David Simmons of Romeoville thought his night was over.
After watching the Miami Heat defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder for their second NBA title, the father of four headed to his bedroom.
"My wife and I have a pretty good relationship. Towards the end of the night, however, we kind of go our separate ways to unwind. She reads a book and I catch up on sports highlights. But, um...things have been kind of different recently."
That 'different' is his wife's reading of 'Fifty Shades of Grey', an erotic romance novel that's sweeping the nation.
"Now, I go upstairs and I have to be prepared...you know...in case I'm needed."
Martha Simmons has used her husband while reading the trilogy to implement a baseball-like bullpen system.
"I just let him know when he's going to be needed," stated Martha.
Over the past week, Martha calls 'to the pen' if she needs 'relief' after reading the book. David then 'warms up' and focuses on what he need to do once he's called into the game.
"Once I get the call from the manager, I need to be ready," said David. "First thing I focus on is just getting my body warm. A little running in place, maybe some stretches...don't wanna pull anything. Then, I'm thinking about working on my location. You wanna make sure you're hitting the right spots before you come in the game. So, its 1) get warm, 2) focus on location...then...it's go time."
David says he always has an idea when he'll be needed.
"If I walk upstairs and notice she's read a good portion of the book in one night, it's pretty much a guarantee. We call those night's 'close games', er, 'key save situations'. That's when it's a 1-run game, and I have to make sure I get the job done. I've been pretty good this week. 4 for 4 in save situations. Last week, I was 1 for 2. I blew a pretty bad save."
"Last week, he came in and he was just all over the place," stated Martha. "I had to calm him down, have a visit on the mound, and tell him that he doesn't need to overpower me. Just throw some strikes. Nice and easy. No need to throw 99, if 92 gets the job done. This usually happens when he doesn't throw any warmup pitches. Which, honestly, I have to blame myself. I need to give him time to get going."
David says his biggest problem isn't location, but mainly changing speeds.
"I have a good fastball. Problem is my curve doesn't work sometimes. My slider doesn't slide. My knuckler doesn't knuckle. Then, she gets upset. 'Just stick to the fastball!' I guess that's my problem. I try to get too cute and I wind up putting my team in a tough place."
The new book has made Martha happy that she got a closer at the trade deadline ten years ago. However, she's come close to signing up a couple set-up men.
"This book has really gotten to me. I don't know what the hell is wrong. I finish thirty pages and I feel like I could climb Everest. My friends are like, 'Oh, it's natural!' But, I tell you what...this book...this is the first time since college that I've seen other relievers and thought, 'God, I could use some help in the bullpen'. I'll be in the line at Starbucks and I'll start wondering if the barista throws the normal distance between home plate and the catcher. Maybe he throws from second base. Or maybe he's like that guy Kevin from college. Kevin could throw from center field. Yeah. Deep center. Lord. Okay, let's not talk about Kevin. Pretend I never brought up that guy. I need a drink."
David doesn't mind his new role as the team's closer until the book is done.
"I'm just upset it's only a trilogy. Once these books are over, I go back to being a minor leaguer who only gets called up once a month. Eh, I'll take it any way I can get it."
The final closing appearance will take place next week.