Another baseball season is under way, and once again, fans will probably turn out in record numbers. What is it about the game that makes it so popular these days? Perhaps, in a time of rapid change, it's baseball's adherence to the tried and true; it affirms our faith in the old verities.

Take for example, the business of how some teams are winners year after year. It's no mystery: they follow certain proven rules for success. Here are some of the most important ones:

1)Work hard on the fundamentals in spring training.

2)Build a strong farm system.

3)Go with a five-man pitching rotation.

4)Or maybe a four-man rotation.

5)Never forget that pitching is somewhere between 81 and 92.2 percent of baseball.

At the same time, baseball also comes up with a few new verities each year. After adequate testing they'll become old ones. For instance, Danny Cox, a mainstay of the St. Louis Cardinals' pitching staff, jumped off a seab wall while fishing this spring and broke his ankle. He'll miss six weeks, which may or may not be enough to wreck the Cardinals' pennant hopes.

1)Keep your pitching staff off seawalls.

Pitcher Charlie Hough, during the execution of a complicated variation of the high-five handshake, broke a finger and will miss several starts for the hapless Texas Rangers:

2)When exchanging congratulations, players should be kept six feet away from one another and should just say, "Great game, Lloyd."

Earl Weaver of the Baltimore Orioles is one of the most successful managers in baseball. One of his innovations is the seeking out of lucky spots in the dugout. If the Orioles get a hit, Mr. Weaver keeps in mind where he was standing when it occurred, and makes sure to stand there the next time some luck is needed. Someday (but not yesterday, when the president was in the Orioles' dugout, too, maybe also looking for the lucky spot) he'll probably find the spot on which all the luck in the Western Hemisphere is focused, and the Orioles will achieve an endless inning.

3)Devote your energies this summer to finding the lucky spot for watching the game.

There are worse ways to pass the time.