So I arrived late this morning in Phoenix, not sure what to expect. The MLB Fan Cave has done a wonderful job keeping all the fun twists and turns a surprise, and while I won’t give away all their secrets, I’ll do my best to let you know how things are going.
It was a very surreal experience getting a chance to meet face to face with people who I felt like have been my fans for so long. You’d think that with having 30 people from quite the variety of backgrounds would lead to some sort of conflict, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s a lot of people in my life that I’ve known longer than these guys and girls, but I don’t feel nearly as close to them. I’m sure that part of it has to do with the fact that we’ve bonded so much in the past few weeks, experiencing every twist and turn together along the way. The fact that over half of us regularly chat until 3, 4 or 5 in the morning every day probably doesn’t hurt, either.
With all of the stuff we’re doing, it’s difficult to realize all of the awesome things that are going on here. It’s definitely something that I’m not taking for granted, and it certainly won’t be anything I’ll ever forget. That’s not the only thing I’m going to take away from this, though. I’m trying to constantly remind myself that this process if giving me a chance to make my dreams come true. This is why I worked two jobs and 60 hours a week during college, it’s why I’ve spent countless hours, days and nights listening and watching baseball games. Will my dream of being a baseball broadcaster or writer ever come true? Only time will tell, but if I strike out, you better believe I’ll strike out swinging.
My bags are all packed, and my boarding pass has been printed. Tomorrow, I’ll be heading out to Arizona for the final leg of the MLB Fan Cave audition and casting process. It’s crazy to think that this is even happening, and I’m trying to do my best to appreciate all that has happened within the last month or so.
I’ll be the first to admit that I never expected to get to this point, and it’s very exciting and humbling to have even done that. I was always told that dreams are possible with hard work and preparation, and now I’m starting to believe it.
I’m excited to meet all of my fellow finalists, as we embark on this final adventure together. I couldn’t imagine finding 29 better people to spend this experience with. To those who I haven’t had the opportunity to meet or talk to, I look forward to doing it soon! To those that have put up with me every night for the past two weeks, you already know how awesome I think you are.
During the baseball offseason, I decided to come up with a different kind of fantasy baseball. If you’re like me, it’s not always easy to adjust your roster settings each and every day. With my new creation, you don’t have to worry about that ever again.
The premise of the league is really quite simple. I’ve gone through every Major League Baseball team, and have made various predictions for the majority of players on each team. To participate, all you have to do is pick one side or the other for every statistical prediction provided. For example, you might be asked: Over or under 35 home runs for Miguel Cabrera. Every prediction requires no minimum plate appearance or games pitched, so make your decisions carefully. All stats are rounded up to three numbers (ie. 3.65 ERA or .279 batting average). You get one point for every question you answer correctly, and the person with the most points at the end of the year wins (we will use the playoffs if needed for a tiebreaker)! This or That Baseball is free to join, and serves to simply serve as a tool to give baseball fans a chance to try to accurately predict the upcoming season.
I am thinking of offering a prize to whoever gets the most points, so send your final selections to me in a list format. If I don’t receive your list before the first pitch of opening day, unfortunately you will not be in the running for any prizes that I end up awarding, but you can still keep any bragging rights you end up earning.
If you’re interested, or would like more information, send me an e-mail to email@example.com and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have. The sooner you get in touch with me, the sooner I’ll be able to send you the official prediction list.
When you were little, what did you want to be? Much to my mother’s dismay, my earliest dream job was to be the guy who made slushies at K-Mart. No, it wasn’t a glamorous thought, but my logic was perfect for that of a five-year old.
I knew how excited and happy I was when my mom would let me get a slushie (similar to a slurped from 7-eleven in case you’re not aware), and I not only wanted to indulge in what I thought would be a never ending supply of free slushies, but I wanted to be able to have means to make everyone else happy, too. Looking back on it, my dream has always been to make as many people in my life as happy as I can. Thanks to the MLB Fan Cave, Major League Baseball is essentially giving me an opportunity to do just that.
If I make it to New York, I’ll have the opportunity to show my passion of the game (and obviously the Tigers) on a national stage. Once there, I’m going to do everything I can to put a smile on the face of every baseball fan and show kids that you should always chase your dreams. Perhaps then I’ll get the chance to bring happiness to baseball fans across the world. Sure, I wouldn’t be making slushies, but it’d still be a dream come true.
If you would’ve asked me a few months ago what the odds were of being selected as a finalist for the MLB Fan Cave, I imagine I would’ve probably laughed and said 50 out of 10,000. Two months later, and here I am.
There’s no doubt or question that I’ve put a lot of work and effort in preparing myself to be in this position, but I’d be naïve if I didn’t think I had some luck along the way. In a contest where over 22,000 people apply, it’s hard to imagine being able to stand out amongst all the equally talented applicants. I’m confident with who I am and what I know, but there’s only so much you can tell about yourself in a two minute video and a 1,000 words.
Making it to the final 50 was such a crazy and wild ride. I think I can speak on the behalf of the other finalists when I say that none of us knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into. Sure, we knew we were hoping to get a chance to get a job to watch baseball, but we all got to experience a lot more than that. Some of us became mini celebrities, embracing the attention we received from various media outlets around the country. Doors were opened to others, as I know a few people have already been offered jobs in both baseball and non-baseball related fields. As exciting as that is, I already know what I’ll remember most about this experience.
When you’re competing against 49 people who all want your job, you don’t often find yourself in a position where you become friendly or rooting for one another, but that was exactly what happened. Every night for two weeks, a lot of us would chat until the early hours of the morning. We’d tell one another, ‘We’ll sleep on the 22nd of February.’ I can tell you from personal experience, not many of us were sleeping last night, instead we were all chatting and dancing the night away. It’s such a cool experience to connect with people like that in such a short period of time, and I’m thankful I got the opportunity to do that.
Unfortunately, like every other job application process, everyone can’t make it until the end. For 20 of the 50, their hopes and dreams came to an end today. I sincerely want to wish each and every one of them the absolute best in life. This might be the end of this chapter for them, but it’s not the end of the book.
So now 30 finalists remain, hoping to prove to America that they’re the country’s most entertaining fan. If I get the opportunity to do so, I promise not to let you down. If there’s any advice I can give to anyone who is reading this, there’s one thing to remember. Never be afraid to chase your dreams, because you’ll never catch them if you don’t try.
So today I flew to Florida, and departed straight from the airport to Lakeland, the home the Detroit Tigers spring training. Being a finalist of the MLB Fan Cave, I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of reception I’d get from players, fans and other personnel there, but I figured I didn’t have much to lose.
First I was sent on a wild goose hunt, where I was sent looking for a person, who told me to find a person, who told me to find a different person. Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly a great start for me or my Spring Training experience. At around noon, several Tigers, such as Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello departed from the practice field, stopping to sign autographs for many of their adoring fans. I was hoping to get the attention of Verlander, since he has committed to visiting the Fan Cave in 2012, but I had no such luck. Undeterred, I decided to wait by the clubhouse, in hopes that perhaps someone from Media Relations might be able to help me out.
About an hour went by, and I was given the unfortunate news that there was really little I could do, in terms of getting players participation. I remained understanding, knowing fully well that was most likely to be the case. But then, wouldn’t you know, Buster Olney comes walking out of the clubhouse towards the parking lot and me.
I stopped him for a minute, and the next thing you know, we talked about baseball for about fifteen minutes. I tried to get it on camera, but due to it being a sort of last minute effort, I was only able to get a few pictures taken while I was talking with him.
It was definitely a neat experience getting to talk to someone who you respect on a professional level, and it was a similar feeling when I got the chance to talk to Ernie Harwell in Lakeland about 13 years ago. We chatted about the MLB Fan Cave, the Tigers and Tony LaRussa, and he even provided me a few words of encouragement before he wished me luck and headed on his way.
So no, I didn’t get an interview with Justin Verlander, or get to make a video of learning how to defend myself on the mound with Rick Porcello, but I did get a memory that I will never forget.
There’s a current craze going on at youtube. People from around the country are making videos making fun of the things certain groups of people say. I’ve seen videos made about the stuff baseball players say, Italian mothers, people from Detroit, dumb girls and many others. Well today, the finalists of the MLB Fan Cave would like to share with you the stuff that we say. There’s a ton of inside jokes in there, but overall you can get a chance to see what we go through on a daily basis, and also see how close we’ve become. Click here to watch! After you’re done watching, head over to http://www.mlbfancave.com where you can vote for as many of your favorites as many times as you’d like. Remember, February 22nd is the last day to vote!
Now that Spring Training is officially under way for Major League Baseball, the 2012 season has finally arrived. Forget the 2011 season, the slates have been wiped clean for every team.
My favorite part about Spring Training is the conversations that always seem to stem from it. Every player is ‘in the best shape I’ve ever been in’, and every fan thinks that ‘This is our year to win the World Series!’ As nice of a thought as that is, it’s not usually the case for every team. Every team is rebounding from past issues, and dealing with recent departures, both via free agency and trades.
Reports through all major sports media outlets are eager to cover all the exciting stories, such as Buster Posey coming back from his injury, Prince Fielder coming to Detroit, and some guy who now plays for the Angels…I think he’s wearing number 5. It’s an exciting time for baseball fans, because for the next month or so, we all start off on an even playing field.
I’ll actually be flying down to Florida tomorrow, and plan on going to Lakeland to watch the Tigers practice for a few days. As fun as it will be for fans to watch Fielder hitting 400 foot home runs to right field and chasing Justin Verlander for autographs, I still think the coolest part of Spring Training will always be the amount of time that fans get to actually interact with players and other members of the Detroit Tigers. It was in Spring Training many years ago that I got the opportunity to talk to Ernie Harwell for about 15 minutes. It’s moments like those that make being a baseball fan completely worthwhile.
It’s fun to think, that at this time tomorrow, I’ll be walking around Joker Marchant Stadium remembering why I love baseball so much.
Unless you’ve been living in a hole, you probably know that the Tigers signed Prince Fielder to a lucrative nine year deal, worth more money than most of us could ever dream of. They signed Fielder to fill the vacancy created when it was announced Victor Martinez would be out for the entire 2012 season. It allows the Tigers to remain the offensive powerhouse they were in 2012, but what does it mean beyond that?
There’s a lot of complications to this contract, as I would imagine most 200+ million dollar deals do. The first issue is about where the Tigers should and will play Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera and Fielder have both been quite adamant that they do not want to be an every day designated hitter. Personally, if you offer me 20 million dollars a year, I’ll do whatever you want. However, I understand why they would rather not be an everyday DH. The solution? Miguel Cabrera will be the 2012 Detroit Tigers third baseman.
A lot of scouts and critics, from both major and local media have said there’s no chance Cabrera can be an adequate defender at third base, but it’s a trade off for the offensive numbers he’ll likely put up. After much thought and deliberation, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree.
Do I think Cabrera will play 150 games at third base, and have a fielding percentage of over .975? No, not necessarily, but I don’t think he has to, either. With some basic defensive adjustments, I think he’ll be able to smoothly make the transition back to third (remember, he was a third baseman when he came to Detroit). Cabrera has excellent defensive instincts, and had an excellent range for someone of his size. Take into consideration that he’s already dropped a bit of weight, and I think he’ll be okay. Realistically, I think he’ll play no more than 50 percent of the games at third in 2012, with the rest being about an even split between DH and first base.
The interesting question that a lot of people haven’t really been thinking about is what this means in 2013, when Victor Martinez comes back. Due to his recent knee injury, it’s going to be hard to imagine him being able to play anything besides first base defensively, and that’s not exactly helpful. Does this mean the Tigers will look into the possibility of trading Miguel Cabrera for what would no doubt be the blockbuster of the decade? No, I don’t think so. If you give Cabrera the opportunity to train in all of the offseason, I think you give him a much more fair chance of getting himself ready to be an every day third baseman, and you let Martinez continue to DH. When you have as much talent as the Tigers currently have, it’s a good problem to have.
And for those of you who don’t understand the title of the blog, it’s a reference to Tigers television color commentator, Rod Allen, and what he says every time Cabrera makes a highlight worthy play.
Why do I love baseball? How much time do you have to listen?
Baseball, it’s America’s national pastime. It’s the roar of the crowd, the smell of hot dogs and honey roasted almonds. There’s something about sitting in the stands at a baseball game that is hard to describe. For a moment in time, nothing else really matters. From the guy sitting near you that has had one beer too many, the hot dog vendors trying to make a sale, or seeing a sold out stadium giving a standing ovation…not much else compares.
I love the mental part of the game. As a pitcher, you try to out think the hitter who has spent hours analyzing your pitching sequences in certain situations. There’s nothing like watching a pitcher stare down a runner who is leading off on first base, almost daring him to steal. There’s the high and inside fastball, serving a purpose without violent intent. It’s also the little things, like sacrificing a runner to second in the bottom of the 9th inning to put the winning run in scoring position.
A very underrated aspect of baseball is the camaraderie of teammates. If you’ve ever played baseball, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Through the course of a season, teammates become like extended members of the family. You may not always get along off the field, but on the field you’ll do anything you can to support them (much like the scene in Major League where Dorn confronts Vaughn on the mound after he found out Ricky had slept with his wife, only to give him encouragement to strike the next guy out).
The history of the game is something that will always remain important to baseball, because much like other things, the past will always help shape the future. It creates such fun conversations as ‘Who would you rather have on your team, Babe Ruth or Miguel Cabrera?’ The characters and historical events in the past have made baseball what it is today. It’s moments like Lou Gehrig addressing Yankee stadium to thank fans and claiming to be the luckiest man on the face of the Earth that transcends baseball from being so much more than a game.
However, the reason I love baseball the most, is the reason why I fell in love with it in the first place. Baseball (more specifically Detroit baseball) was always a mean of family bonding in my house growing up. My dad, brother, great uncle and myself would attend numerous games when I was a kid (including opening day for many years). How many parents would allow their child to get out of school early to go to a baseball game? I don’t know, but the answer should be a lot higher than it probably is. Even to this day, we still have parties where aunts, uncles and grandparents come over to watch the Tigers, and for a couple hours we scream, laugh, cry and celebrate together.
So on Valentine’s Day, when I ask myself why do I love baseball so much, it really comes down to a simple math equation. Baseball equals family, and family equals love. Vote for me to be on the MLB Fan Cave, and I’d be honored to share that love of baseball with you.
Fans can vote til February 22nd at http://www.mlbfancave.com