In a sense we ought to be glad we're not getting an expansion team. Most of the good seats were already gone anyway.

I can wait until 1988.

I can wait until 1990.

I can wait, as Adlai Stevenson once said at the United Nations, "until hell freezes over, Mr. Ambassador."

I don't feel cheated because baseball decided not to base its timetable for expansion on a banner at RFK Stadium. "Baseball in '87" was a slogan, not a referendum. It was a dream, and a dream is a wish your heart makes when you're fast asleep. We're still in the top of the first. All this is, is a rain delay. I don't feel that promises were breached or that my affections were alienated.

Maybe that's because I'm not a lifelong Washingtonian, and I haven't had to suffer the embarrassment of watching two Senators teams pull a "Matilda": take the money and run Venezuela. I sympathize with, but don't share in the complex. I came here well after the Senators blew town, and like many, many thousands of other check-ins over the last decade, my decision to come here had nothing to do with Washington having or not having baseball.

It would be nice to have a team here. Like many of you, I would go see some games each season, probably six to 10, and feel better knowing that Washington had still another slice of the culture pizza to taste. But I like the city just fine even without baseball. If baseball is that important, how come they didn't move the capital to Arlington, Tex.?

You might want to sit down for this: Baseball doesn't need Washington, D.C. Baseball seems to have survived without it these last 14 years. Some franchises are obviously troubled, and the drug issue has soured some people on the sport. But generally attendance is up, revenues are up and interest in the game is up.

Why should baseball come back here now?

I'm not saying Washington wouldn't be a fine place for a baseball team. I'm asking why should baseball come back here now.

I don't know why so many people thought it would.

Why? Because they sold 15,000 season tickets and raised $8 million? Did that make us, to use a favorite government word, "entitled" to a team? See, this entitlement deal only works inside the Beltway.

Someone should tell Frank Smith to stop blathering.

If he'd read this paper on Dec. 4, he'd have known that three owners -- Giles of the Phillies, Argyros of the Mariners and Chiles of the Rangers -- were against expansion, and even those who thought expansion inevitable did not know when it would happen. First things first, the owners said, Eisenhardt of Oakland naming fiscal soundness and possible franchise relocation as far more pressing than an expansion. Nothing in San Diego changed that. Expansion may have a champion in Peter Ueberroth, but it is the owners who vote -- Giles, for one, saying, "I don't see or hear any sentiment for expansion among owners." Pete, you're beautiful, take a walk.

I take no solace in the "love ya, babe -- gotta run" comment from that unidentified owner who essentially told Washingtonians, not to worry, you're on the short list.

What good is it to be first in line at a bakery that has no bread and isn't inclined to bake any?

We've been round and round on this expansion stuff. First it was Bowie Kuhn who was going to bring a team here. I keep reading how sorry some owners are at the shabby way they treated Kuhn. They could make ammends by giving him and his gang (Lerner, Schattner, Carr, Clark, Smith, and who, Huey, Dewey and Bowie) an expansion team. They didn't, did they?

In the absence of anything tangible in San Diego, Washingtonians were told to be of good cheer because Edward Bennett Williams magnanimously said he wouldn't block a franchise here. At the risk of appearing ungrateful, let me ask a couple of questions: Isn't it possible that EBW already knew no franchise was coming before he made his promise? In the owners' fraternity, Williams is a most respected brother. Is it unreasonable to suggest that his fellow owners cut him an unsolicited deal in the backroom and gave him a risk-free podium to speak from?

So where do we stand? We've bought 15,000 season tickets to a phantom team and stuffed $8 million into banks that can roll it over for twice what they're paying on it. (You hear that, Ivanhoe?) And now that we aren't getting a team, why should anybody keep the money in the bank? For what? For auld lang syne?

Now expansion is on the back shelf and relocation is on the docket. Kuhn is somewhere back there behind the oatmeal, and once again we're asking Jack Kent Cooke, who knows his way around the countinghouse, to be our amicus curiae. As always, whoever brings a team here is the one we'll love most.

There are good reasons to expand, money chief among them. Banners are nice, but baseball will expand when the owners are damned good and ready. Not before.

Sit down. Relax.

We'll be here a while.