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FREE AGENCY STARTS WITH BIG-NAME FILINGS

Andres Galarraga, Brady Anderson and John Olerud head 36 players who filed for free agency on the day after the World Series.

Cecil Fielder, Randy Myers, Bobby Witt and Rod Beck also filed Monday, the first day of the 15-day window.

Baltimore prevented Eric Davis from filing by exercising the team's $2.5 million option, and the New York Yankees stopped Chad Curtis from going free by exercising a $900,000 option.

Players have until Nov. 10 to file. Once they file, they can talk with any team but they can't discuss money until Nov. 11. General managers don't expect any signings until after the expansion draft on Nov. 18, since they can protect only 15 players and don't want to add players to their roster until after the draft.

The Orioles might suffer a meltdown similar to the one threatened by Florida owner Wayne Huizenga. Anderson's agent said Baltimore should have signed the outfielder to an extension that was nearly completed in April. He added that three teams have already expressed interest in the 33-year-old.

Also, manager Davey Johnson is asking that his contract be extended beyond next year or that management buy him out so he can talk to other clubs. Johnson is to be paid $750,000 in 1998 as part of the final season of his $2.25 million, three-year deal. He does not have a strong relationship with owner Peter Angelos.

"There's nothing to negotiate," Angelos said. "He's under contract."

Houston's Darryl Kile remains the top eligible pitcher. Montreal has vowed to trade Pedro Martinez rather than go to salary arbitration.

Game Seven pushes up ratings

NEW YORK -- The World Series narrowly avoided an all-time ratings low because of a Game Seven that produced baseball's highest rating in six years.

Game Seven had a 24.5 rating and a 39 share, Nielsen Media Research said today. It was baseball's best showing on network television since the previous seventh game in 1991, a 32.2 rating when the Minnesota Twins beat the Atlanta Braves.

The World Series finished with a 16.8 cumulative rating, the second-lowest ever behind Oakland's earthquake-interrupted sweep of San Francisco in 1989.

Those ratings will cost NBC.

"NBC guaranteed the advertisers that the series would be seen by 'X' million people. To the extent that it was not, NBC needs to make good that deficiency," said analyst Dennis McAlpine.

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