Technically, I’ve been home for almost two full days. But when the week prior is full of sleep deprivation, stress, lots of travel, and busy schedules, the last thing you’re physically ready to do is write up a blog talking about said list.
I’ve caught up on sleep and am in a reflective mood, so let’s talk day two of the MLB Fan Cave trip to Arizona! If you missed the first part, you can find my recap here.
Day two started with a group bus ride to Surprise, AZ to do a couple video challenges. Little did we know what an amazing surprise we would actually get! When we arrived at the complex (it was a beauty!), we saw Rangers and Royals players taking batting practice in the cages.
Immediately, we were split into two groups to film our video challenges. I held down the fort for the men in my group, joining Royals fan Angalena Scavuzzo, Yankees fan Stephe Rodriguez, A’s fan Vanessa Demske and Blue Jays fan April Whitzman. We each shot individual 15-second promos with Sony Bloggie’s, before collaborating on a 30-second commercial for MLB.com/tickets for our mystery team (the Orioles).
Look for those finished products on MLBFanCave.com very soon! The real craziness began after we finished that challenge. I had heard rumors that George Brett was in Surprise earlier in the week, but figured he had left already. Then, wouldn’t you know it, but the Hall of Famer himself walks up to our group in full Royals gear and shakes everyone’s hand before going back to the scrimmage.
The fact that this 2013 MLB Fan Cave journey has already allowed me to shake hands with and speak to Tommy Lasorda and George Brett is an absolute dream come true. It keeps me grounded as the anticipation swells for the Cave Dwellers to be announced, that even if I don’t make it, nothing will change the experience I’ve had.
After meeting George, we headed down to the field itself and met up with current Royals outfielders Jeff Francoeur and Alex Gordon. The Royals are kind of my fan-crush team of the year (the team I not-so-secretly root for when the Dodgers aren’t involved — I picked them to win an A.L. Wild Card this season!), so it was amazing to interact with two of their most notable hitters.
I can’t tell you what we filmed or many details about the rest of the day in Surprise, because, well…it’s a surprise. That production should be on MLBFanCave.com fairly soon as well. I can tell you that George Brett, Francoeur, and Gordon were three of the coolest dudes I’ve ever met. Gordon was more soft-spoken, but clearly very confident in himself. Francoeur, or “Frenchie,” is an absolute goofball. We had a good time chatting about Bacon Tuesday in Oakland and how the rightfield bleacher creatures at o.Co Coliseum love him more than their own.
I took pictures with both of them, including this gem that spread like wildfire through the Fan Cave social media pages:
Yes, I can forever claim to be the guy who got photo-boomed (get it?) by a Hall of Famer. I’m honored! After the dream of an afternoon ended, we hopped back on the Fan Cave bus and rode it to the hotel in Phoenix. Many of the contestants were able to relax, take naps, and hit up the hotel happy hour before our last event. But I still had a panel interview on the itinerary, meaning I had to update you all on social media and then get to mentally preparing myself for one of the most important aspects of the week.
The panel interview is like any other job interview — except that everyone there has close ties to the top of the top in Major League Baseball. And there are at lest 10 of them there. And you’re in a chair in the middle of the round, surrounded by them. And you have no idea what they will ask and how they will react to what you answer.
Honestly, I didn’t get very nervous for this part of the process, because I’ve been through so many job interviews in so many industries before. It was a little bit intimidating that one person was firing questions while the rest watched and/or took notes. The anticipation of knowing what was on their notepads was killing me!
Without fully disclosing everything that was said in that room, I can tell you that I was asked a lot about my writing, my girlfriend, and a couple of questions related to personal experiences (i.e. “What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?”).
All in all, I came out of the room feeling good, though I was disturbed at the simplicity of the questions they asked me. As I look back today, I was likely just over thinking every last detail, but I still worry that they couldn’t figure out a unique aspect of my story to grab onto, hence the unmemorable interview questions. That could be a killer in the end, but when looking at my body of work as a whole in Arizona, I still consider myself a very strong candidate.
After that interview, the tough part was over. I went back to my room, got dressed up for a night at Lucky Strike downtown, and met everyone in the lobby about 45 minutes later. I must say, we all looked fantastic in our best business-casual comfort clothes.
The party at Lucky Strike was fabulous. We had endless, catered food that was all delicious, an open bar, and a chance to party with our fellow contestants and mingle with the MLB executives again. I had a few really good conversations with people I hadn’t gotten to chat with enough on day one, and strengthened my bonds with a lot of the other finalists.
At the end of the night, a strange mix of relief, fear, and confusion set in as I realized the whirlwind of a trip was officially coming to an end. When we returned to the hotel, I drafted and sent a very brief, but heartfelt email to some of the MLB executives thanking them for the trip and the opportunity I was presented with.
I figured if I waited until the next morning to send the email, I might come across as a suck-up, as they were evidently discussing the finalists that day. That couldn’t be farther from the truth, though — I really just truly appreciated everything I was given and the overwhelming week compelled me to thank everyone as soon as possible. Hopefully they received and appreciated my note!
After a few beers in various finalists’ rooms as we all wound down and discussed travel plans for home (as well as travel plans to visit each other!), I finally crashed around 3 a.m. The trip was done. It was a resounding success, and flying back to San Francisco the next morning left me feeling upset, as I wished only to be back in the hot tub chumming it up with 29 of the coolest people I’ve ever met.
Now we wait for our results, less anxious than we should be. It’s hard to be nervous when you have a family of support around you and an unending Facebook group chain sharing pictures, videos and experiences from the previous few days. No matter what happens, this is a Fan Cave family. It doesn’t matter how many times it has been said, or how cliche it is, because it’s completely true.
The people, the places, the players and the challenges we faced in two short days is unrivaled. Regardless of results, this will be one helluva baseball season, as I share it with a whole new group of obsessive fans. Thank you, MLB Fan Cave!
Oh…and remember when I promised you all the secret parody video? Here it is, in all its glory: