The 50 MLB Fan Cave finalists are out there campaigning heavily while fans are voting on their favorites between now and Feb. 22. In addition to their original video submissions, the finalists are trying to reach the next step, when MLB sends the top 30 to Spring Training in Arizona to decide on an Opening Day cast for the 2012 MLB Fan Cave experience.
"The number and quality of submissions this year far exceeded our expectations," said Tim Brosnan, MLB executive vice president of business. "It was great to see so many passionate and entertaining baseball fans who want to be part of something special at the Fan Cave, and it was definitely difficult to decide on the top 50. Now it's time for them to get out there, campaign for votes, and earn a trip to Spring Training."
Consider Ricardo Marquez, a self-described "26-year-old failed comedian from Los Angeles, California." After saying in his original entry that he doesn't need "cheesy gimmicks or cameos from MLB players," the Angels fan went above and beyond this past weekend by traveling to San Diego State University to film a video promoting his campaign which included appearances by Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, Tony Gwynn Jr., Strasburg, Bruce Billings and Erik Castro.
Or consider the Dos Equis video spoof of 23-year-old Dan Sharp of Hammonton, N.J. -- "a Phillies fan Yankees fans love." He received retweets from celebs and media, including Michael Barkann (host of Philadelphia Daily News Live and radio host of "Mike & Ike"), Philip DeFranco (YouTube vlogger and host of the Philip DeFranco Show, which has 1.9 million subscribers), CBS Philly and Phillies pitcher Vance Worley. Stories are piling up.
The official website for 50 Cent promoted the Fan Cave and endorsed Yankees fan Greg Ruisi. "Thanks for the support," Ruisi tweeted back.
Ben Christensen, an A's fan and University of Oregon student, appeared on a local CBS/FOX affiliate -- earning him national attention as the NBCSports.com "Off The Bench" blog picked up his story today. Yahoo Sports let him explain his 30 MLB mascot tattoos, too.
Giants fan Ashley Chavez received Twitter support from Ashkon, the local San Francisco celeb whose YouTube video became a key part of the Giants' 2010 title season. The Giants also promoted the three Giants finalists on their Facebook page.
Amie Matthews, an Indians fan in Pittsburgh, received tweets from members of the Tribe, including manager Manny Acta, pitcher Chris Perez and second baseman Jason Kipnis. She also had a story posted on the front page of the Elmira City School District site and the front page of the Elmira Star-Gazette.
Eddie Mata has received Twitter endorsements from actors Arnold, Lou Diamond Phillips, Andrew Dice Clay, Kevin Brown, movie critic Ben Lyons, Laura Posada (Jorge's wife), Acta, Chuck Knoblauch, David Robertson, Dante Bichette Jr., Bill Hall, Brett Wallace, Daniel Hudson, Dee Gordon, Ozzie Guillen Jr., Rob Ciclementi (Phillies clubhouse assistant), Geoff Blum, Gary Matthews Sr., Josh Lueke and Dallas Latos (Mat Latos' wife).
Christy McGaugh told ArizonaSports.com that her favorite D-backs club lent a helpful hand in her candidacy, giving her a spot in the Digital Clubhouse at D-backs FanFest, so she could meet fans and interact with players and coaches. "I thought it was great of the D-backs to set me up," McGaugh said. "They were super-helpful. They were so accommodating and wonderful."
Marquez's fellow Angels nominee, Matthew James, was scheduled to do an interview with Angels Radio this week. He received Twitter endorsements from Angels announcer David Courtney, Anaheim Ducks announcer Phil Hulett and musician Riley Breckenridge.
Pro wrestler and Angels fan Joseph Meehan got his story posted on PWInsider.com, a pro wrestling site, and received a tweet from WWE Champion CM Punk, who has about 622,000 followers.
Cardinals fan Nick Straatmann's hometown paper, The Missourian, devoted a front-page lifestyle story this weekend to his campaign. The big headline says: "Send Him to the Fan Cave."
Another Cardinals fan, Kyle Thompson, will be an in-studio guest for the entire morning Wednesday on local ESPN affiliate KXCA 1380 The Ticket. He also appeared on Oklahoma News 9 for a video interview and had an article published in the Lawton Constitution. He has been tweeted or retweeted by the likes of Dari Nowkhah ("SportsCenter" anchor), Robert Flores ("SportsCenter" anchor), Steve Weissman, Pedro Gomez and Mike Hill (ESPN), Kenny Albert (Fox Sports), the Astros' Triple-A Oklahoma City RedHaws, Mark Rodgers (WWLS The Sports Animal radio show host), University of Oklahoma Baseball, even The Oklahoma City Ballet and Metro Magazine.
Those are just some of the many examples. Watch their videos at MLBFanCave.com, vote for your favorites, and then look for them on Twitter, Facebook and beyond.
The 50 men and women include fans from across the U.S. and Canada. They have a wide range of backgrounds and occupations, including recent college graduates, journalists, bloggers, actors, musicians, a self-described "unemployed comedian," a made-up superhero, an insurance producer and a celebrity hairstylist.
MLB will select 30 finalists based on fan voting, quality of the original submissions and the ability of the contestants to generate buzz and interest in their campaigns.
The MLB Fan Cave is a 15,000-square-foot space on Fourth and Broadway in Greenwich Village, supported by MLB Advanced Media and currently being redesigned with new technology and interactive elements for its second season. It will be much different there than it was in 2011, when Mike O'Hara and wingman Ryan Wagner watched every regular-season game plus the postseason, traveling to All-Star Week and the World Series.
This time, MLB will begin Opening Day with a large group of candidates -- exact number to be determined -- and fans will be responsible for gradually voting them off during the season until one Fan Cave winner is left standing when the World Series champion is crowned. Their objective is to watch all 2,430 regular-season games and the postseason.