* STABILITY: There have been no managerial changes in the American League this season. That hasn’t happened since 1962, when Billy Hitchcock with Baltimore, Mike Higgins with Boston, Bill Rigney with the Angels, Al Lopez with Chicago, Mel McGaha with Cleveland, Bob Scheffing with Detroit, Hank Bauer with the Kansas City A’s, Sam Mele with Minnesota, Ralph Houk with New York and Mickey Vernon with Washington survived the season.
* A BAT WITH CLASS: In addition to his extraordinary talent--he is about to join Ty Cobb, Mel Ott, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio as the only players to drive in 100 or more runs for three consecutive seasons before turning 24--Ken Griffey Jr. believes he has a special bat going for him.
Louisville Slugger dips it in lacquer twice to prevent splintering. Only Barry Bonds and Kirby Puckett get similar treatment.
“If Cecil Fielder had used this bat the year he hit 51, he’d have hit 60,” Griffey said.
* CALENDAR CHECK: Not to diminish the accomplishments of Jim Abbott and Darryl Kile, but it is noteworthy that 12 of the last 28 no-hitters, 44%, have occurred in September, when lineups are dotted with inexperienced young hitters up from the minors and veteran hitters swinging at the first pitch in a hurry to end the season.
* ADD ABBOTT: American League scouts theorize that some of his inconsistency this year--he is 10-11 with a 4.10 earned-run average--stems from his inability to work inside consistently against left-handed hitters and to hide the ball, as he was learning to do under former Angel pitching coach Marcel Lachemann. Because Abbott can’t incorporate the glove in his motion, they say, hitters simply get too long a look at the ball.
* SLIM MARGIN: The Kansas City Royals have played 62 games decided by one run, and are 33-29. Only the Angels and Boston Red Sox in the American League have scored fewer runs or hit fewer homers than the Royals. Still, without a single hitter with as many as 20 homers or even 70 runs batted in, they have stayed in contention.
* NEVER SATISFIED: Juan Gonzalez of the Texas Rangers tore up the dugout bat rack after going hitless in four at-bats against the New York Yankees last Monday night. Then he came back to reach base seven consecutive times on a home run, double, three singles and two walks as the Rangers completed a three-game sweep. Texas will move into a new stadium next season, and there were no tears from the Yankees about never again having to play in Arlington Stadium. They won only five of their last 28 games there.
* REVOLVING DOOR: With injuries and September call-ups, the Cincinnati Reds have employed 50 players this year, too many for catcher Joe Oliver.
“We’re an expansion team the way we keep expanding,” he said. “Our definition of a 10-and-five player is 10 days at home and five on the road. I feel like I have to introduce myself every time I go to the mound--'Hello, my name is Joe. What’s your name and what do you throw?’ ”