LET THEM EAT crab cake.

Let them also eat barbecue--beef or pork. Plus nachos and pizza and chicken fillet sandwiches. And fish and chips, jumbo pretzels and french fries. And hot dogs, of course--can't forget the hot dogs. Throw in some peanuts and Cracker Jack, you'll be too bloated to ever get back . . .

In Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, it's eat, eat, eat, for the home team. Unbound by traditional notions of suitable ball game food, Oriole concessionaires always have set out a spread of astonishing variety.

Yet the big news this year isn't food, but drink. They're hawking wine in the stands. Wine.

It has been sold inside the stadium for a few years now, but its outdoor debut occurred in the right field stands in the middle innings, an armada of plastic cups in a vendor's lap tray. Each was filled with a light red liquid, turning lighter by the minute, in fact, as the inch or so of crushed ice that floated on top to keep it chilled (chilled?! a red wine chilled?!!) melted in the afternoon sun. Editor's note: For those more familiar with groundballs than grapes, the wine is sangria, which is, of course, served chilled. My hands were full, or I'd have indulged, for novelty's sake if nothing else. Next time.See WINE, H6, Col. 1 Wine --------WINE, From H1

I'm not quite sure how to react to this development. After all, I'm hardly one of the country's prime beer drinkers, even at ball games. When I "hoist a few" in the upper deck, it's likely as not a few Pepsis, washing down three or four randomly selected foodstuffs. The combination, I find, is more than enough to send me hiccuping contentedly back to Washington when the game is over. Still, beer has been so much a part of the baseball scene for so long ("Hey, getcha cold beer/Hey, getcha Ballantine . . .") that it's hard to accept a new arrival, no matter how well-bred.

And while it turns out, on checking further, that a handful of major league parks have added wine to their vending offerings recently, who'd have predicted Memorial Stadium would be one of them. (Oakland, Kansas City, San Diego maybe).

Baltimore, whose welcoming signs proudly used to proclaim itself "a living American city," looks and feels like a beer town, plain and simple. It says something--though I'm not sure exactly what--about the sort of people the Orioles: a. think are coming to the park these days, or b. want to attract to the park in the future.

More than anything, I worry that it will upset the rhythm. There is a certain rhythm to ballpark commerce, you know, even in the cheap seats. It's "PEA-nuts!" It's "HOT-dogs!" It's "SOU-ve-nirs!"--the trochees and dactyls springing endlessly from the mouths of the vendors. In a pinch, they'll even add a beat--"BEER here!"--to get the basic rhythm: hard on the first sound, soft on the rest.

"Wine," on the other hand, is totally unyellable,and our own vendor seemed to know he was in trouble. Instead of shouting his wares, he simply appeared at the end of our row and announced, essentially, "wine." This is unlikely to attract the kind of attention that sales are made of.

I could be wrong. Wine could be the hit of the season in the aisles of Memorial Stadium despite my doubts. And if it is, you can expect to see more of the same: salad bars in the mezzanine, pesto in the box seats, perhaps some crackers and cheese for the folks in the bleachers.

Then the vendors will have to learn new rhythms--"gru-YERE!" "cam-em-BERT!"--and the place may start to sound like a cross between southern California and Hockey Night in Canada.

Let it go on a few years longer, and wine could stand where beer has stood, at the very center of our national pastime. Instead of a World Series between the Milwaukee Brewers (that name's no accident) and Gussie Busch's St. Louis Cardinals, you'll get the Cincinnati Reds against the Chicago Whites.

And throwing out the first ball--who else? Pete Rose.