Fact: Red Sox pitcher Erik Hanson, on his salary declining from $2.7 million in 1994 to $1.1 million in 1995: "I took a bath." (He won five games in 1994.)
Fact: Longtime Masters observers say that no one, not Long John Daly or even Jack Nicklaus in his prime, was longer off the tees at Augusta National than Tiger Woods this year.
Opinion: Worst-case scenario for Joe Smith: Drafted by the Nets, the most poisoned team in pro sports.
Fact: The Yankees' top four starters (Jack McDowell, Jimmy Key, Melido Perez, Scott Kamieniecki) won 66 percent of their decisions (44-23) a year ago, as opposed to 62 percent (48-29) for the Blue Jays' top four (David Cone, Juan Guzman, Pat Hentgen, Danny Darwin) and 61 percent (43-27) for the Orioles' top four (Mike Mussina, Ben McDonald, Sid Fernandez, Kevin Brown).
Opinion: If the world were a fair place, the Bullets, who seem to have called it quits for the seaon, would have to stop charging admission.
Fact: Top-ranked Andre Agassi says that his coach, Brad Gilbert, has been a good influence because "he's a very simple person."
Opinion: Serena's Song, the fast filly, would be better off running in the Kentucky Oaks than the Kentucky Derby. Too much front-running speed in this year's 3-year-old class.
Fact: Now that the Rams are gone, those sports-starved L.A.-area fans will have to make do with their two major-league baseball teams, two pro basketball teams, two pro hockey teams, two Pac-10 schools and one NFL team.
Opinion: Here's a new game to play when you're sitting around doing nothing: "Are They Retired or Not?" (Pick a star and try to remember if he's gone, coming back, back already or somewhere in between. Evander Holyfield? Pam Shriver? Marlon Brando?)
Fact: Gino Torretta, the 1992 Heisman Trophy winner, will play for the World League of American Football's Dusseldorf Rhein Fire. Doesn't get any better than that.
Opinion: George Foreman couldn't have picked a more obscure opponent for his title defense than Germany's Axel Schulz. No one knows anyone who has ever heard of him.
Fact: Said former Celtic Cedric Maxwell, honored as part of the farewell to the Boston Garden and listening to a listing of his accomplishments: "I was pretty good, wasn't I?"
Opinion: Joe Montana still thinks he can play.
Fact: In 30 days, the NFL squeezed $21 million out of the Rams. (Nice work if you can get it.)
Opinion: Michael Jordan is the NBA's best player, but he shouldn't be eligible for the postseason awards. Seventeen regular-season games? Get serious.
Fact: (From the "No Detail is Too Small For Us" Dept.): The real estate agent who handled Mike Tyson's house purchase in Las Vegas reports that she is married to a doctor who was the house physician for the Las Vegas Hilton when Elvis Presley was the headline act.
Opinion: When I hear Lenny Dykstra and other major-leaguers say that baseball's fans deserve special treatment "this year," I guess that means next year is out of the question.
Fact: The Canton-Akron Indians of the Double-A Eastern League told the local newspaper to keep its coverage positive or forfeit its seats in the press box.
Opinion: Gosh, it's good to see Jerry Tarkanian back in the college game trying to steal someone else's recruits.
Fact: Most of the college basketball recruiting gurus say Michigan will have the best freshman class next season.
Opinion: The first pick in the NFL draft next weekend will be Penn State's Ki-Jana Carter, going to Carolina.
Fact: They're talking World Series in Colorado.
Opinion: If Mighty Mary fails to "make history," America's Cup organizers can just change a rule.
Fact: Bret Barberie will be the Orioles' fourth Opening Day second baseman in four years, following Mark McLemore last year, Harold Reynolds in 1993 and Bill Ripken in 1992.
Opinion: Manny Alexander should be the fifth in five years in 1996.