He sat in a heated box, just another fan eating peanuts at the game. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn looked at a reporter clad in a down jacket and long johns and asked, "Is this football weather?"

It felt like it. It was 46 degrees at game time last night, and for those who wondered why the commissioner (who was wearing only a sweater for warmth) wasn't sitting downstairs in the cold with the other 45,896 people at the game, he offered this explanation: "When the World Series is played, I'll be where I usually am. I've always had the philosophy that the league championship series are the league presidents' show, and I regard this like the league championship series. At the World Series, I'll be in the position I usually am, sitting down front being a big honcho."

Kuhn said he had not yet decided on his World Series apparel.

Kuhn, of course, has been criticized for the split-season format ("I favored it, I didn't lobby for it") by many people -- including Cincinnati Manager John McNamara, who said it would be poetic justice if the final game of the World Series were played in Montreal and Kuhn had to sit outside in his pinstripe suit.

"You're always concerned about the weather in baseball," Kuhn responded. "We've been playing baseball into the middle of October since 1903. It's a week later this year, so what?"

"My opinion," he added later, "is that this is probably as good as anything we could have done. I'm not ecstatic about it. I'm not on my platform shouting, 'Hurrah.' I think it has worked reasonably well. Nothing was going to work dramatically well in this bad year for baseball.

"If we had picked up the (regular) season, people would have said it was typical conservative baseball, not facing up to reality. You couldn't win."

Kuhn attributed the disaffection some fans feel toward baseball "to a fear somehow that baseball was going to foist the split season on our fans. They have made it clear they don't want it."

Kuhn made it clear that he does not want it beyond this year, either. The split season, he said, was a "chapter begun and ended in 1981."