The smell of carne asada, pork carnitas and fish tacos with shredded cabbage and chile-lime cream wafted gently through sunset air as Rudy Martinez and his friend Jared Kroese answered trivia questions on the hit MLB.com game show "Bucks on the Pond."
They stood in front of the LA Taqueria, part of "A Whole New Blue" in 2013 added to the Reserve Level at Dodger Stadium, third-base side. The two fans are from Victorville, Calif., on the southeast edge of the Mojave Desert, and call themselves lifelong Dodgers faithful.
"I love that it's a baseball stadium and not a shopping mall," Martinez said, looking around at the third-oldest park in Major League Baseball as the crowd filled in for a night game.
He is 32 years old and his first game was at age 3, a few years into Fernando Valenzuela's days on the hill. Never in all that time had Martinez or Kroese had a ballpark experience like this. They were in position to win a lot of bucks, enough to easily cover the cost of their seats, parking and some souvenirs. Watch the fourth episode of season 2 -- the first "Bucks" show at Chavez Ravine -- and see if they pulled it off.
"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.
"Take a chance," Martinez advises other fans who might be approached by this show, which has now reached 16 of the 30 ballparks. "Don't be scared."
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, and strike two came pretty early on this one.
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.
Topics covered during this "Bucks" episode include fruit, Dodger Stadium, the Supreme Court, mammals, technology, The Hobbit, Vin Scully, U.S. geography, cocktails, movie directors, France, rap, South America, TV series, Dodgers stats, movie titles and U.S. state capitals.
You might know one of the answers if you know why Martinez is seen shouting this movie line into the MLB.com camera as a quizzical spectator passes behind him:
"They may take our lives . . . but they will never take our freedom!"
Kroese, who works at a Dr Pepper Snapple Group warehouse in Victorville, wore a white No. 55 Dodgers jersey. Martinez had a white Dodgers jersey as well, but his had the script "Brooklyn" on the front and No. 42 on the back. That was appropriate for the occasion, because this particular episode was taped on Jackie Robinson Day, April 15, and right after the movie "42" was released.
Both fans said that "love of the Dodgers" keeps bringing them back. We cannot say here whether the group was a victor, only that it hailed from Victorville.
"I didn't know what to expect at first, but I'm glad," Kroese said of being approached by the "Bucks" crew after arriving. When asked for any advice to other contestants, he added: "I honestly can't give any. Have a good teammate. That's all I can say, for sure."
"I was nervous at first, never know what to expect," Martinez added. "But it turned out to be pretty fun."
Fans are chosen randomly by the "Bucks" crew, and new episodes are being released every Tuesday and Thursday again this season.
In addition to the Dodgers, teams visited by the "Bucks" crew include the Angels, Astros, Athletics, Cardinals, Cubs, Giants, Marlins, Padres, Red Sox, Reds, Royals, Orioles, Tigers, White Sox and Yankees. Bookmark MLB.com/bucks and be on the lookout for the "Bucks" crew at your ballpark.