Down in Arizona this week Fletcherfans, where JB is in Scotsdale but has made plans to meet up with her baseball-playing nephew Johnny Eaton in Tucson. When she calls over to his hotel he’s already checked out, so Jessica decides to head back to Boston until she spots the front page of the local paper. Excited, she asks the concierge if he’d seen it – her nephew is in the front page!
“Your nephew is Mike Warlop?” The concierge says excitedly.
“No, my nephew is Johnny Eaton.” Jessica explains.
The concierge cares not. “Mike Warlop is the best hitter the Comets have had in 20 years and they trade him for these two nobodys.”
Across town, Johnny has just arrived at his new club with Charlie Holcomb, the other player in this trade deal, and their manager Al Sidell (who is being played by Paul Sorvino who was Lord Capulet back when Leo DiC was Romeo, man that is a good movie). Johnny is in a bit of a tizz, as he’s lost the glove he did a something something pitch in (sorry baseball fans, everything I know about baseball comes from watching Moneyball that one time and I didn’t really understand it then either.) Al gives them a big pep talk and tells them to play ball.
Inside, Charlie and Johnny meet the rest of the team with varying levels of warmth, and the team manager Harry Dial who is considerably more frosty. The hooting and catcalling erupts when sports journalist Loretta Lee enters the changeroom to announce she’s the new network anchor. Ugh. Dial is quick to throw her out of the change room saying “around here ERA means Earned Run Average not Equal Rights Amendment.” UGH. I’d like to say at least times have changed, but let’s face it they haven’t changed that much.
Outside, JB arrives just in time for the warmup. Johnny comes over for a quick hello but is blasted bu Dial and he jogs on. Al Sidell arives to sit with Jess and introduces her to two of the player wives, Roz Briggs (wife of Pete) and Nancy Murray, wife of Kel. They came down for spring training to make sure none of the groupies got too attached. The pratice game begins, and Johnny’s up to pitch. The first ball results in WP being flashed on the scoreboad which Al helpfuly explains means Wild Pitch. Or Wide Pitch. I started applying cricket rules to make sense of it but I’m not sure it worked. The second ball gets hit
for six out of the stadium, which judging by everyone’s faces is a Very Bad Thing.
Later that night, while Charlie, Al and Jess commiserate with Johnny, Dial is having a grand old time with Kel and Nancy Murray and Loretta is having a quiet word with Comets owner Irving Randolph. Randolph has taken exception to the story Loretta did suggesting that the Comets were the losers in the Mike Warlop trade. In the powder room, JB runs into Loretta who asks her about Charlie’s background in preparation for an interview she’s going to do in the morning, but JB has nothing for her. Out in the bar, former Comet Mike Warlop is throwing back the scotches and propositioning Loretta who tells him in no uncertain terms to back off. Randolph tells him to get lost, Dial throws a glass of water and then a brawl breaks out. Charlie Holcomb comes to Loretta’s rescue and escorts her away.
UGH THIS IS ALL TOO FACTUAL.
Back in Loretta’s hotel room, Charlie is putting the moves on but Loretta has other things on her mind – like why the media guide says Charlie is 23 when she thinks he’s 25 or 26, and whether or not he’d ever played for a manager named Flip Phillips.
Charlie demolishes his soda and legs it out of there. Well that’s not suspicious at all.
The next morning JB is woken by the sounds of knocking. Outside, team travel secretary Avery Burns is trying to wake Loretta so she won’t miss the bus. A passing maid helpfully unlocks the door for him (not weird), and they find Loretta lying dead on the floor. Scottsdale PD arrive in the form of Lieutenant Caceras who asks JB if she heard or saw anything the previous night – JB says no, but she does know that Loretta was alive at 9pm the night before, as that was when she left the restaurant with Charlie Holcomb.
“Holcomb – one of those two rookie nobodies in the trade?”
JB notices that Loretta’s fancy necklace is missing, and Caceras lets her in on his working theory – since her money and credit cards are also missing, he thinks that Loretta surprised a burglar and died in the struggle. JB can’t fault that logic, but notices a small piece of glass on the floor. Caceras thinks it’s nothing but bags it anyway. He also orders his minion to shut off the TV that had been going all night. JB wonders about that little fact but says nothing.
Down at the ground, Carceras is trying to get the players onside by telling them how he used to be just like them until a knee injury forced his retirement from playing ball and started his career as a cop, blah blah blah that trade was terrible. He asks to see Charlie privately and grills him about what happened with Loretta after they left the restaurant. He denies even going into Loretta’s hotel room, but when Caceras throws down his matchbook, found in the hotel room, he relents and says he was in her room trying on the moves but didn’t get anywhere. He tells Carceras that he thinks Loretta was Randolph’s “private reserve”. Caceras tells him he should have stayed a Titan.
Johnny calls JB with an update on the case, and begs her to stay to help his friend Charlie out. Jess agrees, and he tells her that with her at the game he’s sure to play well.
Cut to the scores.
Let me just translate this into Briony-speak.
Jess is joined in the stands by Al Sidell, who heard about the death of Loretta on the radio. He asks JB what the story is but she tells him they don’t know much yet. He says you never know when your time is up, and tells her how he had a car accident on the way back to his hotel the previous night – he wasn’t hurt but his wallet will be.
Johnny takes the field to bat – his first ball ends up being a PB, or a passed ball as Al explains to Jess, while cleaning his glasses. The second ball he smacks straight to a fielder, breaking the bat into pieces in the process. He marches glumly off the field, and is met by a furious Pete Briggs, who was the owner of the bat. After the game Al and Jess try to console Johnny but he’s not having a bar of it – he loses his glove, he pitches a home run ball to Mike Warlop, he shook Loretta’s hand and now she’s dead, he something something-ed, oh his arm is sore! Al asks him if he’s seen the trainer but he says no. JB tells him to get over himself shake it off – he’s worked too hard to fall victim to superstitions and curses.
JB heads down to police headquarters and tells Caceras that her nephew is feeling guilty.
“Yeah?” Says Careras. “I can understand how lousy he must feel killing the Comet’s pennant chances this season.”
JB requests to put baseball aside for the moment, and asks Caceras if he’s made any progress. He tells her that they lifted 2 sets of prints from glasses found in the room – Loretta’s and a second set as yet unidentified. He also tells her that the missing necklace hasn’t turned up, and that none of the credit cards were used between the time of death and his men reporting them missing. JB has a theory – she thinks that because the pay-per-view channel was on the TV, Loretta was home and received a knock on the door from someone she knew, let them in and they killed her. Caceras decides to find out what time the pay-per-view channel was used in Loretta’s room. JB tells him she noticed him take a piece of paper out of the hotel room, and he tells her it was a phone number for a bail bondsman. They checked it out and he’d received a call from Loretta but had no idea what it was in regards to.
Down in the hotel lobby bar Caceras asks Dial if any players missed curfew the night of the murder but Dial says he was in bed at 11pm. Pete Briggs says the same thing, backed up by his wife. A minion delivers a piece of paper to Caceras who promptly excuses himself and goes over to JB, sitting with Johnny, Charlie and Al. He tells her the second set of prints they found belong to a man called Freddie Masters, who skipped bail on an assault charge, lied about his age and changed his name to Charlie Holcomb.
Charlie is arrested on suspicion of murder and taken to the cells, where JB visits him to try and get the story straight. He admits to being in Loretta’s room but left her when she started pumping him for information and drove off to a bar. He reluctantly tells JB he saw Pete Briggs there, which JB wonders about but has more pressing questions like just why Mike Wharlop was traded to begin with, as she was starting to think there was more going on with this trade than she first thought.
Down at the clubrooms JB interrogates the club masseuse who is being played by the guy who played Felix Leiter in Never Say Never Again *cue five minutes of me humming the Bond theme to myself*. He reassures her that all is in had and demonstrates the team’s state of the art medical facilities by showing her x-rays of Johnny and Mike Wharlop. They are interrupted by Dial, decked out in a towel, who tells JB that her being in the changerooms is bad for business. She notices the bruise on Dial’s arm and he tells her it’s from the brawl with Mike. She comments that he hits well for someone who had a dislocated shoulder the previous season.
“Look lady, if you’re so interested in male anatomy, I can give you a good look at mine. All of it.” Says Dial.
At the stadium, Jess finds Al to bring him up to speed on what’s happening. Caceras confronted Pete who denied breaking curfew, making Charlie look guiltier than ever. She tells Al about the xrays and how she noticed that the only x-ray with a different colour lab code was the one with Mike Wharlop’s shoulder, so she called the lab and they told her they didn’t know anything about it. Her theory – Loretta found out that the team faked Mike’s x-rays to get him traded and Randolph had her killed.
Later that night Jess, Al and Caceras are going through the x-rays but can’t find Mike’s anywhere. Randolph himself storms in to see who left the lights on. They confront him but the truth is not what they think it is – Randolph had the x-rays destroyed, but the Titans, Wharlop’s new team, knew that they were fake. It turned out Mike’s month off with a dislocated shoulder was actually a month in rehab for alcoholism, and he covered it up publicly to protect Mike’s wife and kids. Well that’s kind of nice.
Caceras and JB are pondering their next move when Pete and Roz Briggs appear with their own confession – Pete did break curfew, but it’s not what they think it is – he went to see his specialist hypnotist to help him with his batting.
On the way back to the hotel, they pass the spot where Al had his car accident. Caceras’s minion makes a comment about glasses and JB has a thought.
After some quick science, the next morning JB and Caceras go to the ground to give Johnny back his missing baseball glove, and to confront the killer.
It is what they think it is. Loretta found out about Charlie’s past as Freddy, confronted Al who fought her and she fell.
So on that depressing note…