Scott Shepherd had seared sea scallops with edamame puree, pancetta lardons, pearl onions and citrus gastrique for an appetizer and then the 20-ounce New York Strip Bone-in for his entree at NYY Steak. Paul DeAquino, his neighbor in Sparta, N.J., went for the crab cake appetizer with roasted chipotle corn salsa, followed by a 14-ounce New York Strip.
They paid their tab and walked out of the busy steakhouse with full bellies, right into an MLB.com game show inside the posh world of Yankee Stadium. Watch episode 22 of "Bucks on the Pond" and you can see for yourself whether they handled enough trivia questions before Game 4 of the American League Division Series to offset their dinner cost before the game.
"It was an awesome experience -- left work early to miss the traffic and had a great meal at the NYY Steakhouse," Shepherd said in an email to MLB.com. "The only thing that would have made the night better was a Yankees [win]. We stayed until the end and it would have been nice to celebrate the clincher that night. If only the Yankees could have hit like the Babe and his Murderers' Row teammates ..."
Ah, yes -- Babe Ruth. Watch the video, taped before the Yankees lost that night to Baltimore, and you can see the dominating visage of The Bambino looking right into the "Bucks" camera, peering over the right shoulder of DeAquino from his place on the giant banner in the Great Hall. The Bambino ... Roger Maris ... Yogi Berra ... Larrupin' Lou Gehrig ... all of them serving as a legendary backdrop for a stadium that makes its third "Bucks" appearance of the season, and first of the postseason.
"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.
Fans are chosen randomly by the "Bucks" crew, and new episodes were released every Tuesday and Thursday this season. 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.
"I think it is a great concept and it was a lot of fun," Shepherd said. "It would have been nice to win a bit more money but Pauly D jumped the gun on our final question. You should ask him if he was hanging out on the Ave the day they covered that in history. If he gave me a chance to answer or even asked me what I thought [Athens!], we could have won a little more money."
What was the capital of ancient Greece? You'll have to see for yourself on that one. Pauly D may have mixed it up with his own hometown.
But he has no trouble with a question pertaining to the number of Yankees world championships. Hey, NYY Steak even has 27 wines by the glass commemorating the total, just in case you were the only Yankees fan who didn't know the answer. Overall, it is a sweet moment for DeAquino. His brother got to go to Reggie Jackson's three-homer World Series game in 1977, something that still leaves him a little rankled, but his brother never got to go to Yankee Stadium and devour a steak dinner and then win some bucks.
"I was driving to work Thursday morning, called Paul and we decided to cut out early and head to the ballpark," Shepherd said. "The meal at the Yankees steakhouse was phenomenal -- I would recommend it to anyone. The money we won playing 'Bucks on the Pond' will not quite cover the bill but it was well worth it.
"We were fortunate enough to get a table since we got there early. We were sitting next to a guy who was in town from Mexico City to see the Yankees for the first time, and he was in heaven. I am sure the Yankees will be happy to hear about their international reach."
There might even be a Derek Jeter question in episode 22. Watching it now, five days after the game show was taped, a Yankee fan can get a little sentimental. Their team resumes its American League Championship Series without its captain -- who is out for the season with a broken ankle -- and is trailing Detroit, 2-0, with Justin Verlander starting Game 3.
"I am a little worried as the team heads to Detroit. [The Yankees] are getting great pitching, but if the bats don't wake up, they are in trouble," Shepherd said. "It was terrible to see the Captain go down. What can you say about Jeter, pure class. He is the heart and soul of the team.
"Hopefully, they can pick it up and bring the series back to the stadium -- and Mo [Mariano Rivera] and Jeter come back next year as strong as ever."
In addition to the Yankees, teams visited by the "Bucks" crew in 2012 include the Astros, Cardinals, Cubs, Marlins, Red Sox, Reds, Royals, Orioles, Tigers and White Sox. Bookmark MLB.com/bucks and be on the lookout for the "Bucks" crew at your ballpark.