Hardball Theatre: The Prince of No-Nos
The Prince of No-Nos
A play in one act by Keith Good
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called, ‘life.’”
–Prince Rodgers Nelson (1958 – 2016)
Now let’s get crazy.
(Lights up on the stage. We’re on the field at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, two outs in the top of the ninth inning. JAKE Arrieta stands on the mound stage left. The final Cincinnati RED enters stage right.)
Red: Alright, Jake. You may have struck me out twice already today, but let me tell you, we’re not donning the golden sombrero. Nosiree. Not today.
(Jake stares to the catcher for his sign. Silent.)
Red: Lotta pressure, Jake. A no-hitter on the line. Ninth inning. …Oops. Did I just say “no-hitter?” Is that bad luck? To talk about a no-hitter during a no-hitter? Rotten luck for you, Jake. Looks like it ends here.
(Jake gets his sign. He sets and uncorks a heater. Red watches it–pop!–into the catcher’s glove. Strike!)
Red: A 94-mile-per-hour heater to start? Bro, your arm must be d-e-d, dead. I feel so sorry that you’ve taken a no hitter–oops, I said no-hitter again–so deep into the game only to have it end here. First pitch fastball…? So desperate. Call me Madam Cleo, cause I’m all inside your head right now. I’d hate to hear what’s going on in that giant skull of yours.
(Lights dim, leaving a lone spot on Jake. In this world, we can hear his thoughts.)
Jake: (shouted) Raaaaaaspberry Beret! The kind you buy at a second hand store! She wore a raspberry beret!… And…I don’t know the words anymooooore!
(Lights back to normal. Jake pops off another heater–pop!–to the catcher. Strike!)
Red: Another mid-90s heater? How predictable is that, bro. You’ll have to get a little more creative than that if you want to keep that no-hitter. 0-and-2 count? More like 0-and…
(Lights again dim. Spot on Jake.)
Jake: Two thousand zero zero party over oops out of time. So tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1999! I was dreaming when I pitched this, so forgive me if my fastball strays…
(While badly singing in his head, Jake gets the sign and pitches. Just missed. Ball. Lights quickly back up.)
Red: A ball? A ball? Dude, I am so in your head right now!
(Back to spotlight on Jake.)
Jake: (sobbing as he sings) Cuz noooothing compares! Nothing compares… To U!
(Lights up as Jake steps off the mound. Red continues taunting as Jake takes the rosin, cleans his spikes.)
Red: Man no wonder you’ve walked four. Four walks! What the heck kind of no-hitter is that?! Bro you might as well just serve up a fatty boom batty cheeser down the center and save yourself the embarrassment of a four walk no-hitter.
(Jake shakes off a sign. And another.)
Red: I know man, I can’t believe how pathetic this is either.
(Spot on Jake.)
Jake: (shaking the his head in time with song) Little Red Corvette! Baby you’re much too fast! Little red Corvette! Baby you need a love that’s gonna last!
Red: Well this is it, bro. This pitch. I can feel a meatball coming. Too bad about your losing your no-no on the last pitch, Jake. And a deep bomb home run, no less. But it was fun while it lasted. Hashtag sorry-not-sorry
(Jake gets his sign. He sets. Lights down, back to the the spotlight.)
Jake: (Spoken) I can’t believe Prince is really… But… But he wouldn’t want me to be here on the mound, moping. I mean, we say “gone too soon,” but life shouldn’t measured by time. Life should be measured by deeds. And Prince did more with his time than most do with double. He wouldn’t want me moping on the mound. He’d want… He’d want a party. Funk. Craziness.
Jake:(Again singing, starting quiet, shaky.) 27 Reds, we’ll watch them fall! Stand in the way of Cubs and Jake will smoke them all! With a change up here…and a fastball there! No one in all of Wrigleyville will ever compare. I am yours now this, no-hitter’s mine mine and together we’ll throw through all space and tiiime. Today 27 Reds die! (Jake throws his pitch.)
(Lights up. Red takes a massive, embarrassing cut as strike three pops into the catcher’s mitt.)
Red: Okay, okay. Congrats man. But I gotta know, how’d you do it, especially with me all up in your head?
(A pause. Jake takes in a deep breath.)
Jake: (singing out loud for the whole stadium to hear) Aaaaaaaahhhhhh…Pitching Control!
(Lights to black)