The hit MLB.com game show "Bucks on the Pond" powered by Ford has doled out more than $20,000 to fans on the concourses of 25 of the 30 Major League ballparks over the past year, and the opportunity to be part of that made a meaningful ballpark date at Target Field even more special for Episode 31 contestants Nick Bravos and Moriah Bricker.
The pair met last fall as interns in Washington. Bravos is a lifelong Twins fan from Minnetonka, Minn., and Bricker is from Medford, N.J., outside Philadelphia. They suddenly found themselves trying to manage a long-distance relationship, and the "Bucks" crew made it a little easier as they were randomly snagged on the concourse during her visit to see him.
"To start, we both were really excited," Bravos said in an email to MLB.com. "It was her first Twins game, and on top of that, it was a fantastic night for a ballgame, so we couldn't ask for more. When we were first approached by MLB.com, we were a bit skeptical about what 'Bucks on the Pond' really was, but we soon realized what an awesome opportunity it was. It was quite a way to start off our night, and then we had great seats -- first-base line, couple rows back."
Consider this another milestone for the Twins. The first "Bucks" show taped there was MLB.com's 50th episode dating back to last August, with a quartet of fans raking in $220. The 60th overall episode was taped at Target Field as well, as new shows are released each Tuesday and Thursday.
"Bucks" is hosted by Jeremy Brisiel, and you might be a part of 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. Contestants are asked a trivia question -- general knowledge and baseball -- on each pitch during a half-inning of baseball. Get the question correct, and you 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.
Cross the $100 mark during the show, and that's where Frank Thomas comes into play. You can wager any part of your bank on that next question, which is asked each episode by the 2014 Hall of Fame candidate. Answer correctly, and you win, answer incorrectly, and you lose that amount ... and it's another strike. Watch the video to see how the latest ballpark date turns out.
"We met while interning in D.C. in the fall of 2012," Bravos recalled.
"We unfortunately were long distance for most of the spring, but in May, she came to Minnesota to stay with me for the summer. So I figured a Twins game would be the perfect way for her to experience some the best Minnesota has to offer. Sadly, it was my last Twins home game, because last week we moved back to D.C. together. But even though I'll be in Nats territory, the Twinks will always be my team."
Bravos said his Torii Hunter poster and signed baseball keep that long-distance relationship alive. That and the fact that he and Bricker now have a lasting video memento. He graduated this past May and has been working as a graphic designer at a software company. She is going into her senior year at American University, pursuing a business administration degree with a concentration in accounting.
"I think I'd have to say my favorite Twins memory, although I was very, very small, would have to be those two World Series rings," Bravos said. "Although Moriah is from close to Philly, I think I'm pretty close to making her a Twins fan."
As they make their run at "Bucks" cash, Bravos rubs his hands together at one point and says: "Pay for the tickets."
Topics covered in this episode include jungle cats, Twins ballparks, math, billiards, U.S. mountains, Twins rookies, "Star Wars," Ron Gardenhire, plantar fasciitis, pop music, movies and batting styles.
In addition to the Twins, teams visited by the "Bucks" crew include the Angels, Astros, Athletics, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, D-backs, Dodgers, Giants, Indians, Mariners, Marlins, Mets, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Red Sox, Reds, Rockies, Royals, 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.