ANDRE DAWSON: If so voted, he will be the fourth player from a team with a losing record to become the National League's most valuable player and all have been Chicago Cubs. Hank Sauer did it in 1952 and Ernie Banks in 1958 and '59.
JACK CLARK: MVP supporters of the St. Louis Cardinal first baseman can make a case. The Cardinals have a 61-38 record with Clark at full strength and are 34-28 with him injured. They have scored three runs or fewer in 12 of 14 games since Clark was injured. He pinch hit in the Cardinals' 7-1 loss to the Mets Saturday and popped up.
HOME RUNS: The debate continues. Lively ball or bad pitching? Consider the earned-run averages of the Baltimore Orioles, 5.03 through Friday; Cleveland Indians, 5.26; Minnesota Twins, 4.60, and Angels, 4.35, then consider this: Of the seven teams that have allowed 200 or home runs in a season, four have made the list this season. Baltimore is now No. 1 at 224, Cleveland is third at 214 and Minnesota and the Angels are tied for fifth at 207. Looks like bad pitching, period.
PHIL NIEKRO: The fabled knuckleball pitcher heads into retirement with a 6.41 ERA for his final season. That's the highest for a pitcher with 10 or more starts in a season since Bill Singer was 2-8 with a 6.75 ERA for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1977.