriole Bird (2); Kellan – Fredbird|
|6/2 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie, Evan Scribner, Stephen Pryor, Shawn Kelley; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist, Stephen Pryor|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|6 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki, Evan Scribner, Felix Hernandez|
Bonus Picture: Tim likes to pose with the many Orioles signs all over the place at Camden Yards:
On the morning of August 19, 2011, we woke up at our hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida. Our game wasn’t until 7:00 p.m. So we dined on some free breakfast at the hotel, and then relaxed and played at the pool for a while…
…before heading to the beach for some more relaxing and playing.
At 4-something o’clock in the afternoon, we headed to Tropicana Field. One thing that I didn’t know about, but stands out prominently when you see Tropicana Field is that the dome is tilted. Our first thought was that the high side of the roof was the outfield where homeruns and outfield fly balls would reach their apex. On second thought, we contemplated that the
high side of the roof might be home plate where baseballs would be hit straight up from home plate.
Anyway, we would find out soon enough. First, we had to pay $15 to park in the ballpark lot:
Wait, wait…turns out we were among the first 100 cars with four-or-more passengers and, therefore, we parked for free! Cool. None of us had ever experienced anything like that before at an MLB game!
Walking through the stadium parking lot toward the main entrance, we stopped for a photo in front of a big Rays *twinkle* — I don’t know what else to call that thing. So I’ll call it a *twinkle*:
Oh, lookie there, its our Roadtrip guest: my mom!
Tim was super-psyched to have his grandma join us for some baseball and other fun in the Tampa Bay area. She is, hands down, one of Tim’s favorite people in the world.
We arrived before the doors (they were, in fact, doors, not gates) opened. So we hung out below some palm trees outside of the CF entrance:
Upon entering Tropicana Field, Tim and I closed out the A.L. East stadiums. We have now been to Camden Yards, old Yankee Stadium, new Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, and Tropicana Field. This is our final new stadium of 2011. To date, Tim and I have been to 29 stadiums together (I have also been to the Kingdome and Veterans Stadium) and
there are only three teams (the Cardinals, Royals and Rockies) that we have not seen play a home game. We will finish those teams off in 2012 – although we will also have to back track to Minnesota (Target Field) and Miami (new Marlins ballpark) before we can say we have been to games at all current-MLB stadiums.
Back to this game, I was under the impression that fans would be confined to the outfield concourse during the first half hour after the doors opened. So the first thing we did was head upstairs to a little lookout above the rays tank:
I had told him about it and Tim was super-excited about the rays tank. And the excited did not fade through the weekend. Here is a view of the field from the lookout above the rays tank:
I immediately noticed something: there were fans in the outfield stands. This was a Friday night game. I guess they must not do the confined-to-the-concourse thing for weekend games. Anyway, there was no reason to be at the lookout if the stands were open. So we headed down to the RCF seats right next to the rays tank:
Check that out. Rays are swimming by literally three feet away from those seats. How awesome is that? These are officially Tim’s favorite seats at any MLB ballpark. (And, as I type this, he reminds me that he didn’t love them just for the rays, he loved the horseshoe crabs too!).
About seven minutes after gates opened (according to the time stamp on the following photo), Jake McGee…
…welcomed us to Tropicana Field with a toss-up. FYI, David Price is the guy running to the left, McGee is the guy acting like he is about to make a backhanded catch.
About five minutes later, we all circled around the stadium to the Mariners dugout on the 3B side. Ichiro was playing catch…
…with Chone Figgins along the 3B line. My Dad was hanging out above the dugout (where Miguel Olivo tossed him his warm-up baseball). My mom and Tim headed over to hang out with my Dad, and I relocated down the LF line where the Mariners pitchers were just starting to play catch:
Unless you have these super-fancy tickets along the foul line, fans cannot get down to the field by the bullpens. Its not as bad as in Miami where normal fans cannot get to the field anywhere in fair territory. At Tropicana Field, any fan can get down to the front row on the field between the dugouts and the bullpens, but then these big party areas set back the normal fans about 20-30 feet from the field.
As would become a recurring theme of this weekend, Tim wanted to go back out to the CF seats so he could watch the rays in the rays tank. My mom took him out there and my Dad and I hung out by the Mariners bullpen.
I went to section 137…
…by the foul pole, and my Dad hung out in…oh, probably…section 133 or so by the bullpen mounds. My Dad’s positioning paid huge dividends: Michael Pineda tossed him a baseball. Pineda has had a rougher go of it in the second half of the season, but I think he is going to develop into a dominating MLB pitcher.
A few minutes later, Dan Cortes (who is standing above and slightly to the left of the bald security guard in the last picture) finished playing catch with Josh Lueke. When I called out his name, Cortes happily tossed me his unofficially rubbed up and dirty baseball.
I’ve chatted with Cortes a few times this season. He seems really nice. He’s at the stage that he’s excited to be in the big leagues and he is ready to spend a little time chatting to fans who recognize him.
When the pitchers finished playing catch, they disbursed across the outfield. I spend a few minutes hanging out in LF, but it was somewhat crowded and I was alone. I figured it would be more fun to go meet up with Tim and my mom in CF. I started toward a tunnel to run out to the concourse, but then I figured I might as well walk to the LCF side of the batters’ eye in the seats. I could then run down into the concourse and head over to the RCF seats. The decision paid off.
In deep LCF, Tom Wilhelmsen was all by his lonesome shagging baseballs. Wilhelmsen is in a similar place as Cortes – happy to be in the major leagues. But add to the mix that fact that he was out of baseball for about 6 years. Two years ago, he was a bartender in the Phoenix area. Now, he is a Major League baseball player. What wouldn’t he have to be happy about?
As I passed behind Wilhelmsen, a ball was driven into the deepest part of LCF. I called out Tom’s name and flashed him my glove. He then disappeared from sight for 3-4 seconds and returned ready to fire me a strike.
When I reached the rays tank, Tim was excitedly watching (and “oooh’ing” and aweing about) the rays and, to my surprise, he was holding a baseball. Turns out that Justin Smoak spotted Tim and my mom in the seats watching the rays and tossed up a baseball. It was the first baseball Tim’d ever gotten outside of my immediate presence! Oh, my young boy is growing into a man. *weep* *weep*
And then it was time for one of the most exciting BP moments or our season. My Dad was in straight away right field. I relocated to RF after Jason Vargas tossed him his warm up ball in LF. We all decided to go hang out over there when we saw that Ichiro was shagging fly balls out there.
You can only go in the front row in the outfield during BP if you have front row tickets – my guess is that it is a safety issue. The railings are ridiculously low. Anyway, we couldn’t get into the front row. So Tim and I were standing together in the second row directly behind Ichiro. Oddly enough, Tim was actually standing directly in front of me – i.e., we were both standing in front of the same seat in the second row.
One of our lefties spanked a ball over Ichiro’s head. It ended up on the warning track directly in front of us. As Ichiro came back for it, Tim and I both called out to him and politely asked for him to toss the baseball to us. As he grabbed the baseball, he looked up right at us. He saw Tim decked out in Mariners gear. Our eyes connected. And he tossed the baseball right to us.
But there was a problem. There were grown men on either side of me in the front row. For us to get the baseball, one of two things would have to happened. The first option was if, noticing that the baseball was plainly for a little kid (Mariners fan) who had asked for it, the two guys would just let it sail between them so we could catch it. That option was a no go. Both seemed intent on depriving Tim of the baseball that his baseball hero had decided to toss right to him.
The second option was for me, without the ability to enter the front row, to someone beat out two grown men standing closer to Ichiro and catch the ball before them. And that’s what would have to happen. As the ball sailed to me, the guys crashed in from both sides. Luckily, neither guy reached out toward the field for it, they just moved laterally. Their gloves came together like a curtain trying to shut us out. But I leaned WAAAAY forward (Tim slid to the side so I didn’t smash him into the seat in front of me) and my pushed through the narrow opening between their gloves. The two guys essentially caught my wrist, and on the other side, my glove caught the baseball.
I pulled my glove back really having no clue if I got it or not. I opened my glove and we found the baseball inside. We were ecstatic! We yelled out a huge:
“THANK YOU, ICHIRO!!!”
And I held the ball up for my parents to see. Two seconds later, handed the ball to Tim and he posed for a picture with Ichiro (and one of the would-be Ichiro-ball interceptors) in the background:
After our initial celebration, Tim ran up to his grandma and I headed to the back of the section where I got a second picture showing Tim, the Ichiro baseball, my mom and my dad (blue hat and green backpack):
This was already one of our best batting practices ever. To cap it off, I caught a Kyle Seager (I am pretty sure it was Seager) homerun on the fly at the back of the section. It was pretty exciting since I almost never catch balls on the fly (in fact, this was my first of the season). The ball was hit about 10 feet to my left. I ran over there and it was coming directly to two guys (probably 22’ish years old). Neither had a glove, but both hopped up and made a quarter-hearted attempt at catching it. But in the end, I think both were scared to try to catch it bare handed. So they let it sail directly between them and straight into my glove.
It was pretty cool and my Mom gave a big cheer from the bottom of the section. So that was cool. Seager really got a hold of that one. The ball ended up mildly lopsided from the force of the hit.
And that was it for BP.
Then, Tim had a great idea…
…“Let’s go see the rays tank!”
On the walk to the rays tank (or to the line for the rays tank), we passed under this interesting lamp:
That’s the arm of “Raymond,” the Rays’ mascot. Although many people are down on domed-stadiums (not me, I love ‘em!), no one can credibly say that the Rays haven’t done a great job making their concourses interesting for fans (particularly kids). There are tons of things to see and do in the various concourses that circle Tropicana Field.
It took awhile, but we finally made it to the front of the rays tank line:
Oops…we forgot about the upstairs waiting area. What is this, the Empire State Building line?
In the second floor waiting area, Tim posed (quite hilariously) with some rays painted onto a bench:
We were sure to obey all of the “Rays Tank rules”:
Anyone can go in and pet the rays for free. But for $5 (that goes to the local aquarium), you can feed the rays too! Tim preferred the “drop it and let them find it” method of feeing the rays:
Mostly, he just wanted to watch them from close up:
If you had food, the rays would flock to you and stick their faces and wings above the water. Meanwhile, the horseshoe crab and its baby walked around the bottom of the tank and didn’t bother anyone. Of course, I had to keep an eye on the field to see if my Mariners would reappear.
And they did. While we were in the rays tank area (you only get 8 minutes in there, something I did not yet know at this point), Felix Hernandez came out to warm up. I entrusted Tim to his grandparents’ care and headed off to watch Felix.
After the rays tank, but before meeting up with me down the LF line, my parents took Tim to play in the RF concourse:
And soon enough, this picture showed up on my phone (via text from my mom):
That is Raymond, the Rays’ mascot. But interestingly, it isn’t the normal Raymond. The normal Raymond is fuzzy, like most mascots. This Raymond was a big inflatable guy.
This was my view of Tropicana Field from section 127…
…as I watched Felix run through his pre-game routine. By the way, at Tropicana Field, odd numbered sections are on the 3B/LF side and even numbered sections are on the 1B/RF side.
During the singing of the National Anthem, Felix looked like a true all-star…
…complete with stars shaved into the side of his head.
In recent history, the Mariners bullpen has featured a rookie with a pink back pack. Well, for this series, I featured two pink back packs, another silly kids’ backpack (that will be shown later), and a tiny little pink lunch box…
…carried by Dan Cortes.
We sat in section 129 at this game. This was our view:
And this is what we looked like (or at least three of us) at the beginning of the game:
Although we sat in section 129, we were supposed to sit in section 131. But there was a problem. This big dude in the Hawaiian shirt (row K) was sitting in our seats:
Going into this game, the Mariners were 0-3 for me and Tim this season with two walk-off losses. We yearned for a Mariners win like nobody’s business. We were hoping that Ichiro…
…would start it off hot for the Mariners. Unfortunately, he popped out foul to the catcher.
We were in need of food. So between innings I headed out to the concourse. The field level concourse is interesting at Tropicana Field. It is split between an inner concourse – primarily just for walking from here to here – and an outer concourse that doubles as a food court of sorts. Here are two pictures of the food-concourse on the 3B side…
…where I found our nachos…
…and a all-you-can-drink diet coke (actually, it was probably diet pepsi). And I drank a whole lot of diet pepsi to make sure I got my money’s worth.
While we were eating our nachos, the Rays’ mascot, Raymond, made an appearance about two sections down from us. I asked Tim if he wanted to get his picture with Raymond and, of course, he did. So we put the nachos down and sprinted down to sections toward home plate and got this photo with Raymond:
Two minutes later, Raymond was standing two rows behind our seats taking pictures with fans. Oh, well. The chase was part of the fun.
One of the newest and most exciting young Mariners, Trayvon Robinson…
…, was playing LF and was standing directly out from our seats most of the game. After the Mariners failed to score in the top of the first. Robinson made a brilliant diving catch on a liner to LCF to retire the first Rays batter of the game in the bottom of the first.
The game was scoreless through the first and second innings. Robinson then led off the third with a double to RF. He took second on a groundout by Ichiro. Trayvon then scored the first run of the game when Franklin Gutierrez grounded to short stop Sean Rodriguez who threw the ball way (also allowing Gutierrez to take second).
It was time for Tim and I to go on a little adventure. He wanted to go see the rays tank and I wanted to go take Tim’s picture with his Ichiro baseball and the Tropicana Field sign for the myGameBalls.com photo scavenger hunt.
On our way to the sign (or what I thought was the sign), we stopped off in section 144 to take this panorama:
I thought that the *Tropicana Field* sign was really cool looking, with a big orange and straw logo. Tim decided on a catching-the-Ichiro-baseball pose and I thought the picture turned out great:
At the time, it did not occur to me at all that the sign did not say “Tropicana Field.” No, not at all. Of course, it is plain as day, it is just a Tropicana juice sign! Aye, aye, aye…
As we continued on our way toward the rays tank, we took some pictures of the interest set up at Tropicana Field. First off, the RF seating section is really small. Tons of batters were hitting BP homers to the very back of the seats because there just are not many rows of seats in RF. One reason there aren’t many seats is because they have this cross-aisle behind some of the sections in RF (close to the foul pole):
I have no clue what the blue risers are behind the cross-aisle.
We stopped in the cross-aisle behind section 135 to get this panorama:
In foul territory down the 1B line there is a party area similar, but not identical, to the party area down the 3B line:
Once you get to the scoreboard and big screen in RF, the cross-aisle ends, and the blue risers turn into black risers:
But enough of that. There were rays to watch:
And Tim had blast watching them:
If you happen to have tickets in section 150 next to the rays tank, if you are able to look away from the rays, this is what your view of the field would look like:
As we were circling back around the cross-aisle toward home plate, it was the top of the fifth and King Felix had yet to give up a single hit to the Rays. With the Mariners still leading 1-0, Ichiro led off the fifth with a single:
With Ichiro still on first, we got this panorama from the cross-aisle behind section 116:
But then Franklin Gutierrez grounded into a double play. An Adam Kennedy strike out later, the top of the fifth inning was history.
We headed out to the concourse and bought some ice cream helmets. As we walked the inside concourse around home plate toward our seats, we got a shot of the weird tunnels into the seating area behind home plate:
Very odd, indeed.
Back in the seats with Grandma and Grandpa, the ice cream was quite tasty:
Unfortunately, the Rays tied it up 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth with a run manufactured by B.J. Upton. After singling on a weak grounder past Adam Kennedy at third, he stole second, stole third, and scored on a bunt by John Jaso. The worst part about it is that Upton should have been out at first. Adam Kennedy didn’t get in front of the ball. Instead he ole’d it right into a single. Unfortunately, this would not be Kennedy’s only botched play on the day…so stay tuned.
The Mariners reclaimed the lead in the top of the seventh on a lead-off homerun to RF by Kyle Seager:
That *should have* been all the support that Felix needed for the win. He was, as usual, dominating:
In the eighth, Tim and my Mom headed back to the rays tank…
…and then things fell apart for the Mariners.
More precisely, things fell apart in the bottom of the eighth when Johnny Damon stepped to the plate with two down and a runner on first:
One more out and the Mariners would head to the ninth with the 2-1 lead intact. Felix pumped strike one and strike two over the plate. One more strike and the Mariners could stick a fork in the eighth.
But then Damon hit a grounder between third and short stop. Kennedy moved like a slug over to get it. He double or triple or…I don’t know…infinity-clutched the ball. I yelled, “AAAAAAHHHHHHH, GET RID OF IT!!!!!!” And then Johnny Damon crossed first base safe.
I could not believe it.
Any other day, Kennedy makes that play. Kyle Seager, Chone Figgins, Jose Lopez, Adrian Beltre, Scott Spiezio, Jeff Cirillo, David Bell, Russ Davis, Mike Blowers, Edgar Martinez, Jim Presley, Jamie Allen, Manny Castillo, Dan Meyer, Ted Cox, Bill Stein, and anyone else who has ever played a single game at 3B for the Mariners would have made the play. In fact, they would have made the out at either 2B or 1B.
But this was this day, and it was Adam Kennedy (who had already cost Felix a run) was at third, and the play was not made.
As great as King Felix is, he does not always respond well to boneheaded misplays. And he did not respond well at this game. So Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist both followed with RBI singles. A few minutes later, game over. Mariners lose.
It was a tough, tough loss.
As the relievers headed back to the dugout, I got this picture featuring a pink backpack and the new R2D2 backpack:
As the ninth inning was playing out, I realized something – the Tropicana sign wasn’t the Tropicana Field sign. And Tim was way out there in CF by the rays tank. I texted and called
my Mom to ask her to come back to meet up with us. But her phone was in his bag and she didn’t hear it. So, just in case we didn’t get another baseball at Tropicana Field, my Dad took a Tropicana Field bonus picture of me…
…and when my Mom and Tim finally arrived (and the lights had been turned down), I got a bonus picture of Tim.
And then we got a group photo with the lights out:
Tim requested that it be a *thumbs up* photo.
See all of those people on the field? On Friday nights, the Rays turn off the main lights, turn on some disco lights and dance music, and let fans leave the game by walking across the field to an exit in CF.
We headed down to the field and got a picture of Tim on the warning track with the dugout behind him:
We got another picture of Tim standing on the LF foul line:
And then Tim started to dance like crazy. It was all I could do to get him to stop dancing long enough to take this picture behind second base (doing an 80s b-boy pose)…
…and this on-field Tropicana Field bonus picture (this is the official photo we submitted to the scavenger hunt):
Then, as Tim went back to throwing his hat in the air and dancing, I took a 360 degree panorama from behind 2B:
If you click on that picture to enlarge it, you can see Tim dancing on both sides of the panorama.
I took this same picture, but my Dad did a better job of it – a worm’s eye view of the center of Tropicana Field’s roof:
After Tim did a bit more dancing, including some break dancing on the big screen…
…we called it a night.
We’d be back again the next day (August 20, 2011) hoping for our first Mariners win of the season.
I have to say, despite the crushing Mariners loss, I really liked Tropicana Field. I grew up among rumors of the Mariners moving to St. Petersburg to play in this very building. Because of that, I’ve always had negative feelings about Tropicana Field. But I grew up going to and absolutely loving the Kingdome. And like the Metrodome in 2009, I felt right at home at Tropicana Field, a great little domed stadium.
|2011 C&S Fan Stats|
|24/4 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|18/6 Teams [Tim – Mariners, Orioles, Rangers, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, Rays, Braves, Diamondbacks, Astros, Royals, Cubs, Angels, Indians, Reds, Giants, Tigers, Yankees, Marlins; Kellan – Mariners, Orioles, Angels, Mets, Indians, Yankees]|
|19 Ice Cream Helmet(s) (Orioles (2), Nationals, Phillies (2), Rangers (2), Mets (1), Reds (1), Tigers (1), Marlins (2), Braves (2), Rays (1)).|
|68 Baseballs (12 Mariners, 7 Rangers, 4 Orioles, 4 Umpires, 2 Nationals, 2 Brewers, 5 Phillies, 2 Mets, 2 Rays, 5 Braves, 2 Diamondbacks, 1 MLB Authenticator, 2 Easter Egg, 1 Glove Trick, 2 Royals, 2 Cubs, 5 Angels, 4 Indians, 2 Giants, 1 Tigers, 1 Marlins)|
|12/3 Stadiums [Tim – Camden Yards, Nationals Park, Citizens Bank Park, Minute Maid Park, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Citi Field, Great American Ball Park, Comerica Park, Yankee Stadium, Sun Life Stadium, Turner Field, Tropicana Field; Kellan – Camden Yards, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium]|
|13/9 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; Kellan – Luke French, Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, Justin Smoak, Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Langerhans, Michael Saunders, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin]|
|3/1 Management Photos* [Tim – Howard Lincoln, Jack Zduriencik, Eric Wedge; Kellan – Jack Zduriencik]|
|6 Autograph(s) (Michael Pineda, Michael Saunders, Mark Lowe, Felipe Paulino, Aroldis Chapman, Jack McKeon)|
|1 Bat* (Milton Bradley)|
|9/2 Mascot Photos* [Tim – Mariner Moose, Teddy Roosevelt, The O’s Bird, Mr. Redlegs, Gapper, Slider, Sebastian (U. of Miami), Homer, Raymond; Kellan – Mariner Moose, The O’s Bird]|
|3/0 Divisions Closed Out** [Tim – A.L. West (Safeco Field, Oakland Coliseum, Angel Stadium & Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), N.L. East (Citizens Bank Park, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, Nationals Park, Sun Life Stadium, & Turner Field), A.L. East (Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Yankee Stadium (1923), Yankee Stadium (2009), Fenway Park, Rogers Centre, Tropicana Field); Kellan – N/A]|
|2 Line-up Cards (Royals vs. Rangers; Indians vs. Orioles)|
|*includes Spring Training**divisions where we have seen each team play a home game.|