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Monk Season 2
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Season 1 Season 3

Mr. Monk Goes to the Ballgame is the third episode of the second season of Monk.

SynopsisEdit

When a ruthless CEO and his wife are lured to their deaths, Monk connects their murders to a star baseball player's quest for the single season home run record.

PlotEdit

In the midst of a corporate scandal (which is never fully explained), billionaire Lawrence Hammond leaves his office with his trophy wife Erin, and drives to a resort getaway using the directions given by their car's GPS system. However, the electronic voice leads them not to a resort hotel but to a deserted industrial park where a masked gunman is waiting to ambush them. As soon as they come to a stop, the gunman steps up to the passenger side door, pulls a pistol out, and fires five shots through the window.

The next morning, Monk and Sharona go to a Little League game where Benjy is playing against a team coached by Captain Stottlemeyer. Benjy's team loses, and Sharona orders Monk to give the boy some words of encouragement. Monk is out of his depth, but then Stottlemeyer receives a call about the murder.

The three of them go to examine the crime scene. Monk quickly realizes that, contrary to their expectations, Erin was the killer's primary target. According to Lieutenant Disher, the sequence of events went like this: the shooter stepped up to the passenger door, and shot Erin four times. He then shot Hammond once, and non-fatally at that. Hammond then got out and tried to run, but the shooter got into his own car and ran him over. Hammond was still not dead, and managed to crawl away. He made it several miles. A truck driver found him the next morning, just barely hanging on to life. Although he died before paramedics arrived, Hammond did say one cryptic clue to the truck driver: "Girls Can't Eat Fifteen Pizzas." No one knows what it means.

Monk pursues the wife angle, and soon discovers that Erin had been having an affair. When Monk sees a sports magazine, he notices that Scott Gregorio, a baseball star, had taken an art class that Erin was also in, and deduces that he was her secret lover. Gregorio, however, cannot be the murderer since he was playing that night at the stadium.

At the time of the murders, Gregorio was just days away from breaking the single-season home run record. He confesses to Monk that he loved Erin, and that since her death he has gone into a terrible slump. Monk suspects that Erin might have been killed to keep Gregorio from breaking the famous record. Surprised, Gregorio agrees: just some two weeks before, someone attacked him outside the stadium with a baseball bat and tried to smash his arm. Since then, he's had bodyguards, whom he refers to as Heckle and Jeckle.

Gregorio offers to do anything he can to help in the investigation, and Monk asks him to give some batting tips to Benjy. In his own way, Monk manages to come through: with coaching, Benjy's swing improves noticeably, and he is on a cloud, taking lessons from his sports idol.

Since they've both lost the great loves of their lives, Monk and Gregorio quickly bond, and Monk gives the baseball star some advice about coping. In the meantime Gregorio tells Benjy to use a device he calls " HELP " to aid in his batting skills: Hands, Elbows, Legs, Patience. Gregorio calls "HELP" a mnemonic device that helps him remember.

Monk, with that in mind, realizes what Lawrence Hammond's last words, "Girls Can't Eat 15 Pizzas," really mean: it was the dying man's way of remembering "GCE15P", the license plate of the killer's car. The police identify the car as having been stolen from the Presidio two nights before the murder. They've found blood on the front bumper and have matched it to Hammond, and under the seat, they've found a home-programmed CD for a GPS device, that was used to lure Hammond and his wife to the industrial park. A security camera took a fuzzy photo of the killer. Monk knows he's seen the face before - but where?

Monk investigates whether Darryl Grant, the baseball player whose record Scott is about to break, is trying to protect his record. Even though Grant was in Chicago the night of the murder, he may have hired someone to do it. He and Sharona interview Grant's agent, who assures them that his client is an honorable man who has already had another record broken, that of single season runs batted in (RBI's). He shows them the photo of Grant congratulating the new record holder. The agent assures them Grant would never stoop to sabotaging another player.

At Benjy's Little League game, the umpire quits after Stottlemeyer gets in his face. Since Benjy's team has to forfeit the game unless someone replaces the umpire, Monk agrees to do it. He couldn't be a worse choice for the job.

Despite the many delays caused by Monk, the game goes on, and Scott Gregorio drops in time to see Benjy hit a game-winning home run. Stottlemeyer proves to be a good loser, congratulating Benjy personally and giving him the ball as a souvenir, telling him it will be worth a lot of money someday, and Monk has his epiphany: everyone has seen the killer's face before, on a TV commercial for storm windows, endorsed by Darryl Grant, and featuring footage of the record-making home run -- a baseball that would suddenly become worthless were Gregorio to break the record.

Here's What HappenedEdit

Monk and the police close in on Walker Browning, an out-of-work computer programmer who caught the famous ball. While the police surround the house, Monk, Sharona, Stottlemeyer and Disher go inside to talk to Browning. They notice he has a wall lined with memorabilia from the day he caught the record-breaking ball, which he plans to sell at auction. Monk and Randy then reveal the motive: if Scott Gregorio broke the record, Browning's ball would be worth practically next to nothing. Monk explains:

Catching the record-breaking ball was the highlight of Browning's life. A few weeks earlier, the ball would have fetched $3 million at auction, but Browning found there were no buyers, because the buyers knew the ball would become worthless if Scott Gregorio broke the record. Browning therefore decided to protect his investment. He tried attacking Gregorio outside the stadium with a baseball bat, intending to break a limb or something to knock him out of the starting lineup, but he failed. Gregorio was surrounded by bodyguards after that incident, so Browning knew he wouldn't be able to get at him directly. But he continued following him until he found out about Gregorio's affair with Lawrence Hammond's wife, so he broke into their car and replaced the disk in their GPS with one he programmed himself, to lure the Hammonds to the industrial park so he could shoot her. He was sure everyone would focus on Hammond's many enemies and ignore the wife completely.

Browning says there is no proof, but Stottlemeyer counters by suggesting that next time Browning wipes his prints off a stolen car, he should check the adjustment bar under the driver's side seat, because the police found a fingerprint there that they are betting is Browning's. Browning releases his attack dog, Toby. In the confusion, the police subdue Browning, but Toby runs out the door with the priceless baseball in his mouth.

The baseball season ends with Scott failing to break the home run record. Interviewed on TV about Browning's arrest, he admits that he's disappointed, but repeats the advice given to him by a "good friend" - that the most important thing is taking care of the people you love, or being true to their memories.

Later, when Monk and Sharona are taking a walk, they see Toby, who is still clutching the ball in his jaws. He releases it and runs off, but the ball has been reduced to soggy scraps, leading Monk to quip that it is one expensive chew toy.

TriviaEdit

  • This is the first episode to allude to Monk's Gymnophobia. When going to the art class that both Scott Gregorio and Erin took, he is shown to be disturbed with the nude male model. However since Erin's painting is a self portrait of herself in the nude Monk does not show any emotion to that. Unless of course he was focusing on just the background scenery. Also, in "Mr. Monk and the Red-Headed Stranger" he actually hires a streaker to prove that someone who is thought to be blind can see.
  • Stottlemeyer informs the killer that they had found his fingerprint in stolen car. However, in flashback, its clearly shown that he was wearing gloves. Why would he take them off? -- Probably because he never thought they would look there and he could not move the bar easily with his gloves on.
  • How could the killer broke Lawrence Hammond's into garage and car, since there were presumably well secured? And how did nobody notice traces of the break-in?
  • This is one of the few episodes in which the killer is not truly involved in the storyline except at the beginning and at the end when the killer is revealed. In other words, it is a true whodunit.

QuotesEdit

(Monk gets Scott Gregorio to coach Benjy)
Sharona Fleming: Thank you, Adrian! (pause) I thought I'd thank you now, because in a half an hour, you're probably gonna piss me off again.
Monk: You're welcome.


(as Monk starts cleaning the plate)
Stottlemeyer: Okay, guys, we're gonna be here for a while, so if any of you have any homework that you need to do, you might as well take it out now.

(After Monk solves the case)

Sharona: Adrian, you are a great detective. A terrible umpire, but a great detective.

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