No matter what kind of myth you are, another man eventually will come along and replace you. Ty Cobb set around 90 records in baseball, many of them still standing. Yet just as he dwarfed the impressive legacy of the “Black Ty Cobb,” Oscar Charleston, so Babe Ruth replaced him in the nation's memory. Lee Blessing's 1989 bio-drama is devoted to explaining the complicated Cobb, separating him into three ages and allowing them to interact with each other as well as Charleston (Jason Delune). Instead of the angry young man maturing into hateful old man, Blessing softens Cobb — whose racism is less shocking than his aggressive temper — as he ages. All four actors are fine, especially Daniel Sykes' stereotype of a gum-smacking ballplayer, eyes lowered into smug slits, cheek scrunched from his smirk. Gregg T. Daniel's direction is crisp, and the production clips along. Blessing, however, loses the game. While Cobb is a fascinating character whose violence seems inherited (his mother was arrested and acquitted for voluntary manslaughter after shooting his father, who suspected her of cheating) and whose retirement feels especially poignant (“I couldn't do the one thing that made me special”), Blessing attempts to turn Cobb's story into an overreaching statement on race and power. In doing so, he again pushes Cobb off the pedestal. Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., N. Hlywd.; in rep, call for schedule; thru April 7. (818) 763-5990.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 7 p.m. Starts: Feb. 10. Continues through April 21, 2012

LA Weekly