If you are one of 622,823 people who live in the nation's capital, you have the unique distinction of residing in a city that:

is the largest metropolitan area in the nation without a major league baseball team.

is the only place in the nation without a voting representative in Congress.

is going to be one of the last no-cable-no-time-soon metropolises in the nation.

Sweet land of liberty? Not if you have no baseball, no representation and no ESPN.

While Maryland and Virginia suburbs are moving toward the latest video technology, cable in the District remains a rumor for most. Yes, wiring has begun. But still, hardly anyone in the city has cable and most people will not see it until 1990 and beyond.

Many desperate District sports fans have opted for the bar scene in recent years; uptown, downtown and in Georgetown, several taverns have satellite dishes and bring in the best of the distant signals. But even that haven is about to be hamstrung: major league baseball will begin scrambling broadcasts of away games to a team's home market to prevent dish owners from getting the signal.

Well, it was wonderful (and illegal) while it lasted.

"This isn't ideal," said bookstore manager Peter Sylvester while sipping a beer and watching an NBA game on TBS at a Capitol Hill bar recently. "But I have no alternative. I like to watch games, and I've always been able to watch the Mets a lot in the summer. It's at least $10 every time I walk in here {to drink or eat}. I'd rather pay $10 or $20 a month so I can watch in my home, but until it happens, I'm here."

"I don't think it will mean much," a bartender at a Connecticut Avenue pub said when asked if the loss of satellite baseball games would hurt. "We'll lose some business, sure -- someone's always calling here to see if we're going to have a Mets or Cubs or Braves game on -- but it's not going to break us. It's only a handful of people who come in just to watch a certain game."

In recent years, bars nationwide have purchased satellite dishes to attract sports viewers. But "signal piracy" is against the law; commercial establishments are not allowed to intercept signals. That has not stopped some entrepreneurs from continuing to pluck the transmissions off the satellite and some patrons from watching it.

But starting this spring, fewer major league games will be unscrambled -- some regional cable networks like Home Team Sports will not scramble yet -- and the baseball video menu will be reduced for captives of the District.

So, for sports junkies here, the bottom line is simple: live in the suburbs or live without ESPN, WWOR, TBS, WGN, USA and HBO.

Those of us in the city will continue to live the horror of only being able to pick up a handful of local channels. And some of us aren't even that fortunate. I live in one of the District's myriad basement apartments; from my windows, I can see all of Washington go by -- from the waist down. TV reception is a bit haphazard when you live underground. Ghost images plague many of the D.C. stations I can pick up; as for Baltimore, I can only depend on reliable reports that stations there are still on the air.

For those of you still in the District or still without cable otherwise or still without above-ground lodging, I have compiled the following list of tips:

Move to an area with cable.

Move to a high-rise apartment building, preferably on a hill; at the very least, move to lodging that logically doesn't double as a fallout shelter.

Buy a satellite dish. Several are available now for $1,500 or less.

If you can't afford to move into a cable area or a high-rise or get a satellite dish, start to acquaint yourself with people who do live in cable areas and high rises and own satellite dishes. And even if you're not the sociable type, learn to fake having a good time with people you really don't like.

Marry into cable.

And the next time someone comments smugly about how wonderful it is to live in the most important city in the world, remind him or her that the nation's capital is the only place in the nation without a vote in Congress, that baseball may be the national pastime but it's not played in the national capital and that the communications capital of the world is still the backwoods of modern cable communications. And have that person buy you a beer while you try to make out the scrambled images of a late-season pennant race game.