Fall Classic or Winter Carnival
Rise 'n 'Thal
The sight of Marty Barrett shivering in front of dugout heaters, or of Keith Hernandez sitting on the bench with his head wrapped in towels re-emphasizes the need for a shorter baseball season.
Perhaps even more so than Bowie Kuhn's long underwear of several years past.
Let's face it. The baseball year is too long. It extends through six months, 162 games and three seasons.
Opening Day comes at an appropriate time: several months after football season ends, a few weeks after the NCAA championships and just when everybody thinks they're going to go nuts from watching golf and speed-skating on Wide World of Sports.
But now that the playoffs have moved to a best-of-seven format, baseball has the potential to extend almost into November.
November is not the time for baseball. For that matter, neither is October.
October is Halloween weather. The kind that prompted your mother to make you wear a coat over your costume.
November is Thanksgiving weather. The kind during which you're supposed to eat huge dinners of turkey leftovers and watch--what else?--football games.
The logical solution to the problem of cold-weather baseball is to shorten the baseball season to 154 games.
First, this solution would satisfy baseball purists, who demand that Roger Maris' home run record and all other records set in the longer season be denoted with an asterisk. (Would they suggest that Pete Rose's hit record be asterisked because he played in seasons of 162 games while Ty Cobb played in 154-game seasons?)
Second, it would allow each league to rearrange the way games are scheduled--especially the American League, in which teams play more games out of their division than within it.
But most of all, the shorter season would be a warmer season.
To complement the reduction in games, the season should also start earlier--in earliest April, with all games for the first two weeks played in warm-weather or domed sites.
This will mean that teams like the Mets and Red Sox won't play their home openers until mid April, the time they usually play them under the present system. It also means that they could get semi-meaningless games against Western Division clubs out of the way early.
And it means that they could play each other in the World Series without freezing their hands off.