Kristen Arena and her boyfriend, Daniel Vinton, of San Diego were each doing their best to answer trivia questions before a recent Padres game at Petco Park, the 15th of the 30 Major League Baseball stadiums now featured in the MLB.com game show "Bucks on the Pond."
First question: Strike one.
Second question: Strike two.
It was the least auspicious start so far in "Bucks" history, this being the 32nd overall episode and the third of Season 2. Would this be a loss, worse than spilling hot dog mustard on that Padres replica home jersey with fresh autographs?
Or would it be a classic "Bucks" rally, the kind that could really build a lasting relationship and earn them enough bucks to buy two or three more jerseys, or maybe a night out?
"It was really interesting," Vinton said, and we'll leave it at that to avoid any spoilers.
"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, so Arena and Vinton were on thin ice.
Vinton is a UPS driver who happens to be friends with Padres catcher Nick Hundley, and Arena is a gymnastics coach. When asked whether her gymnastics expertise came into play during this show, Arena replied: "To balance ... to keep tall."
It was a balancing act indeed, staying alive or heading to their seats. 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 contestants lasts longer than the team's at-bat, they win the bucks in their bank.
Fans are chosen randomly by the "Bucks" crew, and new episodes are being released every Tuesday and Thursday again this season. The show has now hit half of the Majors' ballparks, counting the 28 episodes in Season 1 and the newest ones just posted on MLB.com from Oakland, Anaheim and now San Diego.
"I just saw a bunch of people doing trivia questions, so we just basically hung out and thought it was really cool," Vinton said. "We stayed here and then finally got on it."
Arena said they attend "between 10 and 20" Padres games a year, and Vinton surprised her with that Padres jersey earlier this year. She said they got some signatures on it during Spring Training in Arizona, and they come to Padres games early in hopes of adding more. On this day, she showed off some of her signatures, including ink from a manager.
The two have dated for two years now, and as we have seen before, "Bucks" can help a couple grow a relationship ... or uncover an utter lack of chemistry. You know it's a good sign when both of them are answering questions at exactly the same time. We think.
In this episode, they took on questions about golf, corporate titles, Padres ballpark history, luggage, eggs, Australian geography, Brazil, U.S. currency, cable TV, Padres pitching, farm equipment and famous singers. Other Padres fans buzz around the ballpark while these two are trying to hold on for the money, trying not to be the first "Bucks" busts of 2013.
"Honestly, just have fun and make sure you know all your knowledge," Vinton said.
You know what he means. Go to MLB.com/bucks to see the latest episodes and see whether the greatest "Bucks" rally just happened, or whether it was #pondfail.
"Just like baseball," J.B. said, "you've got a chance to see something you've never seen before."