Among the Cave Dwellers

The MLB Fan Cave promotes a terrible, terrible version of fandom
Share |
The vacant fan cave

Vacant Fan Cave photo by Pete Beatty

Just a few weeks ago, the Manhattan storefront that doubles as the MLB Fan Cave was a sad and vacant and lonely and empty and despairing place. Now it has a slide, a pool table, a wall made of “1,300 baseball skins from Rawlings,” thousands of inches of high definition television screen space, and nine residents competing in a vague reality show that nobody knows the rules to or the benefits of winning. What we do know is that eight of those nine residents (the MLB-approved term for them is Cave Dwellers™) will be eliminated over the course of the season, leaving one fan champion.

What made last year’s two-person Fan Cave experiment so interesting was the pure endurance and loneliness of it. The very concept of a dude and his friend sitting in a storefront watching every single baseball game had an Alfred Hitchcock Presents feeling about it. It was an unlikely blend of creepy voyeurism and Veeckian publicity stunt. Sure, all they did was watch baseball in a lavish room with all kinds of unnecessary amenities, but there was something impressive about the singular focus of a life spent  doing so at the expense of everything else.

This year’s competitive version of the Fan Cave is just a cumbersome attempt to further commercialize last year’s Fan Cave, which was obviously already a plenty commercial endeavor. The nine fans are mostly loud, amateur-comedian types who wear a lot—a lot—of MLB merchandise. “Rep your team” seems to be the guiding principle, supported by a regimen of heavy-handed joke-telling, crazed gesticulations, and uncommonly aggressive demonstrations of pride. Pride itself is a big deal, especially in each competitor’s team and own level of fandom. In one clip on MLB.com, a Cave Dweller™ even brags about being the first fan shown in an MLB commercial campaign about superfans.

The Fan Cave’s attempt at bottling this fervor in a single room is its greatest failure. Full, 24/7 immersion, despite MLB’s insistence otherwise, is not the only way into baseball. Insufficient schwag and insufficient technology do not lead to insufficient fandom. With its sponsored sections (e.g. “Pepsi Porch” and “State Farm Rooftop”), its giant scoreboard, its Times Square-sized wall of televisions, the Fan Cave feels like a not-so-subtle jab at the relative puniness of the laptop on which I watch games, not to mention the world’s rabbit-eared garage television sets and portable radios. But puniness is okay, and so is stepping away every once in a while. Most people don’t want to be fully immersed. If they are like me (and here I state unabashedly that I love baseball a lot), they find the fetishization of superfans and obsessives to be a little off-putting and creepy. (I’m reminded of ESPN’s Stump the Schwab, possibly the most frightening television show of all time to a young sports fan who recognizes a sliver of his own nerdy curiosity in the Schwab’s menacing intonations.)

In their quest to stave off elimination, the Cave Dwellers™ become the players in a competition far less interesting than baseball (less interesting, even, than Stump the Schwab). The problem with this—beyond the fact that it’s a competition one step removed from the actual competition—is that fandom should not be a prescriptive act. There is no right or wrong way to appreciate baseball, just as there is no right or wrong way to appreciate a painting. To fetishize a certain type of fandom is to do so at the expense of every other type of fandom.

The Fan Cave also furthers a bunch of stupid myths about fandom at large. The first one is that there is something inherently productive about rooting for a team. It’s nice that Johnny from Belleville, Illinois really wanted the Cardinals to win the World Series and cheered really hard and wore a Yadier Molina jersey every day in October, but it’s not why the Cardinals won. Teams do benefit from a good fanbase in the collective sense, but as individuals our agency is limited. We’re not on the field.

The second myth is that individual fandom is measurable in the volume of cheers, the number of caps owned, the amount of trivia spouted off, or the total hours spent at the ballpark. This line of thinking is antithetical to the nature of enjoying something. Tabulating acts of devotion negates the creative expression of those acts and the people who perform them: the ones crafting signs, wearing costumes, and starting blogs. It also feeds into the endless and pointless debate over whether a city has good or bad fans, whether it has fair-weather fans, whether its fans appreciate certain players to a sufficient degree etc.

The third myth is that fandom is noble. The MLB Fan Cave concept props up its nine Dwellers™ as aspirational figures, the types of fans that a guy like me or a girl like you should strive to be. They are not fans, but corporately validated superfans. According to MLB, they take the game (a game!) more seriously than we do, express themselves more furiously, and engage in their teams and in baseball on a more awesome level. But fandom is not a moral act. Rooting for a specific team is not staking a moral position any more than is being born in a particular city, liking a band, or wearing a striped shirt. Cubs fans might be long-suffering, but they are not exactly suffering.

Fandom is just fandom. If you go to ballgames alone, sit quietly, keep score with diligence, and then go home, that’s great. If you pore over fantasy baseball minutiae for hours each day, that’s great too. If you write treatises on labor politics in 1870s baseball, that’s also great. There are infinite versions of the great baseball fan. There are infinite ways in and out of your own personal fan cave.


Share |

Comments

We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. Great work.
cambridge airport transfers

It’s very informative and you are obviously very knowledgeable in this area. You have opened my eyes to varying views on this topic with interesting and solid content. Actually I read it yesterday but I had some thoughts about it and today I wanted to read it again because it is very well written.
Mobile Phone Airtime

Very interesting blog. Alot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definately interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know.
Web Design Colchester

Very interesting blog. Alot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definately interested in this one. Just thought that I would post and let you know.
Web Design Colchester

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us.
wedding planner in tuscany

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us
Online Marketing Houston TX

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us
Online Marketing Houston TX

It is great to have the opportunity to read a good quality article with useful information on topics that plenty are interested on.I concur with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your future updates.
Fort Worth Child Support Attorney

You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work.
Fort Worth Traffic Violations Attorney

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us.
we buy all vehicles and cars

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us.
we buy all vehicles and cars

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us.
we buy all vehicles and cars

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us
we buy all vehicles and cars

It is great to have the opportunity to read a good quality article with useful information on topics that plenty are interested on.I concur with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your future updates.
Porcelain Veneers Houston

It is great to have the opportunity to read a good quality article with useful information on topics that plenty are interested on.I concur with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your future updates.
Porcelain Veneers Houston

Very exciting to study this content.I would like to thank you for the initiatives you had created for composing this amazing content.
Emergency Dental Houston

Very exciting to study this content.I would like to thank you for the initiatives you had created for composing this amazing content.
Emergency Dental Houston

Very exciting to study this content.I would like to thank you for the initiatives you had created for composing this amazing content.
Emergency Dental Houston

This content is written very well. Your use of formatting when making your points makes your observations very clear and easy to understand. Thank you! home ac service spring tx

You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work.
Commercial Post Lights

You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work.
Commercial Post Lights

Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it,you are a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and may come back very soon. I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great job, have a nice weekend.
Victorian Lamp Posts

You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work. ac repair spring

The article has actually peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your web site and maintain checking for brand new information.
West University Window Washing Houston

Really great post, Thank you for sharing This knowledge.Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up! ac repair conroe texas

Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it,you are a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and may come back very soon. I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great job, have a nice weekend.
Window washing Houston

A very awesome blog post. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. Austin traffic lawyer

such an interesting article here Afatogel.com Bandar TerbesarSitusTogel Online Terpercaya. I was searching for something like that for quite a long time and at last I have found it here. Suspended License Attorney Austin

Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking about writing a very comparable post over the last couple of weeks, I’ll probably keep it short and sweet and link to this instead if thats cool. Thanks
capannina

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article
Web Design Colchester

Through this post, I know that your good knowledge in playing with all the pieces was very helpful. I notify that this is the first place where I find issues I've been searching for. You have a clever yet attractive way of writing.
Web Design Colchester

This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging. Looking to reading your next post.
argan oil psoriasis

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us.
argan oil reviews

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us.
argan oil reviews

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us.
hot escorts Vienna

Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts. Thank you for sharing great information to us.
hot escorts Vienna

Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I genuinely enjoyed reading it,you are a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and may come back very soon. I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great job, have a nice weekend.
Kantenschoner

Actually I am not habituate to reply a comment on blogs but this blog caught my attention and I am compelled to write a comment here to express my gratitude to you. I would like to appreciate for this awesome work.
japan used car

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. Therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.
import cars from japan

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. Therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.
import cars from japan

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. Therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.
import cars from japan

wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated.
japanese used car auction

wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated.
japanese used car auction

I must say that a succesful family owned business in this day and age is a very refreshing sight ! As well as this is a very refreshing site.
white widow

I must say that a succesful family owned business in this day and age is a very refreshing sight ! As well as this is a very refreshing site.
white widow

Through this post, I know that your good knowledge in playing with all the pieces was very helpful. I notify that this is the first place where I find issues I've been searching for. You have a clever yet attractive way of writing.
autoflowering seeds

Through this post, I know that your good knowledge in playing with all the pieces was very helpful. I notify that this is the first place where I find issues I've been searching for. You have a clever yet attractive way of writing.
autoflowering seeds

Through this post, I know that your good knowledge in playing with all the pieces was very helpful. I notify that this is the first place where I find issues I've been searching for. You have a clever yet attractive way of writing.
autoflowering seeds

Through this post, I know that your good knowledge in playing with all the pieces was very helpful. I notify that this is the first place where I find issues I've been searching for. You have a clever yet attractive way of writing.
autoflowering seeds

Actually I am not habituate to reply a comment on blogs but this blog caught my attention and I am compelled to write a comment here to express my gratitude to you. I would like to appreciate for this awesome work.
kush seeds for sale