Dear Fans: Thanks For Watching A Loser -- Mets Apologize In Full- Page Newspaper Ads

NEW YORK - The New York Mets figured after their second straight fifth-place finish and first 90-loss season since 1983, they owed New York baseball fans an apology.

Yesterday, the team delivered it, in full-page advertisements in the New York Daily News, New York Post, The New York Times and New York Newsday.

"Our season wasn't exactly one to remember," the ad began.

". . . They say when you're down and out, you find out who your true friends are. We were happy to discover we still had true friends, by the millions.

"So thank you Mets Fans and thank you New York.

"Spring training is only four months away. We can hardly wait.

"Let's go Mets!"

The ads were signed by players, coaches, front-office personnel, and by owners Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday. Bullpen catcher John Stephenson signed twice.

"It was just a basic thing to say, `Hey, things were tough, stay with us, things will be better in '93," said Jay Horwitz, director of communications for the team. "We just wanted to let them know there are better things ahead."

Horwitz said the club received about 30 calls after the ad appeared, mainly from people trying to decipher the signatures reproduced in the ad. "It was like a game," Horwitz said. "Like Concentration."

Wilpon merely signed his initials, "FW," and his scrawl looked like a hook and eye lock. Bobby Bonilla drew his "B" larger than anyone else, and drew something in the letter that made his

signature hard to read.

Horwitz's signature was small, compared to everyone else's, and appeared at the bottom of the ad. "I didn't have a good year either," he said. "I had 19 typos in the press guide."

S.F. group readies bid -- SAN FRANCISCO - A group of local investors says it will have a bid for the San Francisco Giants ready by the end of the week, but none would hint as to the amount of the offer.

Walter Shorenstein, who organized the investors, denied rumors that the group was collapsing.

"We're making progress, and we're moving forward," Shorenstein said after a four-hour meeting with investors yesterday. "We'll make an offer in the next few days."

Most of the participants left the meeting through a basement exit in order to avoid reporters.

Headed by Charlotte Hornets owner George Shinn, the San Francisco group has been trying to put together a deal to keep the baseball team from moving to St. Petersburg.

New deal for Alou -- MONTREAL - Felipe Alou, who guided the Montreal Expos through one of baseball's best turnaround seasons, was rewarded with a contract through the 1994 season.

The Expos finished a surprising second to Pittsburgh in the National League East.

Dan Duquette, Montreal general manager, convinced a reluctant Alou to succeed Tom Runnells, who was fired May 22. The Expos were 17-20 and floundering in fifth place when Alou took over.

Under Alou, a 16-year employee in the Montreal organization, the Expos finished 87-75, a 16-win improvement from last season.


-- San Diego outfielder Tony Gwynn underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and will begin rehabilitation immediately. The four-time National League batting champion had a cartilage tear but there was less damage than anticipated, Dr. Jan Fronek reported after performing the surgery.

-- The New York Mets exercised contract options on pitcher Sid Fernandez and outfielder Howard Johnson, reducing their number of potential free agents to seven. Fernandez, who was 14-11 this season, and Johnson, who batted .223 in 100 games, each will earn $2.1 million in 1993.

-- The New York Mets sent minor-league pitcher Julian Vasquez to the California Angels, completing the deal in which the Mets acquired shortstop Dick Schofield last April for pitcher Julio Valera and a player to be named.

-- Mets pitcher Anthony Young and catcher Mackey Sasser had surgery Young for torn cartilage in a knee and Sasser for bone spurs in an ankle.

-- Bo Schembechler, fired as president of the Detroit Tigers shortly before Tom Monaghan sold the team, filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the Domino's Pizza Inc. owner. Schembechler was led to believe he had a 10-year agreement with the Tigers when he was hired in early 1990, he claimed in the suit.

-- Kansas City's George Brett, whose four-hit effort against California on Sept. 30 included the 3,000th of his career, was named American League player of the week for the final week of the season. Brett, the 18th player to reach the coveted 3,000-hit mark, finished the season with 3,005. For the week, he was 9 for 15, a .600 average, with three doubles and two runs batted in. Houston's Steve Finley, who batted .522, was named NL player of the week.

-- Pittsburgh's Barry Bonds, who batted .402 with nine home runs and 25 RBI, was named NL player of the month for September. Cincinnati's Jose Rijo was named NL pitcher of the month. He was was 5-0 with a 1.07 ERA in September.

-- Seattle Mariners pitching prospect Roger Salkeld is among the top minor-league players who begin playing tonight in the Arizona Fall League, a new developmental league created as a U.S. alternative to the four Caribbean winter leagues. The league's six teams - including the Scottsdale Scorpions, Sun Cities Solar Sox and Grand Canyon Rafters - will play 54-game schedules through Dec. 6.