Rep. John J. LaFalce extolled the wonders of Buffalo, his hometown, in the competition for a major league baseball franchise {"Sorry, D.C., But Buffalo's Better for Baseball," Close to Home, July 1}. But his piece was bush league, because he tried to persuade readers that the nation's capital isn't worthy of hosting the national pastime.

I doubt I would blast Buffalo and its chances for baseball in one of that city's newspapers, but since the member of Congress raised the question, let's size up the relative merits of the Buffalo and Washington markets.

Of U.S. metropolitan areas, Washington numbers fifth in "buying power," while Buffalo ranks 53rd. The average household income in the District is more than 50 percent greater than that of Buffalo. The Washington region has triple the population of the Buffalo region, 3.7 million people compared with just 1.2 million. Washington receives double the number of tourists as Buffalo, even counting trips to Niagara Falls.

The Washington metropolitan area is rated the fourth-best place to live in the United States, according to Rand McNally's "Best Places Almanac"; Buffalo finished 31st.

A Washington team would bring in more than twice the media revenue a Buffalo team would. Washington would help support the major leagues, while a Buffalo franchise would have to be subsidized by the more affluent big league markets, such as Washington.

I don't harbor any ill will toward Buffalo. Baseball may want to add both of our cities to provide balance. A strong franchise with abundant TV revenue, such as Washington, could help support the smaller Buffalo or Denver markets. So be friends with us, Buffalo -- you may need us.

One last thing: LaFalce said Washington "is simply not a baseball town." That's a LaFalce-hood. Experienced baseball people tell us that there are three ingredients for a good baseball town:

First, you need population, and Washington's population has doubled since the Senators left town.

Second, you need major-league household income, and no other city can touch us there.

Third, the fans must believe the team's management is commited to winning. From 1946 through 1971, the last year the Senators were in town, the team averaged 91 losses per season, finishing an average of 34 games off the pace. During that span, the Senators finished as high as fourth place only twice, in 1946 (28 games out) and 1969 (23 games away from first). Our region did not fail; rather the Senators' management flopped. A sports franchise has to show the folks that there is some future, some reason to hang in there. Strong management in Washington could easily stimulate the interest of fans.

Rep. LaFalce, I like Buffalo. Your town deserves an AAA rating. You should cheer for us, too.

-- Frank Smith Jr.

is a D.C. Council member and chairman of the D.C. Baseball Commission.