The MLB Hot Stove has gone cold, to say the least. And if you’re not into the winter sports, you have to do something in order to kill the time until pitchers and catchers report.
Enter HQ Trivia.
For those unaware of HQ, it is an interactive trivia game that currently has the nation worked into a tizzy. The game is available through an app, and it goes lives at least twice every day. There are 12 multiple-choice questions that come firing out at a speed that make it near impossible to do any sort search-engine cheating. Answer all 12 questions correctly and a cash prize is yours (to be split with any other winners). From the moment I watched a few co-workers play this game, I was hooked.
Scott Rogowsky is the host, and entertains the masses with an upbeat personality and pun-filled monologues. He brings a stand-up comedian presence to the gig, and appears to possess a Trebek-like amount of overall knowledge. HQ draws hundreds of thousand of players for each game, and Rogowsky is the face of it all. You might have even seen him recently on the Dick Clark New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcast.
But the most important thing you need to know about Rogowsky? He’s a Mets fan.
I had a chance to talk to Rogowsky about HQ, its rise in popularity, his experiences as a baseball fan, and more:
Tim Reilly: I stop what I’m doing everyday at 3:00 PM and 9:00 PM ET to play HQ. How did you end up as the host of this trivia juggernaut?
Scott Rogowsky: Credit goes to my old Onion officemate Nick Gallo (he was the photo editor for the paper there when I started interning in the video dept in 2008). We had been in touch over the years, mostly via Facebook. He’s a solid dude with a great network of talented friends, and he looks out for his own. He had been working with the HQ founders, and back in April when they were casting the host, he hit me up and asked me to audition. I didn’t hear anything for a while, and in the meantime, had decided to give up my Brooklyn apartment and move to LA, but thankfully their offer came in before I bought my plane ticket!
TR: When I searched for you on Twitter, I couldn’t help but notice you were wearing a Mets beanie in your avatar. Is this a life-long fandom of yours, or did you only recently begin rooting for them?
SR: My dad brought me up, first and foremost, as a baseball fan. And like just about every eight-year-old living in the northern NYC suburbs in 1956, my father was a diehard Yankees fan. So growing up, I practiced the “coexist” philosophy and went to my share of both Yankees and Mets games.
The early ‘90s Mets were the “worst team money could buy,” while the Yankees were finishing 7th in the division back when there were seven teams in a division. When the Yanks won it all in ’96, I’m not going to lie, I ran out and bought the championship t-shirt at Modells.
But at the same time, I had a “New York Pitching Department” poster hanging on my bedroom wall of Generation K: Isringhausen, Pulsipher, Wilson, and I was forcing my dad drive me out to Eastchester to get Dave Mlicki’s autograph. So once Steinbrenner began buying up the league and turning the Yankees into the Monstars, my status as a one-team fan was cemented, and I’ve been bleeding orange-and-blue for the past 20 years.
TR: What does being a Mets fan mean to you?
SR: Constant disappointment and aggravation. The roller coaster of being aggrieved, briefly rewarded, and then scorned again. There was a cartoon from a few years back in the New Yorker that I cherish of a Mets player pushing a giant baseball up a boulder in the manner of Sisyphus. Being a Mets fan is a Sisyphean task. I imagine it’s a lot like playing HQ. Both have their share of glitches (Castillo dropping that pop-up, Beltran freezing on a crucial 0-2 curveball), and even when you “win,” it’s generally due to luck (I was at Citi for Santana’s no-no, and had that happened a year later, instant replay would have overturned it!)
TR: There’s an overwhelming amount of comments that come flooding in during each game of HQ. Are you starting to see more comments about the Mets come in as people learn that you’re a fan?
SR: I get some people on Twitter saying, “I liked Scott before, but now that I see he’s a Mets fan, I LOVE HIM!” The greatest feedback I’ve received is from a former Met himself, Shawn Green. He plays HQ and loved being the answer to one of the questions.
TR: Is there one particular moment that stands out to you as the first time you felt a real connection with the team?
SR: The formative moment was meeting Tim Teufel in 1989 when I was five-years-old at an autograph signing at Pergament in Port Chester. They handed out these books sponsored by Surf Detergent featuring every year of Mets baseball cards by Topps from 1962-88, and I would pore over that book in my room, studying all the old cards (many of which my dad still had from his childhood collection). I’ve gotten to meet Tim again a couple times over the past few years, and he’s just as nice of a guy now as I remember him being back then.
TR: What’s your most memorable experience at Shea and Citi Field?
SR: I’ve had many good and bad experiences. I was at Shea in 1993 the first time the Mets played the Marlins, and that was a thrill for me, because I was such a geek for expansion teams back then. I was at the final games of both the 2007 and 2008 seasons, witnessing, with horror, the back-to-back epic September collapses. And to lose both times to the Marlins of all teams… SAVAGE.
Walking down the ramps of my beloved Shea after that final game in 2008 is one of the saddest memories of my adult life. But the following April, I was able to get a press pass (I was stringing for ESPN the Magazine at the time) to the opening of Citi Field for the exhibition game against the Red Sox. I got to see the clubhouses and get on the field. As much as I missed and still miss Shea, it was exciting to be there from the beginning of this new era.
TR: If you had to choose a current Mets player to guest host HQ, who would it be?
SR: Does David Wright count as a current player? Is he still playing? DAVID ARE YOU OK?? I hope he can come back this year. As the captain and longtime fan favorite, he deserves to guest host first, and armed with his 1000-watt smile, I think he’d nail it.
TR: It’s not uncommon for you to alter your name on Twitter. Is it safe to say the Mets might influence some changes come spring?
SR: You mean, might you see Quizdrubal Cabrera. Seth HQ-go? Maybe so, maybe not.
TR: What Mets player – current or former – do you think would have the best chance at winning HQ?
SR: Gotta tip your cap to the Ivy Leaguers... Chris Young, Ron Darling, Bill Almon. And I’d bet the pride of Brandeis, Nelson Figueroa, could get to Q11.
TR: Who gets angrier: HQ players when the game won’t stop lagging or Mets fans when ownership/the front office sit idle during the offseason?
SR: Hell hath no fury like an HQtie lagged.
TR: Do you have any say in the questions chosen for HQ? What I’m trying to say is: Will we ever get a Mets question???
SR: Absolutely and absolutely. I’ve already written an entire 12 question quiz solely about Joe McEwing.
TR: I’ll finish this with a multiple-choice question in honor of HQ. How many wins will the Mets finish 2018 with, and why?
SR: D. 100-162! This is the year it all comes together! Mickey rallies the troops! Conforto hits 50! Rosario steals 60! Harvey/Syndergaard/Matz/Wheeler each win 20! THERE’S NO STOPPING US, BABY!*
(*There’s also a chance they lose 100 games)