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Before Washingtonians find out their new baseball team’s uniform colors, the brand of beer on sale at the stadium, or even the corporate moniker that will adorn it, they will meet its owners. Over the coming months, Major League Baseball will weigh the business acumen, the hometown bona fides, and—most of all—the wallets of three confirmed bidders and possibly several others, before unloading the Expos for a sum likely in the hundreds of millions. MLB spokesperson Patrick Courtney says the bidding process is “on the fast track”; the league wants to sell the team by the beginning of next season, he says. The new owners will have the final say on the duds and the suds, but most important, Washington will have the beginnings of a fan narrative: Will the new owners be Tribune Co.–corporate or Bill Veeck–populist? Carl Pohlad–stingy or Arte Moreno–free-spending? George Steinbrenner–hated or George Steinbrenner–beloved? In any case, they’ll be rich and Bud Selig–blessed.

Washington Baseball Club

The Lineup

D.C. investor Fred Malek, Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines, America Online founder James Kimsey, former Advisory Board Co. CEO Jeff Zients; Redskins hero Darrell Green and Bill Clinton aide Vernon Jordan as “limited partners”

The Home-Field Advantage

Malek & Co. have solidly positioned themselves as the hometown bidders. The group, formed in 1999, has already spent “north of $1 million” on office space, a Web site, and a full-time staff, according to Executive Director Winston Lord. Zients and Kimsey shared the dais with Mayor Anthony A. Williams at the Sept. 29 announcement of the move.

The Curveballs

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In 1971, while Richard Nixon’s White House personnel director, Malek counted the number of Jews in the upper echelons of the Bureau of Labor Statistics at Nixon’s request. (Thirteen out of 35 top employees fit the “demographic criterion we discussed,” he reported to the president.) The incident, revealed in a 1988 Washington Post story, cost him his job as Bush 41’s deputy campaign manager.

The Box Score

How’s this for a demographic criterion: Eleven out of 11 partners live in the Washington area, says Lord, playing to MLB’s oft-expressed predilection for local ownership. The group is also a favorite for many in the Wilson Building, given that a 2002 agreement means the city’s on the hook for the group’s million-dollar expenses if it doesn’t get the team.

Baseball Club of America

The Lineup

Long Island real-estate mogul Mark Broxmeyer, Texas businessman Fred S. Zeidman; potentially, GOP heavies Steve Forbes and Rudy Giuliani

The Home-Field Advantage

Broxmeyer boasts plenty of government connections; he’s a Pioneer-level contributor to President Bush’s re-election campaign. Another big Bush donor, Zeidman is chair of the board that oversees the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The Curveballs

Broxmeyer is chair of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a pro-Israel think tank with ties to discredited WMD-in-Iraq-touting neocons Richard Perle and Dick Cheney. Giuliani is a Yankees fan.

The Box Score

In a Sept. 25 Post article, Broxmeyer hinted that he’ll be able to outbid all comers, saying MLB “would like to have some local representation but they also want the highest price they can get for the team.” It would be another chapter in the storied history of both Republicans (George Will, George W. Bush) and Jews (Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg) in baseball. And if Giuliani joins the group, it will require surgical removal of the Yankees cap attached to his melon.

DSG Baseball

The Lineup

Memphis, Tenn., investment banker Brian Saulsberry, former Clinton defense official Alphonso Maldon Jr., Negro League Baseball Players Association chief Stanley Glenn, St. Louis Cardinals–catcher–turned–construction–exec Tom Pagnozzi

The Home-Field Advantage

Saulsberry graduated with a finance degree from Howard University in 1998. In an interview, he boasted his “strong ties to the business community…and the local [D.C.] Council.” Saulsberry declined to name his councilmember friends.

The Curveballs

Inexperience: Saulsberry, who is 28 years old, was not yet born when Malek was already doing statistical analysis.

The Box Score

Despite his youth and obscurity, Saulsberry insists he’s not going to be financially outmuscled: “Our capital network is more than able to handle the acquisition,” he says. Plus Saulsberry’s group, which he touts as potentially the first MLB black-majority ownership, contrasts well with the, er, demographic battle brewing among the other two.

Robert L. Johnson (unconfirmed)

The Lineup

The Black Entertainment Television founder

The Home-Field Advantage

BET is based in D.C.; Johnson lives here, and he’s a generous donor to local institutions.

The Curveballs

He just bought another sports franchise, the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats, that will be competing for his attention.

The Box Score

There’s been plenty of scuttlebutt about Johnson’s jumping into another group or hastily assembling one of his own. He’s been keeping a close eye on the proceedings, even handicapping the race in the Sept. 25 Post article: “At the end of the day, it’s probably going to come down to money,” he told the paper. He’s got a lot of it.

Daniel Snyder (unconfirmed)

The Lineup

The mercurial Redskins owner

The Home-Field Advantage

His team is the area’s most beloved, despite him.

The Curveballs

He instituted such money-grubbing measures as obstructed “Dream Seats,” a ban on pedestrian access to FedEx Field, and summer-practice ticket sales.

The Box Score

Though Redskins spokesperson Karl Swanson insists that Snyder has “shown no interest” in baseball, the unquestionably liquid Snyder could jump in easily. In fact, MLB prefers one rich guy with pro-sports credentials to vetting a meticulously cobbled group: “It would be nice if there were a single owner,” Courtney says. And a Snyder-owned team would be a fine way to get Peter Angelos’ goat—he’d finally have some competition for signing overpriced free-agent flops.