MLB Fan Caver Mike O'Hara (R) asks MLB Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt, Rollie Fingers and Ozzie Smith some questions. - Andrew H. Walker
This past weekend, I had the pleasure to speak to the two Canadian MLB Fan Cave finalists, April Whitzman (@AlleyCat17) and Evan "October" Wansbrough (@theIsotopes). April and Evan are both in the Top 52 and it is up to you to send them to Spring Training in Arizona by getting them up to the Top 30 list. You can vote for either--or both--as many times as you want. Vote for April here and Evan here.
Voting ends this Wednesday, February 13 at . Both of them are tremendously strong candidates for the Fan Cave and it would be great to see them both representing the Blue Jays and the Great White North all year!
Conflict of interest declaration: April's a friend of mine and a fellow Blue Jays blogger so I am partial toward her candidacy. But there is nothing stopping anyone from voting both in!
First of all, why the heck would you want to watch all 2430 games in a whole season of Major League Baseball?
Evan Wansbrough: In my entire life, not a single baseball season has passed where we've been like, "Yeah, I watched enough games this season". It's never happened. But I've never watched 2430 games either, so I decided it was time to make it happen. #ManifestOctoberDestiny
April Whitzman: Baseball has always been a passion of mine. I was raised a devoted Montreal Expos fan thanks to my father. My favourite games were the Canada Day games featuring the Expos and the Blue Jays and eventually, I switched teams and started cheering for the Blue Jays. Easily the best decision I have ever made, though I will always miss the Expos. My baseball passion just continues with every passing day. Watching 2,430 games will not be an issue. If I make it that far, I really look forward to it!
How many games do you think you saw last year, live and on TV?
AW: I was working for the London Rippers, an independent baseball team, for half the season last year (the team folded early because of unforeseen circumstances). So watching a lot of the games was tough during the beginning of the season. That said, after the Rippers ended, I moved to Toronto and saw 27 games live and probably only missed two or three on TV. It was the same for me the year before. I was living in Halifax, NS, and still was able to get to 16 games. I watched easily over 300 games (mostly Blue Jays and Nationals) that year.
EW: Couldn't count the number of live games I watched on TV but it was lots. I have MLB.tv and I pretty much schedule my days around it during ball season. As for live games, I didn't get as many in as I should have. We've got the Canadians here--the Jays short-season single-A affiliate--and usually I'm able to get out to as many of those as I want, but I was out of town on tour with my band a lot this year and did get out there as much as I'd have liked to. I did, however catch my first game in New York City--Dickey's one hitter at Citi Field. That was a blast.
What would you bring to the MLB Fan Cave? Being Canadian, what do you think will make you stand out from the rest of the finalists?
EW: Well I'm no mathematician but we've got 30 times fewer MLB clubs up here, so with that amount of saturation per capita less than in the USA, it only stands to reason that by ratio I am about 30 times more of a baseball fanatic than anyone in the USA. You gotta understand it's not close to easy to pursue a hobby like baseball fanship in Canada, so to do it, we gotta really want it. And I want it. Aside from that, I can do more hand-clap push-ups and eat more tacos than anyone in the top 50. I'm not certain how those skills will come into play in the FanCave but I put my faith in the hands of the baseball gods to provide me with opportunities to use my gifts.
AW: I think it's really interesting they have never chosen a Canadian to make the final stage of the MLB FanCave. I'd love to be the first. I could be your typical Canadian: I could teach guests and other Dwellers French, how to curl, or just make 'em fall in love with my accent and fun-loving personality. I have yet to meet a baseball fan I didn't like, so I think it will be an amazing experience. As I also pointed out in my MLB Fan Cave application video, I am also an avid bowler, so I can continue throwing strikes the whole season and challenging whoever wants to compete against the Alleycat. In addition, what also helps me in this competition is that I already have a following. I think that will be important in this competition. I have nearly 6,000 Followers on Twitter all of which I would not be here if it wasn't for them. Their support truly means a lot to me.
Now obviously no experience matches that of being a Fan Caver, but what have you done in the past that would help you there?
AW: I spent the last summer working for the Rippers and it was a great experience. While originally hired to do PR, I also did game ops, photos, fan promotion, and activation and so much more. I really got to learn the harsh reality of the baseball industry. There's a lot more work that goes into it than I originally thought! In addition, I founded and operate JaysProspects.com where I have gotten the wonderful opportunity to interview hundreds of Toronto Blue Jays prospects. The opportunity with the website has been incredible as the prospects seem honoured to be able to share their story and in return, I am honoured to learn more about the baseball industry through them.
EW: I sing, play guitar, and write songs for an entirely baseball themed punk rock band that has toured North America. I've clocked a lot of hours in the baseball-entertainment industry, talking baseball with total strangers
So what is next for you if you get voted in?
EW: Well, first stop is Arizona for spring training so I better get a new pair of swim trunks and re-lace my Wilson A2000.
AW: I get voted in it will be a dream come true. The top 30 individuals are then sent to Arizona for Spring Training. If I make it I'll be truly thankful for everyone who voted for me, and I'll be able to keep doing what i normally do--talk and love baseball on a daily basis. There aren't too many baseball fans in northern New Brunswick or eastern Canada, so I joined social media to be connected with a baseball family and meet others that share the passion. If I make it to the next step, I just may have a larger audience, but regardless of what happens, I am already honoured for this whole experience.
What have the response been like from Twitter and social media on your campaign?
AW: It's been overwhelming I've heard so much positive responses that can't help but make you feel special. I truly can't thank everyone enough for each message and each vote.
EW: Twitter and media have been gangbusters. Lots of support and lots of new followers. Retweets and mentions are steady. Interview requests keep rolling in. Everyone I've interacted with has been really supportive of not only me, but the entire baseball punk movement.
What do you hope to get out of this experience? Are you considering changing careers?
EW: I think everyone in this contest at this point has aspirations of melding their journalistic or artistic endeavors with their passion for baseball. I'm not considering changing careers - I'm already doing what I want to do. I am just considering dropping everything I don't want to do.
AW: It's always been a dream of mine to be working in the baseball industry. I completed two degrees (a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of public relations) to get the education. It was always a dream to do PR for a baseball company. After seven years of education, I moved to London, Ontario to enter the 'real world' and took an unpaid PR internship with the Rippers. I was hoping that was my way into the industry. I learned a lot from game ops to fan activation, to PR to marketing but unfortunately the season was cut short. I then moved to Toronto and have been since working for a tax firm doing PR and marketing. Ideally, I'd be working somewhere in Canada for a baseball team. With baseball becoming more and more prominent with each passing day, the opportunities are sure to be expand as well. I'm looking forward to being able to break into the baseball industry, get my name out there, and at the same time, meet like-minded individuals who share the same passion as I do.
Do you have anything else you would like to share?
AW: Again, I wanted to thank everyone for their support. If y'all can keep it going, it would be much appreciated. People can vote as many times as they want so keep that refresh button handy. I truly hope everyone knows that if selected I will do my best to represent the Toronto Blue Jays and that this whole opportunity has definitely been a dream come true. Thank you also for giving me the chance to share my quest with you.
EW: Please tweet support at me @theisotopes using #MLBFC and #OctoberDestiny