The high-riding Senators were brought low last week by a sex scandal that threatens the team's pennant hopes, pitcher Emily Caitlin's career, the future of women in baseball, and, if some commentators are to be believed, the health of the Republic itself.

The scandal began when an anonymous tipster phoned The Miami Herald to report that Gene McSparron, the Senators' right fielder and a presidential candidate, was having an extra-marital affair with pitcher Emily Caitlin. McSparron and his estranged wife Candy, who left him last year for a lounge singer, reunited shortly before McSparron announced his candidacy. But rumors of adultery persisted, despite denials by the McSparrons. "I'm positive that Gene is faithful to me," Candy had said at a teary press conference last month, "because he has completely sublimated his sex drive into a lust for money and power."

Skeptical, The Herald editors decided to dispatch their now-famous Political Adultery Stakeout Squad (PASS) to Washington, where the Senators were playing the Indians. For two days, a team of four reporters, clad in camouflage, crouched behind bushes outside the homes of both McSparron and Caitlin.

The PASS investigators reconnoitering McSparron's $1.2 million Spring Valley home soon found themselves enveloped in ennui. The outfielder returned home promptly after each game and retired to bed, accompanied only by a bottle of Yoo-Hoo and a computer printout of Richard Viguerie's mailing list.

Outside Caitlin's Adams- Morgan house, though, the scene was more exciting. On Monday night, after beating the Indians 3-2 and striking out 11, Caitlin returned home at 3 in the morning with a half-empty bottle of champagne in one hand and Pappy Doyle's gnarled old paw in the other. As the PASS sleuths scribbled furiously in their specially designed camouflage notebooks, Caitlin struggled to get her key into the door while Doyle nibbled at her ear lobe. The two were inside the house, The Herald reported, until shortly after noon, when Doyle, clad only in a pilfered hotel towel and what he later called his "hangover sunglasses," stepped outside and purchased a copy of USA Today from a vending machine. He turned immediately to the sports section and laughed. "Hey, darlin'," he called into the house, "get a load o' this headline: 'Indians Scalped by Senators' Squaw.' "

When Doyle turned around, he was confronted by a reporter. "Mr. Doyle, would you care to comment on what you were doing in Ms. Caitlin's home last night?"

"I cannot tell a lie," Doyle replied. "We spent the entire night drinkin' warm milk and readin' the Bible."

"Have you ever committed adultery?" the reporter asked.

"I cain't recall," replied the thrice-married, thrice-divorced Doyle. "I never remember anything after my third drink."

At that point, Caitlin, clad in a robe, stepped onto the porch.

"Ms. Caitlin," the reporter asked, "would you care to comment on what you and Mr. Doyle were doing in your house last night?"

Caitlin just smiled: "Fluff up your pillow and dream about it."

"Is there any truth," the reporter asked, "to rumors that you are having an affair with Gene McSparron?"

"McSparron! Hey, wait a minute! I may be hanging around with this geriatric redneck" -- she nodded to Doyle -- "but I do have some standards!"

The next day, The Herald's banner headline read: "Two Senators Nabbed In Washington Love Nest."

That morning, Orrin Hatch rose in the Senate, angrily waving a copy of the paper. "Let the record show that the 'Senators' referred to in this headline are professional baseball players, not members of this distinguished body," he said. "Furthermore, I'd like to know how a foreigner can come to the nation's capital, start a team in what is ironically called the American League, name that team after this distinguished institution and then permit -- indeed encourage -- this kind of scandalous behavior. To me, it smacks of a Soviet disinformation campaign, and I demand an investigation."

Within hours, the scandal became fodder for a nationwide media debate. Phyllis Schlafly charged that the episode was "the inevitable result of unisex locker rooms and other so-called reforms of the ERA crowd." Don Behr, head of the Major League Players Association, denounced The Herald for invasion of privacy: "What players do on their own time is none of anybody's business." Dick Young, sports columnist for the New York Post, disagreed. "When illicit sex saps a player's strength before a game, it is the legitimate concern of the people who pay these crybabies' salaries -- and that's the fans in the stands," he wrote. "It's high time for the commissioner to get the druggies and the sex maniacs out of the locker rooms." WMAL radio personality Ken Beatrice scoffed at that: "My people tell me that if we got rid of all the players who had extra-marital sex, chances are all we'd have left would be Dale Murphy, Gene McSparron and the San Diego Chicken."

George Steinbrenner, principal owner of the Yankees, raised the specter of AIDS. "With all these diseases going around, it worries me that a guy like Pappy Doyle, who everybody knows throws a spitball, could spread a lethal illness to an opposing batter or an umpire or even the fans behind home plate when he throws the wet one," he said. "I'll fire Piniella if he lets my players take the field against Doyle before the guy gets tested." Steinbrenner denied that Doyle's lifetime record of 37-13 against the Yankees was a factor in his stance.

Senators owner Tang Ye-lin responded to Steinbrenner's challenge by invoking the Ueberroth doctrine -- "When in doubt, break out the test tubes" -- and immediately ordered all the Senators to submit to "voluntary" urine and blood tests and to sign a loyalty oath promising they would not "overthrow the government of the United States, the District of Columbia or the American League by force or violence."

Yesterday, Dan Levin, the Senators' bodily fluids testing consultant, knocked on Tang's door. "We have a little problem with one player's test," he reported.

"Oh, great, we finally got Windy Jackson, eh?" Tang chortled.

"Ah, no, sir, it's Caitlin, sir."

"Don't tell me that shameless hussy's on dope!"

"No, sir, she's completely clean in that regard. It's just that ah, um, she's . . . well, she's . . ."

"Stop stammering, boy. Come out with it."

"Ah, she's, well, um, she's pregnant, sir." :: SENATORS STUFF: Gabeen Mfoom hit by 18 more pitches this week. At that pace, he should easily break Ron Hunt's record of 50 in season -- except for one problem: Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced investigation of Senators for using Mfoom as "designated get-hitter." Meanwhile, bruised Ethiopian speedster is learning American idiom. His latest linguistic breakthrough: "Now time to renegotiate contract" . . . Senators went 2-4 this week. Slump widely attributed to psychological fallout from Caitlin-Doyle sex scandal . . . Hoping to throw sinkers like Caitlin, pitchers Jonathan Van Dorn and Little Stevie Ruffin have let pitching-hand fingernails grow long and painted them pink, as Caitlin does. "I sure hope it improves my ERA," says Van Dorn, " 'cause it sure hasn't helped me in the dating bars" . . . Danny Broccoli, who set record for beaning batters earlier this year, hasn't bopped single hitter in weeks. Teammates attribute his new-found pacifism to relationship with Betty Gloria, reporter who covers Senators for Ms. "Since he started dating that chick, I mean woman, he's gotten so sensitive it's ridiculous," says Shaky Faloon. "During conferences on the mound, he keeps asking me to share my feelings." ::