On Deck

Three plays warm up for baseball season.

Just in time for the start of a new baseball season, three local theater companies are presenting plays that draw on the lore of America's pastime and its place in our culture. Which makes the three funny and engaging scripts sound a lot more preachy than they actually are. Still, there's wisdom in each among the wit, and some interesting parallels:

Honus and Me

(Seattle Children's Theatre, opened March 31). Steven Dietz's time-travel fantasy (adapted from Dan Gutman's novel) sends Little League benchwarmer Joey Stoshack back to meet hero Honus Wagner and earn a little confidence, not to mention a baseball card worth half a million dollars.

Baseball's place in the script: Setting, both now and in 1909.

The Big Question: "Sometimes there's the easy thing to do—and the right thing. And nobody can tell you which is which. It's up to you."

Words to live by: "When you have a hard decision to make, sometimes it helps to think about the person you most admire—and what they might do, if they were in your place."

Zen epigram: "The best story is always the true one."

Sports insight: "Sometimes baseball is nothing but organized humiliation."

Tuesdays With Morrie

(Seattle Repertory Theater, opens April 8). High-powered sportswriter Mitch Albom recrosses paths with the college prof who'd inspired him years before—and who is now dying of Lou Gehrig's disease—in Albom's adaptation, with Jeffrey Hatcher, of his memoir.

Baseball's place in the script: Plot point. Mitch skips a World Series game to keep his Tuesday appointment with the declining Morrie, who, no sports fan, watches the game with him anyway, furthering their bonding.

The Big Question: "Are you at peace with yourself? Are you trying to be as human as you can be?"

Words to live by: Morrie's an unstoppable fount, offering about three or four maxims per page. A favorite: "If you don't like the culture, make your own! Skip the shopping mall, have some friends over, exchange ideas!"

Zen epigram: "Some people are running so fast they don't know where they're going."

Sports insight: Albom, speaking of a basketball player he recently criticized in print: "Morrie, no offense, but that guy I hurt so much will make this year alone more than you've earned in your lifetime, and he can't even get to practice?!"

Rounding Third

(Intiman, opens April 14). Richard Dresser's snappily comic duologue pits a blue-collar Little League coach (a role created by George Wendt) against his yuppie assistant (a role begging for David Hyde-Pierce).

Baseball's place in the script: Metaphor. Specifically, it's a battle between two coaching styles/life philosophies: "Winning is fun. Losing stinks" vs. "The fun is in the playing."

The Big Question: "What kind of man are you? Losing doesn't even bother you."

Words to live by: "In every marriage you're hanging by a thread, and half the time you regret the day you were born, but that's no reason to quit."

Zen epigram: "Play within yourself."

Sports insight: "Nice going, remembering to wear the cup. FYI, it's traditionally worn inside the pants. But that's an interesting look; it could catch on."

gborchert@seattleweekly.com

 
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