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According to Bahill, a hitter can only hope to follow a pitch for the first 55 feet of its journey. Better batters train themselves to lose it somewhere in mid-flight, at which point they make a quick guess as to where it's going and a corrective eye movement to pick it up again.
Bahill is aware of Ted Williams' contention that he could actually see the ball strike the bat and agrees that it's possible. But that's not what made Teddy Ball-game a great hitter. It's Bahill's contention that Williams would track the ball, lose it and then find it again, just before contact. "It does no good to see the ball hit the bat," Bahill says. "By then, it's far too late to adjust your swing. But it could be a learning thing. It shows a hitter how the ball moves, and it'll help the next swing."
Bahill pursued his research to answer larger questions about how the brain controls movement. He'll present his findings at a conference of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers this December in New Delhi, where no one much cares about baseball. But his discovery applies to cricket and tennis, too—and to Bahill's own sport of choice. "I play a lot of softball," he says, "and the study has helped me to concentrate more." In slo-pitch, he adds, you really can keep your eye on the ball.
AWAITING A REFEREE'S POSITION
The day after the U.S.S.R. shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 7, U.S.A. Wrestling Executive Director Steve Combs and President Werner Holzer discussed the fate of American participation in the world championships, set to begin Sept. 22 in Kiev. Both were aware that President Carter's boycott of the Moscow Olympics to protest the U.S.S.R.'s invasion of Afghanistan is an emphatic precedent, and the matter may be out of their hands. "You've got the emotion on both sides of it," says Combs. "You could say, 'Hey, we want nothing to do with them.' On the other hand, we've got guys working their butts off to make this team."
Derrieres were doing double duty even as Combs spoke. Qualifying wrestle-offs in Greco-Roman and freestyle took place last weekend, and the U.S. team thereby selected began an intensive two-week preworlds training program on Monday. But until President Reagan announces his response to the Soviet action, the team will be left to grapple with the possibility of missing a stage in its Olympic preparation, one that Combs calls "critical." It's the same uncertainty U.S. athletes faced in 1980 as the specter of the Carter boycott loomed.
Neither U.S.A. Wrestling nor the State Department had an official comment as SI went to press, but Combs already sounds more philosophical about the prospect of not competing than the amateur sports establishment did in '80, when Carter's decision met with widespread bitterness. Perhaps 55 dead countrymen mean more than 16 million oppressed Afghans. "You begin to appreciate how all these international incidents affect us in differing ways," Combs says. "With us, it's sports. But I'm sure some farmer is sitting at home, thinking about the grain deal." Reagan has announced he won't rescind the new U.S.- U.S.S.R. grain accord. With Kiev only two weeks away, the wrestlers might take some encouragement from that.
NO, JUST WORRIED
THE SEVE LEVY
The PGA Tour's long-standing Conflicting Event Rule required that a foreign golfer who wanted a PGA card enter at least five U.S. events for every tournament he played outside his country. Because his homeland, Spain, hosts only two European Tour events, Seve Ballesteros has long considered the rule unfair. Last June he had a request for an exemption denied. Now the PGA has relented, asking only that a member appear in at least 15 U.S. events each season. Beyond that, he's free to compete in any tournament on his "home circuit," which in Ballesteros' case is the European Tour.