As a lifelong Mets fan, Christina Meola would have to say that the biggest day of the season just happened on Tuesday, when rookie pitchers Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler each won his doubleheader start in Atlanta. After all, it was a glimpse of what could be for hungry fans like her.
But there was another day this season she will never forget. Meola was at Citi Field as part of a family of four from Bridgewater, N.J., along with her sister, Erica, mother, Fay, and father, Tom. They were celebrating Tom's birthday at a game, standing out by their beloved Shake Shack, when suddenly they found themselves starring in the hit MLB.com game show "Bucks on the Pond," powered by Ford.
Episode 15 was released on Thursday, marking the show's first visit to Citi Field in the 44 overall episodes since "Bucks" began late last season. In fact, this marks the fifth consecutive "Bucks" episode that represented a first visit to that ballpark, bringing to 21 the number of Major League Baseball stadiums where fans have had a chance to at least cover the cost of their day at the game.
"We're all born and raised Mets fans, so you could definitely say that supporting the Mets is important to us," said Christina, who studies finance at the University of South Carolina. "We try and go to as many games as possible and make sure to cheer them on. [But] while celebrating my dad's birthday and having a chance to win money was great, it's always more exciting to sweep a doubleheader with two great pitchers."
While everyone knows how Harvey and Wheeler fared in their back-to-back outings, you will just have to watch Episode 15 to find out how the Meolas did.
"Bucks" is hosted by Jeremy Brisiel, and you might be a part of it this season when you least expect it. Fans at the ballpark interact with MLB.com's studio through the magic of technology in conjunction with game action inside. In creating a new experience for fans, MLB.com is giving people a chance to earn bucks while they spend bucks at the ballpark.
Contestants are asked a trivia question -- general knowledge and baseball -- on each pitch during a half-inning of baseball. Get the question correct and win money. Get the question wrong and it's a strike. Three strikes and you're out -- like two Indians fans in the previous episode.
The questions' difficulty and value increase with the number of outs in the on-field action: $5 easy questions to start, $10 medium-difficulty questions after one out, $20 hard questions after two outs. If the contestant lasts longer than the team's at-bat, they win the bucks in their bank -- like the Rockies fans who won 220 bucks in the Episode 13, our most recent winners.
Here's the new wrinkle: Cross the $100 mark during the show and it's time for "Say The Word," powered by Ford SYNC. You can wager any part of your bank on the next question, which is asked by 2014 Hall of Fame candidate Frank Thomas. Answer correctly and you win, answer incorrectly and you lose that amount ... and it's another strike.
"The experience was great," Christina said. "It's always fun to spend time with the family at Citi Field, but even better when there's a fun way to win money. Playing 'Bucks on the Pond' gave us something fun to do as a family and put us in great mood to watch such an exciting game.
They all wore Mets t-shirts for the occasion, the ladies in black and the birthday pop in blue. Erica had the idea to make it a birthday at the park. No one could have known that the trip would include starring on Mets.com right now.
"My idea. But [dad] pays," she said of their day at Citi Field.
Topics covered in Episode 15 include state capitals, reality shows, continents, baseball stadiums, rock bands, children's books, Mets home run leaders, units of measurement, animal species, "Transformers," Snooki, inventors, baseball positions, 1986 World Series and "Goodfellas."
The most priceless moment comes when they field the World Series question. Who did the Mets vanquish in seven games to clinch their last world championship?
"Come on, you know that," Tom tells his daughters.
"We weren't alive!" Erica replies.
He provides Christina with the correct answer to relay and then says: "More Met questions."
"I was excited," Christina said. "I love trivia. And I love money. So why not?"
Recommendations for future "Bucks" contestants?
"Eat your Wheaties," she said. "Have someone with you who's a sports fan, because they come through in the clutch, as they say."
In addition to the Mets, teams visited by the "Bucks" crew include the Angels, Astros, Athletics, Cardinals, Cubs, D-backs, Dodgers, Giants, Indians, Marlins, Orioles, Red Sox, Reds, Rockies, Royals, Padres, Pirates, Tigers, White Sox and Yankees. Bookmark MLB.com/bucks and be on the lookout for the "Bucks" crew at your ballpark.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.