Fans, players make sure the moment is Ripken's

The excitement of Streak Week was largely concentrated in the Baltimore area, but there were a variety of other tributes and tie-ins to Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken -- intentional and otherwise -- around the country.

* In Boston, fans interrupted Wednesday night's game with a loud standing ovation when the unfurling of No. 2,131 on the B&O; warehouse was shown live on the center-field video board.


* In Milwaukee on Tuesday night, Cleveland Indians first baseman and former Ripken mentor Eddie Murray delivered an RBI double and passed Lou Gehrig on the all-time list for total bases (5,061) at approximately the same time that No. 2,130 was unfurled at Camden Yards.

* And on Monday night in Florida, outfielder Jeff Conine -- who held the second-longest active streak until he missed a game with an injury this year -- sat out without being injured for the first time in his three-year Marlins career.


AL Central

The Milwaukee Brewers have been trying to get Wisconsin to break ground for a new stadium for several years, but the project has been delayed by everything from archaeological considerations to economic concerns and political resistance. Last week, more than 60,000 postcards were delivered to the state capitol to illustrate support for the new park, but the true depth of that support would be difficult to gauge. The postcard campaign was initiated at the ballpark, giving it all the credibility of the All-Star balloting.

AL West

It has been a scary couple of weeks for the California Angels, who let much of a seemingly insurmountable lead get away during the nine-game losing streak that ended last Monday, and then got swallowed up by Ripkenmania. But they found the perfect antidote over the weekend, righting themselves against the lowly Minnesota Twins. The second-place Mariners appear to be within striking distance, but that's just an illusion. There are 18 games left, which means that the Angels would have to go 6-12 and the Mariners 12-6 to alter the outcome. The Angels have proven that they can go 6-12 -- they are 4-14 in their past 18 games -- but the Mariners do not appear to be strong enough to take advantage if that happened.

NL East

The Montreal Expos haven't had much to celebrate lately, but that didn't keep them from partying too hard on a chartered Air Canada jet last week and doing further damage to the team's image in the province of Quebec. The damage to the plane may be easily repaired, but second baseman Mike Lansing offended French Canadians when he yelled at a flight attendant for giving pre-flight safety instructions in English and French. Provincial law requires instructions be given in both languages, even though everyone on the chartered plane spoke English. "We don't have to listen to this," Lansing said. "Everyone here understands English, at least for now." The reference appeared to refer to a strong French separatist movement that would make French the sole official language of Quebec, but Lansing said his comments were not in any way politically motivated. Even if they weren't, they may buy him a ticket out of Montreal before the 1996 season.

NL Central

The Houston Astros managed to avoid a 13-game skunk in their season series with the Cincinnati Reds, scoring a 10-1 victory on Tuesday to end a string of 11 1995 losses to the runaway division leaders. The Reds closed out the season series with a victory and a 12-1 record against the Astros, which leaves little doubt about the major contributor to their 12 1/2 -game lead in the NL Central. . . . Tuesday's game also featured the biggest brawl of 1995. Seven were ejected and six of them were suspended after a series of bench-clearing incidents culminated in a lengthy fight in the seventh inning. Reds reliever Xavier Hernandez drew the most severe disciplinary action -- an eight-game suspension after hitting Craig Biggio and oft-injured Jeff Bagwell with consecutive pitches. Managers Davey Johnson and Terry Collins also drew suspensions. . . . Meanwhile in Cincinnati, Reds owner Marge Schott was back in the news for withholding $3 million in rent from the city while she tries to negotiate a new stadium lease agreement.


NL West

The San Francisco Giants apparently traded Darren Lewis, Dave Burba and Mark Portugal for the opportunity to watch Deion Sanders play against the San Francisco 49ers in the next NFC championship game. Sanders, who signed a $30 million contract to play for the Dallas Cowboys last week, apparently will stay with the Giants as long as they are mathematically alive in the NL West and the NL wild-card races, but the Giants made the deal at least in part because of the public relations value of having him as a two-sport performer in the Bay Area.