So the three grown sons who have behaved like the children they once were because they were sick of reading about the possibility of the Montreal Expos moving here were singing a different tune last week. They had lots of questions:

"How do you get tickets to see our guys?"

"Any chance MLB will stop getting rid of our best players, such as Boston shortstop Orlando Cabrera, before they move here?"

"Where's that Metro stop near the new stadium?"

"Can we keep GM Omar Minaya?"

"If Peter Angelos believes there are no baseball fans in Washington, why all the fuss?"

"Will Angelos still allow us to attend some games in Baltimore?"

"Can we still eat the free hot dogs at Orioles' D.C. FanFest next summer?"

"What's the deal with Regional Cable TV properties?"

"Can we put Jerry Reinsdorf in RFK Stadium's Hall of Stars?"

"Can we get a better closer than the superstars coming out of the O's bullpen?"

"Why do you keep asking if Zola has an Early Bird?"

"With two more years left on 40-year-old Barry Bonds's contract, would he be interested in finishing his career in Washington, like another sports icon?"

"Will we use Washington on our uniforms, or regionalize like the O's, and just call the team America?"

"Will Senators tickets from 1972 be honored?"

All this in fun, of course, because 33 years is a long time to have a scowl waiting for the return of major league baseball to a city that joined the American League when it was created in 1901 and never should have been deprived of a team. A week or so more of waiting before the announcement is made by MLB is not going to matter, not when the people who live in and around the nation's capital have waited this long.

Bud, whenever you're ready.

The Rivalry

The roar was deafening. And out of the dugout along the third base line at RFK, Tom Landry would emerge in that fedora and fur-collared coat to the chants of, "We want Dallas! We want Dallas!" That was Dallas against Washington -- real NFL football -- and if you were fortunate enough to be there, it was something to savor and remember.

The rivalry began in 1960 when the Redskins defeated the expansion Cowboys, 26-14, in old Griffith Stadium for their only victory of the season. In the 43 years since they began competing, the Cowboys have built a 52-32-2 lead in the series, with the Redskins winning both playoff games between the teams. Joe Gibbs went 9-11 against Dallas from 1981 to 1992.

No sports event means more to this town than Redskins-Cowboys. From the New Year's Eve NFC championship game in 1972 when Billy Kilmer's touchdown pass to Charley Taylor seemed to hang in the cold night air forever, to the dagger to Washington's heart delivered by Clint Longley in 1974, to defensive tackle Darryl Grant high-stepping into the Cowboys' end zone in a 1983 playoff. Was it more important than family? Hmmm.

But in 1997, when the Redskins moved into their immense new stadium -- named at the time for the late owner Jack Kent Cooke, who built the place with his own money, everything changed. The Cowboys have won five of seven games in the Landover stadium -- renamed FedEx Field in 1999 in honor of the shipping company paying the Redskins millions in naming rights.

Whatever home-field advantage the Redskins enjoyed at RFK Stadium has been lost in Landover. It doesn't matter that FedEx Field is the largest stadium in the NFL with a capacity of 91,665 and people actually have filled the place since Gibbs returned. What you'll see Monday night happens every time the Cowboys come to Landover: Dallas fans buy the overpriced tickets from Redskins fans on eBay (America's Internet scalp zone), wear their blue Cowboys jerseys and have a high old time. To which The Post's Michael Wilbon of Chicagoland will snarl, "Let's see them try that junk in Soldier Field."

At least Gibbs can concentrate on defeating an old friend across the field, Bill Parcells. Both men are throwbacks to another time, thankfully oblivious to the year 2004.

Big Donation

Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams, who earns more than $1.3 million a year, will be donating $500,000 over 10 years to the Maryland scholarship foundation he co-chairs. U-Md. officials, including Williams, also are taking steps to try and clean up the profanity associated with some pep tunes gone awry. Kids. . . .

The Wizards have added Antawn Jamison to team with young stars Gilbert Arenas, Etan Thomas, Jarvis Hayes, Larry Hughes and Juan Dixon. But Steve Blake chipping a bone in his ankle last week and Kwame Brown breaking a bone in his right foot this summer doesn't bode well for playoff hopes. Camp opens in Richmond on Oct. 5. . . .

Is there a mediator, or someone of reason, available to get the NHL owners and players to resume negotiations in hopes of ending this ridiculous lockout? The owners want a salary cap; the players don't. Isn't there a middle ground? And who forced the owners to overpay many of their stars? I don't like the empty practice rink at Piney Orchard, or canceling hockey games, resulting in an empty MCI Center. Some owners are smart, as are some players. Can't the smart guys get together and settle this? . . .

Go figure: The WNBA's Washington Mystics, winning five of their past six games, made the playoffs without you know who. Rookie Alana Beard flourished down the stretch, leading the team in scoring (13.1) in 16 of the final 19 games. . . .

What about D.C. United's playoff drive, going 3-1-3 of late behind the spectacular play of Jaime Moreno? And Freddy Adu continues to improve. . . .

Red Auerbach celebrated his 87th birthday Tuesday at his weekly China Doll lunchfest with fellow Hall of Famers Morgan Wootten and Sam Jones. Auerbach's book, based off the lunches, "Let Me Tell You a Story -- A Lifetime in the Game," co-authored with John Feinstein, will hit the stores next month when Feinstein begins a nationwide 89-city, two-week tour. Feinstein just finished his latest book, a season with the Ravens, even though the season is only two weeks old. My man.

Have an opinion or question, reach me at Icing the champagne.

Montreal fans cheer their beloved Expos. If they come to Washington, will Senators tickets from 1972 be honored?