Down the Drain

Steve Blass, pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates for about 8 years, defeated the Baltimore Orioles on Oct. 17, 1971, winning the World Series. At 33, Blass was driven into retirement by 2 years of a near-total inability to throw strikes.

  1. The photograph shows a perfectly arrested moment of joy. On one side-the left, as you look at the picture-the catcher is running toward the camera at full speed, with his upraised arms spread wide. His body is tilting toward the center of the picture, his mask is held in his right hand, his big glove is still on his left hand, and his mouth is open in a gigantic shout of pleasure. Over on the right, another player, the pitcher, is just past the apex of an astonishing leap that has brought his knees up to his chest and his feet well up off the ground. Both of his arms are flung wide, and he, too, is shouting. His hunched, airborne posture makes him look like a man who has just made a running jump over a sizable object-a kitchen table, say. by luck, two of the outreaching hands have overlapped exactly in the middle of the photograph, so that the pitcher's bare right palm and fingers are silhouetted against the catcher's glove, and as a result the two men are linked and seem to be executi...

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