KANSAS CITY -- One by one, the slips of paper suggesting what to do about the bullpen have been taken out of the envelopes and read. All were sincere. Most were unsigned (although Gabeen Mfoom's was obvious, since it was written mostly in Amharic and contained only two English words, "bait" and "lions"). It has come to this for the Washington Senators: Their relief pitching is so sorry that all hands are being polled for a solution.

For the third straight week the relievers failed to record a save. The Senators' two victories in six tries were complete games by starters Jonathan Van Dorn, in the getaway game of the home stand against Cleveland, and Pappy Doyle, here last night, striking out Bo Jackson five times. (Afterward, Pappy sent Bo a football helmet, a map of Tampa and Jay Schroeder's home phone number.) Abysmal relief work cost Sonny Doyle a victory; he left ahead 6-3 in the ninth and lost, 7-6, on Buddy Biancalana's first career grand slam. The next night Major Banks was reluctant to go to the bullpen, so he left Danny Broccoli in with a 2-1 lead in the eighth. Broccoli yielded successive taters to Danny Tartabull and Kevin Seitzer, and stormed out of Royals Stadium, still in his uniform, searching for a place to buy a chain saw. (It probably wouldn't surprise anybody that Broccoli's suggestion slip said: "Kill them all, and let God sort them out.")

How bad has the bullpen been?

Here's a clue: The relievers get their food served in dishes on the floor. "Check this out," Oscar Madison said. "The other night I'm sweeping the cicada husks off my stoop on Corcoran Street, and next door a kid is blowing on a dog whistle. I look up the street and here come 101 dalmatians and Bahloo Sadir."

No bullpen in baseball has been as ineffective as Washington's. Dean Hines is the only pitcher in baseball whose ERA (7.51) is higher than the 90-day T-bill interest rate. Little Stevie Ruffin and his faithful left arm, Frank, have seen their ERA climb to 5.68. Recently, Major Banks called for him on the bullpen phone, and Stevie said, "Tell him me and Frank ain't here." And are they the Sadirs or the Nadirs? The players have started calling Bahloo "Leon" because he comes in and gives up so many gappers. Walid is worse. In his last five appearances, Walid is 0-5 with a 13.45 ERA. They may not bother sending him down to Chattanooga; they may just deport him. "It's like Christmas morning in the other dugout whenever we bring in a reliever," Windy Jackson complained. "You see guys jumping off the bench, begging the manager to let them bat. Every good reliever needs an 'out pitch.' Ours all have the same one. They throw it, and somebody hits it out."

The Senators have played 61 games, and their relievers have only four saves. Lee Smith had that many before the switch to Daylight Saving Time. "We tried to get a short man last month, right after the Preakness," said GM Elliott Suskind. "But the only one available was Jose Santos. We'd love to trade, but we can't give these guys away. So Major Banks had the idea to put in a suggestion box and see if the players had the solution. Tang Ye-lin didn't like the idea. But I told him it'd get us some positive ink, and later on he could repaint the box and use it to collect contra aid."

Sources close to Suskind have furnished The Washington Post Magazine with copies of the suggestions, some of which were:

"Trust in Him."

"Scuff up the balls, you jerks."

"Whatever they do, don't let them become born-agains. Did you ever eat with those guys? You ask one to pass you the butter, and by the time the plate gets to you there's 75 cents on it."

"Shame them. Make them run around the ball field with their underpants over their heads."

"Simmer for 15 minutes in bouillon, chill, add fresh dill, then look to the side and cough." (It was signed by Otis Bettelsen.)

"My advice is to start drinking heavily."

"Shoot one, preferably that pansy Hines, then tell the others they're next if they don't shape up."

"They eat too much red meat. They're saturated with fats and cholesterol. Feed them grains and berries."

"Club them. Sell their hides for coats."

"Try reasoning with them."

Recently, teammates have taken the law into their own hands. Surfer boy and Clairol fanatic Dean Hines found a dead fish and a Beach Boys album cover, with Mike Love's head lopped off, in his locker. A starter warned Walid Sadir that his dog would be killed if Sadir blew another lead. Sadir said he didn't own a dog. The starter then sent a puppy to Sadir's home with a note: "Don't get too attached."

Major Banks spent Wednesday night huddled with Suskind, pitching coach Mark Amsterdam, strength coach Dwight Usher, first base coach Otis Bettelsen and team physician Dr. Samuel Shem, trying to solve this vexing problem. According to sources, Amsterdam's position is that three of his relievers are suffering mechanical problems: Ruffin is overthrowing -- in trying to get so much speed on the ball he's encouraging Frank to release his pitches too soon. Hines is throwing what Amsterdam calls a "limp-wristed curve," which can be corrected either by counseling or testosterone injections. Bahloo Sadir continues to be unbalanced when pushing off the mound, apparently still suffering from that freak accident during a field trip to the Baltimore Zoo when a yak went berserk and bit two toes off his right foot. Amsterdam has no idea what's wrong with Walid Sadir and suggested the Senators trade him for a competent chiropodist.

Usher's position is that the relievers have been coddled. The other players prepare for nine innings, while the relievers are only required to pitch one or two innings at most. Usher said the relievers have become weak and flabby, both physically and emotionally. He called for a spartan training regimen for the relievers and asked Banks to give him the authority to use corporal punishment to keep the pitchers in line. Usher allegedly vowed, "They'll pitch better than this, or they'll die trying."

Shem theorized that the relievers are unhappy in their work. He revealed that Ruffin sought him out recently and said, "Frank told me that he doesn't like baseball anymore. He feels too alone. He wants a job with more conversation, so he's thinking of going to work in a tollbooth or becoming an orthodontist." Shem said this intramural conversation suggested various things: That relievers see themselves as isolated from their teammates. That they think starting is the more glamorous and worthy role. That their self-image is poor. That they'll have more success if they're better integrated into the team. And that Ruffin is in desperate need of a straitjacket with a mouth-hole in the left arm.

Suskind's position was unclear because he spent most of the time on hold, waiting to get through to "The Larry King Show" to ask about the world gin championship. Bettelsen's position was equally unclear. He talked passionately about pitchers and batters, but always in the context of breakfast cakes, and no one could be certain whether to heed his words or bake them.

Reportedly, Banks thanked them all for their time, then dismissed them and settled down on a straw mat to meditate on the issue. The next day he gathered his relievers around him near the mound and expressed complete confidence in their ability to regain their form, telling them, "As the phoenix rises from its own ashes, so shall we come through this fire strong and glorious. As the pearl grows from a tiny grain of sand, so shall we leave the irritation behind us and blossom into something precious."

Banks then gave them a mantra to chant: Jai Guru Kou Fax. ::

By nearly 2-1 ratio, fans from as far away as Blacksburg and Charlottesville voted for Oscar Madison to remain on Senators even if it means paying more for one of Tang Ye-lin's Yugos. Brendan Callahan of Blacksburg wrote, "I saw Oscar in Oakland, and he really tried hard. Besides, Yugos are {less than swell}." Oscar also received support from R.M. Zeender, who said he met Oscar in 1981 and found him "candid, patriotic, babblative and an aggressive supporter of floriculture." Dr. Robert Thiele of Charlottesville called Tang Ye-lin "a cheap bum." A few wanted to bounce Oscar, including Harry Chamberlain of Sterling, who wanted him replaced by Vanna White, and Steve Russillo, who thought Oscar and Major Banks should be fired and John Doe hired as player-manager. Curious ballot from EDS Senators Fan Club in Rockville split 2-2 on whether to keep Oscar, suggesting that first base coach Otis Bettelsen be placed in personal charge of Oscar's "remedial training" . . . Now the answer to last week's trivia question: Who was only bug ever named NL MVP? Orlando Cicada . . . Moe-Don Dorcas given honorary degree at Lafayette School sixth-grade commencement. Thanked everyone for honor and rattled off names of nine of original 13 colonies before missing with Mexico, Green Bay, Disney World and Krypton. ::