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Saturday, February 23, 2013

MLB FanCave 2013 Update

Jay arrives at MLB FanCave registration
MLB FanCave Credentials
The whole experience of being selected to the final 30 of the 2013 MLB FanCave has been far more unreal that I ever imagined.  I sent in an application with a video submission back in November or December.  Out of literally thousands and thousands of applications, mine was selected to be in the top 52 and went to an online vote.  Thanks to all of you, I escaped that round to the #FanCave30, which also earned me a trip to Phoenix for Spring Training with the other 29 hopefuls.  Not really knowing what to expect, I went into the auditions with an open mind and the attitude I carry with myself every day.  I wasn't nervous because all I had to do was be me.  If they like it, great.  If not, I'll be just fine.  The MLB FanCave is in its third year, which anybody who deals with things of this nature knows is a huge year for the production run.  The third year is usually when more sponsors come in, kinks have been worked out, and everything starts to run a little smoother so there can be more experimentation.  Major League Baseball certainly hit it out the park.  It started with them sending transportation to pick me up  from my house to get me from the airport.  After flying to Phoenix, my friend Veronica from college days at LSU picked me up from the airport and brought me to grab some dinner and beers at the OHSO Eatery and nanoBrewery.  I could tell by the twitter alerts that the #FanCave30 were all making their way to the hotel, so anticipation built on my end. We spent that first night getting to know each other and hanging out by/in the hot tub.  The next morning, business got underway as we officially registered with MLB and collected our gear, including the credentials and backpack seen above.

A group of us pose for a picture at our hotel before loading up for Chase Field
Time to board the MLB FanCave Bus!
#FanCave30 at Chase Field
While at Chase Field, we got our first pep talk from Tim Brosnan, the Executive Vice President of Business at Major League Baseball.  He reminded us that we made it to the top 30 for a reason, and to just be ourselves.  He also let us know that we'd be soon be doing our 60 second pitches, but first, we feasted on some ballpark fare.  I went straight to the hot dogs.  I am a hot dog eating champ, after all.

Ballpark Franks... a fitting lunch
A moment of reflection in the DBacks' dugout



After the elevator pitches, which at least in my mind came pretty naturally to me as I wasn't nervous and thought I delivered exactly what I wanted to, some folks had more formal interviews with the MLB brass while the rest of us took off on an adventure around Chase Field filming a music video.  Here's the result:  


The time had then come for baseball trivia and karaoke.  Eric Byrnes, former big leaguer and current MLB Network personality, hosted along with Ricardo Marquez, one of last year's cave dwellers.  Team Gong 'Em Style (my team) took home the grand prize, a TV segment with  the Phoenix FOX news crew the next morning!

Team Gong 'Em Style with Kristin from My FOX Phoenix
We weren't done at Chase Field just yet though.  After trivia, we sang karaoke on the outfield terrace.  Fellow #FanCave30 member Alex Justice and I did our best rendition of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.  Enjoy:



The next day, after the morning news segment, I boarded a bus with eight others to head to Goodyear, AZ, Spring Training home to the Reds and Indians.  We got to hang out at the Reds facility for a while and then filmed a segment with Jay Bruce... and I got PRANKED!  I'll have to wait until the video is out to tell the whole story, but I did get to meet Jay Bruce, and after he stopped pretending to be pissed, he was a great fella.

Posing with Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds
Goofing off before my interview
That evening, after a freak Phoenix thunderstorm with hail, the time came for my formal interview.  I felt like it went extremely well.  We talked about me coaching high school baseball, my journey as a food and beverage content creator and everything else that I do, and more.  After the interviews were over, MLB took us to a Lucky Strike where we ate, drank, and were generally very merry.  Bowling and drinking some beers, we capped off an excellent couple days in the desert.  I really don't think it could have gone any better, and I couldn't have met a better group of people.



Hayden Moss and I... one of many great people I met!
I don't know yet which of us will get to spend six months in NYC at the cave.  We should find out next week at some point.  Until then, all I can do is think back on the week that passed, and remember all the wonderful friends that I made.  Hopefully they'll be calling my name soon to invite me to the FanCave.  But until then, just keep wishing me luck!