With its seemingly endless season, its three plus hour games and its sometimes strange rules and never ending parade of stats, baseball has long been a punching bag for the fast and loose generation. While other sports like cricket and even football have sought to find ways to speed up the game, basebal.s traditions take precedent and the season goes on at its own pace. It is certainly a challenge for the powers that be to find ways to effectively engage a get it done yesterday generation.
Yet for the shots it takes, there is probably no game still more ingrained in Americana than baseball. Its traditions fit the fabric of spring and summer like few other elements of Americana, and no other sport anywhere in the world can find ways to engage the casual and ardent follower or a night, a week or a year. It is perhaps the most ethnically diverse sport in the world, and has pioneered, ironically, many of the platforms for engagement in the gaming world that others use today. The length of the season is sometimes a liability, but it can also be an asset as a way to continually find ways for businesses to drive revenue and for fans to enjoy the pastime, whether it is on the Major or Minor League level. Still with the positives, the game remains challenged to find more inroads into pop culture to capture a young fan who understands and has played the game but may stray to other areas after adolescence and until he or she reaches a slightly older age.
Last week MLB launched a new initiative designed to enter popular culture and social media at another level. The cave, a storefront in lower Manhattan, will be a window to the world of baseball, where two applicants, Mike O’Hara and Ryan Wagner, from over 10,000 were chosen to not just use gadgets and gizmos to watch every baseball game during the season, but to also find ways to interact with a generation into hip and cool but not always into hits and runs. The Fan Cave will also be a great litmus test for technology involving the fan.from new games to the latest statistical app.to see what may have staying power and what will be more ho hum, all through the glass of a former Tower Records store on Broadway. Characters are welcome to come by, celebrities and those in town from the sports world will drop by, visit, expose their latest ideas and hopefully help the Fan cave become a key destination in the social media world. While the Fan Cave is all about baseball, i.s really about engagemen.engagement of the younger generation through any means possible. Shout outs from local or national radi. Sure. Tweet u.s for gea. Why not. A visit by Snookie or Kanye.or The Donal. Probably down the line. If there can be a tie to baseball and a chance to exploit an element of pop culture, the Fan Cave will have a shot.
At first glance purists will grimace, but the Fan Cave is not for them. Sabermatricians understand and are passionate about the nuances of baseball. What is needed and hoped for is for those who know but do.t follow the game to use it as a vehicle to get more involved. Maybe i.s a bridge for some generations to experience an aspect of baseball as popular culture between Little League and parenthood, when the value of the game really takes hold again. Maybe i.s more a test for the sport to see what its staying power is amongst a very hyperactive fanbase. Maybe it can serve as a real time platform to fulfill many needs the sport does.t have in toda.s cultur.edginess, string social mobility and the ability to make light of all its traditions 24/7. What it wo.t be is a disgrace to those who created it. The Fan Cave will be part reality show culture with lots of cross promotion, but it wo.t cross the line too far into exploitation or degradation. That would fly in the face of all the social barriers that baseball has worked to eliminate in its rich history.
So will this idea wor.? Will fans continually log on for a look at what goes on in the window downtow.? Will the hoists be engaging enough and the guests diverse enough to find a place in pop cultur.? I.s a long season, and such experiments usually work best in the digitized world of entertainment rather than the real world of sport. However one thing that baseball has oodles of is content, and to make any digital venture work content is king. So let the Fan Cave get rockin and le.s see what it can bring. Baseball is a great game, maybe this is the new way for the casual fan to reengage and reinvest in sport, even if it is in short stints and not nine innings every day.