Thursday, October 20, 2011

MLB's Fan Cave - A Success?

Major League Baseball has announced that it will continue their Fan Cave for another season. Once again, MLB is having a sign up for two new cave men (this writer's term) to watch every single game next season. This MTV-like experiment is the latest in our modern world of our new social reality where an entertainment entity creates its own news by becoming the story. But is it successful? And if so, who is it successful for?

Let this writer ask any of you hardcore baseball fans one question: What are the names of the two guys who manned the Fan Cave this season? This writer couldn't name them before reading the above linked article. There is no doubt that Mike O'Hara and Ryan Wagner got the ride of their lives. They got to meet dozens of major league players and other celebrities. They got to watch the game they love everyday in ultra-cool style. And they even got great seats for the World Series. But like most reality television "stars," they never became household names and they are sure to sink back into relative obscurity once their run is over--not to mention that they will also be unemployed.

If you think of some of the great spots the Fan Cave did with David Ortiz and Nick Swisher, MLB did much to put a human spin on its players. But did you notice that they never show on those spots who the Fan Cave person is in those spots? Is there a name listed under Wagner or O'Hara in those spots? No. Clearly MLB has created an event that is not interested in its hosts, but in the event itself. Perhaps that's as it should be as the event will go on with new people watching the games.

But baseball could have created stars and they didn't. No offense to either Wagner or O'Hara, but neither bring much to the table in terms of charisma. MLB could have done a better job at picking unknowns who could become stars in their own right. Was this a conscious effort on MLB's part to pick mundane sort of people or did they simply miscalculate in their hiring strategy?

Saying all that, the Fan Cave has been a nice perk for Major League Baseball. Simply look at the number of followers on Twitter which currently stands at 47,200. That's an enormous number of followers. Contrast that with the less than 6,000 followers each for Wagner and O'Hara. And the celebrity mix of sports figures and other entertainment symbols have given the league numerous "hits" in the media not related to just the league's own network. Major League Baseball has created a venue that sustains the league in the news. Plus, as mentioned earlier, the idea as it has been carried out has brought a human element to the league's players. It was a lot harder to hate David Ortiz after his hugging adventure played out from those Fan Cave spots.

This writer is a bit jealous of Wagner and O'Hara. What a cool gig that would be for a year. But like those who idolize Henry David Thoreau and the lifestyle he espoused, it's not a gig for married men with families that depend on them. If you are young and single and unattached, by all means, go for it. We will envy you.

The Fan Cave has been a great idea for Major League Baseball. Whether planned or not, they did not get any star power from its hires of the two Fan Cave residents. That's a miss as far as this writer is concerned. But it was probably the only miss as the entire idea has been nothing short of brilliant for the league and its players.

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