Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn outlined the options yesterday for playing the remainder of the strike-shortened season. A decision will be made at an owners' meeting Tuesday in Chicago.
The first option, of course, is playing out the schedule as usual with the four division winners meeting in playoffs that lead to the World Series.
Although Kuhn would not state a preference, themore like possibility is that the majors, for 1981 only, will adopt a split season with an extra tier of playoffs: eight teams, rather than four, will be playing in the postseason.
The teams in first place on June 12 would be retroactively declared first-half champions and automatically would be in the playoffs. The first-half champion of each division would meet the second-half champion in what, most likely, would be a three-of-five-game playoff to decide the division championship.
Complications arise if one team wins both halves. Should that team draw a bye? If so, it would amount to a sort of punishment since a week of idleness would be a disadvantage in the league playoff.
Instead of a bye, should a champion of both halves have to meet its division's team with the second-best winning perentage for the entire season? But that way, the first-half champion would have almost no motivation other than a home-field advantage in the playoff, for doing well in the second half.
Perhaps, Kuhn mentioned, a team that won both halves might need to win only two out of five games, rather than three of five, to become division champ.
Whatever system is adopted, it would require a majority vote in the AL, but a three-quarters vote in the NL.
The idea of a split season has been met with something less than enthusiasm by Texas Ranger Manager Don Zimmer, whose team is just behind division-leading Oakland.
"Hell, no, I don't want a split season," Zimmer said. "We're a game and a half out of first, why I would I be for something like that?"
Zimmer admits he might feel different "if we were seven or eight games out . . . But this wouldn't be fair to us, or the (Chicago) White Sox, or other teams that busted their butts and got away to a good start."
When the owners meet to decide whether to split the season, Texas officials will oppose the plan, according to Eddie Robinson, the club's executive vice president.
Pete Rose, the Philadelphia Phillie first baseman, insisted yesterday he won't use the strik as an excuse if he fails to break Ty Cobb's record for most major league hits.
Rose, 40, showed up too late to take part in the Phillies' first workout in preparation for their poststrike opener Aug. 10 against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The first question he fielded was whether the 50-day strike, which cost the Phillies 55 games, precludes his erasing Cobb's record of 4,191 hits.
"I can't worry about the number of games we missed," said Rose, who needs one hit to pass Stan Musuial's National League record of 3,630. He tied Musial with a first-inning single off Houston's Noal Ryan the day before the strike began.
"I'm not going to use that (the missed games) as an excuse . . If I get close enough to Cobb, Johnson & Johnson (the bandage company) will keep me togher long enough to make it," he said.
Rose said he's ready now to resume playing, adding, "This week will be boring. It will probably be like a vacation."