"How many times do I have to tell you? The last words of the national anthem are not 'play ball!'"
Back during the Tailhook scandal, when more than 100 military pilots were investigated for sexually assaulting around 90 people (most of them women) at a 1991 event in Las Vegas, one strain of apologia went like this: "You can't train people to be highly competitive, ruthless killers and also expect them to be polite and well-behaved. People just don't work that way." That rationale is flawed, of course—no citizen is above the law—but it's the tension at the heart of Back Back Back, a 2008 drama by Itamar Moses (Bach at Leipzig, Boardwalk Empire) now playing at Seattle Public Theatre.
On its surface, the play is about three professional baseball players and the issues that define their relationships over the years: fame, the politics of pro sports, and, especially, steroids. But deep inside, Back Back Back asks how far you can push people to be the best of the best, how much money and attention you can lavish on them, before they start believing their own hype, thinking they're supermen, and crossing the lines into seriously bad behavior.