In the belly of Greenwich Village lies a haven for some of the nation’s most avid baseball fans.

The MLB Fan Cave rang in its fourth season on March 30 with its Opening Day Block Party, followed by MTV 2’s Off the Bat. Envisioned as a platform in which all things pop culture – including our nation’s beloved pastime – find common ground, the Cave has become a one-of-a-kind New York City staple for popular bands, artists, and iconic celebrities.

“Along with the elites, our sport and athletes are just as much a part of pop culture,” says Tim Brosnan, Executive Vice President of Business for Major League Baseball(MLB). “Our mission is to talk to a new generation of fans who will stay with us for a long time – and they may not necessarily be an avid fan of baseball.”

Among the recent musical headliners to have graced the stage are Neon Trees, Aussie indie duo Atlas Genius, and Swedish remixer and DJ, Avicii. (During my visit, rapper Fat Joe was chilling out after a taping session).

The MLB has teamed up with MTV 2 to offer us a glimpse past the stats, highlights, and analyses to get a taste of the personalities and stories behind the players. This season will launch a new weekly show produced by All-Stars David Ortiz of the Red Sox.

The Cave Dwellers

Just a few days prior to the big day, staff workers swarmed the premises to get things ready for the Cave Dwellers, lugging oddball décor like mini marble Greek pillars and gilded sofas to their appropriate stations. In the “green room,” downstairs, a bathtub filled with plastic bubbles and koi serves as the centerpiece for celebrity guest hobnobbing. A shuffleboard sits casually outside of the bathroom. At the bar, a fish tank encloses six pairs of golden human hands cupped over – what else –  baseballs.

It just might be the poshest “cave” ever conceived, and this year, 8 diehard fans will call it their home during the 2014 season. Having fought their way through boot camp and 30,000 fellow applicants to win a slot as the MLB’s “social media ambassadors,” so to speak, the Cave Dwellers will attempt to watch every game of the season and chronicle their experiences on Twitter and Facebook. They’ll be getting further Hollywood treatment with appearances in short skits, interviews, and interactions with MLB players then and now.

Angela Lauren Yanez is proudly decked out in an orange Giants jersey, and for her, Cave dwelling means more than just representing her Bay Bombers. “I want to be a voice for woman fans,” says the San Francisco native, who believes it’s time for greater female representation in sports consciousness. “All of us are ultimate fans when it comes to our teams; I bleed orange and black.”

The Art Gallery

In conjunction with the season’s agenda, the MLB Fan Cave Art Gallery has returned to showcase the work of local artists who offer a unique slant to the baseball-pop-culture intersection. Painter and sculptor Karlos Carcámo spearheads 2014 with the first of 6 exhibitions which will take place at the Cave over the next 8 months. The former Queens resident has been a longstanding name especially in Downtown Manhattan, and received rave reviews for his 2012 Microphone Check solo show at Hionas Gallery.

On the wall were paintings done in his signature style: a canvas is first tagged with a name (in this case, a hip hop artist’s), then the graffiti is manipulated into panels which are then flipped for an almost unrecognizable end product. The untamed forms become patterns and abstract shapes, neatly confined within the thinly-paneled frames.

“Incorporating a tag name into graffiti is a formal element that mimics the relationship in society between the individual experience and the overall culture,” Carcámo explains. “How a DJ can sample music can also apply to art,” he says. “You look for a relationship to recontextualize [the music], and a lot of the process just takes over.”

The colors used were carefully chosen to simultaneously represent team colors and their hip hop artist advocates.  So, when you visit, keep your eyes peeled for some legendary names hidden within the design (Hint: What’s Jay-Z’s favorite team?).

Also on display is a series of popular magazine covers on which the multi-disciplinary artist collages everything from clippings of a dog, to traffic lights, to half of a laughing model’s face. And of course, we would be remiss without his standout Microphone installations, which channel the flow and overall dynamics of a hip hop battle in heat. Visitors can get an extra dose of Carcámo’s oeuvre at BRIC Arts Media House’s Art Into Music exhibit, running now until April 27.

For more photos of the MLB Fan Cave and Carcámo’s work, click here.

-Charissa Che

 

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