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National League : Forster Is Big on TV, and Not Because of a Thin ERA

Terry Forster’s earned-run average is an attention-getting 1.26, but that’s not what made him a national celebrity last week.

What made Forster big occurred after David Letterman noticed on national TV just how big the Atlanta Braves’ relief pitcher is.

“He’s got to be the fattest man in all of sports,” Letterman said on his late-night show. “A fat tub of goo.”

At the moment, no one seems to know just how much Forster weighs. Last season, he arrived at camp weighing 220 pounds and finished the season at an estimated 255. He appears to be about that now, and it’s only June.

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But if you think Forster was insulted by Letterman, forget it. “My wife has said worse things than that,” the former Dodger said.

Besides, Forster figures to get a little fatter in the wallet as a result of the show. Within 24 hours of Letterman’s crack, four advertising agencies, among them representatives of Coca-Cola and McDonald’s, had contacted Forster.

Letterman has invited Forster to appear on his program July 29, which he tentatively has decided to call “Fat Baseball Players’ Night.”

No word yet on whether Tom Lasorda has been invited.

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Clubhouse confidential: Former President Nixon was a visitor to the New York Mets’ clubhouse, where he picked up some pointers from a Carter--catcher Gary Carter.

“You certainly know how to handle the press,” Nixon told Carter. “I didn’t know much about that.”

Nixon, of course, never had to explain what pitch he hit for a home run.

Add Nixon: “People always want to know if I like baseball over football,” the nation’s erstwhile No. 1 fan told Carter. “I once asked a sportswriter that, and he said, ‘Baseball, because there’s a new story every day.’ That’s the way I feel.”

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Superstition of the week: Catcher Bob Brenly of the San Francisco Giants, who hit two home runs in a win over the Cincinnati Reds last week after being in a season-long slump, tried a number of remedies to revive his ailing bat.

One was to have Rocky Bridges, the Giants’ tobacco-chewing first-base coach, spit three times on Brenly’s shoes before a game.

“It didn’t work,” Brenly said.

He didn’t say what it did to the shine.

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Add Brenly: He did say that some psychological counseling, as well as his study of the martial art of aikido, helped his mental approach at the plate.

Manager Pete Rose of the Reds wasn’t impressed.

“They’ve got to try something,” he said. “They’re only hitting .216 as a team. What is that, more hypnosis crap? I don’t believe in any of that.”

The Mets, who lost 12 of 18 to the Chicago Cubs last season, including 8 of 9 at Wrigley Field, are 4-0 so far, going into this week’s series in Chicago.

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“We owe them something,” Met first baseman Keith Hernandez said. “They’re the reason we didn’t win it last year.”

You can’t fault Hernandez’s reasoning. The Cubs won the NL East by 6 1/2 games last season.

Combat zones: After the Cubs had complained about how difficult the fans make it to play in New York’s Shea Stadium, Met pitcher Ron Darling took some shots at Chicago.

“The fans there are hostile, very hostile,” he said. “In what other stadium do they yell, ‘Throw it back,’ when an opposing player hits one out during batting practice? In places like San Diego, they say, ‘Oh, can’t we have a ball, please?’ ”

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A whiskey bottle was thrown at Gary Matthews of the Cubs in Shea, but Darling said the Mets have to beware of flying objects in Wrigley Field, as well.

“They threw Frisbees at our heads when we were running in the outfield,” he said.

Slump stats: The Cubs began the weekend with a nine-game losing streak, their longest since a team-record 13-game streak in 1982.

During that time, they have batted .200 as a team, with only six extra-base hits. They had scored just three runs in their last 45 innings, and were shut out four times in eight days.

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When Manager Jim Frey, who has used 45 lineups in 63 games, started Thad Bosley, Chico Walker, Steve Lake and Richie Hebner against Dwight Gooden, a few Cubs looked askance.

“He did not consult me,” Ron Cey said. “We didn’t know what he was doing.”

Frey may have been trying to do Cey a favor. Cey, who struck out against Gooden as a pinch-hitter, has fanned 8 times in 10 at-bats against Gooden.

More Gooden: “Every time he pitches, he reminds us it’s his game,” Carter said. “He’s just letting the rest of us play in it.”

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