Hardball Theatre: The Cruelest Month

The Cruelest Month

A Play in One Act by Keith Good
For Jon Erickson.

(Lights up. A bitter wind howls across the stage, the sound alone shivering us to our bones. ATLANTA struggles against the gale, Braves warm-up jacket hugged tight to his shivering frame. He groans, each step heavy, each footfall perhaps his last before the snow and ice take him.)

Atlanta: Captain’s log: game 5 of 162. We…We’ve lost again. My team, despite doing things (with reverb) the right way…struggle through unfamiliar territory. We’re in the NL East basement, unable to find victory. Without a win, we’ll soon have to eat Drew Stubbs just to survive. (Pauses, shivers.) It’s so…so very cold. Whose dumb-ass idea was it to schedule April baseball above the Mason-Dixon? Oh, you’ve got lake effect snow all through May? Dome or GTFO, Cleveland.

(Atlanta stops in his tracks. He gasps)

Atlanta: What? What’s that? Another traveler through this frozen, winless wasteland? (Hands cupping mouth, shouting) Hello? Hello?

(Another traveler approaches from the opposite side. As shitty as Atlanta looks, the PADRES look worse. Like, “Leo vs the Revenant Bear” bad. His brown shirt is in tatters.)

Atlanta: Son of a motherless goat! …Padres? Is that you? What happened?

Padres: (Shivering. Barely Alive.) A-April baseball.

Atlanta: (Pulls the Padres close) Come here. Come here. I’ll keep you warm.

Padres: Pollock…Schwarber…the horror! The horror!

Atlanta: Travel with me. We’ll find a win together.

(Padres stops cold, horror wide on his face.)

Padres: A win? A win? We’re just looking for runs.

Atlanta: You can’t even score runs? Sweet mother of god! Why the hell do they have us playing in April? I passed the bloated corpse of Colin McHugh’s ERA! He froze, trying to suck pine tar from one of Miguel Sano’s bats, desperate to for the taste of an out.

Padres: Wait! (Strikes to attention) What’s that? I’m the distance? That sound? That light?

(The light and sound grows steadily louder until TREVOR Story bursts onstage, astride a galloping polar bear, two supermodels pawing at him. He wears a heavy insulated Rockies jacket, oblivious to the cold. He holds a bat aloft in his hand. With every errant swing–*crack!*–another home run.)

Trevor: Sup, dudes? Everything okay? (Crack!) You look cold.

Atlanta: (Teeth chattering) Trevor Story? How are you not freezing?

Trevor: (Crack!) Hm. Is it cold? With these chicks all over me, I hadn’t noticed. Funny thing; every time I swing (Crack!), I seem to (Crack!) hit a dinger (Crack!). Crazy, right?

(Trevor pauses briefly and hits three more HR. The girls ooh and aah. Then, with a Heyah! he spurs on his polar bear.)

Trevor: Well good luck, dudes. If you find your win, or runs, or…whatever…there’s gonna be a bangin’ party for all the first week winners over at Eugenio Suarez’s pad. (As he rides off stage) Don’t show up without a few chicks, though. Don’t want you losers ruining our vibe…

Atlanta: That’s exactly why we shouldn’t play until May.

Padres: May?! Shit, I was hoping we could call a Mulligan until the All Star break.

(Lights down as Atlanta and the Padres stumble on through the wind and cold, longing to find an end to April.)



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