THE BASEBALL SEASON, as every fan knows, reaches a critical point on Labor Day. That's when the stretch drives for the penants begin and the fans start to talk about whether the Orioles are a shoo-in and whether the Reds can hang on to their newly won lead.

But this year, there is something different. It's called football. And it begins, believe it or not, on the day before Labor Day. That, as we understand it, is the result of the desire of those who run this rugged sport to add two games to their season and still be able to hold that bonanza known as the Super Bowl in mid-January.

It's too much. The basketball season seems to have ended only yesterday and Washington's team was in it to the very end. The soccer season is still under way, although our team isn't. And the baseball season, in which Washington's interest recently soared, has finally reached the point where daily attention to the results seem worthwhile. Add to that the Redskins and there is hardly room in the newspaper, let alone the human mind or the television screen, for anything else.

This may explain why even the most die-hard Redskins fans may find their attention diverted elsewhere for the next few weeks. It's not that they lack interest in the solution to the quarterback situation or the almost total dispersal of the over-the-hill gang or the arrival in town of more than a dozen new players. It's just that Labor Day is too early to focus on the pigskin and the gridiron. Your heart may belong to the Redkins, but this weekend belongs to baseball.