Andrews will have plenty of company this weekend. Just 45 blocks downtown from the United Nations, Major League Baseball on Wednesday introduced winners of a competition for "MLB Fan Cave: World Baseball Classic Edition." These 16 Cave Dwellers traveled from five continents and speak eight total languages. They will watch every game of the Classic live at all hours of the day and night, each gradually getting eliminated when his or her country/territory is ousted from play.
The winners are Nic Connell (Australia), Pedro Carvalho (Brazil), Andrews (Canada), Yuning (Vivia) Wang (China), Chi-En (Adam) Wang (Chinese Taipei), Damaso Rosales (Cuba), Juan Sarmiento (Dominican Republic), Periluigi Mandoi (Italy), Kozo (Toshi) Sasa (Japan), Soo Yeon Seo (Korea), Mariana Patraca Dibildox (Mexico), Julia Bol (The Netherlands), Raul Rivera (Puerto Rico), Josep Juaneda Josa (Spain), Kelsey Shea (USA) and Tibaldo Hernandez (Venezuela).
"The World Baseball Classic is a logical extension of the Fan Cave, which has been enormously successful in generating entertaining baseball content for social media," said Tim Brosnan, MLB executive vice president of business. "So much has changed in the media landscape since 2009, the last time we held a World Baseball Classic. We have two of our great passions combined here together, and we couldn't be more excited about the opportunity it creates for baseball, and for developing baseball around the world."
"Rosters for each of the 16 teams are comprised of 28 players, and today you're meeting the 29th player," said Greg Bouris, director of communications for the MLB Players Association. "Each of these representatives from their country or territory is a 29th player who's going to add some support and some enthusiasm and passion."
The World Baseball Classic begins on Saturday with the first Pool A games in Fukuoka, Japan, and the first Pool B games in Taichung, Taiwan. The Cave Dwellers actually start watching inside the Fan Cave on Friday night, as the Australia-Chinese Taipei game begins at 11:30 ET.
Joining Brosnan at the introductory news conference was Miss America 2013 Mallory Hytes Hagan; MLB Network analysts and former Major Leaguers Bill Ripken (2009 Team USA coach in this event) and Dan Plesac; and former Major Leaguer Candy Maldonado, part of the ESPN Deportes broadcasting crew.
Hagan is a "huge baseball fan" who grew up in Alabama, recently relocated to Brooklyn and cheers for the Yankees. This is not the only baseball function where you will see her. She will be at Turner Field on Opening Day to sing "God Bless America," as the Braves are part of her roots with annual summertime forays to the Ted, and Chipper Jones was among her favorite players.
"Nothing brings people together like sport, and especially like baseball," said Hagan, resplendent in traveling tiara. "I couldn't be more excited to welcome the Dwellers to the United States, and more importantly welcome them to New York."
The fan representing Japan is hoping for a third consecutive World Baseball Classic title. Sasa got to shake hands with Japan's manager before leaving for America, and he said on Wednesday that "many people" ask him whether the turnover in talent from 2009 may hurt those chances. Don't count on it, Sasa said; he is expecting to also win a trip to San Francisco and see another title.
"Yeah sure, why not?" Sasa said. "I'm very proud to represent my country, and I want it to be seen by all baseball fans in Japan, and especially kids."
Worldwide applications were accepted at at MLBFanCave.com/WBC, where you can find out more about these 16 fans. They now will show their national pride inside the same 15,000-square-foot baseball playland at the corner of Fourth Street and Broadway in Greenwich Village, where fans have watched every game the past two years.
The goal for each of the 16 Cave Dwellers will be to watch every game of the World Baseball Classic live. Besides watching a ton of international baseball, they will meet baseball personalities and chronicle their experiences online through videos, blogs and social media. They will be able to interact via social media with some members of the teams they are backing.
Fans of the final four teams will travel to the Championship Round in San Francisco to watch their countries/territories compete for the World Baseball Classic title. Fans are eligible to represent any country/territory that they reside in or the country/territory of their heritage.
Shea, the Team USA representative, will be a familiar face to some who follow this stuff. She also is a Top 30 contender in the competition to find the fans who subsequently will occupy the Fan Cave from Opening Day through the season. She is a Cardinals diehard originally from Wildwood, Mo., and presently a blog manager for a startup company in San Francisco.
"It's just amazing to be in the actual Fan Cave," Shea said. "I've seen so many pictures and stuff. So it's so cool to actually be here, we're the first ones to see it this year. It's been great hanging out with all these guys and meeting so many people from so many places that share a passion for baseball."
Once again, a group of Cave Dwellers will occupy the building starting Opening Day with the goal of watching every game of the season, hoping to be crowned champion at the World Series just like Giants fan -- and current MLB.com staffer Ashley Chavez -- was in 2012. Winners of those top 30 contestants will be announced soon, but first comes this World Baseball Classic version.
Thirty-nine games will be played in seven venues in four nations and territories from Saturday through March 19, with MLB Network serving as exclusive English-language broadcast partner. Semifinal and final games will be March 17-19 at AT&T Park, hosted by the Giants. Second-round games will be March 8-12 at the Tokyo Dome and March 12-16 at Marlins Park in Miami. First-round games will be Saturday through next Wednesday in Fukuoka, Japan; Saturday through Tuesday in Taichung, Taiwan; March 7-10 in San Juan, Puerto Rico; and March 7-10 at Chase Field and Salt River Fields in Phoenix.
"I live in Sydney, a 22-hour flight," Connell said. "I couldn't come from farther away and be happy to stay in touch. We are 16 hours behind here in New York, [but] we get up at odd hours to watch MLB all year-round. It's great to be here."