Baseball IQ - Fair or Foul
Originally posted: January 29, 2012

(Text by: Jim Williams)

MLB Network is arguably the best of the 4 sports league centric cable networks. They have a great roster of talent and excellent programming during the MLB season. But, from November to March, there are obviously holes to fill in the programming schedule. Enter "Baseball IQ".

"Baseball IQ" is MLB Network's first foray into the game show genre. The show is fronted by MLB Network anchor and play by play man Matt Vasgersian, and features representatives from all 30 MLB teams playing the game to earn money for the charity of their team's choosing.

The game starts with a toss up question called the "Leadoff Home Run" worth 1 run and control of the game. Buzz in with the correct answer, and you take an early lead and gain control. Buzz in with an incorrect answer, and the run and control go to your opponent.

Just like the sport of baseball, "IQ" is played in innings. The first 8 innings play the same way. The contestant in control picks one of 8 categories. A video is shown as Vasgersian explains the context of the category and then gives the question. Each question has upwards of 10 possible correct answers. One at a time starting with the player in control, the contestants try to name correct answers to the question. For every 5 correct answers the contestants combine to get while answering, an extra run is put into the pot. The inning ends when a contestant gives an incorrect answer, repeats an answer given, or runs out of time. When any of those events occurs, the opposing contestant wins the run(s) scored in the inning.

As an added incentive, during the game's first 8 innings, each contestant can utilize a "Big Inning". The "Big Inning", which each contestant can only use once, offers the chance for the contestant who won the inning's pot a chance to gamble those runs to gain more runs by correctly giving 4 more correct answers to a question. Failing to come up with 4 correct answers when utilizing the "Big Inning" forfeits all of the runs accrued in the inning.

The 9th inning is played a bit differently. Upon showing the category and hearing the question and the number of correct answers available, the contestants enter a bidding war to determine who can name the most correct answers to the question. The highest bidder earns the right to play the question and must fulfill their contract to earn the runs for the inning. Unlike the first 8 innings, in the 9th inning, each correct answer is worth a run. Either the contestant fulfills their bid and earns the runs at stake in the round, or their opponent wins the number of runs in play via a single incorrect answer. Whoever leads after 9 innings is the winner.

"Baseball IQ" is a single elimination tournament format series. The winner of each game receives $5,000 for their team's charity. When the show reaches it's championship game, the tournament winner will receive an additional $25,000 for charity, while the runner-up's charity will receive $15,000.

Is "Baseball IQ" an original concept? Not in the least. The first 8 innings are reminiscent of the final round from Matty V's first venture into game shows, "Sports Geniuses". The 9th inning is more or less a carbon copy of "The Money List".

But, when you get right down to it, "IQ" is a fun half hour for baseball fans. The play along factor of yelling possible answers at the TV is certainly in place. The early round match-ups mirror actual MLB rivalries (in the premiere representatives from the Mets & Phillies faced off against each other). And, I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that I'm a huge fan of Matt Vasgersian's hosting. Some may dislike how he injects humor (some might call it being snarky), but he helps keep the contestants at ease, and makes the proceedings entertaining.

If you're a baseball fan, and love our national pastime, then do yourself a favor and catch "Baseball IQ" every Tuesday through Thursday at 9pm EST throughout the off season on MLB Network.

P.S. I hope they bring the show back next off season, and open the show up to civilian contestants. I personally would make the trek to Secaucus, NJ to audition as a contestant.