NEW YORK Yankee pitcher Jimmy Key won his major-league-leading 22nd game last Friday at Camden Yards, handcuffing the Orioles 3-1. Baltimore, still in second place, sank to 11 1/2 games behind the Yankees.
No, it wasn't some game played on the sly on the 37th day of the players' strike. Rather, it was a computer game played by the New York Daily News, which has devoted an entire page to simulated major-league games and statistics every day since the players' strike began.
The News' computer program, based on statistics until the moment of the strike, told us this about the race that wasn't, with 16 games to go:
* Cal Ripken's streak was intact, although he didn't get the ball out of the infield against the Yanks Friday.
* Mike Devereaux was still starting in center field, though batting .193.
* San Diego's Tony Gwinn was within reach of a .400 season, batting .397, up slightly from his .394 average when the strike began.
* San Francisco's Matt Williams had 55 home runs and Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. 54 dingers. Both were within easy reach of Roger Maris' record of 61.
* Toronto was in third place in the American League East, 24 games out and mathematically eliminated from a chance at repeating as World Series champs.
The Indians, after all those years of frustration, were filling their new stadium to capacity for every home game.
Ah, greed, how sharp is thy sting!