Phantastic Phillies Phuntime Adventure

Yes, I really typed that. In public.

I am back in the air now, after spending yesterday in DC looking at memorials and really testing my back/leg. I did well without the cane, which I have not really had to use a lot the past few days. I think I am currently paying for it, though; Dulles was a difficult walk/stand for me. At least the TSA is kind enough to give you a wooden cane when you go through the scanners, so that was helpful. I should be OK after a decent night’s sleep in my own bed, which I am very much looking forward to. Currently, I have an all-day air pass for the laptop, and I plan to make great use of it. Ready to see some Philadelphia pictures? Away we go!

After the tire incident, we were back on the road by around noon, heading to Philly. I was tired after a really bad night of sleep, but the garage got us fixed and on our way. They also stole our unopened pint of rum. Not cool. We stopped at Maryland House, a travel plaza somewhere in, I assume, Maryland, and loaded up on water and food, and then used my Motel 6 app to find a place in Essington, not too far outside of Philadelphia. There was a smidge of a delay in checking in, due to some housekeeping issue or something, but eventually we did get a room, dumped our stuff, and got back on the road. A very short period of time later, we were sitting in a mostly-empty parking lot at Citizens Bank Park.

IMG_4289

 

IMG_4291Rick spent part of our wait dealing with the insurance company, while I poked around on my phone and took in the quiet, windy atmosphere. There appeared to be a storm moving in, and I hoped it would not rain. I snapped some photos while I was waiting..

IMG_4290Mr Baseball himself, Connie Mack. Rick asked who he was, and I brought back a discussion we had a few days ago about the Philadelphia Athletics and the white elephants. Mike Schmidt is honored on the grounds as well.

IMG_4292IMG_4293We sat near the third base gate for about 20-30 minutes before we realized that there were quite a few fans who were headed to a specific area down the opposite end of the stadium. I can’t remember if we asked someone or figured it out on our own, but eventually we decided to go with the stream, and wound up at the entrance for Ashburn Alley.

IMG_4294My obligatory picture of center field (we just kept entering fields from center. Not sure how that worked out, it just happened.

IMG_4296The first thing I had to do was hit up the Team Store. So we meandered over, and ran into Harry Kalas.

IMG_4295I wound up with a thin hoodie that is super comfy (and now has a water ice stain on the string that I hope never washes out), and some Hello Kitty stuff, along with a barbecue sauce that I don’t have a picture of currently. I think I posted something on Twitter about it. After the Team Store, we went back towards Ashburn Alley, because I was after a Tony Luke’s.

IMG_4297All the Philadelphia logos over the years. I have no idea why I found this fascinating, but I did. If you look in the third window from the left, you can see me taking the picture. Rick is next to me in the fourth window.

IMG_4298The man himself, Richie Ashburn. There were probably a bunch of sculptures I missed, but we walked almost all the way around the main concourse and I didn’t see anything. It can be extremely overwhelming, to get everything in the two hours between gates open and the game; and while I don’t mind moving around Safeco during the game, I didn’t want to miss a single bit of the pre-game festivities at any of these games, nor a bit of the games themselves. It was a hard line to walk.

We found the Tony Luke’s, and I looked desperately for a guide on how to order, but didn’t see it. Every cheesesteak place seems to have their preferences on what to call things. I got a Whiz wit with onions, but didn’t order it that way. They didn’t yell at me or send me to the back of the line, so I consider that a success. This thing was the length of my forearm, and I housed it in about five minutes, but not before taking this picture to send to Tom, who was very jealous that I got to have one, while not so jealous about the fact that it was at a ballpark, of course:

IMG_1523The bell. This thing lights up and moves back and forth for a win. I have video of that, but took it sideways so now I have to go do some research on how to fix that so I can post it here.

IMG_4299It was Asian Pacific Celebration Night at the park, so we were treated to a lot of performances. This was the first one (again, video will be posted later); lion dancers! Rick had never seen any lion dancers before (the hazards of living in a smaller area in Virginia, perhaps), and I love them.

IMG_4300IMG_4301I had promised myself that I would drink a Yuengling in Citizens Bank park, and I made good on that promise after my sandwich, standing next to Bull’s Barbecue (which smelled amazing, by the way) while the lion dancers walked by.

IMG_4303IMG_1524Rick and I walked along the remainder of the concourse, until we ran into the third base entrance again, where there were dancers balancing glasses of water extremely successfully

IMG_4304It was approaching game time, so we decided to head up to our section, which was 211. This is at a Terrace Club level between third base and right field, without paying Terrace Club prices. I think I got them for around $36 apiece. But first I had to take some above shots of Ashburn Alley.

IMG_4305IMG_4306I love that other fields have areas like The Pen. The Pen would be ten times more awesome if it was open, but then I’d have nowhere to sit in left field, so they can keep it the way it is. I don’t mind, Mariners. Here is a stitched shot of the whole park, taken from our seats:

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 11.43.38 AMThe pre-game festivities started with some dancing:

IMG_4310And some drumming (video later)…

IMG_4311And some stretching…

IMG_4313IMG_4314And some more dancing, only this time with the Phanatic…

IMG_4318I feel I need to say a few words about the Phanatic. I have heard and see a lot of hate for this mascot, and given the fact that I am generally sort of creeped out by amorphous, non-animal creatures that really aren’t anything in particular, I was unsure how I would react to him as part of the team. But Phillies fans love the Phanatic. And by love I don’t just mean, yay, he’s their mascot, I mean they really love him. Cheers every time he was on the field. Laughter every time he did something like hassle the field guards (video later) or check out the on-field dancers, clapping when he drove the ATV around the grass. Phanatic shirts. Phanatic hats (fuzzy green winter-style hats with tubular noses). I thought we loved the Moose in Seattle, but I clearly had not seen anything yet. It actually endeared him to me a bit; and while I have no plans to go out and buy anything with him on it, I love that the fans have embraced a mascot the way the Philadelphia fans have. I might have just gotten lucky at this one game, but it was nice to see.

IMG_4319The National Anthem was sung by an Asain choir, as the sun broke through the clouds just before going down. The wind had picked up a bit, but it was still mostly warm.

IMG_4322And Phillies starter for the night AJ Burnett and the bullpen high-fived and fist-bumped to their respective game-starting positions.

IMG_4323Burnett and the evening’s catcher, Carlos Ruiz.

IMG_4324Burnett taking his first throws of the game.

IMG_4335And Mr Ryan Howard doing Ryan Howard stuff at first base…

IMG_4332Tony Gwynn Jr takes a swing.

IMG_4338The Marlins traveled up from DC to annoy me, and Rick hates all things Florida, so we were totally on the Phillies side all the way. The Marlins also loaded up the bases twice; there might have been a third in there somewhere, but they did walk in a run, just like in DC against the Nats. Fear not, Mariners fans, we really don’t have the worst team in baseball right now. Not saying that the Marlins are the worst, but some of the things they did and didn’t do in DC and Philly were just atrocious.

IMG_4340Jimmy Rollins takes first base on a single.

Chase Utley steps up to the plate.

IMG_4342And swings his way into a force out for Rollins, obtaining first base for himself.

IMG_4344And Ryan Howard comes to the plate!

IMG_4345And that was when things went all weird in the first. Howard took a walk, and then Marlon Byrd doubled to score Utley. Then Dominic Brown singled, and Howard scored. Byrd attempted to score, but was thrown out at the plate to end the first inning. Not a bad start. The wind was in full effect by this time. It did die down later in the game, but it was blustery out for the first few innings.

IMG_4348Carlos Ruiz stands guard while Jarrod Saltalamacchia has more difficulty wrapping his name around another jersey.

IMG_4353Utley takes as a ball goes high and outside.

IMG_4354Marlins starter Jose Fernandez. Fernandez lasted until the bottom of the 5th, when he gave up a triple, three singles and two runs. Not the best way to leave the game, but it was absolutely necessary for him to be taken out at that point. The Marlins had two runs, but compared to Philly’s six, it would have been an awful idea to let Fernandez try to work things out.

IMG_4368Meanwhile, the Phanatic was in the stands over right field, riling up the fans and making grandiose gestures.

IMG_4374The stadium at night…

IMG_4385Burnett lobs one at a Marlin.

IMG_4387In the top of the 5th, Burnett threw a wild pitch that allowed Marcell Ozuna to take second. He then walked both Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee, an there had to be a meeting at the hill.

IMG_4394Apparently, Burnett strained a groin muscle or something similar, so he was pulled from the game in favor of Jake Diekman, handing the ball to manager Ryne Sandberg as he left the mound.

IMG_4395Jake Diekman finished the 5th for Burnett and threw the 6th as well.

IMG_4399In most parks, the batter’s eye is kind of boring’ a black or blue or green wall. But at Citizens Bank, they clearly take pride in their batter’s eye. It’s very pretty. If there was a wall somewhere else, I completely missed it (and if someone knows that this is not the eye, let me know), as all there was in center really was this:

IMG_4389There was a break in play for more dancing, and some of the cutest little girls you’ve ever seen. Of course, the Phanatic had to get in on the fun as well.

IMG_4405And during the 7th inning stretch, some bhangra dancing, Phanatic included.

IMG_4410Mario Hollands was in the game pitching for a very short while; so short I didn’t get a picture of him. He was replaced by Antonio Bastardo. Rick: “Bastardo?!??” Yep.

IMG_4414IMG_4415And then Steve Cishek came in for the Marlins in the bottom of the 8th. I don’t know where I have seen Cishek before, I feel like I have but I can’t place it. Maybe last time the Marlins came to town, after their field was commandeered for a U2 concert? I can’t remember. Anyway, Cishek has a crazy delivery. I have video of it, but until I can get that uploaded, here are five pictures that give you an idea of what it looks like:

IMG_4425IMG_4423IMG_4428IMG_4419IMG_4424Did the Marlins try to win? Eh, kinda, I guess. I mean, they were at the game, they were on the field, and they were playing baseball, but it just wasn’t going to happen for them this time, either. The Phillies bested them 6-3, and that is when I got to see a familiar face, one I haven’t seen in quite some time. Since moving from Boston to the National League, this guy has all but fallen off my radar. Thankfully. I never liked seeing him in Seattle, but now that he’s on “my “side, I’m OK with him.

IMG_4434With a three-run lead, Paps came in for the save, and he got it.

IMG_4436 IMG_4438IMG_4436IMG_4443And down went the Marlins, one, two, three. Everyone went nuts because that’s our job, and I was at that point 2 for 2 with being at winning home team games. The bell started lighting up and “ringing” and moving…

IMG_4450Just before the end of the game, I noticed what looked like a series of plaques over center field. It was near where I had eaten my sandwich on the left side of the batters eye in the above photo, and sort of above and off to the left side of the bullpens (or right, depending on what way you’re looking). Not wanting to miss an opportunity, I suggested we leave from the Alley, since the car was more or less out there anyway. And it was the Phillies Wall of Fame. There was an usher type, a young guy who was standing blocking my way as I tried to barrel down there to take a photo, and he put his hand out and told us he was trying to close the area. I put on my best puppy dog face and said “I came all the way from Seattle for this game, and we didn’t see this area until just now because we were sitting up there (pointed). Pleaaaase??? I promise; I just need three photos and I’ll be quick!” He regarded me for a moment before saying “OK, go ahead”, and waving me through. So here are my last three photos from the night:

IMG_4451IMG_4452IMG_4453And that was my trip to Citizens Bank Park! It sprinkled on us a little in the 8th inning, but since we were kind of sitting under an overhang we didn’t get much of it. It had stopped by the 9th, and was a clear drive back to the hotel in Essington. Oh, and I had a water ice, cherry, because that is what you do in Philly, outside of the cheesesteaks and Yuengling. At least, that’s what I do in Philly.

IMG_1530Seattle needs to figure out how to make these happen; water ices are absolutely amazing, and we need them here for the summer.

Well, that’s it. I hear the Mariners clobbered the Rangers down in Arlington like 7-1 or something? Nice work, boys. I don’t know that I will make it home tonight in any shape to watch any of the game; my big plans after I land at 6.15 later today are to do laundry and fall asleep as soon as humanly possible. There are still more trip photos and stories of a Really Awful No Good Very Bad Orioles Game from Sunday that was nearly painful in its scope of loser-ness. Yeowch! Back later with more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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