In Commissioner Fay Vincent's perfect world, music at ballparks would be muted, the season would end two weeks earlier and umpires would call strikes on pitches above the batter's waist.
Vincent can't do much about the music except to cover his ears, but he has been thinking about the other problems. Vincent said Sunday he plans to tell umpires to call strikes on high pitches more often next season, a move that both enforces existing regulations and might speed up games. He said he would meet with Donald Fehr, head of the players association, so players will know what to expect.
"I already talked to National League umpires during the championship series," Vincent said, "and they said, 'You're right, but when you call strikes above the waist, you get a lot of grief. Will you take the heat if we call them?' And I said I would. (Umpire) Doug Harvey agreed with me. I don't see anything wrong with it if it moves the game along. The umpires have told me they moved (the strike zone) down because of pressure from managers and coaches. They say in the strike below the knees, they don't get too much heat, and on the high strike they do. I say too bad. I think we can do it."
Veteran NL umpire Harry Wendelstedt said he would comply with whatever directive Vincent issues. "The big adjustment came when we went from outside chest protectors (to inside protectors). We had a high strike zone," Wendelstedt said. "It'll be an adjustment in spring training, but they'll get used to it. I think we'll see it, but I don't think it will be as large an adjustment as people think."
Vincent also said that while he was disappointed to see a large number of empty seats in Pittsburgh for Game 7 of the NL playoffs, he understood fans' reluctance to sit outside in chilly temperatures. That problem might be solved if the season ended earlier.
"I was there for the sixth game and it was cold. In the perfect season, I'd have the season two weeks shorter and over earlier," he said. "We could have been playing in Milwaukee (Saturday) night. It was 40 degrees. That's too cold.
"I know I had a predecessor who wore T-shirts," he said, a jab at former Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, who sometimes sat in the late October chill in shirt sleeves, "but I noticed that it was cold."
Vincent's daughter, Anne, was fine Sunday after being struck on the head by a foul ball hit by the Twins' Kent Hrbek on Saturday night.
"She was very embarrassed, very sheepish," he said. "I told her Vincents were renowned for being hard-headed, but she didn't have to show it in public."
Although Brave right-hander John Smoltz has recovered from the stomach virus that weakened him earlier this week, he might have passed it along to his teammates. Manager Bobby Cox felt ill Sunday, and he said outfielder David Justice had a mild bug.