MLB All Star Fanfest, A Moderately Fun Time!

cnt_9130fanfestWith the All Star game tomorrow, there have been a ton of various MLB sponsored events around town. To take part in the festivities (since my press pass to the All-Star Game itself must have gotten lost in the mail), I headed over to the Fan Fest at the Javitz center on Sunday.

This was my first time ever at an event like this, so I wasn’t sure what to fully expect. When we arrived at the convention center, the simple act of buying tickets became a clusterfuck, as it took us a couple minutes to find the place where they even sell the tickets. Fortunately, while waiting in line a friendly scalper came by and sold us tickets at less than face value. Hey, thanks!

Tickets in hand, we could see the entrance to the event only a few feet away. Instead of conveniently walking through and getting into the fest, we instead had to walk back outside, go down some stairs, through a long snaking path, up an escalator, around a corner into another snaking line and then finally we came back to where we had bought our tickets and were eventually allowed entry.

Upon entering, we checked out the various items up for auction: some cool jerseys, balls, bats and other cool memorabilia for those of you with healthier checking balances than I. There were multiple a cappella groups performing around the area, which was totally fortunate since a cappella totally sucks. There was however a dope set-up of all the various hats of the minor leagues, arranged by team, which was very neat to see and there were some excellent hats.

We wandered around and saw all the trophies of baseball. Did you even know that the NL base-stealing champion wins the Lou Brock award? I didn’t. Apparently the AL guy gets nothing. Strange. The trophies were somewhat interesting, for example, I’d much rather, based on aesthetics, win the Home Run Derby trophy or the World Series MVP than the regular season MVP which is just a boring plaque.

Hilariously, they had some giant-size posters of players hanging from the ceiling. The ones that I noticed were from such current All Stars like Barry Zito, and my personal favorite, Kaz Sasaki. He’s only been out of the league since 2003, so I can see why they’d be anxious to market him…

There was a mini baseball diamond with some stands set up nearby, and when we went to check it out, Karl Ravech was hanging out talking baseball over the microphone with some fans. We got there as he was talking to a Dodgers fan who knew nothing about actual baseball. When asked by Ravech what was going wrong with the Dodgers, he answered that they weren’t getting production from their injured players (OK, I’ll grant him that one) but then he went on to say that they were missing Rafael Furcal, who would be winning the MVP, at which point Ravech laughed in his face. They gave the doofus a Jose Reyes signed ball for his time. Then a moment later, Reyes actually came out and talked with Ravech. That was neat, for a moment, but then since Reyes never says anything interesting whatsoever, we moved on.

From there, we spent the rest of the afternoon standing around waiting in lines. If you paid an extra $25 you could get a DHL speed pass thing that enabled you not to have to wait in line. It’s 1000% worth it, as we spent way way way too long waiting in lines for not particularly fun events. There was the “Steal Home Challenge” which was just a 90 foot race, (I lost, but I maintain that’s only because I’m in no way fast.) The batting cages were an hour plus line even late in the afternoon and the balls were these strange somewhat squishy balls and we got maybe a total of 8 pitches after waiting that long. Totally not worth waiting for.

There were only two lines that were worth waiting for; one was the Taco Bell free taco line which was a crowd pleaser, and moved quickly. We went at 2pm, 4pm and 6pm. Gross, but free; otherwise we could have enjoyed a $9 cheesesteak or any of the other overpriced food options, The other line I’ll get into in my next post, so stay tuned.

The pitching cages were another giant disappointment. Now, I’m no power arm guy, but when I’ve been to spring training games and thrown a real baseball, I’ve registered low 70s, high 60s. With these shitty, squishy, dog chew-toy baseballs, my first throw registered a measly 42. I managed to power up to a robust 51, but it was a waste of time waiting in line to throw essentially a Nerf ball.

The autograph line for the Hall of Famers who were in attendance–only Luis Aparicio and Dick Williams were there while we were–was over 4 hours long, and sure the autographs were free, but c’mon, I ain’t waiting that long for Dick Williams. Today and tomorrow though are the days when more of the legends will be there, so I guess it might be better.

Overall, the Fanfest was a disappointment. I was hoping the batting cages and everything would be significantly more exciting and fun. The crowds (sure it was a Sunday, but still) were large and waiting totally sucks, the amount of free swag was terrible, One of the more exciting moments was when we ran into Derek Jeter’s parents as we left the convention center. That interaction consisted of them asking us where to go to get in, and us pointing them in the direction. FUN!

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