Malcolm Glazer and sons Joel and Brian believe they have a terrific compromise between the desires of 10 cities to have baseball and the National League's willingness to expand by just two teams in 1993: Award two teams to five cities.

The Glazers admit their idea is a little radical, so they are figuring the NL Expansion Committee will award one team to a more traditional ownership group -- one that represents one city. The Glazers are seeking the other team -- one that would play in four cities.

They have what they consider the top five sites in mind, just in case the Expansion Committee takes one. So, for example, if Tampa-St. Petersburg receives a franchise, the Glazers would like to own the Washington-Denver-Buffalo-Miami Whatevers. No four of those five quite form what you could call the Quad Cities, so the Glazers are operating under the neutral banner of America's Baseball Team Inc. (Of course, if Tampa-St. Petersburg gets tossed into the mix, you really would have five cities and a veritable bevy of natural nicknames: the Pent Houses, the Pent-A-Gons, the Pent-Athletes.)

An arrangement like this is not unprecedented. The Green Bay Packers play home games in Green Bay and in Milwaukee, about 120 miles away. When the NBA franchise that is now the Sacramento Kings left Cincinnati in 1972, it became the Kansas City-Omaha Kings and divided its home games between those cities about 190 miles apart. The American Basketball Association's Virginia Squires (after originating in Oakland and then spending one season as the Washington Caps) hosted games in Norfolk, Hampton, Richmond and Roanoke.

But this could be four regions. And Malcolm Glazer said his team "probably" would evenly rotate home games among the four, rather than playing the first 20 in one city, the second 20 in another and so on.

The Glazers are serious.

And when they made their presentation to the Expansion Committee -- Douglas Danforth of the Pirates, John McMullen of the Astros, Fred Wilpon of Mets and NL President Bill White -- a month ago in New York, they were not removed from the premises by law enforcement officials. "I thought they would tear us apart," Malcolm Glazer said. "They didn't do that."

"We were very well received," Joel Glazer said. "They were excited about the idea. They said the idea was not new to them, that some very prominent baseball people have said they {all of baseball's owners} have to look at the idea of two cities sharing a team."

Malcolm Glazer, 63, is president of the First Allied Corp., a Boynton Beach, Fla.-based company that owns several television stations and has holdings in real estate, health care and banking. It once offered the federal government $7 billion for Conrail. Until earlier this year, he was the largest individual shareholder of Harley-Davidson.

But he said his sons are "doing the bulk" of the work on the baseball project. Not unusual -- except for the fact that Joel, who hatched the America's Baseball Team concept, is 23 years old and Brian is 26. Graduates of American University, "they drag me along for my gray hair -- and my wallet," Malcolm Glazer said with a laugh.

Joel said of the presentation before the Expansion Committee: "After I walked out of there, I thought about it and said, 'Wow, I was just talking to three owners and the president of the National League!' But while it was going on, I was there to get my message across."

The Glazers' message is that, in addition to helping quench the nation's thirst for major league baseball, an expansion team playing in four cities would be more viable financially than one playing in one city. Their overriding premise, as articulated by Joel Glazer, is: "Faced with the prospect of having no games or 19, obviously everyone would jump at the opportunity to have 19."

A four-city team, they say, would receive more local television and radio revenue because stations in each city would want to carry most or all of the team's games. It would have higher attendance because they say a team with only 20 games in each of four cities would be more likely to sell out all of its home games than a team with 81 games in one city. That's basic supply and demand, along with a much cheaper season ticket. And, again because of supply and demand, the Glazers say their team would be more likely to sustain these advantages while it struggles for respectability on the field.

As for the question of who would want to play for a team like this, the Glazers say they would provide housing for the players, many of whom already make their permanent homes in a city different from the one in which they play. Plus, the Glazers say their players would have four times as many opportunities for endorsements as one-city players have.

Their idea remains in the preliminary stages, even as the Expansion Committee moves toward paring the field of prospective ownership groups to four or five finalists. For example, Brian Glazer said, they have not had discussions with the D.C. Armory Board about using RFK Stadium. But the Glazers say they are confident.

"If I had said 30 years ago that baseball would be played indoors on fake grass, you would have slapped me in the face," Joel Glazer said. "People's initial reaction to this is, 'You're crazy.' But the more they understand the idea and the more they get educated about it, the more intrigued they get."

Said Malcolm Glazer: "The only thing we're changing is having four cities share a team. We're not changing the whole game."