308 Hardball

This math right here, they say, proves that he was using …

Summary: The suspicious death of a minor league baseball player leads Don’s team to a major doping ring

Original air date
: November 10, 2006 (US)

Written by
: Cheryl Heuton and Nicolas Falacci

Directed by
: Frederick K Keller

Opening numbers:

32: Home runs
97: Runs battted in
.308: Batting average
1: Lethal dose

Family Concepts (character development):

  • Don’s T-ball team was the St Francis Royals
  • Don was a utility player for the Stockton Rangers. In his last year with the team he batted .228 with 36 RBI’s
  • Alan backpacked around Europe before meeting Margaret
  • Colby was on his college wrestling team
  • Charlie kept all of Don’s baseball stats
  • Charlie drives a Toyota Prius license number: 5MSY015
  • Don and Charlie have an uncle Tommy

Episode Quotes:

  • Colby: I think Ridley Scott knew what the future was gonna look like.
  • Colby: If they don’t run, they skateboard.
  • David [to Oswald]: In your case skateboarding IS a crime.
  • Don: Is it cheating if everyone does it?
    Alan: Yes.
  • Larry: Actually, I have known certain [mathematical] expressions to take on a shimmering quality.
  • Don: You’re what’s wriong with this game.
  • Charlie: To Donny Eppes: a born cop … a most excellent one.

Episode Synopsis:

In the midst of an investigation into steroid use in baseball, Vick Johnston dies of an overdose of a steroid during a practice.  According to the coroner, he had thirty times the normal dosage in his system, the overdose wasn’t an accident, someone killed him.

On Vick’s computer were two emails from someone saying his steroid use was known and could be proved, an attachment in one of the emails included a mathematical formula, very advanced sabermetrics.  Charlie sets out to find the mathematician would created the formula, he runs the formula past Professor Waldi who plays in the campus fantasy baseball league, Waldi finds a similar formula on a stats web site.  The formula was posted by an Oswald Kittner.

David and Colby set out to find Kittner, but he doesn’t have a job or a car.  They finally track him to a cyber-cafe in Little Tokyo.  Kittner says his formula is for tracking steroid use in players to make his draft picks and trades better in his fantasy teams.  he didn’t share the formula or information with anyone as that would ruin his advantage in the leagues.  Kittner does remember telling a friend of his, Chris Bronmiller, about Johnston doping though during an argument.  David and Colby go looking for Chris but find him dead.  A search of his email accounts does show that Chris emailed the formulas and threats to Vick.  Someone other than Johnston replied to those emails and lured Chris to where he was killed.

The FBI manages to trace back the sale chain of how Johnston got the steroids, but none of those people involved had any reason to kill Johnston and they had alibis for when he died.  Megen notes that the drug company would still have to make the drug at the higher dosage.  The FBI raids the company and discovers the owner did make the drug but it wasn’t his idea, he gives the FBI Richard Clast, Vick’s agent.  Clast is arrested for murder.

The case has brought back a lot of memories for Don wondering if he could have made it to the Big Leagues through doping.  Charlie and Oswald prove mathematically that Don might have made the big show without steroids, but if he had juiced, his game would have suffered so much he wouldn’t have been a good player any more.