Billy Bunterman, manager of the San Jose Shmoops, wakes up at 8:30AM. He wishes he could sleep longer, but this road trip is causing him all kinds of insomnia. After losing to the Orioles 1-0 in eleven long innings last night, the Shmoops boarded a plane for Detroit and didn't make it to their hotel until 3:00AM.
Considering the lack of any real z's and this morning's upcoming radio interview with Detroit's Mad Marv in the Morning, coffee is understandably Billy's best friend at the moment.
Feeling the pain in his legs, Billy grabs his second best friend: aspirin. The fifteen seasons he spent as a major league catcher before joining management have turned his knees into joints of misery.
Billy showers, snags a bagel and some orange juice from the hotel's continental breakfast, then hops into a car that takes him to Hot Sport Talk, AM1250's radio broadcasting station, for his 10:00AM interview with Mad Marv. Marv asks him questions about the Shmoops' starting rotation, how he sees the series with Detroit going, and tries to get the scoop on the star third baseman's new girlfriend.
Coach Bunterman expects this question and responds with, "As long as he hits .350, he can date whomever he wants." Marv chuckles and makes fun of Billy for his proper grammar.
After a few more softball questions (pun fully intended), Mad Marv wraps up the interview around 10:15AM—Billy gets to leave the hot seat without having to answer any other drama-related inquiries. That makes everyone happy.
Even though there's plenty of time before this evening's game, the coach heads to the stadium for a meeting with his coaching staff. He also likes to take a couple minutes on the field focusing his thoughts without any interruptions—especially from Detroit fans, who might try to mess with his concentration.
The coaches wander in one by one before the meeting begins at 11:00AM. The trainer lets them know that rookie left fielder Hustles McGee sprained his left wrist sliding into second base last night and won't be able to play. They also just got word that left-handed pitcher Screwball Weber's rehab assignment in Scranton won't be completed on time, so they're missing a second lefty in their pitching rotation.
Once everyone's gone through their daily check-ins, the staff vents about how frustrating last night's loss was. They each get two minutes to throw a fit, then it's time to look forward to tonight's game.
After talking it out, they decide to sit their young shortstop tonight—he went 0-4 at the plate last night and has an underwhelming two hits in the last three weeks. It's up to Coach Bunterman to make the final call (and break the news to the kid), and the kid can use it as a learning experience.
After lunch, the players start to roll into the locker room around 2:00PM. Once everyone arrives, Billy calls a short meeting. He tells the guys that last night was a bummer, but they have to focus on what's ahead of them. He lets them know that McGee's out, Weber won't be back anytime soon, and he cracks a joke about Rodriguez.
Finally, he shows the team some film of Detroit's starting pitcher. He reminds the guys that Detroit's starter likes to use his curveball when he's behind in the count, but loses his control if you get to him early.
From 3:00PM to 5:00PM, the team gets their pre-game warm-ups in. Since there were three unforced errors last night, Coach Bunterman decides to pack in some defensive drills. They run through imaginary double-plays, hoping it makes a difference come game time. If it doesn't, they'll run a bunch more before the game tomorrow.
After batting practice, the team quits the field at 5:30PM. It's Detroit's turn to get their work in, so all the Shmoops are left to their own pre-game routines. For Billy, that means focusing on the little things: setting up the batting lineup card, talking to his starting pitcher about the pitch count, and making sure he's got no shortage of sunflower seeds in the dugout.
Finally, Coach Bunterman pulls his shortstop aside to explain that he's giving him the night off. The kid begins to go through the five stages of grief—denial, anger, and bargaining all appear in quick succession. He gets caught up in the depression stage, but his coach assures him that he'll be back in the lineup tomorrow, so the kid finally reaches acceptance and promises to be supportive from the bench.
Finally, at 7:05PM, after a rousing rendition of the national anthem sung by a local youth choir, the forty-fourth game of the season gets underway.
Following a hard-fought 5-4 win (it was a great game, a real nail-biter; it'll be on ESPN Classic in October if you're interested), the Shmoops shower up and have a quick post-game meeting before heading back to the hotel at 11:00PM.
After setting his wake-up call with the front desk, Billy curls up in bed. He makes a quick phone call to the wife, then turns on the local sports channel to check game highlights. It's not for vanity; he wants to see if there's anything he missed during the game that he needs to bring up tomorrow.
Unsurprisingly, Coach Bunterman falls asleep with the television on. After a great victory like the one tonight, he's earned it. Hopefully he and the team can earn it again tomorrow.