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Would Oates have pulled out Rogers, too?


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Question is, if Kenny Rogers (no, not The Gambler) had been pitching an el perfecto for the Orioles, not the Texas Rangers, would Johnny Oates have brought in Mark Eichhorn for the eighth inning and Lee Smith for the ninth, or let the starter go another inning before summoning Smith?

* If and when Cal Ripken gobbles up Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive-games played (2,130) in 1995, the next "unassailable" streak is probably Jack Nicklaus' mark of having 17 straight multiple-win years on the PGA Tour. Five players did it nine times and there hasn't been an active streak since 1982.

* The day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 25, will see the first of four visits by the Washington Bullets to Baltimore Arena, Cleveland providing the opposition. "With 26 weekend games," said ever-optimistic team president Susan O'Malley, "this is a great schedule for the fans." Notice, no mention of increased victories helping out.

* Suggestions for those who rue the day baseball got rid of the fan-friendly (don't you just hate that term?) doubleheader: Take a game like Sunday's endless 3 1/2 -hour match between the O's and Blue Jays and cut it in half. Consider the first 90 minutes or so the opener and everything thereafter the second game. In other words, the Birds split, losing the first game, 4-1, but taking the second, 3-2. You can keep your own standings and everything.

* The Charity Tennis Challenge, which benefits the Baltimore Community Foundation, has come up with an opponent for Jim Courier in the main match at the Glass Menagerie (Arena) Sept. 29, Todd Martin drawing the assignment. Pam Shriver's party has raised $1.4 million for charity during the past eight years.

* Terrific and timely column in the New York Times last Friday headlined, "Hey, Quit Whining, Keenan Won The Cup." The ex-Rangers coach's history is he wears out his welcome quicker even than Billy Martin did, and he's doing you a favor when he departs.

* If a horse is in a race strictly for a workout, as Preakness and Belmont winner Tabasco Cat apparently was in the Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga Sunday, it certainly would be sporting if such information was passed on to the betting public. The uninformed bet 'Cat' down to a 2-to-5 favorite, then waved bye-bye to its bucks.

* "Clutch City," the story of the pro basketball championship season of the Houston Rockets, is in the video stores ($20), the hour-long tape up to NBA Entertainment's usual lofty standards.

* Jim Bunning, former excellent pitcher and member of the House of Representatives from Kentucky, did a talk show the other day regarding the upcoming baseball strike and his assessment of the situation was clear and to the point: "The season is over. There will be no playoffs, World Series, etc."

* Question is, how can Sergi Bruguera make it all the way up to the No. 4 spot on the ATP rankings while consistently going down so easily in the third set after things turn against him in big matches?

* Larry Holmes (remember him?) will make his 10th appearance on USA's "Tuesday Night Fights" next week, the 43-year-old taking on Jesse Ferguson. This epic will take place at Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lakes, Minn., as Holmes continues his quest to fight in every gambling joint in the continental United States. If you plan on having a few guys in for a night of poker, call Larry, he'll go a couple of heats during breaks in the action.

* Nearly a half-million dollars in prize money was handed out to men who landed a 413-pound blue marlin, a 74-pound white marlin and a 250-pound tuna last year at the White Marlin Open, which is running this week in Ocean City. And this is probably chicken feed next to the Calcutta arrangement among many of the 200 boats competing. Remember, no cheating.

* Long before Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton sealed his lips to the media, he was a kid pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals getting a start against the Orioles before the hometown crowd in Miami during spring training. He was cooperative afterward, but to this day none of a half-dozen listeners has the slightest idea what he was talking about. So why all the flap about his silence?

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