"Lord," the Rev. John Geaney began his benediction, winding up yesterday's eighth annual Bullets-Capitals welcome home luncheon, and he ended something like this: "May You let the Bullet shots that roll around the rim roll into the basket and the Capital pucks that hit off the post go into the goal -- and keep ticket prices so we all can continue to be there to see it happen. Amen."

That brought a sheepish smile from Capital Centre impressario Abe Pollin, who, as leadoff speaker, had declared: "I'm changing this year from eternal optimist to realist -- and as a realist, I'm telling you we're going to have one hell of a year."

Mayor Marion Barry offered, "These two great teams are going to carry the banner of Washington, D.C., to great places." So what if they're located in Prince George's County? Pollin always has insisted they indeed represent "Washington."

Wes Unseld, the Bullet captain, followed Coach Gene Shue to the podium and told the Sheraton Washington ballroom crowd: "You can teach an old dog new tricks. You'll see when you watch us this year." And a certain old dog across the continent may have felt the vibration when the basketball Rock of Gibraltar cracked, "I'm always one who says people should be accountable for what they say. For instance, a boxer who says 'I'm gonna win, I'm gonna win,' then gets knocked out in the ninth round -- he ought to give back all that money."

Pollin "guaranteed" this is the Caps' year and his hockey coach, Gary Green, offered, "We are not going to name a position (in the standings) we are going to try for. Why not shoot for the stars, and see where we end up -- at least, we hope, somewhere in that universe where we can make you proud of us."