The question, contingent on Washington getting major league baseball in 1993, is not "How good will the team be?" That it will be inept is not even a topic of discussion. More to the point, "How bad will the hot dogs be?"

Based on what is being served now at RFK Stadium, the answer would be, "No better than the team." After all, nobody goes to a Redskins game to eat the hot dogs. In fact, quality of concessions is not as important a factor in running a successful football operation as it is in baseball.

There are baseball fans in Washington who make the decision to drive all the way to Baltimore for a weeknight game on the basis of the concessions. They know that they can make the Orioles' first pitch only by skipping supper at home but that at Memorial Stadium they can get a decent crab cake or a tasty Italian sausage in a hard roll.

The same goes for hockey and basketball fans who rush from work to the game knowing that the kielbasa in a roll they'll have at Capital Centre will be as tasty as whatever it is they would be microwaving at home. Or, at the very least the Pizza Movers pizza they have in Landover is the same as the Pizza Movers pizza they would be having delivered in Dale City.

Not that you'd pick Memorial Stadium or the Cap Centre as the place to have your anniversary dinner, unless you're the type who would like to have been married at home plate. The food isn't that good and prices are always high anywhere that the audience is captive.

But therein lies the double whammy of RFK: the food may cost too much, but it's not any good either.

Why do you think so many fans will be eating in the parking lots around RFK Sunday before the Redskins' game with Buffalo? (OK, besides the fact that they're not allowed to carry their coolers into the stadium.)

Once inside, they know they're trapped. A recent game-day excursion to RFK confirmed for this reporter that it is best to enter RFK on a full stomach. (It's also best to drink in the parking lot on a full stomach, though we didn't test that hypothesis.)

The $1.50 RFK frank is the quintessential, foil-wrapped hot-dog-to- give-all-ball-park-hot-dogs-a-bad-name hot dog -- rubbery textured, barely warm in a soggy roll, gobs of which could be easily compressed into bread balls and used as fish bait. And this before the game, when they're fresh.

To be fair, the french fries were quite good, hot but not oily, crisp but not burned. This was an hour before kickoff, however, there was nobody else in line and they were right out of the fryer.

And, the peanuts in a shell were just fine. But $1.50 for a four-ounce bag, a mere 42 peanuts by count? You can buy a whole pound for less than that at the supermarket and bring it to the game. For that matter, you could fry a hot dog at home, put it in a warm roll, wrap it in some paper toweling for insulation and foil and have a better frank when you reach your seat.

Of course, stadium food should be judged by stadium standards; is it better than, as good as, or worse than one should expect? Unfortunately, at RFK the answer is the latter; not a single "hey, this is better than I thought it'd be." Nachos have become the ubiquitous sporting-event specialty; the RFK nachos come without sliced peppers, just cheese goo and, in our order, a mound of broken chips.

But what does it matter? Come Sunday, the stadium will be full. And the following Sunday too, if the Redskins are at home for their first playoff game. And next fall, and the fall after that.

Baseball teams, on the other hand, do not normally play game after game before capacity crowds. Baseball teams do not have waiting lists for season tickets. The Bullets and Caps are not assured of a full house night after night, which is one reason the food is better at Cap Centre than at RFK.

And that is why the hot dogs at RFK will be better in 1993 if there is a baseball team playing there. When every seat is not taken, management looks for ways to attract fans -- cleaner restrooms, more courteous ushers, more frequent promotions, better hot dogs.

Minor league baseball proves this. Concession income is more important than winning and losing in making a profit. Next summer, go to a minor league game in Prince William or Frederick or Hagerstown and see if the hot dogs aren't better than at RFK. (Granted, you have to have been lucky enough to get a Redskins ticket to make the comparison.)

Food at RFK is currently served by two local companies. The concession stands throughout the stadium are run by B&B Caterers, while the stadium clubs, which can cater to only a small percentage of a capacity crowd, are run by DAC Caterers.

However, if RFK has National League baseball in 1993, it is also quite likely to have a big-time concessionaire, according to Jim Dalrymple, general manager of the D.C. Armory Board, which operates the stadium.

"The owners of a baseball team would probably want a national company," says Dalrymple. "There would be a large number of events and a national company would know it would have to put a pretty heavy dollar amount up front to improve the facilities" in the stadium.

"Concessions are much more important to baseball," continues Dalrymple. "There are a lot more games, you're at the game for a longer time, the action is slower and there's time between innings to go out to the stands for something to eat. It's part of the attraction, unlike football, and the menu is much more extensive."

Asked whether he gets many comments on the state of the concessions at RFK, Dalrymple chuckles and says, "Sure, everything from 'I love to eat stadium hot dogs' to {TV commentator} Merlin Olsen saying 'It's the worst hot dog in the NFL' " on a network broadcast.

And still the seats are full, and that's the bottom line.