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Johnson's job teeters as O's owner weighs fate

Winning regularly didn't prevent Davey Johnson from being fired twice.

Now it seems as if two playoff appearances in two years won't be enough for Johnson to keep his dream job as manager of the Orioles.

Team owner Peter Angelos is deciding whether to retain Johnson, who has a year left on a three-year contract. The prognosis for the manager is not good _ Angelos is livid Johnson fined second baseman Roberto Alomar $10,500 for missing an exhibition game and a team banquet, then asked the player to give the money to a charity that retains Johnson's wife as a fund-raiser.

Angelos met Thursday with general manager Pat Gillick to discuss Johnson's fate and to address the threat by the players association to file a grievance on behalf of Alomar, upset over the amount of the fine and its designation.

Angelos said he will not comment on Johnson's status until the situation is resolved. He did not set a timetable. Gillick did not return phone calls.

Johnson insists he won't quit. His agent has threatened to sue if Angelos fires him without his $750,000 salary for the final year on the contract.

Johnson, 54, led the Mets to the 1986 World Series championship and directed Cincinnati to first-place finishes in 1994 and 1995.

RENTERIA HAILED: Marlins SS Edgar Renteria, whose 11th-inning single won the World Series, returned to a motorcade and dancing in the streets of Barranquilla, Colombia, his hometown.

SERIES RATINGS: Is the glass half-empty or half-full? Despite strong numbers for the seventh game, the World Series was the second lowest-rated ever, beating only 1989's, which was interrupted by an earthquake. But it was also the highest-rated sports event since the Super Bowl, and NBC posted the biggest weekly ratings win for any network since the second week of the 1996 Olympics.

Cable, VCRs and computers have taken a toll since the ratings peak in 1977-81, and the game has not recovered from the 1994-95 strike, which canceled the World Series for the first time since 1904.

"The television landscape is much different today and it's not going back," NBC spokesman Ed Markey said.

ANGELS: Most of the coaching staff will be brought back. Third-base coach Larry Bowa said he'd return if he didn't get the Toronto manager's job. First-base coach Dave Parker also was invited back, but he joined St. Louis as hitting instructor and bench coach.

BLUE JAYS: Free agent Paul Molitor, who helped Toronto win the World Series in 1993, will continue talks about becoming player-manager, though he expressed reservations about leaping into managing. "It would be difficult moving right into that role," he said. Interbrew SA, the Belgian brewery that bought the team in 1995, abandoned its search for a buyer and said it would focus on building a winner.

DODGERS: C Mike Piazza's agent told the Los Angeles Times the team will risk losing him to free agency after next season if it doesn't extend his contract by Feb. 15. Piazza is seeking a seven- or eight-year deal for $13-million to $15-million a year, which would make him the highest-paid player, the newspaper reported.

METS: Dodgers pitching coach Dave Wallace was hired as assistant to GM Steve Phillips.

PADRES: Chula Vista, five minutes by freeway from downtown San Diego, is preparing an offer to build a waterfront stadium. San Diego is considering two sites downtown and one next to Qualcomm Stadium in Mission Valley.

TIGERS: INF Damion Easley agreed to $8.7-million over three years.

TWINS: Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson met with House lawmakers in an effort to revive stalled legislation on a new stadium.

VALENZUELA TRIES AGAIN: LHP Fernando Valenzuela, released by St. Louis in July, will play for Hermosillo in the Mexican winter league in an attempt to revive his career. He turns 37 Saturday.

REALIGNMENT: With still no word from Kansas City, the Brewers almost certainly will to switch to the National League, a Milwaukee television station reported. WISN said an announcement could come as soon as today. There was no word from the Brewers or the Royals.

Before the World Series, owners moved Detroit from the AL East to the Central, put the Devil Rays in the East and gave Kansas City the first chance to move into the NL.

YANKEES: RHP Dwight Gooden said GM Bob Watson told his agent the Yankees would not pick up the pitcher's $3-million option and instead pay him a $300,000 buyout. If so, Gooden would entertain offers from the Mets, Indians and "anyone else who's interested," including the Yankees. Bernie Williams' agent, Scott Boras, is privately arguing his client is worth $10-million a year, the New York Times reported.

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