Trivia Time: MLB Network Set To Premiere New Game Show "Baseball IQ" Tonight
MLB Network tonight debuts “Baseball IQ,” its first original game show, in which representatives from each MLB team go head-to-head in a battle royale of baseball trivia. The series was taped last week -- at a brisk pace of four sessions of filming per day -- and two episodes will air back-to-back tonight from 9:00-10:00pm ET. Host Matt Vasgersian said each round of competition features “two players facing off, alternating listing correct answers within a category.” Vasgersian noted because of baseball’s wealth of history and statistics, it was difficult for the players to really prepare. “You kind of have to come here with your knowledge base,” Vasgersian said. “If you try to open up a baseball almanac before you got here, you’d be flooded with stuff that would probably muddy the waters for you.” Despite the difficulty in preparation, Vasgersian said he was impressed with more contestants “than I thought I would be.” He said, “Some of the categories that have been built, they haven’t gone nearly as deep into as we expected, and then others, they’ve come close to listing every answer correctly, which has surprised us.” He added, “After guys come on the show once, one thing I’ve taken their temperature on is whether or not they play Sporcle. Sporcle is a website, it’s the ultimate time-killer. It’s just thousands and thousands of quizzes. ... It gets you used to working with a clock, and makes you think on more of a time constraint. It’s the only way I think you could humanly prepare for something like this.” Vasgersian also noted that the show’s staff, in the interest of fair play, specifically avoided certain categories or questions based on the contestants participating in a particular round. He said, “Everybody that comes on here has a specialty. So if it’s a guy from the Mets playing against a guy from the Phillies, we’re not going to flip him softballs about the career of Tug McGraw.”
IN HIS BLOOD: Vasgersian has quite the background in game shows -- both as contestant and host. He co-hosted FSN’s “Sports Geniuses” from ’99-’00, and was a contestant on both “The Dating Game” and “Supermarket Sweep.” In addition, Vasgersian’s mother appeared on “Password” when he was just six years old. He said, “I think that’s how I got hooked in, subliminally.”
FROM THE CONSTANTS THEMSELVES: THE DAILY spoke with several “Baseball IQ” contestants to get their take on the show.
Q: How did you get the honor of representing your franchise on the show? Did you volunteer? Nominated? Lost a bet?
Giants Manager Of Client Relations Greg Marinec: There were two tests given. I scored in the top four of the first test, and was the high-man on the 2nd test, and off to Secaucus I went!
Rangers Senior VP/Ballpark Entertainment Chuck Morgan: More of volunteer, most of PR people were busy with other things. ... I was kind of next on the list.
Braves Corporate Partnerships Manager Mark Lehman: Volunteered to take a baseball trivia test with about a dozen other Braves front office staff and scored the highest -- won by one point.
Tigers Dir Of Marketing Ron Wade: It was a pretty intense process. The Tigers sent an e-mail to all staff letting us know if we wanted to participate that we'd have to take a written exam. ... The top five scorers moved on to a second set of harder questions. I had the highest score after it was over.
Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your baseball IQ going into filming?
Wade: Probably a six-and-a-half. I'm an American League fan, so I had to do a lot of studying on the NL.
Morgan: Baseball IQ from 1960 to 1975, probably an 8 or a 9 ... from 1976 to 2011, probably around a 5.
Q: What did you do to prepare for this challenge?
Marinec: Spent a lot of time on the Baseball Almanac and Baseball-Reference.com websites.
Wade: Besides drive my wife crazy by asking her to ask me questions? I re-watched most of the Ken Burns "Baseball" documentary, spent some quality time with MLB.com and Baseball-Reference.com, had my co-workers fire random questions at me.
Lehman: Borrowed some record and trivia books from our media relations department and studied “a little” over the holidays. However, mainly just went into this with what I already knew and didn’t know.
Q: Were there any subject areas you felt particularly confident in? Any subjects you hoped wouldn’t come up?
Marinec: I felt confident being able to answer questions about events and/or players that have taken place during my lifetime (since 1970). Not so much about stuff before that.
Morgan: Older trivia, more concerned about current questions than older trivia.
Wade: I was pretty confident with the Hall of Famers and I memorized a lot of milestone "clubs." There are so many possible subjects to cover, that I didn't fear one -- I feared them all!
Q: Was there anyone you looked to for guidance before heading on the show -- a Yoda of baseball trivia, if you will?
Lehman: Just my dog Charlie, asked him to wish me good luck as I headed out to participate.
Marinec: There really was not as I am the biggest baseball nerd I know.
Q: Going into filming, who did you see as your biggest competition?
Lehman: All of the baseball statistical analysts that represented a number of the other clubs. Couple of Ivy Leaguers in that group.
Wade: I thought going against someone from the Baseball Hall of Fame would be intimidating just because they had every team's history at their fingertips.
Q: Are your colleagues trying to break you down to find out how far you made it on the show?
Lehman: I'm just telling them to watch the show. I need ratings to launch my next career in television!
Marinec: Yes but at the same time, they realize I am unable to reveal. Only my wife knows so far.
Morgan: Not really, (they are) too busy getting ready for the 2012 season.
Wade: Yes. I hear "How did you do? or "Did you win?" at least five times a day.