I figured that my other blogs have been relatively short and haven’t really examined everything that I have been through in the MLB Fan Cave competition. So, the story continues….
Being home now for three days, I have had time to reflect on how much I have enjoyed being part of the MLB Fan Cave contest and what it has meant to me as a fan.
We all apply for jobs and contests really hoping that all of our dreams will be fulfilled. Realistically, there’s always that small possibility that things can work out. Often times, we find, they do not. Statistically, the odds are always against us.
When I applied for the MLB Fan Cave, I crossed my fingers tightly and hoped that my experience working for a major league team in the past, interviewing celebrities like Adam Lambert, 3OH!3 & Gym Class Heroes, and my acting abilities would land me among the lucky finalists. I have always known that I am capable of doing great things but this was about showing others that I could shine among thousands of other applicants.
People have always told me that I am unlike any other person that they have had the pleasure of meeting. I am a perfect combination of all things girly, crafty, and sporty. My favorite color is hot pink, I love anything that sparkles, and I also don’t mind getting dirty, stinky, and sweaty. It almost contradicts itself because usually when you want to wear cute accessories, you don’t want to waste time getting dirt under your nails; a little dirt never hurt anyone. I can talk to you about my favorite pieces in Betsey Johnson’s latest collection and then turn around and talk to you about how Joe Maddon utilizes his players to accentuate their strengths. There’s no doubt in my mind that I would be a valuable asset to the MLB Fan Cave.
When it was announced that I made the top 50, I was elated. I thought to myself, “Things like this don’t happen in real life.” Over the coarse of these past three weeks, I’m pretty sure this has become my slogan. I worked morning, noon and night trying to ensure that I would have a spot in the final 30. I did the best that I could with trying to secure media coverage and support from baseball fans. It was not an easy journey. For every fifty places I called and/or e-mailed, one would get back to me. Trying to earn a spot in the Fan Cave became a full time job of its own, complete with both my cell phone and laptop batteries dying several times throughout the day. This part of the competition did not only measure how savvy you were with developing relationships with the press, but also with the fans. It was extremely important for us, as contestants, to earn votes; to show we were supported. Two weeks went by so quickly. All fifty of us fans sat anxiously as we awaited the next announcement.
The top 30 was announced and I found myself crying and jumping up and down. Within the first few minutes of me finding out, the local news paper called me to congratulate me on a successful segment for my campaign. They asked me what I thought my odds were of actually making it in to the Fan Cave at this point. I told them that the odds have been against all of us since 22,000 applied, but I stood out from the crowd and made it to the top 50. Then I worked really hard to get in the top 30. There was absolutely no reason to doubt myself at this point because I knew I belonged in the MLB Fan Cave this season. In order to make others believe in you, you need to believe in yourself.
The next few days seemed like they had passed in a blink-of-an-eye. The wheels of my airplane were touching down in Phoenix, AZ and I felt like ripping off my seat belt much like Hulk Hogan rips off his t-shirt. I wanted to jump up and down and scream because I was so excited to take the next step in the competition. I met some TinyChat friends at the airport and our virtual friendships were now in real-life. We enjoyed an assortment of food that evening at the neighboring diner and turned ourselves in ‘early’ so we could make sure we were fresh for the MLB Fan Cave team in the morning.
The option on my room phone for a wake-up call didn’t work so I set my cell phone alarm. The alarm clock failed to go off that morning. Thankfully, for me, we didn’t have to report for check-in until 11AM. I went downstairs to meet some more of my #FanCave30 family and we walked together to check-in. As soon as I walked in the door, the wonderful people from MLB were greeting me by name and I felt terrible because I didn’t know their names. They had seen my videos and read my blogs so I felt like we were long lost friends as well. In our goodie bags we had the coolest Fan Cave swag! There were three t-shirts (red, white & blue), a hoodie, a hat and an amazing Sony Bloggie camera for us to capture our experiences on.
We walked outside of the hotel to wait for our transportation to Chase Field. Imagine our surprise when a bus appears in the distance and we see MLB FAN CAVE written all over it. MLB kept topping themselves with the amount of cool-ness we got to experience all in the first few hours. After we got off the bus at Chase Field, we were escorted around the field. So many of us were in complete awe as we looked at all of the All Star Game banners that decorated the walls and rafters. I immediately recalled the Home Run Derby and how far those guys were blasting the balls into the stands in the outfield. From center field, I stared in amazement back in the direction of home plate. The showdown between Gonzo and Cano must have been a sight-to-see. We were then escorted down to the auxillary locker room where we waited to be called for our 60-second pitch. I had my entire pitch planned out from start to finish. I started it by showing the team that I had my own baseball cards because I was the Rookie of the Year for the MLB Fan Cave, much like Tampa Bay’s Jeremy Hellickson was awarded Rookie of the Year for the American League. From that point on, I can’t even begin to tell you what I said. I wanted to say so much—like how the Rays are always the Wild Card and you can never count them out because they play with such a great passion, how it took them ten years to get to the World Series but they made it and it showed everyone they were serious contenders from that point on, how the team had that extra 2% that allowed them to have the edge…..just like I have the extra 2% that’s needed for the MLB Fan Cave. What I really said is anyone’s guess.
After our pitches, we went upstairs and had a snack while we waited for our Baseball IQ challenge to begin. Eric Byrnes and Matt Vasgersian were lovely hosts for us and added to the allure of the entire experience. My team, Team Game Face, was eliminated in the first round by one of the winning teams, Ally’s Angels. After our IQ challenge we headed back upstairs to yet another surprise that MLB had for us—a karaoke dance party! I began to wonder if they had been spying on our TinyChat conversations because we definitely said we wanted to go karaokeing together in AZ. I sang “Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears with Christy and Jay. It was so much fun to listen to everyone sing songs by Backstreet Boys, Green Day, Third Eye Blind and more. After a few hours, we wrapped up the fun and went back to the hotel.
For our second day of challenges, I was going to be interviewing Aaron Boone. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was to be able to interview such a great athlete, now analyst. The directions MLB gave us said to create an interview to showcase the personality of our subject. I had planned some great questions for Boone! We boarded the bus and headed to our respective field (there were three different locations). My group made our way upstairs and waited for our chance to show MLB our interviewing skills. I was nominated to go second in my group. My group lucked out and had professional cameras there to capture our big moment. Unlike the other groups, we only had two minutes to make an impact with our interview. Ready, set, go! “You played the game for a long time before becoming an analyst. What kind of challenges did you face getting into broadcasting?” Bam! Got the first question out of the way. The second question I asked him was based on his unique style, more particularly the array of scarves he wears. I then asked him if he had a favorite designer, which no….. he does not. My last question was more of a show and tell. I asked Boone to show me his go-to dance move so I had a new move to use in our TinyChat dance parties. All in all, I felt like my interview went amazing. I had a great time, and I cannot thank MLB enough for that opportunity. I hope I hit that one out of the park (okay, I promise that’s my last cheesy baseball reference).
After the interview, we had time to eat a quick boxed lunch. Team #Abooning silently collected ourselves into a corner and counted down the time until 3PM hit. JB had handed us an envelope earlier in the day while we were on the bus and told us to keep it closed until 3PM. At that time, we should only open the envelope if we are unable to load the video needed to give us the information for our next challenge. Being the overachievers that Team #Abooning happened to be, about ten seconds after we couldn’t find the video….. we tore open the envelope. We needed to make a 30 second commercial for MLB Shop using certain lines from Majestic, while coming up with our own slogan. We were really proud of the way our video came out! The end result can be seen here: http://mlbfancave.mlb.com/fancave/video.jsp?content_id=20115773&topic_id=19224580&fbid=poE58vlWWTp
After we finished our challenge at Salt River Fields, we headed back to the hotel and got ready for our bowling adventure. We met in the lobby and boarded the MLB Fan Cave bus and headed to Lucky Strike. Let me tell you, I have been to numerous bowling alleys, and this place was by far my favorite! I may also be partial to it since I was hanging out the entire night with 29 other family members. It was during this night where I started getting sad because I knew in a few short hours we would all be going our separate ways again and would return to being pixelated images on each others screens. Regardless, it was one of the most fun nights in my entire life…. despite my low bowling score.
When we got back to the hotel, several of us went in the hot tub and hung out by the pool reminiscing on the best 48 hours of our lives. It felt like the last day of high school where everyone shares the highlights they experienced. For us, everything was a highlight. Being chosen to be apart of the top 50 was a highlight. Hearing ourselves on the radio, seeing ourselves on the news, reading about ourselves in the paper talking about baseball was a highlight. Connecting with other baseball fans during this process was a highlight. Landing in Arizona was a highlight. Meeting each other was a highlight. We were there for each other from the beginning. We’re each one another’s competition and friend all at the same time. No one will ever have this same experience that we had. They won’t know what it was like to go through all of this. We did it together.
I can’t tell you how many times I have cried during this process—not because I was stressed or I couldn’t handle it, but because it has meant SO much to me. I really feel blessed to be in the position that I am in and I do not take any of it for granted. I know things like this happen only once in a lifetime so I’m trying to hold on to every second and take everything in. Baseball is something that has bonded my family and I together for years, and coincidently it is also the special thing that has bonded myself to 29 other amazing people from all over the country and Canada.
I remember sitting under the hot Florida sun in the early 90’s, watching the amazing Kirby Puckett knock balls effortlessly around the field (at this time I also thought he was somehow attached to the character Kirby from Nintendo). Now, here I am. A top 30 finalist for the MLB Fan Cave—living in a world that feels incredibly surreal. For some of us, this is just the beginning to the BEST thing that could possibly ever happen to us—being in the MLB Fan Cave. For the rest, it’s a stepping stone.
Thank you MLB for the best opportunity and experience that any baseball fan could possibly have imagined. I hope I find myself among the lucky ones in New York….. along with every single one of my 29 new family members.