With Mapes and Jeremy recently finishing their second annual Jersey Draft on our blog, we decided another part of the uniform needed a little love. This year, the 30 MLB teams all received new Spring Training hats, and we got everyone in on the action.
The five of us all partook in six rounds of hat drafting this week. To complete hypothetical collections, we tried to abide by the same rules as the jersey draft: Awesomeness of the hat, as well as general popularity. Some teams made massive changes to their caps, while some stayed almost exactly the same.
For context, we drew random numbers to determine a draft order and snaked through six rounds (which made sticking Jeremy with his least favorite cap at the very end, easy for the rest of the guys). Some teams had a home and away version, but we decided only one hat from any given team could be used to make sure all 30 were represented.
See how it went down below, with the draft results and brief explanations on each squad. After that, vote for the hat collection YOU would want!
Jeremy’s Team (@Jamblinman): I would like to start by sincerely apologizing to my Dodgers family for being forced into choosing the Giants hat with the last overall pick in the draft. These guys are sneaky, and knew they could stick me with it. Hopefully having the awesome Royals, Padres, and Pirates in my collection takes some sting out of it. My first overall pick, the Reds road hat is the best of the bunch, anyway!
Brian’s Team (@GingaBeard_Man): Knowing that the Rangers was not real popular with everyone else I knew I could scoop it up in the later rounds. With that being said I wanted to go for style with my first few picks and I really liked the Mets hat, it was my second favorite hat only behind the Reds road hat. The Rays hat shows all the teams colors while featuring the new logo and further distancing themselves from the old Devil Rays name. Hopefully my first two picks make up for the Nationals hat which I still think is a solid pick, it just doesn’t vary much from the hat they’ll use this season. I figured with my fourth pick it was time to take the Rangers hat. The Cubs like the Braves were always a team I watched growing up, they were always on when I came home from school so I couldn’t pass it up with my fifth pick. I felt I would have done a disservice to everyone else had I not left Jeremy with the Giants hat so I took the White Sox. It should be fun seeing him explain that other Dodgers fans.
Angelo’s Team (@GODF_TH_R): With my first pick, I went with the Mariners. This was also my number one choice of all the hats anyway, so it worked out well for me. I love the fact that they brought back the baseball with compass rose on it. I have been a Seattle fan since the days of Junior (I think we all were), so this hat brought back some memories for me. The Blue Jays hat is very simple but makes a huge statement. The maple leaf on the front shows MLB that Toronto IS Canada’s team. The first thing I tried to stay away from was any hat with a white front. Personally, I don’t think this looks good on a hat for game play. I do not like the Tigers home hat one bit, so I took the retro looking away as my 3rd pick. The color I have liked the most since I have seen it on any MLB jersey ever is the the brick red that Arizona uses. The D-Backs become my 4th pick. I like the Marlins color scheme now that its worn on me for a year. Again, went with the road because of the white front on the home. I was down to the Angels, ChiSox, and Giants for my final pick. Knowing that we could stick Jeremy with the Giants made my decision between two, and I wasn’t going to take a division rival…so Angels it is!
KP’s Team (@FalconKP): I tried to stay away from being a homer, but I liked the Brewers hat so much I had to take it first. That was quickly followed up with a steal of the Rockies’ hat in the 2nd round. I love the use of the mountain logo and think it’s definitely a unique look not a lot of teams get to have. The contrast of the red/white/blue on the Twins hat also had me quite pleased. Getting stuck with one color or pattern can be boring. Having not picked a ‘classic’ look yet, I went with the old-school looking Indians hat. The ‘C’ definitely makes a statement and I’m sure the Indians are trying to make a statement of their own this year. Yes, I dislike the Cardinals, but of the hats remaining at that point, it was one of the few that actually looked different to me. I’ll take it. That and the Phillies hat I ended up with was too similar to the Twins, but I’ll round it out nicely and hope they can bounce back this year as well.
Mapes’ Team (@IAmMapes): I thought I was going to get screwed with the last pick, but getting to take my picks together worked out. The Reds also would’ve been my #1 overall pick. The Astros new logo is fantastic and this was a nice alternative to their regular cap. I like the use of mascots in some of the hats, which is why I made sure I locked up the Athletics and Orioles next. The Orioles new logo is too nice. I made to sure grab the Braves next, just so I don’t miss out like I did in the jersey draft with Jeremy. I loved rounding out my draft with both hats from one of the greatest rivalries in baseball in the Red Sox and Yankees though I would buy their regular hats over the batting practice ones. Genius move by us sticking Jeremy with the Giants. He really strongly dislikes them.
Back in November, there was a deal for a Southwest Airlines flight from Hartford to Orlando for $190. There were two real options coming from booking the flight. Either I was going to be lucky enough to be in the MLB Fan Cave top 50 (or 52) or I was going to be lucky enough to spend five days with my grandma. Unfortunately for grandma, she got bumped to just a Valentine’s Day visit, but she couldn’t have been more understanding.
As I sit here in a nearly empty Champion Stadium at Disney’s Wide World of Sports, I can honestly say that this was the most incredible vacation and experience I’ve ever had. I had no idea what to expect when I landed in Florida. Would I be able to get field access? (sadly, no) Would the players even come talk to me? (strangely, yes) How quickly would I have to explain the MLB Fan Cave for them to do something? (I think I have that down to a science) Would they agree to do a video of any kind? (also strangely, yes) Luckily, I had some success keeping it short and simple. Plus, the phrase “Brave in the Cave” is pretty easy to remember.
Every day I came to the ballpark, I was one of the first fans to arrive and always the last one to leave. I think the players might’ve gotten sick of seeing me. The first hour of the first day, I was able to snag video endorsements from Cristian Bethancourt, Evan Gattis, and 3rd base coach Brian Snitker. I was off and running and never looked back. I couldn’t believe how nice everyone in the organization was. The key I believe is just having confidence, the worst they can say is no, there’s no risk with a ton of reward. General Manager Frank Wren was so nice and I thought was he said was hilarious.
Staying late also proved incredibly effective. There were promotional photo shoots going on after the workouts for Jonny Venters and Eric O’ Flaherty that turned out to be fantastic for me. You can tell that these guys joke around a lot.
Wednesday was the big day. The top 30 announcement for the MLB Fan Cave would be coming down after voting ended at 5PM. I knew if I was going to anything to keep momentum up and score some late votes I’d have to hustle.
At 8:30 in the morning I spotted ESPN’s Buster Olney doing a spot on SportsCenter. I knew I had one connection with him. I attended his “Going to Bat for Vermont’s Farmers” charity event last November. Surprisingly, no one was around. I went up to him, explained that I had gone to the event and that I was in the top 52 for the MLB Fan Cave. He said that he tries to stay out of those things, but because I had gone to the charity event and was a fellow New Englander, he’d throw his support behind me. I couldn’t even believe it.
While Olney was doing his taping for SportsCenter, I spotted Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez walking alone through the ballpark. I quickly ran down and just started yelling “Fredi!”, he looked over, and I have my now patented quick Fan Cave spiel. He was happy enough to oblige, even though as he said “doing this stuff really isn’t my thing.”
Finally on Wednesday, just two hours before the deadline, Braves star pitcher came out for a promotional photo shoot. I had brought a new Braves hat to Orlando with me in hopes that Meds would break it in. He was nice enough to!
I got the video up with 90 minutes of voting time to spare and put it on Twitter. It was retweeted by the Braves, Jason Heyward, and Paul Maholm.
The Medlen video was the final piece in the puzzle that advanced me into the top 30 for the MLB Fan Cave. I yelled in the middle of an empty Champion Stadium because I was so excited and honored to make it to the next round. Well the stadium was empty except for the grounds crew, who think I’m crazy.
When the top 52 announcement came down, Braves pitcher Paul Maholm was nice enough to retweet the news without me even asking. I contacted him through Twitter and then talked to him Tuesday about pulling off a creative video. He agreed and “Paul Maholm Connects with the Mahomies” was born! It’s my favorite thing I’d done so far during this MLB Fan Cave experience. Maholm could not be a nicer individual.
There were a few players who weren’t comfortable doing a quick video, but were nice enough to sign cards for me to giveaway to fans on Twitter, including Craig Kimbrel and Mike Minor.
I did take one “off day” in Florida. The aforementioned Valentine’s Day with grandma in Daytona Beach. Even then the off day consisted of putting together a “thank you video” for Braves fans support at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. I even learned a thing or two, like Robinson wore #9, not #42 with the Montreal Royals when he played the first integrated spring training game on 3/17/1946.
The last day in Orlando, I wanted to take advantage of Tout, a newer social medium, that allows users to tape 15 seconds videos and send them out with tweets. I used it all week to get Braves fans a firsthand near live look at the goings on of Braves camp, with almost no delay on Twitter. It’s one thing to say what the players were doing, it’s even better to show them. I think Tout would be a great use in the MLB Fan Cave this season, especially to have fans on Twitter ask players questions and send them back personalized 15 second videos answering it. It would be a fantastic way to continue the growth and connection between players and fans in the MLB Fan Cave.
Which bring me back to the MLB Fan Cave. I’m so stoked to be heading to Arizona on Monday for the top 30. I’ve done everything I can for this opportunity and I hope that it shows. It’s been an honor to represent Braves Country so far and I hope to continue on for the whole MLB season in the MLB Fan Cave. Thanks again for all of your support from Braves fans, players, and management! I think they’re ready to kick me out of an empty ballpark again! Back to Connecticut for two day to repack and I’ll see you in Arizona!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Hey everyone! Three Up, Three Down is premiering by talking about the big news of the week: The Postseason Structure. If you hadn’t heard, Major League Baseball just expanded the Postseason to 10 teams and 3U3D is here to break down the pros and cons for you. We also dive into each division and give some relevant news that has happened this week, as teams are just starting Spring Training.
Sit down, grab some popcorn, and get ready for the first 3U3D Podcast of the rest of your life.
Thanks and I hope you enjoy it!