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Monday, March 17, 2014

Nieman Storyboard: Annotation Tuesday! Roger Angell and the pitcher with a major-league case of the yips

After almost 40 years, Roger Angell looks back on the making of one of his classic essays.

After giving up a home run to the Reds’ second batter of the day, Joe Morgan, which was hit off a first-pitch fastball, Blass readjusted his plans and went mostly to a big, slow curve, causing the Reds to hit innumerable rainmaking outfield flies, and won 5-1. I can still recall how Blass looked that afternoon–his characteristic, feet-together stance at the outermost, first-base edge of the pitching rubber, and then the pitch, delivered with a swastika-like scattering of arms and legs and a final lurch to the left–and I also remember how I kept thinking that at any moment the sluggers of the Big Red Machine would stop overstriding and overswinging against such unintimidating deliveries and drive Blass to cover.

Just read it.

AndrewJ Posted: March 17, 2014 at 07:45 PM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: long reads, pirates, roger angell, writing worth reading

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   1. Perry Posted: March 18, 2014 at 11:02 AM (#4673283)
Definitely read it. The best baseball writer who ever lived talking at length about how he works. I thought I remembered this piece being titled "Gone For Good" rather than "Down the Drain," and my memory was correct for once. Here he talks about the reason for the changing it when the story was reprinted in a book: Blass hated the original title. The changed title is far superior anyway, IMO.

By the way, thanks to whoever recommended Angell's collection of non-baseball autobiographical essays, Let Me Finish, in an earlier Angell thread. I'm deep into it now and it's wonderful. I'd read most or all of them in the New Yorker over the years, but to have the whole collection between two covers is fantastic.
   2. frannyzoo Posted: March 18, 2014 at 10:29 PM (#4673683)
Bumped for truth...this is definitely read material. I even like the corny color-coding. In fact, I really like it.
   3. Howie Menckel Posted: March 18, 2014 at 11:11 PM (#4673696)

"What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

One thing I’ve tried to pick up from (John) McPhee is, “As a reporter, try to be stupid.” Be a stupid interviewer. Don’t be conversational, don’t understand too quickly. You say, What? And then the person you’re talking to wants to help you out."


In a group media setting, it's amazing how the "dumbest" questions elicit the best answers.

Perhaps the only more core technique is pausing, as the interviewer, when the answer seems done. Let the best of the rest of the answer flow.

   4. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: March 18, 2014 at 11:30 PM (#4673700)
delightful piece.

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