NEW YORK -- With 1,473 games watched and 957 games remaining in the regular season, the MLB Fan Cave just got a little roomier for viewing live Major League games.
MLB announced its second cut of the 2013 Cave Dweller cast on Tuesday, meaning White Sox fan Marcus Hall of Aurora, Ill., and Dodgers fan Aaron Roberts of Huntington Beach, Calif., are regular fans like everyone else again. That leaves five who will try to watch every remaining game and be crowned Fan Cave champion on the last day of the World Series: April Whitzman (Blue Jays), Ben Wietmarschen (Reds), Mina Park (Rangers), Travis Miller (Mets) and Danny Farris (Angels).
The latest cut means the National League West no longer has a Fan Cave booster, and that means there will not be a "repeat" NL West fan champion, following Giants fan Ashley Chavez's trophy presented by Will Clark at Game 4 of the 2012 World Series in Detroit. It also means it is time to ask the survivors to email their thoughts, and here's what they had to say about (A) what they've learned that they didn't expect when they applied and (B) what is guaranteed to happen between now and November:
Danny Farris (Angels), Garden Grove, Calif.
What You've Learned: "We're 1,473 games deep into the season, and watching them all at the MLB Fan Cave has been incredible. We've all learned a ton, but here are two things that stick out for me that I didn't think about when I applied: People either love or hate the DH, and people either love or hate Interleague Play. Many arguments have formed over these two topics that I honestly didn't give a thought to until talking baseball with people every day. Does that make me weird? Probably."
What To Expect: "What's also weird is that we only have a few months left in the season. I guarantee there will be some very exciting September callups who will be the difference between teams making the playoffs and missing the playoffs. I can't wait. It's going to be a fun ride."
Travis Miller (Mets), Red Hook, N.Y.
What You've Learned: "When I applied for the MLB Fan Cave, I had no idea how meeting players and my fellow Dwellers would influence my allegiances. I am first and foremost a Mets fan, but I love cheering for the Reds, as well as the Rangers. Even meeting players like David Adams and David Robertson has softened my stance on a rival team like the New York Yankees."
What To Expect: "Between now and November, there is nothing concrete that baseball fans are guaranteed to see. That's why we all love the game and that's why it's worth watching, start to finish. Sure, the Pirates could finish over .500 for the first time since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, and three NL Central teams could make the playoffs. But is it guaranteed? Not a chance."
Mina Park (Rangers), Plano, Texas
What You've Learned: "Before coming to the Fan Cave, I didn't pay too much attention to the National League. Now that I've been here and watched over half the games of the season, I'm much more invested in the NL divisional races."
What To Expect: "The Rangers will clinch the AL West despite anything Danny might say. I'll give the Angels a Wild Card spot, though."
Ben Wietmarschen (Reds), Cincinnati
What You've Learned: "Nothing is permanent. The minute you think your team will never win another game, they go on a six-game winning streak. Cincinnati started that streak started on May 10 after a real bad series against the Braves. And just when you can't imagine how they will score any more runs, they score seven in one inning. In my case, it was actually a nine-run inning against our biggest rival, St. Louis, on April 8."
What To Expect: "The one thing everyone is guaranteed to see between now and November is the Cincinnati Reds win every single game they play."
April Whitzman (Blue Jays), Toronto
What You've Learned: "When I first embarked on a journey to watch every single game, I really didn't know what to expect. Now that I've watched more than 1,473 games in the MLB Fan Cave, I have learned that no lead is safe. I've seen so many teams [including the Blue Jays] come back to win games, even down to their last strike. It has resulted in a soon-to-be Major League record of innings per season. We've watched a lot of baseball -- and we wouldn't have it any other way."
What To Expect: "I guarantee that a lot of divisions will definitely come down to the last few days of the season -- NL Central, NL West, AL West and AL East in particular. In fact, being a Blue Jays fan, I cannot wait to see how the AL East finishes. It's going to be an exciting last few months of baseball."
This is the third year for the Fan Cave at its 15,000-square-foot space in Greenwich Village. This is the second year for the nine-fan season-long elimination format, and several of those 2012 Dwellers currently work for MLB, including Chavez, a member of the MLB Advanced Media multimedia team. Mike O'Hara and Ryan Wagner were the 2011 occupants, and Wagner is now in his second season as Orioles public-address announcer at Camden Yards.