I’m guilty of loving baseball

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor



OK, I’m guilty.

I’m guilty of being a pretty big baseball fan. Well, a White Sox fan.

I’m guilty of skipping high school to see more than a few opening days with the Sox.

I’m guilty of working in New York and driving 13 hours to Chicago in 1990 to see the Yankees play their last series in the old Comiskey Park. It turned out to be the strangest game ever.

Yankee pitcher Andy Hawkins threw a no-hitter against the Sox (dramatic pause required here) but still lost! There is an asterisk next to that game in the record books now.

I’m guilty of being on a business trip in Chicago in 2007 and going out on a miserable, cold, wet night and seeing Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle throw a no-hitter. (And win.)

I’m guilty of driving to Seattle this Mothers Day to watch the Sox win and begin their long road back to first place.

Lasting memories are what you often get when you follow baseball.

So when we learned that Vancouver might be getting a Single A baseball team from Yakima, well, I’m guilty of liking the idea.

Despite my personal like of this idea, I understand and appreciate that there will be a bunch of necessary vetting of this project. Particularly because there will be public money involved. A good deal of public money.

So both the public and the county commissioners should study the numbers closely. My hope is this thing pencils out and we get this ball team.

If we are going to move forward, if we are going to try to be what we always say we are — an area that’s not just a ’burb of Portland — then these are the kinds of things we need to do.

Sure there will be those who say, “Hey, if these guys want a new ballpark here, then they should just build it themselves.”

But I suspect even those who say that realize that today, very rarely does someone build a new project like this without some sort of public/private partnership.

The key for us is to make sure when we enter into a relationship like this that it benefits the county.

So what if you don’t like baseball or don’t plan to go? Could that still be a win for you?

Some would argue no. Fair enough. I respect that view. But I’d argue yes. There simply are certain things — like this ballpark and a professional baseball team — that show a certain coming-of-age aspect to the area. That would be good.

But what about this needed tax support to help build it? Aren’t we cutting back just about everywhere?

Yes we are. And that’s a valid point. But that’s the beauty of an entertainment tax. Essentially, only entertainment would be taxed.

You buy entertainment, you help pay for entertainment. Unlike a sales tax that impacts everyone, this impacts only those who use entertainment.

So yes, I’m guilty of dreaming about spending a few bucks and sitting in the bleachers on a clear, warm summer Clark County evening. And watching some young kid belt the ball out of the park. And then years later, when he makes it to the majors, I’d have that memory cued up in my brain: “Hey I saw that kid back when.”

Folks in Yakima have those memories now. I’d bet ya a buck every time All-Star player — and yes, White Sox player — Paul Konerko hits one out on the Southside, there’s someone in Yakima saying “Hey, I saw that guy back in 1994 when he played here.”

I’m guilty of hoping our time has come.

Lou Brancaccio is The Columbian’s editor. Reach him at 360-735-4505 or lou.brancaccio@columbian.com.

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