"Baseball fans can be the cruelest, most vicious fans of any sport anywhere," declared Kansas City third baseman George Brett as the Royals prepared for their first road trip since Darrell Porter's weekend return from a therapy center.

The Royals weren't too worried about the first stop -- Toronto, where Blue Jay fans are too euphoric about being atop AL East to malign anybody -- tacitly Brett gives next stop, Baltimore, credit for civility by saying:

"Just wait till we go to New York and Chicago. They'll eat him alive."

Teammate Hal McRae says Porter erred in confessing to drug addiction along with the previously revealed drinking problem."People will accept an alcoholic," said McRae. "Comedians make jokes about drunks. But nobody makes jokes about drug addicts. Society just won't accept a drug addict. Wait till when Darrell is in a slump -- what do you think people are going to blame it on? Darrell's the kind of guy who's always taken a lot of junk from the fans anyway. Now it's going to be a thousand times worse."

Pitcher Paul Splittorff put in: "It's going to be horrible. But I know Darrell, and I think he's going to be able to deal with it". . .

Jim Valvano, the N.C. State basketball coach since leaving Iona last month, denies a New York newspaper report that he was aware his star center at the New Rochelle, N.Y., school, Jeff Ruland, had signed with and received payments from professional agent Paul Corvino that were illegal under NCAA regulations. Ruland entered the NBA draft pool when discovery of an arrangement with the agent made him ineligible for his senior year -- and perhaps, retroactively, his just-completed junior campaign.

Valvano said he never heard of Corvino until after the past season.

That's right, echoes Corvino, adding, "The only thing Jeff signed with me was a paper a year ago endorsing Ronald Reagan, and there was no money involved." . . .

Bill Stein, Georgetown assistant basketball coach, asks us to clarify, re Saturday's item, that the Hoyas didn't "lose" 6-foot-11 Philadelphia Tony Costner to St Joseph's -- rather, "we told Costner three weeks ago we no longer were recruiting him, because we got a commitment out of another kid." Similar size? "Yes." Maybe the committed one's identity will leak at tonight's GU basketball awards banquet, Sheraton National in Arlington. Guest speaker: Derrick Jackson, the all-time Hoya scorer who played the past two seasons with Athletes in Action . . .

Joe Thomas, the former Dolphin, Colt and 49er honcho, will do on-the-scene analysis of the NFL draft from ESPN's anchor position at New York's Sheraton Centre today. Coverage starts 10 a.m.; viewable in this area on ARTEC, the Arlington cable TV system . . . The NFL Management Council filled its vacant post of executive director yesterday with John Donlan, v.p. industrial relations, National Airlines . . .

Recruiting? Webb Heintzelman, the Walt Whitman High star who won last year's Bubby Worsham tourney among many other area junior events and made the National Junior Amateur quarterfinals, has signed with U. of South Carolina. . .

Vince Gibson is Tulane's new football coach, and U. of Louisville coupled his introduction in New Orleans with promotion of Bob Weber, his offensive coordinator the past four years at Lou'vl and before that at Kansas State, to succeed him. Gibson signed a four-year contract at Tulane, taking with him a 56-83-2 record for 13 years at K-State and Louisville; 4-6-1 last season.

Vince Dooley of Georgia, speaking of coaching Vinces, visited Washington the other day on tour in the American Football Coaches Association's continuing promotion of physical fitness for Americans. The program is in its 18th year, since President John Kennedy lit the fire. And would you believe that Dooley, heading just into his 17th year at Georgia, trails only Bear Bryant of Alabama and Bill Yeoman of Houston in head-coaching longevity among almost 150 schools in Division I-A? . . .

Never a doubt, Jerry Ford will paly in the May 28 pro-am prelude to the Kemper Open at Congressional. The former president has his handicap down to 14 . . . One more excellent benefit golf event: 12th annual Poor Robert's, this Friday at Glenn Dale. Benefits Georgetown Big Brothers. Features cream of area and regional amateur crop, with Buddy Marucci of Philly defending his title against likes of Jay Sigel (low amateur in the Masters), Marty West, Vinny Giles and more. Call tournament chairman Bobby Abbo to sign up for a you-don't-have-to-be-a-star foursome for 9:30 a.m. shotgun star; championship division tees off at 1:30. Rain, Scat.