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"Factors" is Bowie-ese for ratings—in this case, how well the super-mini eight-team playoffs will do on TV before the regular four-team playoffs before the old-fashioned two-team World Series, not counting the odd tie that may have to be played off before the super-minis begin. There are people in baseball who yearn for endless playoffs, � la football, basketball and hockey, and the commissioner itches from the same rash. The split-season gambit gives him a chance to scratch it. That is, test it.
And if tests are good—if TV likes the super-minis—watch how fast baseball splits each league into three divisions and deals itself that old wild card.
HERE'S BUD IN YOUR EYE
Anheuser-Busch, Inc. and the Miller Brewing Co., the nation's two largest brewers, have taken turns lately upstaging a smaller producer, Stroh Brewery Co. First there was the Stroh's slo-pitch softball Tournament of Champions near Atlanta, which the Detroit brewery sponsored only to have a team backed by Miller come up the winner. Then there was the Stroh's Silver Cup hydroplane race in Detroit. The victor in that one was Miss Budweiser.
Stroh's may find comfort in the knowledge that Anheuser-Busch and Miller Brewing also sometimes upstage each other. Two of their lesser-known promotional involvements became hopelessly entangled this summer when Busch of St. Louis, a team sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, defeated Bayern of Philadelphia 3-2 for the U.S. Soccer Federation Senior Men's amateur title in Philadelphia, thereby winning a trophy presented by one of Miller's brands, L�wenbr�u. Manager Bob Brunette proceeded to celebrate his team's victory in a manner calculated to make both companies slightly uncomfortable. He guzzled Budweiser from the L�wenbr�u Cup.
BLUE JAY BLUES
Along with all their other problems, the Toronto Blue Jays—baseball's worst team in Part I of this season—have to wrestle with foreign exchange. When Toronto joined the American League in 1977, the Canadian and U.S. dollars were about equal in value, but since then Canada's has slumped to about 80� against the U.S. dollar. The Blue Jays are obliged to pay their players, none of whom are Canadians, in U.S. money, but about 85% of their revenue is Canadian. This means the Jays have to pay a $100,000 ballplayer the equivalent of $125,000 in Canadian money. Because spring-training, scouting and farm-system costs, as well as travel expenses on road trips to the other 13 teams in the league (all of which are in the U.S.), must also be paid in American money, the Jays in effect are continually being socked with a 25% surcharge.
"It's a factor in doing business," says Toronto President Peter Bavasi, "and we had provided for it." Stiff upper lip, Bavasi, but the Jays need to draw 25% more than an equivalent U.S.-based team just to stay even. Now, with more than a third of the season shot....
TRIAL BY JURY