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Point of View: Half Physical, 90 Percent Mental

Thu, 07/20/2023 - 09:43

Talking with some of the Sag Harbor Whalers on the phone the other night, collegians all, I was impressed when several of them told me they were majoring in scientific subjects — in neuroscience, biology, and anesthesiology, for instance.

“You’ve got a team of scientists!” I said when Jake Tobin, who co-coaches the team with Bianca Smith, came back on the line. “That might be a story. . . . Do you hear left brain/right brain talk in the dugout?”

“It’s all over my head,” said the Whalers’ personable coach.

Later, I asked Mary if she thought they were pulling my leg. “Maybe they sensed my enthusiasm, and the next guys I interview will say they’re majoring in astrophysics, or molecular biology, or entomology. . . .”

“They could come to our basement if they’re studying entomology,” she said, adding that she didn’t think they were pulling my leg.

“In the old days,” I said to one of them, “it was rare that pro ballplayers even went to college. Eddie Collins went to Columbia, I remember. Yogi Berra didn’t even finish high school.”

Along that line, I recommend the documentary “It Ain’t Over” to everyone. Mary, who’s not much interested in baseball, loved it. Periodically, Yogi Berra quotes are matched with sayings by Aristotle, Plato, and Einstein, among others, and Yogi Berra’s always come out better.

“Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical,” seems to me apt when I think about the Whalers, who — as of last week at least — were sailing along with two weeks left in the wood bat league’s season.

Their confidence was summed up by Wyatt Benson, a second-year infielder from Southern California, who, when I asked him if he thought the team would repeat this year, said — presumably mindful that it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future — “Oh yeah, we’ve got a good chance to repeat — you can count on it.”

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