Psych: Dead Man’s Curveball

When the hitting coach of Santa Barbara’s minor-league baseball team, the Seabirds, drops dead of a heart attack brought on by an amphetamine overdose, Coach Mel Hornsby (Danny Glover) hires Shawn and Gus to investigate. To get close to the team and uncover the source of the drugs that killed the coach, the guys go undercover: Shawn poses as the new hitting coach, and Gus as the mascot. Intermittent hilarity ensues.

While searching through the former coach’s home for evidence, Shawn accidentally drinks amphetamine-laced water (and begins acting only slightly more hyper and spastic than usual) from a water bottle belonging to hitter Izzy Jackson (Ken Luckey). Shawn initially theorizes that Izzy was trying to enhance his athletic performance with amphetamines and swapped water bottles with the hitting coach by mistake. Shawn and Gus hit the Seabirds’ favorite watering hole to find evidence that wild-child Izzy is doping. After hearing that Izzy has a habit of pissing his pants while drunk, Shawn and Gus buy him multiple rounds of drinks, wait until he passes out, and steal his urine-soaked jeans.

Izzy’s pants test negative for amphetamines. Suspicion next falls on genial Cal Eason (Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Trucco, the most ruggedly handsome Cylon of them all), Shawn’s longtime idol, who’s been kicked out of the majors and down to the minors for his bad knee and who openly resents Izzy’s unprofessional behavior. Then, for some reason or another, Shawn stops suspecting Cal and starts sort of randomly hurling accusations around the team, which results in a huge, messy, full-team brawl in the middle of a game, after which Izzy is found dead from a blow to the head with a baseball bat.

(Shawn isn’t really at the top of his game this episode. As near as I can tell, he spends the whole time accusing everyone he meets in rapid succession, until he more or less accidentally finds the right culprit. Not his best work. There is also very little Lassiter in this episode, and only a smidgen of Juliet, which is a crying shame. In spite of all that, it’s a perfectly agreeable little episode. Not the best, not the worst.)

The Santa Barbara Police Department takes kindly old Mel, who was last seen angrily heading after Izzy, into custody. However, Shawn (again) suspects Cal, who uses the same kind of bat as the one that killed Izzy and who has just been transferred back to the major leagues… look, once more, I find myself trying to recap a Psych plot in which I had zero vested interest. Again, this certainly isn’t a bad episode, but really, the plot isn’t worth much scrutiny. The culprit turns out to be the team’s general manager, Neil (Matt Kaminsky), who’d drawn up a short-sighted contract guaranteeing Izzy a transfer to the majors or a huge payout after sixty games. With the payout time rapidly approaching, Neil originally tried to sabotage Izzy with amphetamines in his water bottle; when that misfired, he resorted to murder.

A cornered Neil holds Shawn and Gus at gunpoint and threatens to kill them. He’s stopped by the timely arrivals of: a) a bat-wielding Cal Eason, b) Henry, and c) baseball legend Wade Boggs, who steps in to replace a fired Shawn as the hitting coach. I know zilch about professional baseball, but Boggs once did a funny turn on a long-ago Simpsons episode, so he’s okay in my book.

Awesome Eighties references:
Shawn does a long riff on Kevin Costner’s famous “I believe in…” speech from Bull Durnham.
, which manages to incorporate a Silk Stalkings reference. Oh, sure, Silk Stalkings aired in the Nineties, but didn’t it seem like an Eighties show?

In response to his rioting team, Mel mutters, “I’m getting too old for this crap,” a sanitized version of Danny Glover’s Lethal Weapon catchphrase.

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