Sport: The Bouncy Pirates

The players are an assorted lot, a collection of the shy and the brash, the pure and the profane. What is more, they ridicule their differences with some of the sharpest locker-room needling in the majors. But the Pittsburgh Pirates welcome and encourage their brand of banter. "The kidding relaxes the whole team," says Third Baseman Don Hoak, "and that's good, because baseball is a very simple game unless you make it tough. Just hit the damn ball and run to first. Just pick it up and throw to first."

Last week the relaxed...

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