About a month ago Major League Baseball announced they were closing the Fan Cave, a weird den of brand marketing, viral video shooting studio, ‘Big Brother’-style reality show and occasional nightclub for league events, after four years of operation.
Lost in the history of the Fan Cave is how poorly its first year of went over with a significant segment of baseball fans; namely how it was only two guys, was launched with a bunch of Victoria Secret models hanging out on Opening Day, and the generally bro-tastic vibe presentation of the national pastime. In the Fan Cave’s second year of existence, Major League Baseball listened:
“We guarantee there will be at least one woman in the Fan Cave this year.”
I got visit the Fan Cave in that second year thanks to Yahoo’s Kevin Kaduk and Walk of Walk’s duo of Rob Iracane and Kris Liakos letting me tag along on their special tour, my curiosity two-fold; what was it like to watch ALL THE BASEBALL all summer long and how was the remaining female fan faring. It was already August by the time of our junket, and having to spend so much time always “on” between the live stream, social media and press sounded exhausting no matter one’s gender, but being a woman in a fishbowl can come with an extra undesirable attention.
Ashley Chavez was a delight and it was unsurprising when she went on to eventually win the 2012 Fan Cave contest. We had a good discussion about how sometimes as female fans we’re quizzed more so than our male counterparts to prove we’re part of the tribe, but she assured me her overall experience had been incredibly positive. (A discussion worth noting because it took one of my pals by surprise, it hadn’t really registered with him that if a woman starts talking about sports with strangers at a bar someone is going to eventually test her veracity as a fan, a sentiment also expressed by other female Fan Cave participants in later seasons.)
After the tour we settled in to watch a game (or a dozen with all the TVs going), enjoyed the perfectly calibrated chilled beer, and yes, even took a ride down the home run slide — ‘Cave Dwellers’ took to the twisty-slide every time their favorite team hit a home run — thanks to a Clint Barmes grand slam that sent all everyone in the house for a whirl in honor of my beloved Buccos. And while I am generally jaded towards marketing concepts built around “reality” competitions and forced viral videos, for that one afternoon I saw the appeal of spending an entire season watching baseball without a care in the world.
Limited appeal, as I was just as happy to make my exit and meet some friends in the Village for dinner and talk about something else other than sports for a change.