Steve Blass ‘disease’ may define Tiger Woods

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I really wasn’t looking for a job but one day while betting the ponies at the Stardust, then-race and sports director Ray Lenzi calls me over and says he needed someone to work.

Lenzi asked if I was interested. Not really doing anything at the time and having always thought about working in a book I say, yes. He wanted to know if I could I type and do I golf. I could type (and very well) and at that time I did golf. He hires me on the spot.

I started the next day and my first job was typing his wife’s Christmas card list. My second was to bring my golf clubs as we were going golfing. What a job!

While working at the ‘Dust I usually golfed two times a week and played in the high 80’s and low 90’s. We had a customer who ran the driving range at the old Desert Inn and he would let us come over, use the practice tees and hit all the golf balls we wanted.

Well, this one day I was hitting my driver and the pro at the DI says I have a nice swing and what do I shoot? I tell him and he says he could take at least 8 strokes off my game. After taking six lessons I could never get off the tee again and don’t think I ever hit another fairway.

If you would like my golf clubs they are at the bottom of Lake Mead! That brings me to Steve Blass.

It was 1971 and Steve Blass wins the key Game 3 to lead the Pirates to a 4-3 World Series win over the Orioles. In 1972 Blass was on the All Star team and on his way to being one of the best in the game, but something happened after that great year. All of a sudden Blass could not throw a strike.

It was one of the saddest things a person could watch let alone a huge Pirates fan like me, and Blass was one of the nicest guys you would ever know.

No one could figure out what caused it. Some thought it was the sudden tragic death of his good friend and teammate the great Roberto Clemente and there were lots of other rumors going around that I will not get into. He never got his game back and his career ended.

Blass had a 103-76 record with an ERA of 3.63. He would have been well paid in today’s marketplace and now it is called the Steve Blass disease.

Writer Roger Angell penned the best article on Blass called “Gone for Good” – the story of Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Steve Blass. It is a great read. I actually listened to the last game Steve Blass pitched in the majors and it was heartbreaking to say the least.

Which brings me to Tiger Woods.

Watching Tiger Woods this past week brought memories of Blass back. For some reason I just couldn’t feel the sadness as I did for Blass, but it was hard to watch this once incredible golfer lose his entire game.

Woods may have brought a lot of it on himself or he may have taken lessons from the hack at the DI who charged me $100 to ruin my game. But Tiger, he just let his life get out of hand; not so for Blass.

Tiger may well have the Steve Blass disease and probably will never win another major again, but let’s hope as golf fans that 21-year-old Jordan Spieth keeps his life together as his future is as bright as Tiger’s once was.

I don’t golf any longer but I still can type thanks to Mr. Kamarados my high school typing teacher, who I learned my home row keys from, and my mother Mary, who told me if I can type I can always get a job.

Even though you may not golf, or if you do, get out and take a shot at betting some of those golfers, you could be walking around lucky and not even know it.

Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GamingToday’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Follow Richard on Twitter @SabesBet. Contact Richard at [email protected].

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