D-backs fans play for cash on 'Bucks on the Pond'

D-backs fans play for cash on 'Bucks on the Pond'

In the milestone 40th overall episode of the hit MLB.com game show "Bucks on the Pond," powered by Ford, Major League Baseball legend Frank Thomas asks D-backs fan contestants Adam Akroyd and Danny Brunner of Phoenix to name the seven-letter word for a pitcher-and-catcher combination.

"Battery," they correctly replied, and the coincidence was not lost on the pair. They have been friends since age 5, when Brunner was pitcher and Akroyd was catcher on their local T-ball team. Now they are a baseball combo act again on a larger scale, stars on their favorite team's site, seen in their authentic D-backs jerseys on a Chase Field concourse fielding questions as the first D-backs episode of "Bucks" was released on Thursday -- the 11th episode of this season.

"No way did that just happen," Akroyd said. "Right place at the right time."

"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. That's where the Big Hurt's "battery" question came in.

"We were little. We'd just started," Brunner recalled of those days.

It wasn't long after their T-ball season that MLB expanded into Phoenix, and Brunner and Akroyd have been D-backs fans since the club's inception in 1998. Their best memories?

"I'm not going to go with the mainstream answer, the 2001 World Series game-winning hit," Brunner said. "Tony Womack's inside-the-park grand slam on Father's Day after his dad passed away. That was probably the best moment in D-backs history."

"I'll go with the normal 2001 World Series," Akroyd added. "That was the best. It just gives you chills every single time you see it. You could see it 20 years from now and it still will give you chills. Who else would you want at the plate besides Gonzo?"

Topics covered in this episode include Apple, George Washington, Greece, housing rentals, Chinese food, Academy Awards, Neil Armstrong, Dixie Chicks, U.S. states, eye color, "Peanuts," diamonds, baseball teammates and '50s music.

"I saw a guy with the lanyard that said 'MLB.com' and instantly I was excited," Brunner said of being asked to participate. "He said 'free money,' so why not? We're already at a D-backs game."

What did they plan to do with their bucks if they won some? "Rent. Pay rent. Prioritize," Brunner said. Akroyd shook his head: "Buy D-backs gear, man."

They built some two-strike drama in this episode, and you'll just have to watch the video to see how it all came out. Was it time to pay rent and buy gear? Was it back to T-ball? Here is their advice for future fans who might see the "Bucks" crew at their park:

"Just go with it," Akroyd said. "Don't think it's just another person selling something. Be patient with the person, because there's a lot of people selling stuff. You end up on TV, right?"

"Don't be nervous about it," Brunner added. "Don't overthink the questions."

The "Bucks" crew has been to 17 of the Major League ballparks and is working its way through the full 30. In addition to the D-backs, teams visited include the Angels, Astros, Athletics, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Marlins, Orioles, 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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.