Now for the news from Tinseltown, where the Dodgers and Expos begin the National League championship series Tuesday . . .

The Dodgers' pitching rotation in the best-of-five series will be Burt Hooton, Fernando Valenzuela and Jerry Reuss. Montreal will send Bill Gullickson, Ray Burris and Steve Rogers.

The Dodgers will start Ron Cey at third base for the first time in a month, putting Pedro Guerrero in right field. Montreal may get Tim Raines back after a month out.

Enough news, and now for the dugout chatter . . .

In a performance that a veteran critic called "his best outing since the World Series of '78," Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda entertained the press in his shrine/museum/office decorated with pictures of him with Sinatra, him with everybody except Amelia Earhart.

"Peter O'Malley comes to Ogden, Utah, where I'm managing," said Lasorda, naming the Dodger president in this tale of yore, "and he wants to know about the fights my players have been in. He asks what I do when I jump into the fights. I say, 'Break it up, break it up.'

"So Peter talks to a player, Ricky Kahn, and asks about these battles. Peter says, 'And Tommy, he says break it up?'

"Kahn says, 'Yeah, but Tommy told us when he says that, he really means to keep it up.' "

Lasorda sighed in dismay. "The kid says this to the president of the organization."

No pictures of Ricky Kahn hang in the Lasorda shrine.

Cey, the Dodgers' home run leader with 13 before a pitch broke his left wrist Sept. 9, had a plan if Lasorda didn't use him Tuesday.

"I may go cut my throat," Cey said.

Cey came out of a cast two weeks ago and took batting practice the first time last week. At bat, he wears a plastic guard outside his wrist. In the field, he wears a smaller shield inside, over the break.

"It's coming along better all the time," Cey said. "I still have pain, but it's nothing I can't play with."

Wearing the cast, Cey ran and lifted weights. After he coaxed the Dodger doctor, Frank Jobe, into removing the cast two weeks early, he took ground balls.

"They wouldn't have left it off if I had felt any pain," Cey said. "They tested me by squeezing the wrist. It didn't hurt."

Cey smiled here, as if to confirm the idea he would have acknowledged no pain less than that produced by bamboo shoots under his fingernails.

"They wanted me to wait a week before I hit, but after 4 1/2 days I talked Dr. Jobe into trying it," Cey said.

"Ron lives for these big games," said Lasorda. "And he'll give us more punch."

Guerrero, who hit .300 with 12 home runs, will replace Rick Monday in right field. So Lasorda was asked about Guerrero saying he "might be lost" out there after a month at third.

"We'll get him a compass," Lasorda said.

Meanwhile, the broken-bone report from Montreal is confusing.

With the right-hander Hooton starting, Raines might put off his comeback until Game 2.

"Batting right-handed, I feel pretty good," said Raines, a switch-hitter who hit .304 and stole 71 bases in 88 games. "The broken hand is on top then. But left-handed is a little problem. If I play depends on how I feel after batting practice Tuesday."

But Montreal Manager Jim Fanning expects Raines to start for the first time since he broke the hand sliding Sept. 13.

"He's hit the last two days, with more fierce swings yesterday," Fanning said. "He'll probably play, and that'll make a difference, having the best base-stealer in baseball in the lineup again."

And why have the Dodgers beaten the Expos 18 of 19 times in Dodger Stadium?

"I don't know," Lasorda said.

Fanning said, "I don't know that I know a reason."

Clears that up.

Fanning says the key to the series will be Montreal pitching.

"We have to pitch well," he said, "and we have been doing well for the last month, when every game has been a no-tomorrow game. Our starters' ERA has been just over 2.00 and the bullpen is just over 1.00."

If pitching decides it, the Expos may be in trouble because their best man, Rogers, will be available only once. He twice beat the Phillies and Steve Carlton in the NL East miniplayoff.

Speaking of the miniplayoff, Steve Garvey hates it.

"It's a delusion," the Dodgers' big hitter said. "Now I know what the basketball and hockey players go through, playing all season just to eliminate a few teams. You have to put emphasis on winning the regular season, not just qualifying teams for playoffs. The World Series is a classic, but in the same way that Super Bowls have been called dull -- because they're sometimes anticlimactic -- a World Series could be seen as dull.

"I'm a traditionalist, and I surely hope we don't adopt this playoff system permanently. Seven months of baseball all over the country against everybody is the true test."

And now for the Tinseltown gossip . . .

Valenzuela will ask for a contract at $750,000 a year when his agent, Tony DiMarco, deals with the Dodgers this winter. As a rookie, Valenzuela made $40,000 this season. He must take whatever the Dodgers offer this time because, until you're a two-year veteran, you can't take a club to binding arbitration.

Garvey, who becomes a free agent after next season, is said to consider the figure $2 million a nice starting point for negotiations.