The large cup features the numbers 49 and 5 on opposite sides, to highlight Mets players Jon Niese and David Wright. Parra bought it for a diet soda when he and Sidor went to Shake Shack and Blue Smoke to eat before attending a recent Mets game at Citi Field, and neither could have known how important it would become in the moments that followed their dinner.
The pair of local fans wound up starring in the latest episode of the hit MLB.com game show "Bucks on the Pond" powered by Ford, and you can watch the video right here to see for yourself how a seemingly ordinary beverage vessel played a key role in a ballpark date.
"We've been dating for about one year," said Sidor, a speech-language pathologist who works close to the ballpark. "Ed surprised me with tickets to the Mets game after hearing me mention that a Wednesday night Mets game would work out perfectly with my schedule. I know, how rare -- a man who pays attention and is thoughtful."
"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, and new episodes are posted each Tuesday and Friday.
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 -- and Ford matches those winnings with a donation to Wounded Warrior Project.
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 that next question, which is asked each episode by Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. Answer correctly and you win, answer incorrectly and you lose that amount ... and it's another strike.
"A few nights before, Ed and I played trivia at a local bar in Queens, and our team did awful," Sidor said. "We thought this would be a good opportunity to redeem ourselves, so we gladly accepted the challenge to participate. We had a great time playing the trivia game and were glad to be a part of 'Bucks on the Pond.'"
Topics in this episode include breakfast cereal, Bon Jovi, Mets ballparks, time, King Arthur, Parmesan, Mets Opening Day pitchers, candy bars, skyscrapers, 1970s movie soundtracks, Mets batting leaders, Shania Twain and the pitcher's mound.
The Magical Cup of Wisdom came in handy for a couple of those.
"We both hadn't eaten dinner and were excited for Shake Shack and Blue Smoke (yes, we got both)," Sidor said in her email to MLB.com. "We tried to finish up quickly so we could participate in trivia and hopefully win something. Ed still had a diet soda in his Magical Cup of Wisdom so we brought it along, not realizing its value.
"I was clueless that the cup was giving Ed the answers at first. I was proud of him for being resourceful and taking advantage of his surroundings."
Their surroundings during the game was the field level section right behind first base.
"They were absolute great seats," Sidor said. "Ed's friend has season tickets and sold him the seats for a great price."
Parra's experience at Citi Field probably was his best since June 1, 2012.
"I was here for the Johan Santana no-hitter," he said. "I've been to maybe 15 games, and that was the first time I saw them win, and it was a no-hitter."
As with so many other "Bucks" episodes, one can see the value in teamwork. In fact, playing this game is almost like couples therapy. At one point, Sidor has to remind him to "confer" first before blurting out an answer. Consider this exchange, which was delivered in true "When Harry Met Sally" fashion after they were asked to give advice to future contestants:
Ed: "Go with your gut ...
Melissa: "… and confer with your partner…"
Ed: "… and make sure it's a mutual understanding, because this is a …"
Melissa: "… partnership …"
Ed: "… a partnership."
In addition to the Mets, teams visited by the "Bucks" crew include the Angels, Astros, Athletics, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, D-backs, Dodgers, Giants, Indians, Mariners, Marlins, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Red Sox, Reds, Rockies, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox and Yankees. Bookmark MLB.com/bucks and be on the lookout for the "Bucks" crew at your ballpark.
"It was definitely fun for us to play on the same team -- we're both competitive and are always challenging each other in games," Sidor said. "For one of our first dates, we each bought copies of the newspaper and gave ourselves an hour to complete the daily crossword puzzle at a nearby bar (it had to be a neutral location). The loser had to buy dinner … that was the first dinner I treated Ed to.
"'Bucks on the Pond' was exciting because it gave us a chance to win together and hopefully MLB.com would be picking up the tab for our next dinner or baseball game."