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DR. CLEAR MAKES THINGS PERFECTLY CLEAR

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LIKE CALCULUS and Ross Perot, things are constantly happening in the world of sports that fairly cry out for clarification. Luckily, Dr. Clear The Air, the professor of profound, is in, to promote understanding and settle disputes before anyone needs stitches. He will take your questions now:

Dear Doc: What do you make of bonuses such as those offered by the San Francisco 49ers to defensive lineman Tim Harris, who gets $5,000 every time he sacks the opposing quarterback?Well, you can't argue with the start. In Harris's first game last Monday against the Saints he gave the 49ers a sack and they gave him a check for $5,000. It could be the beginning of a whole new trend called "commission" football, with defensive players tripping over each other much like car salesmen. Before you know it, the general manager will have to come in and establish some sort of orderly system. First it would be the left tackle's turn, then the middle linebacker's, then the free safety's, and so on. Then everybody will start wearing loud sports jackets and cheezy ties, and offer to throw in a free cassette player.

Dr. Clear: Why don't the world champion Houston Rockets get more respect?

I tend to agree with what Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe said: "There's year-round heat and humidity, an airport about 100 miles from downtown and the building with the most sports tradition is Elvin Hayes' car dealership."

So, Doc: In the middle of the baseball strike, Drayton McLane, Jr., owner of the Houston Astros, gave his MVP, Jeff Bagwell, a four-year, $27.5 million contract. What gives there?

When one of Montreal's owners, Claude Brochue, heard about it, he said: "That, in my estimation, is a mistake by my friend Drayton McLane. It's his mistake, but now it becomes my problem, and that's not a fair economic system in my opinion." Clarence Darrow could not have made a better summation of the owners' need to be saved from themselves. Give them a salary cap, or give them each other.

Doc: What got into Riddick Bowe the other day, when he slugged Larry Donald after their weigh-in press conference?

Mr. Bowe was just confused as to the order. It's supposed to go first fight, then press conference.

Dear Mr. Dr.: What do you think of that TV commercial where Dennis Rodman roughs up Santa?

Who does Santa think he is anyway, John Lucas? He shouldn't have given him the shoes. No way. He should have checked his list and checked it twice. Now Dennis is going to think he can go around throwing cheap elbows at John Stockton whenever he feels like it, and not wash his hands before dinner. What kind of message was that? Is Madonna getting anything?

To Dr. Clear: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has expressed an interest in coaching at USC, only minutes down the road from his alma mater, UCLA. What is up with that?

Good career move, if he knows a good plastic surgeon and he changes his name.

Hey Professor: The NFL says it's going to look into the possibility of having a penalty box for defensive players who hit quarterbacks late. Your thoughts?

It might work, but only if they add some sort of torture, such as filling the box full of water and man-eating sharks, or piping in a Dick Vitale broadcast tape at full volume, or forcing the offenders to watch a nonstop big-screen video of their defensive peers doing sack dances, although that last one might be going too far.

Dear Doc: Have they decided what Bobby Bowden's sentence will be for deciding to go for the tie instead of the win in Florida State's 31-31 game with arch-rival Florida?

The jury is still out on that one. Six say Bowden should be made to move to Mr. Rodgers' Neighborood, play Peter Pan on stage, eat quiche, and kiss his sister; six say he shouldn't.

Doc, I was wondering: After suffering through a 6-4-1 season, Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz said, "If you take away the kicking game, we can play with anybody." What does Lou mean by that?

"If only they didn't have to kick off."