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Playing misty

WHEN a low-slung mantle of fog obscures the ice at the Boston Garden arena, you know the hockey season is too long. It's similar to the fog that rises from local rivers when warm, late-spring air meets the disagreeable chill of winter that lingers in the slow-moving water.

Fog is an apt image for what major league sports dissolve into when their tortoiselike seasons overlap. For example, Beantown's Bruins are battling the Oilers for hockey's Stanley Cup, Red Sox batters are fanning at Seattle Mariner pitches, and the Celtics are up to their altitudinous elbows in playoffs. The overlap problem recurs in the fall.

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Give us shorter sports seasons. Think of the possibilities for stimulating the US economy as demand for paint, lawn mowers, and hand tools increases. Take a hint from a Little League we know. The players start practice in late March; the league champs step lively in the town's Fourth of July parade. Now that's a season!

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