Hardball Theatre: 💯
A Play in One Act by Keith Good
(Lights up on a fog-shrouded stage. BRYCE Harper saunters on stage and takes his place in a batter’s box down stage right, facing the audience.)
(He wiggles into his stance, tugs up his front shirtsleeve, digs in his cleats. He stares with laser-focused intensity, ready, waiting.)
Narrator: This is Bryce Harper, Nationals’ right fielder, punisher of baseballs, fashion icon, ambassador for all things fun…
(Harper sets, a twitch, then–SMACK!–a swing like the poetry of old, beautiful in its violence. The poor baseball is smashed down to its constituent atoms, flying, flying, gone. He stands for a moment, admiring the ball’s flight.)
Narrator: And he’s just hit his 100th career home run, a grand slam, no less, off Atlanta’s ace, Julio Teheran. Now he rounds the bases, pimping his homer, fighting the “Unwritten Rules” of baseball, working to make baseball fun again. This is his story. He is Bryce Harper: Mr. 💯.
(Bryce flips his bat high in the air and sets off toward first. A bitchin’ theme song accompanies the first ten seconds or so of his HR trot, flying guitars, heavy with reverb. A projector flashes, “Bryce Harper 💯” across the back wall of the stage.)
(Jonathan PAPLEBON rushes from the Nats’ dugout)
Paplebon: Hey! Hey! Don’t sit there staring at your home runs. Have some damn class or I’ll punch you in the dugout when no one is looking!
Bryce: (Bryce feints toward Paplebon.) Don’t make me smear you, Pap.
(Paplebon shrinks back, whimpering)
Paplebon: Ah, no, please, Bryce. Sorry, sorry. I promise to help make baseball fun again! I promise!
(Bitchin’ guitar solo! Paplebon scurries back into the dugout as Bryce rounds first base.)
MLB Announcer: And its a #PapaSlam for Harper’s 100th!
(Bryce halts his HR trot.)
Bryce: Whoa, whoa. “Papa Slam?” C’mon, that’s a clown phrase, bro. The “DomiNo-No” thing is bearable, ‘cause, you know…free pizza. But grand slams happen every day almost, and this #Papa garbage makes you sound stupid. Peyton Manning’s omnipresent roidhead is bad enough. Have some dignity, man.
MLB Announcer: (Sheepish, quiet) Sorry Bryce. Won’t happen again.
(Bitchin’ guitar solo! Bryce continues his HR trot. MLB Commissioner ROB Manfred enters, wearing a blue shirt with white collar and cuffs, as Bryce rounds second.)
Rob: Bryce…hi….we need to talk about your knob.
Bryce: My what?
Rob: Yeah…did you get the memo? It’s just…all MLB bats need to have uniform bat knob decals before they go out? This “💯” thing is just… I’m gonna need you to…go ahead and use the new standard bat knob decal from now on, mkay?
Bryce: Yeah, I’m not gonna do that, Ron.
Rob: Uh, yeah… It’s actually “Rob?”
Bryce: Listen, Ron. I’m keeping my bat knob decals. For Duffman. For Fuck Face.
Rob: Duffman and…Fuck Face?
(Matt “Duffman” Duffy and Billy “Fuck Face” Ripken join Bryce. Duffy wears a beer helmet and cape, Billy wields his “fuck face” bat.)
Bryce: It’s not just about my dream of making baseball fun. It’s about Matt Duffy taking the persona of a beer mascot from the Simpsons, it’s about Billy Ripken and the most infamous baseball card of all time. It’s about all of us, together, having fun. I’m keeping my flair, Ron.
Rob: Anything you say, Bryce. (Backing away) A-And by the way, my name is–
Bryce: What’s that? Speak up.
(Bitchin’ guitar solo! Ron, Matt and Billy exit as Bryce rounds third. Bryce heads home at a celebratory lope. But before he can hit home, GOOSE Gossage appears and blocks the plate. Bryce has to stop.)
Goose: You lilly-white, spoiled little, no-talent, prima donna excuse for a ballplayer.
Bryce: Off your meds again, Goose?
Goose: Back in my day, men behaved like men. Nome of this GQ fashion baloney. And let me tell you, if we “pimped” something, it wasn’t a lousy home run, no sir. The only thing we pimped were players’ wives, just as god intended!
Bryce: You were a terrible showboat in your day, Goose. You can’t stop me.
Goose: You wouldn’t hit an old man, Harper.
Bryce: I don’t have to.
(Bryce doffs his cap to the crowd. They go wild.)
Goose: No! Are they (gasp) Having fun?!
(Bryce flexes his guns to the crowd. They cheer louder.)
Goose: No! You’re breaking the Unwritten Rules, and the fans…like it! They just want to be entertained?! It can’t be!
(Bryce points out a woman in the stands. He winks and blows her a kiss. The crowd roar is deafening. He pulls a “Make Baseball Fun Again” cap from his back pocket, puts it on. He puts one on Goose’s head as well)
Bryce: You lose, Goose. Baseball is fun… And the fans love it.
(Goose melts like at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” as the fans cheer.)
Bryce: Now that’s what I call fun.
(Bryce steps on home plate amid deafening cheers. His theme song again blares. Bryce runs off stage in slow motion, framed by a perfect sunset.)
Narrator: Fun in the face of Old Fogeyism. Bat flips. Pimping home runs. Realizing you get paid actual money for playing a kids’ game. These are the continuing adventures of Bryce Harper: Mr. 💯.
(Bryce freezes, fist pumped into the sunset. The theme song hits its final screaming chords. Lights down.)