Unless you live under a really nice rock and “watch” baseball games via some sports app that uses “in play” and “runs scored” to keep you updated, you have probably been subjected to MLB’s attempt to shove the Fan Cave down your throat. If indeed you have been so fortunate as to avoid the forced feeding, then please skip the rest of this article in order to remain in blissful ignorance of the Fan Cave. If MLB has somehow affected/infected your life with Fan Cave propaganda, then please keep on reading.
In its original form, the Fan Cave basically consisted of 1 poor unfortunate soul who was carefully selected (randomly picked) for his/her ability to watch a lot of baseball and interact awkwardly with baseball players and other famous guests. The Cave itself consisted primarily of a bachelor pad studio with a lot of televisions and flunkies who did everything possible to make the Fan Cave dweller not look like a huge moron on camera. Abject failure.
Moving forward, MLB decided that taking more of a reality show approach might be even more fun (albeit even less appealing). To wit, the current Cave involves way more than a lone stooge sitting in a studio, and by that I mean that the stooge has plenty of company. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective, the Cave dwellers can basically be voted off the island (or in this case, out of the cave). To bribe people into caring, the puppeteers at the Cave carefully coordinate using the @MLBFanCave account on Twitter to give away baseball collectibles of all kinds. Signed bats, autographed balls, and an opportunity to drive the Mars rover, Curiosity, for an hour have all been given away as prizes for Fan Cave followers. Okay, I might be lying about the last one, but that’s about the only thing I would be interested in getting from the Fan Cave. Moving on….
If you view the FC objectively, you will find that MLB has remixed Big Brother, Survivor, and Lost with a cast fit for Gilligan’s Island. Sure, some of the FC participants know a bit about baseball, but by and large they just appear to be really good at rooting for random A-list guests with D-list talent. They also have the originality of a thumb tack on Twitter. Since I obviously care little for the Fan Cave of Wonders but realize it just won’t go away, I have 10 relatively uncreative suggestions for ways MLB can improve the Fan Cave experience for everybody involved.
- Forget the self-made video submissions used for the application process. Anybody can come off as engaging and somewhat well-informed for 120 seconds. Do what America’s Got Talent and American Idol do and go with live auditions. Make it baseball’s version of improvisation night, and reward the people clever enough to have a “drop the mic moment” on live tv.
- Do away with the centralized Fan Cave. Think networked Fan Caves with 1 in each city. Connect all the Caves with Skype walls and smartphones. Imagine putting all 30 Fan Caves online at the same time. This decentralized approach makes it easier to bring in guests for short appearances. In Stl? Bring in Nelly. Got a Cave in Seattle? Get Pearl Jam. Chicago? Oprah!!!
- Get someone with a sense of humor to handle the @MLBFanCave account on Twitter. Bring the funny. Just bring the freakin’ funny, and people will flock to it. Want to increase your social media footprint and improve your Klout score, then make the Twitter account so good that people don’t care about the crap being given away.
- 2 am boot camp tricycle racing against mascots. Get R. Lee Ermey to show up at each Fan Cave, and have him scream at the Fan Cave recruits to wake their sorry, weak butts up and hop on a tricycle to take on an obstacle course against the local mascot.
- Forget the studio and loft approach. Think bigger. Think in terms of an actual cave. Make the Fan Cave participants do hieroglyphs using Crayons or something. If they want pizza ordered, then they have to communicate that using the glyphs. Need more toilet paper? Draw some glyphs.
- Put the athletes and other guests into really awkward situations. Last year it was Huston Street in NYC with the Fan Cave dweller asking New Yorkers whether or not they liked “Huston Street” and if they knew where “Huston Street” was. It’s funny, because “Huston” and “Houston” are homophones or something. It was also funny, because most people couldn’t pick Huston Street out of a lineup.
- Sell a DVD set of outtakes from the Fan Cave season. That time the guy in Miami has people mooning him from outside the glass cube? YouTube it. When the woman inside the Cave in Minnesota laughs hysterically while watching people put on a live performance of Super Mario Bros outside the window, focus on her real tears rolling as she cackles uncontrollably. That awkward moment when Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman are street racing in a Prius? Edit, burn, and ship for $19.99.
- Get Derek Jeter to visit a Fan Cave. Leave a “gift basket” in his limo. Sign the card “With love, Minka”.
- Divide the Fan Cave participants into 6 different fantasy baseball leagues, and align them with their respective team’s division. Take the winners from each division and put them in the playoffs. Also take the 2 highest non-winners in each league and put them in the playoffs and have them face off in a single game elimination, because that totally makes sense. Then send the participants to the actual cities for each playoff game, and make them bunk with the host Fan Cave dwellers.
- Work out a deal with some ridiculously inept sponsor like Hardee’s or Bud Light Lime, and just randomly promote their crappy products during really inappropriate moments. Need to pee at midnight? Don’t forget to turn on the light and grab a frosty one form the Fan Cave keep cold thingy. Be sure to remind everyone that you do indeed have a groove that has been slightly transformed, because everybody loves Summertime.
Of course, MLB could eliminate the Fan Cave concept altogether, but why stop doing what isn’t working? Yeah, that.
Follow gr33nazn on Twitter for more ideas about the Fan Cave.