INT. BUFFALO WILD WINGS - DAY
A BALD MAN seated alone at a round-top table. His eyes are scanning a menu, which offers him little satisfaction.
Next to him stands a waitress, JEN. She taps her notepad while looking around the interior of the restaurant. A bad habit stemming from impatience.
If you'd like, I can come ba--
No, no, he'll be here any minute...we're both only in town briefly, gathering things, you know. I'd hate for him to miss his plane...tell you what, you look a little busy, why don't you just get me a Miller. A regular-sized one.
BALD MAN (motioning to screen on wall)
Oh before you go, any chance you could change the channel on this guy here?
The 48-inch screen is set to the first inning of a baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the Cincinnati Reds. But as with every other Buffalo Wild Wings chain restaurant, it is only one of 73 other widescreen, high definition televisions spread throughout the interior of the establishment, 23 of which are tuned to the very same early-morning interleague matchup dissapointing the Bald Man. Jen sighs.
Were you trying to watch anything in particular?
Oh no, it's just...it's a long story. Anything is fine.
Jen trails off.
The Bald Man now shifts his attention to his BLACKBERRY BOLD. His face cycles through a series of mild reactions while cleaning out his email box. He is weathered, a collection of pieces finally rebuilt after a thunderous typhoon. A smile carries with it the knowledge that to be standing is gift enough.
He does not react to the sounds coming out of the television. A pitcher for the Mariners, WADE MILEY, has loaded the bases in the bottom of the first inning. There are no outs.
A few PATRONS react as BRANDON PHILLIPS hits an RBI double, and soon the Reds are up 3-0.
The Bald Man looks up at the sound of this with a spark in his eye. Perhaps he had been too hasty with the waitress earlier. Wade Miley--I mean, Wade Miley. How did they think that was going to sell to the season ticket holders?
Jen returns with a frosty BEER on a TRAY.
You know, never mind on that TV, I think I'm going to be fine.
Just as Jen nods to depart, she bumps into a bystander, nearly spilling her tray.
Oh sir, I'm so sor--
Chone! You made it! Here, sit down, join me.
CHONE assures Jen he is fine and takes a seat next to the Bald Man. He is wearing one of those Dad polo golf shirts, complete with sunglasses hanging on an unbuttoned collar. He laughs as he shakes his head.
Still at it, huh? You're a lifer, Jack, I'll give you that.
BALD MAN (defensively)
No, no, it was on when I got here! Besides, I can't really avoid it at a place like this, can I?
Chone looks around the room. Amidst replays of an Ultimate Fighting match and a few talking heads are images of ROBINSON CANO strolling to first after a single, scoring single-hitting Miley in the process. NELSON CRUZ steps to the plate, rolling over the first pitch he sees despite scoring NORICHIKA AOKI in the process.
Even gets em when he's out. I always liked that guy.
End of the third inning and you're already over it all? I thought I knew you better than that.
BALD MAN (convincing himself)
What can you do? Pretending we can control outcomes nine out of ten times just isn't how baseball works. I thought I knew that, but I guess I didn't, you know, it just...you get so caught up in the little things. What parts of the plan do you stick to? What contingencies do we need to avoid?
During this speech, Wade Miley throws an 89 mph fastball right over home plate to ADAM DUVALL. The ball travels well over a fence in left-center, and Miley gives a look of exasperation. Then, after giving up a single, he settles down and escapes the inning with a double play. The look is gone. He is the master of his fate.
You don't have to tell ME any this, Jack!
I know, I know, it's just...we really had something for a minute there, didn't we?
Before Chone can respond, Jen returns with her notepad. It's now or never.
Are we ready to order? Can I get you anything to drink?
Yeah, I think I'll have a...(trails off)
While they ORDER, LEONYS MARTIN reaches base after an overturned call declaring his bunt an out on the basepaths. Quickly, a bevy of other players join him--Aoki with a single, Cano scoring a run with a sac fly, Cruz with a walk.
KYLE SEAGER steps up to the plate, ready to take advantage of a pitcher starting to lose his location while worrying about entering the most dangerous part of his opponent's lineup. Seager ropes a corner fastball into centerfield, scoring Aoki to tie the game and reaching second on a bobbled throw. We cut to--
BALD MAN (cont.)
...tra, with a side of ranch. And while you're at it, I'll have another Miller, why not.
Jen departs as the Bald Man swivels back to his earlier conversation. The nostalgia is palpable--it feels like it was only yesterday these two sat across from one another over a meal, outlining their collective Future as fellow captains of a burgeoning enterprise. But this time, it was the Past.
How about you? How are you handling everything?
ALFREDO SIMON intentionally walks ADAM LIND, who has a wRC+ of 61.
It was hard. It was really hard--to just fall off a cliff like that, no explanation. It was like my body was rejecting the same brain signals I always sent it, this part moving a second slower, or a left when it should have been a right, you know.
STEVE CLEVENGER hits the first pitch he sees into left field, scoring Nelson Cruz. Kyle Seager is out on the throw, but the Mariners pick up a one-run lead despite falling behind in the first inning. They look excited, but not surprised.
We all messed up now and then, and sure, there's a lot of stuff I'd like to take back. But you know, I took a lot of shit from people for things I probably didn't even deserve. That drink price thing at Norms?
Well, to be fair that started with Richie but---
Whatever--look, that proves my point. To see that in the newspaper, when you're not even reading the sports section. That kind of stuff gets in a guy's head, you know?
NICK VINCENT enters the game for the Mariners, promptly earning three quick outs before JOAQUIN BENOIT does the same.
I just think back to what could have been, you know? We had some good arms, we had all those kids. We built something to last. Sure, did we jump the gun here, were we hasty with this or that. I get that. So much of it was just so unexpected, you know? How can you plan for contingencies like that?
Leonys Martin reaches on yet another bunt, stretching it into a double after a throwing error by Brandon Phillips. Leonys Martin's on base percentage for 2016 is now up to .331.
You can't. You just can't. All you can do is wake up tomorrow and hope that's the day it all starts to change.
You know what they call that?
No. That's time. Time having its way with us. All we can do is move along with it. Good or bad. Just keep moving.
STEVE CISHEK tallies three quick outs in the bottom of the ninth, and the Mariners return to the dugout having added to their collection of cheeky grins and series sweeps. They are wearing joy.
What could have been, you know?
Yeah. What could have been.