Monday, September 9, 2013

July 16- 2013 National League All-Star

Depending on who your team is, the 2013 Major League Baseball All-Star Game could be considered a rousing success or an absolute failure. The American League team relied upon small ball and tough pitching to notch a 3-0 victory over the National League team and won the rights to home field advantage in the World Series. Even though the win for the AL side made me incredibly happy for the sake of being an Oakland Athletics fan, I will admit the game was pretty boring. Actually, to be honest, this year’s mid-summer classic was the first one I haven’t watched since the NL beat the AL 2-0 at the All-Star Game hosted at the Coliseum back in 1987. For 25-straight years I had tuned in to watch the best in the game slug it out every summer until finally it came to an end du to the fact that I had to work. The All-Star game has always been my personal Super Bowl if you will, a one day test to see whose league was the most dominant. Prior to the 2003 All-Star Game there was never really much incentive for winning, but it was still fun to watch. The one thing that has always separated the MLB’s All-Star game format to the other major sports is that the players can’t play half-ass. I suppose if a pitcher really wanted to throw 90 MPH fastball right down the middle to allow home runs he could, but I highly doubt you’ll ever see it, or I doubt you’ll ever hear a pitcher admit it.

Baseball has always been my most consistent love. Whether I play it, watch it or just enjoy a comforting chat with somebody about it, baseball has always been there for me. Prior to this post I never wanted to admit that I had become some sort of a celebrity last season. Being the guy who has all of the team logos and mascots tattooed all over him may be a comforting label to some, but to me it has always been just a small part of who I am. Being featured in articles by Deadspin, Yahoo! Sports, Bleacher Report, etc. were just small steps that I had to endure to reach, what I thought was the top of the heap, the MLB Fan Cave; however, my experience left me somewhat jaded as I was eliminated before I was able to fulfill the one selfish request I had on my journey, going to the All-Star Game.

From the time I was first interviewed for any of the articles I was featured in my goal was clear, I wanted to share my love of baseball with the masses and bring in the next generation of fans. Years of watching games, studying the stats, but more important keeping an eye on media trends helped me come to the realization that the Fan Cave would have been a perfect platform to lead this mission. As my quest for the Fan Cave built momentum I continued to relay my mission statement over and over and over again to whomever would listen and to whomever asked. These moments included my interview process in Phoenix, Arizona during the top-30. Entertaining and educating others about the game of baseball was all I wanted, and still want to do. I know I’m being redundant, but I really need to continue to emphasize my mission. When finally asked by the executives of what I wanted for myself, the only thing that I have ever wanted for myself is to go to the All-Star Game. When asked why I stated, “I’ve always wanted to be an environment where fans of all teams come together to put rivalries aside and just enjoy the game of baseball with one another.” I also added that it would be a thrill of a lifetime to take a photo with all of the mascots in one venue, which ended up being the only thing that anyone really listened to. This was actually also a point that was brought up during our first day meeting at the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball back in March not too long after the nine of us who were lucky enough to be Cave Dwellers arrived in New York. Clearly the marketing team had been plotting to take me to the All-Star Game for the same mascot-related reason. So when it came to be that I was being sent home I was a little bit pissed off and heart-broken about what I would be missing. 

7/10/12- I was at my parent’s house in Bakersfield, California at the time of the 2012 All-Star Game. I had missed the Home Run Derby the previous night as I had instead decided to go to a Bakersfield Blaze game with my friend Toni (@condorsfan06) instead. In between the innings if the Blaze game I flipped through the Facebook pages of Ricardo Marquez, Shaun Kippins, Ricky Mast and Ashley Chavez to see how their trip to Kansas City was going. All of us were still on really good speaking terms at that time, but things were creeping ever-so-close to the edge as my anger and jealousy was starting to take over.

Prior to that night I had spoken to Ricardo over the phone once or twice since I had been eliminated. No one else really gave me the time, but we did converse through tweets and texting. I had pretty much given Kyle Thompson the finger for spreading lies about during my time in New York which ultimately got me on notice with the executives; however, I have since been told that it was actually Ashley who caused all of this in conjunction with Gordon Mack. Either way, I'm still not happy about the deception. Ricardo and had been trying to relay whatever bits of information he could to me as talk of a TV show staring me had entered the picture. Having not heard a single word from anyone but Ricardo on this matter I thought it was BS, and have still yet to get any solid evidence to prove otherwise. But even at that, we still chatted. The moment in which everything went to Hell was when I scanned through Ricardo’s Facebook page to see him surrounded by all of the mascots.

A few days prior I had let loose on Ricardo after he and Gordon had stolen one of my video concepts and made it their own. The concept was an Unsolved Mysteries video in which Adam Dunn had rediscovered his swing after a poor first year with the Chicago White Sox. The only problem was that nobody else wanted to help me make it, so it died. When voting started for the All-Star Game final vote Gordon and Ricardo teamed up to make a video on Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher Ernesto Frieri… in the style of Unsolved Mysteries. After dealing with that and now the mascot photo I had all I could take.

Not wanting to see or hear anything more about their trip to the All-Star Game I had decided to not watch it. I made an announcement about it on Twitter as well which saddened a lot more people than I had expected. I think I smoked nearly a full pack of cigarettes leading up to the game when I finally decided to not let my emotions get the better of me. I hadn’t missed an All-Star Game in 24 years, I wasn’t about to kill the streak then.

For those of you who weren’t following me then it’s probably for the better, especially if you’re a Texas Rangers fan. At times I have been a bit too outrageous on Twitter, but on this particular day it was a no holds barred war of words. During my American League All-Star cap post from yesterday I discussed how the Oakland Athletics haven’t had a position player make an All-Star team since Ramon Hernandez in 2003. This particular fact was something that I had worked my ass off to change when I made a campaign video for Josh Reddick. But alas, it didn’t happen. But some really cool stuff did result from the video. My beef for his absence was fueled even more by the fact that then-AL manager Ron Washington had stacked his team with his own players who really didn’t have the stats to be there in the first place. So, needless to say, I made Washington my target for when things went wrong, which didn’t take very long.

In a ridiculous bit of foreshadowing, San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval rocked a bases-clearing triple off of Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander after Milwaukee Brewer Ryan Braun’s RBI-double to give the NL a 4-0 lead. After Atlanta Braves’ second baseman Dan Uggla knocked in Sandoval with the next at-bat the score jumped to 5-0. I had been tweeting up a storm prior to the game, but the one thing I had noticed was that none of the other Cave Dwellers had said a thing. Actually, the last Cave Dweller tweet was by Kyle who had taken a photo during the National Anthem. Around the fourth inning I had finally tagged Ashley in a tweet about taking a trip down the Home Run Slide after Giants’ outfielder Melky Cabrera went yard. Still no response, not even a personal tweet on her end. The game continued with the NL pounding the AL and by this time my direct message inbox, as well as my mentions, had been flooded from people asking me why none of the other Cave Dwellers were talking. I responded as quickly as I could but the questions were still coming in. I had no clue why. What I ended up doing next was meant to have neutral intentions; however, what came out was taken as rude. My tweet basically said, “Why is it that I’m talking but all of the @MLBFanCave Dwellers are silent?” It wouldn’t be until after the game that my question was finally answered with Ashley, Ricky, Ricardo and Gordon unfollowing me and Ricardo giving an explanation to everyone saying that he wanted to put the phone down and just enjoy the game. At which I texted him a “well played, I know that was directed at me.” To which he sent me a massive text saying how wrong I was to do that, how he had always had my back, stuck up for me, etc.

I felt bad for what I had done. It’s not in my nature to attack people and I sent him a long apology afterward, and then about five or six more apologies after that from July 2012 through December 2012, none of which have had anything to follow. Even on the day when I survived a mall shooting and asked to talk to him to make amends I still got nothing. As time wore on I questioned why I even bothered to apologize to him.

I guess the reality is that I hate grudges. I realize how weird that sounds considering where I stand with Kyle; however, if he was willing to actually man up and reach out to me I would be willing to listen. You know, look a good Christian ought to, but I’m Mormon, we don’t need a reason, we just do it. Shaun and I have always been fine as he actually understood what I was getting at. Ricky and I made amends not too long after the shooting and I apologized to Lindsay Guentzel about everything I may have done to her in August of last year.

The reason I marked up this cap with that particular date is to always remind me of a few things:

1. The most important- watch what you say publicly.

2. Keep your ideas to yourself (still struggling with that one)

3. Be true to yourself

On the last day that I got to hang out with Ashley, Ricardo, Ricky and Shaun in New York I made a few simple (drunken) requests that, if anything, I wanted carried out for me; none of which was too demanding. All I asked was that they have the same amount of fun as I did and to share the experience with everyone the same way that I had. Being silent during the one day when all fans and teams come together was not exactly what I had in mind. But hey, I guess that's why I'm still looking for a job in baseball.

Hopefully that last little bit helps give a little bit more insight to why things happened they way they did last year and why I will always be there for the fans. Everyone I interact with matters.

As far as why I chose the National League All-Star Game cap to air all of this out; it seemed fitting that my first All-Star Game and the last one I watched during the streak were both won by the NL. In the case of 2012 the NL won by a final score of 8-0. Both games were shutouts.

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