Jeff Salas made it to Tuesday's interview round on the field at Minute Maid Park for the Astros' 2013 "You Make The Call" Mascot Talent Contest, and he hoped to be one of up to 10 contestants who advance from there for the next two rounds of judging.
It might help his chances if the judges watch "Bucks on the Pond."
Salas, from Pasadena, Texas, is the guy in the Jeff Bagwell jersey, starring alongside buddies Kevin Nunez of Deer Park, Texas, and Michael Dunn of Pasadena in episode 16 of the hit new MLB.com game show. Watch it now and see how the trivia trio fared when the "Bucks" crew snagged them on the concourse behind the wall in left-center during a Nationals-Astros game.
"It was a great experience," Salas said in an email to MLB.com. "We couldn't believe they picked us to participate in a game show while watching 'The Show.' We just thought we were going to watch the game and go home, not win. ...
"'Bucks on the Pond' is pretty awesome. I've watched the other episodes, and it's fun watching fans of other teams try and work out every question that is asked. Everyone should definitely check it out if they like quiz shows and baseball."
"Bucks on the Pond" is hosted by Jeremy Brisiel, and you might be a part of it 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.
In this episode, Salas is in the middle, with Nunez on his left and the megaphone-obsessed Dunn on his right. The three Astros fans are all servers at The Don'Key, a highway Mexican restaurant in Pasadena. They occasionally exhibit the kind of teamwork one would expect from three guys who wait tables together, especially when it comes to deciphering Roman numerals.
Then again, Salas is studying mathematics at San Jacinto College with a desire to teach, so it is probably a good thing he knew that "XL" does not only mean a shirt size. An Astros fan since 1984, he is going to have to leave a major impression on judges if he wants to be the franchise's mascot in their new 2013 American League world. Maybe the judges should ask him a James Bond question or two, based on the latest episode.
"This definitely helped make the year a little more fun, but we are Astros fans through thick and thin, up and down," Salas said. "I am not happy about the move to the American League, but what's done is done. I've been an Astros fan since I can remember, and I'll die an Astros fan no matter what league they're in."
This was the second "Bucks" episode taped at Minute Maid Park, following the "Blue Steel" crew in episode 11.
"It's amazing," Jenna Rudoff, one of the episode 11 winners, said of "Bucks."
In addition to the Astros, teams visited so far include the Cubs, White Sox, Yankees, Reds, Red Sox, Orioles, Royals and Marlins. Bookmark MLB.com/bucks and be on the lookout for the "Bucks" crew at your ballpark.