Hardball Theatre: The Breakups
A Play in One Act by Keith Good
(Lights up on a dingy, bunker-like room. A single, caged light sputters and pops from the ceiling. The cinder walls are lined with cases of beer and canned food. BIP Roberts, in full San Diego Padres uniform and AL Martin, in a Seattle Mariners uni, sit in a corner playing cards. MARWIN Gonzalez, in a Houston Astros uniform, is whittling. Empties and crushed tallboys litter the floor.)
(In the distance, we hear the faint *crack!* of a bat. MARWIN pauses his whittling, looks up to the ceiling.)
MARWIN: Mmmm. Smells like fresh fish.
(The others grunt assent. They all go back to their business, killing time, laying low. After a drawn moment, a voice calls from the darkened staircase in the rear of the room.)
BIP: Right on time.
AL: Mmm-hm. (lays cards) Gin.
BIP: Cheater. I almost had you.
AL: Guess I broke it up.
(JEREMY Hazelbaker, a ballplayer for the St. Louis Cardinals pokes his head from the stairwell and timidly walks down into the clubhouse. He’s also in full uniform.)
MARWIN: Hey, kid. Welcome to The Breakups. Glad to have you in the club.
JEREMY: The what? I don’t think I’m supposed to be here…
AL: Oh you’re right where you should be, Redbird.
JEREMY: I hit a home run, just now, and when I got back in the dugout, skip looked all pale, like somebody died, and he said, “this way, Hazelbaker,” and showed me to this tiny little door in the corner of the clubhouse, and… and… he shut the door behind me. It was all dark and there were strange noises, and then I’m walking down this staircase…
BIP: Trust me, you’re right where you’re meant to be.
JEREMY: Bip Roberts? Didn’t you break up Pedro Martinez’s perfect game in 1995?
AL: Now he’s getting it.
JEREMY: And you, Al Martin… the 2005 ALCS?
AL: Only hit against Roger “The Rocket” Clemens.
BIP: More like, Roger “Never-Threw-a-No-Hitter-Thanks-to-Al-Martin” Clemens.
MARWIN: Like I said, welcome to the club.
(BIP reaches down and grabs a beer can. It’s empty. He throws it aside, crouches and grabs another. Empty again.)
BIP: Well, there should be a few brews somewhere around here. Open bar for club members.
JEREMY: Club? We’re not… dead… are we?
MARWIN: Muerte? Shit, I’d better not be. We’re the “broke up a no-hitter” club. Take me: I killed Yu Darvish’s perfecto with one out left on April 2nd, 2013. You, Jeremy Hazelbaker, broke up Kyle Hendricks’ no-hitter just now.
JEREMY: …And? I’ve got a game tomorrow!
AL: Not anymore, Redbird. You gotta lay low. Protect yourself.
JEREMY: Protect myself?! From who?
(On cue, we hear a knock at the door atop the stairwell.)
BIP: From him.
VOICE: Pizza! Pizza delivery for Al Martin!
AL: We both know damn well that I didn’t order no damn pizza, Roger.
VOICE: (nervous laugh) Roger? Who is Roger?
AL: You’re Roger, Mr. Clemens.
VOICE: Roger Clemens? No… I’m… Smoger Schlemens. I just want to give you this pizza you’re owed, Bip.
JEREMY: Roger Clemens?
BIP: He comes around about once a week, desperate to beat the shit out of ol’ Al, here.
VOICE: Just let me give you what you’re owed, Al!
AL: Piss off, Clemens!
BIP (Nods to Al, then card table): Go fish?
(BIP and AL return to the card table and shuffle up. BIP scours the empties on the floor, eventually landing on a tallboy with a few dregs remaining.)
MARWIN: I doubt Kyle Hendricks’ has the roid rage to beat the shit out of you, but I’m dead-ass certain there’s an army of drunk Northsiders desperate to knock your skull right about now.
JEREMY: Oh god, you’re right. Wrigleyville yuppies are the worst. So… how long do I have to stay here?
MARWIN: Depends on how fast the Cub fans cool off and how well you handle the situation.
(Dodger Manager DAVE Roberts enters stage right, in animated conversation with umpire JIM Joyce)
DAVE: Blister! Blister blister blister blister. Blister blister!
JIM: Safe at first?
DAVE: Blister blister blister!
JIM: Safe at first safe at first. Safe. At. First safe at first safe. At first. Safe?
JEREMY: Wait. I thought this club was for batters who broke up no-hitters. What the hell are Dodger Manager Dave Roberts and umpire Jim Joyce doing down here?
MARWIN: I never said it was for ‘batters.’ Just people who broke up no-nos. Dave Roberts, there, pulled Rich Hill off the rubber 80-some pitches and seven innings into a perfect game. Says he saw signs of a blister on Hill’s finger from the dugout.
(DAVE, hearing his name, turns sharply to MARWIN and JEREMY.)
DAVE: Blister? Blister? Blister?
MARWIN: (pats DAVE on the head) Yes, skip. A blister. I heard you. A blister. I’m sure Rich Hill had one hell of a red mark on his hand for you to yank a veteran pitcher from what was probably his only shot at a no-no.
JEREMY: Of course. And Jim Joyce incorrectly called Cleveland runner Jason Donald safe at first, ruining Armando Galarraga’s perfect game in 2010.
(Likewise, JIM turns to JEREMY.)
JIM: Safe at first? Safe? At? First? Safe?
(DAVE elbows between JEREMY and JIM)
DAVE: Blister. Blister!
JIM: Safe at first! Safe at first!
(The two toddle across the stage, arguing with one another.)
MARWIN: As you can see, some handle it better than others.
(A knock at the door above)
VOICE: Publisher’s Clearing House! Al Martin! You’ve won our million-dollar grand prize!
AL: Go to hell, Roger!
VOICE: I’ll get you Al! You can’t hide in there forever! The Rocket always gets his man!
(A loud boom rocks the bunker. Beer cans topple from the walls. Dust precipitates down from the ceiling.)
JEREMY: What the hell was that?
MARWIN: Pedro Martinez had Dennis Rodman trade two of his Cy Youngs to Kim Jong-Un for a cache of North Korean bunker-busters. Pedro drops one every now and again just to remind Bip that he’s a lousy sack of shit.
BIP: Good thing the North Koreans can’t tell their ass from their elbow when it comes to weapons. Got any fours?
AL: Go fish.
MARWIN: Well, you seem pretty well adjusted. And the Cubbies are phenomenal this year. Once the playoffs come around, they’ll probably forget all about you. As long as you don’t start bouncing off the walls like Dave and Jim over there, you should be good to rejoin your team sometime in October.
JEREMY: October? The Cubs? You know how October and the Cubs usually get along, right?
MARWIN: Hm. Good point.
MARWIN: I hope you like canned beans and lite beer tallboys.
JIM (Nodding) Safe!
*Header image picture by Claire Rowland. Modified under a Creative Commons 2.0 License.