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?
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.)