After a lengthy West Coast swing to start its second season, the hit MLB.com game show "Bucks on the Pond," powered by Ford, crossed the country and returned to the place where it all began last summer: Oriole Park at Camden Yards. This latest episode felt new, as well, because Major League Baseball Advanced Media welcomed a major sponsor for it and Frank Thomas is now helping us do the stumping.
"I love the atmosphere here, and being on 'Bucks' is another check mark in the box," Orioles fan William Beck Jr. of Columbia, Md., said after participating. "You come here, you have good people around, you have good food. You have the old Hall of Famers walking around all the time. My daughter was here not too long ago, and they got Boog Powell to sign a hat for her. It's just a great place to be. Everyone is positive here. There is nothing about this place I don't like."
Maybe it's the whole Bucks thing in Baltimore. You've got Buck Showalter managing a contender, and you've got a "Bucks" show-altering experience. All of a sudden, you can win some bucks to offset the cost of a day at a Major League Baseball game. What's not to like on Eutaw Street?
It was right there in that same location that Episode 1 was shot last August. Flanked by the Orioles Clubhouse Store, Denise Mitchell took fellow Shenandoah University student Roni Frye to her first game, and they got us started by banking $235. The 39th episode was released Tuesday and features a quartet of Orioles fans: Bob Ziegler and son Evan of Linthicum, Md.; Bob's girlfriend, Terry Jimenez of Ellicott City, Md. (same hometown as Mitchell); and their friend Beck.
"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.
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.
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. Answer correctly and you win, answer incorrectly and you lose that amount ... and it's another strike.
The Big Hurt, somehow comfortably crammed into the driver's seat of a Ford with the available voice-activated technology, asks the Orioles fan quartet this question: "This is a six-letter word for the white stripe on the pitcher's mound." You know it, but did they?
Did they win some bucks? Could this have been a classic "Bucks" walk-off grand slam and a great example of teamwork? Or mass confusion and strike three? Watch the show.
Topics covered in this episode included chemistry, 1964 Orioles, state abbreviations, music awards, baseball movies, Orioles stats, cable TV, geology, Roman numerals, sitcoms, Orioles managers, field equipment, "Star Wars" and The Eagles.
Evan Ziegler works with Beck at Northrop Grumman, the global security company, and his family typically tries to go to games on homestand Thursdays. Ziegler is a 23-year-old lifelong O's fan who said the experience of coming to Camden Yards just keeps getting better these days.
"I'm used to the Orioles kind of losing, so it's been nice the past couple of years with Buck Showalter, it's been great," Ziegler said. "I've been to another park, and this park, I just love it so much. I went to 25 games last year, and it's just an awesome atmosphere.
"The 'Bucks' experience was amazing. I'm glad we had the group we had. It was fun. I screwed one of the questions up, but we did well."
Beck, an Orioles fan for 12 years, said in an email to MLB.com that he "tagged along, as I love being at the game rather than watching from home." He said being on the show was "another chance of doing something fun with friends.
"We enjoy the Orioles and are excited for their accomplishments and look forward to their future," Beck said. "We decided to stay at the center-field bar area for the game. The view is great from center and the atmosphere is more relaxed for watching the game -- no people trying to squeeze by with full beer and dripping ketchup. I hope we were able to represent the O's fan base positively."
The "Bucks" crew has been to more than half of all Major League ballparks and is working its way through the full list. This was the fourth episode shot at Camden Yards. In addition to the Orioles, teams visited include the Angels, Astros, Athletics, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Marlins, Red Sox, Reds, Royals, Padres, 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.