Television may get away with dragging out the NBA playoffs for the sake of more weekend exposure but the grapevine has it that baseball learned its lesson that (brrr) October: the 1977 season ends on a Sunday (Oct. 2) and the playoffs, it's said, will start on Tuesday night, the best-of-five playoffs should be over by Sunday, Oct. 9 and the World Series will start on Tuesday night, not the following weekend . . . See, TV doesn't have coatless Bowie Kuhn in its pocket, even if he will be among the guest lecturers this summer at an accredited course at Boston University on Broadcast sports - "the state of the art, where it developed and, more importantly, where it is going" . . .

The American League office tells the Chicago Daily News that physicists are conducting precision tests at an unnamed Midwestern university to determine whether the homer-happy 1977 major league baseball is as hopped up as it acts. "I can't reveal the site of the tests," AL spokesman Bob Fishel said. "The Rawlings company has asked us to keep it secret. They don't want a horde of media people descending on the laboratory and impeding science." Let it live, does - the balance between hitting and pitching seems much better this year than in recent seasons when pitchers seemed overly dominant . . .

The current Fortune magazine has an interesting ball lineup ('76 World Series version, with DH) with monthly salary figures for Cincinnati's starting base-item. "Reds Edge Out Tigers," comparing 1977 giant, Exxon. The lineups with pay for an average month's work (Reds figured on basis of eight months' work and counting '76 playoff and Series lucre):

REDS - Rose, 3b, $50,171; Griffey, rf, $24,129; Morgan, 2b, $53,296; Perez, 1b (his Montreal Expo figure), $28,296; Driessen, dh, $12,671; Foster, If, $24,129; Bench, c, $33,296; Geronimo, cf, 15,796; Cocepcion, ss, $34,546.

EXXON - Barrow, senior V.P., $23,993; Bennett, sr. V.P., $18,785; Campbell, sr. V.P., $27,273; Clarke, sr. V.P., $18,750; Cox, sr. V.P., $23,819; Garvin, chairman, $50,903; Kauffman, president, $33,542; Piercy, sr. V.P., 26,875; Wright, exec. V.P., $34,615.

Ball player's monthly average: $30,703. Oil executive's: $28,728.

There goes big oil poor-mouthing again . . .