Play ball! Baseball's best teams battle in the league championships and World Series for the next two weeks. These are the year's best games because every pitch and every swing might mean a championship.

So it's sad that the games are on television too late for most kids. Major League Baseball should have more afternoon or early games for its youngest fans. But that's not going to change soon. Kids are shut out unless their moms or dads let them stay up and watch.

Now let's be clear: Parents make the rules in the house. I know, because I'm a dad. If your mom and dad say no baseball, there's no baseball. Even if it is the World Series.

Still, there may be a way to persuade them to let you slip past bedtime for a game or two (or maybe a few innings of a game or two). Here are some suggestions of things to say and do that might help you see some of this year's great catches and home-run heroics.

* If it's a school night, get your homework done and in "ready-to-check" order before the game starts. Otherwise, you don't stand a chance.

* You probably should give up all hope of watching the games if you have a science project due in the next two weeks.

* Don't say that your best friend's parents let him or her stay up to watch the games. That stuff never works.

* But you can say that it would be a shame if you missed a famous, game-winning home run such as those by Boston's Carlton Fisk in the 1975 World Series, Los Angeles' Kirk Gibson in 1988 and Toronto's Joe Carter in 1993.

* Or even worse, it would be a shame if you missed a no-hitter. This year's games might be part of sports history.

* Promise to give up your favorite TV show (even better, video games) for a month if you can watch the baseball games. After all, sports is the best reality TV there is.

* Promise you will not watch all the ads for the Fox TV shows between innings. Wow, do the new shows look dumb.

* Be sure your parents know that most baseball games do not last 18 innings (and almost six hours) like the fourth game of the Atlanta Braves-Houston Astros series.

* When Mark Buehrle of the White Sox pitches, the games are shorter than the usual three hours. This season the left-hander started 17 games that lasted less than 21/2 hours.

* If all else fails, tell your parents that French-born historian Jacques Barzun wrote, "Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball. . . ."

After hearing a cool quote like that, they might let you stay up for an extra inning or two.

Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's sports opinion column and is the author of sports novels for kids.

Even if the

initial call goes against you,

the umps

(er, your parents) might allow you to catch some of the action.