The morning after Carlos Beltran (above) got newly annointed Mets closer Roberto Hernandez off the hook, denting the Nationals’ short term hopes in the process, the Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell takes a grim view of DC’s long range plans, particularly if MLB approves the clubs’ sale to Jeff Smuylan.

Everywhere you go, you hear rumors that baseball may be considering another cynical “bag job” akin to the way the Red Sox were handed to the John Henry-Larry Lucchino group because they were “baseball insiders” rather than the high bidders. It worked in Boston. But if Jeff Smulyan of Indianapolis is awarded the Nationals, despite multiple qualified Washington ownership groups, it may be a disastrous decision for baseball, Washington and the Nationals.

The D.C. Council and the public would have every right to go ballistic if local buyers are bypassed, especially for outside ownership that smacks of old-boy-network string pulling. Smulyan (above) is a particularly poor choice.

His credentials as owner in Seattle (1989-’92) are unflattering. From the start, he was underfunded and his Mariners loan was called in by his bankers. He bad-mouthed Seattle as a baseball town and tried to find ways around his lease so he could move the Mariners to Tampa Bay. When he couldn’t bust his lease, he sold to a Nintendo-led group for $110 million. Three years earlier, he’d bought for $76 million. No wonder he wants back in.

Seattle cheered when Smulyan left. And this is the name baseball is running up the flagpole to see how Washington reacts?