Baseball has gotten lucky again. Dammit!

The industry should have been flogged for that split-season atrocity it threw at us after the strike. It deserved the ultimate in humiliation: the Chicago Cubs in the World Series, so we could sing, "Wil-lie, Mickey and the fluke." At the very least, it should have endured the first Frostbite Classic, in Montreal, where the temperatures were freezing or below this week.

What happened? The Series did not get the best teams in baseball; it did get the best teams for baseball, the Yankees and the Dodgers. And then? Near-perfect weather; drama and trauma; Reggie Jackson on base six straight times; the best team money can buy in a sudden recession.

Who is to say the darling Dodgers won't come back from the baseball graveyard for the third straight time in this postnasal drip of a season? Who is prepared to look back at what has happened in Los Angeles over the weekend and argue against Fernando Valenzuela saving his team and his sport one more time, in Game 7?

Say nay? Cey, hey.

Mrs. Penguin, Fran Cey, swears that what she is about to say is the truth and nothing but the truth:

"They (the Dodger players) came home (after losing Games 1 and 2 of the World Series to the Yankees) saying, 'No problem. This is what we love. We've got it made. Three in a row.' They had confidence."

Steve Garvey recalls arriving in L.A. after those Yankee spankings and saying: "We got 'em right where we want 'em."

He remembers saying it with a smile.

"But it did turn out to prophetic," he added.

Let's think back to what Dave Righetti said here the night his Yankee teammates gave him that two-games-to-nothing lead he could not hold: "They're in trouble. We're not the Montreal Expos."

Right or wrong doesn't really matter, for it would take the sort of Yankee Stadium ugliness nobody wants to spoil this special Series. And that is not likely to happen; an air of reason, if not bliss, seems to be sweeping the place. The customers are cleaning up their act.

"Over a period of time, things have gotten less violent there," Garvey said. "The crowds there (during Games 1 and 2) were very good, actually, except for that bottle (somebody threw at Dusty Baker) and the smoke bomb. And the fans themselves got on that last person."

"It's not like we're going into Vietnam," Davey Lopes argued. "Fans in Yankee Stadium appreciate baseball. They're pro athlete, and I'm not sure that's the case (in L.A., where Lopes has been treated for what he is: at the end of a proud career). If they like you, they let you know; if they don't, they let you know.

"I don't care if they don't like me; just let me win there one more time."

What gives with these Dodgers?

"What happened in Yankee Stadium," Jerry Reuss said, "is that we'd just beaten Montreal two out of three in the cold and were in the World Series less than 24 hours later. I'm not saying we let down, but we'd just come off winning the biggest game to get there.

"When we came back here, we had a chance to regroup, to remember the situation, to examine ourselves and do what we're capable of doing. Talking about intangibles is tough. I see things differently, from the inside."

How would he describe the Dodgers, in 25 words or less?

"They keep coming back. They don't know when they've had enough. They give you the play you need. How's that?"

Better than expected.

"We were taking a sauna in Montreal at the stadium last week," Lopes said. "It was Jay (Johnstone), Reggie (Smith), (Steve) Yeager, (Bill) Russell and myself. We were just sitting there and Jay said: 'We oughta get one of these in L.A.' And I looked at him and said: 'Look who's in here with you. There's a good possibility none of us will be here next year.'

"Because of all the things that have happened to us, this team just has more desire than any of the others. So many people have given up on us, first in the Houston series, then against Montreal and then against the Yankees. It's nothing derogatory toward them; it's just human nature.

"In their position, I would have too."

The most animated Dodger, Manager Tommy Lasorda, has outdone himself this wacky weekend. Each game has been the most thrilling of his life, each of his players a jewel of humanity.

And Lasorda?

He's been lucky.

"I was talking with Pee Wee (Reese) not long ago," he said, "thinking back to the '55 team (that won the first Series in Dodger history). I said to him: 'Of the 25 guys on that team, I'll bet I'm the 25th guy you'd have picked to be managing the Dodgers 25 years later.'

"He said: 'No, you'd be 24th.' "

Who was the 25th?

"Sandy Amoros."