The delegation from Portland will make its presentation in front of Major League Baseball this week, and I hope its efforts haven't been hampered by our state's latest misadventure in politics.
Gov. Ted Kulongoski probably didn't cripple the effort when he arbitrarily, without even meeting with the mayor of the state's largest city, turned his back on a plan that would have allowed a casino-for-ballpark trade with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.
But I think he did himself a lot more political damage than he may have expected. The move angered many people, and certainly the governor's remarks that day, which have not been widely circulated, do nothing but make him look silly.
It is very difficult to figure out where the man is coming from on this issue. If he thinks that Major League Baseball has a problem with using casino funds to construct a ballpark, he should let the big leagues say that. Casino funds helped build the new ballpark in Detroit, just as lottery funds have been used to help build other ballparks. I mean, that's an issue for the commissioner of baseball Ñ not the governor of Oregon.
At the same time, if the governor is worried about linking baseball with gambling for some moral reason, he has that right. But then I'd expect him to be working full time to kill Sports Action, Oregon's unique state-sanctioned parlay sheets that allow betting on NFL games.
But what can you make of a man who says things like this?:
nÊ'There's a certain anomaly in this. You've got Pete Rose, I think one of the greatest baseball players of all time, can't get into the Hall of Fame because he gambled, and it doesn't make much sense to me to actually have Pete Rose be able to come to Portland and play blackjack that funds the money to build a baseball stadium. Something's inconsistent about that.'
Huh? Actually, the only inconsistency is whatever logic was intended by that statement. Rose has been banned from baseball for betting on baseball games, not for gambling in casinos. If you attempted to ban professional athletes from casinos, you wouldn't be able to put together a team in any of the major sports. This issue has absolutely nothing to do with Pete Rose.
nÊ'If the Grand Ronde want to build a baseball stadium, and they want to put the money up, I think the mayor should sit down with them and see if she can do it. It is not tied to having a gambling facility, anyplace.'
The point is, governor, it's going to be tied to something from now on. The Grande Ronde already has set the price, and it's $350 million for an off-reservation casino.
nÊ'You go into my office, and my office has more memorabilia about baseball, from Ted Williams to Babe Ruth to my tie to everything else. É I am probably the biggest baseball fan in Oregon.'
That is really a stupid thing to say. For one thing, you aren't. I'm not. There are people in this state who hold season tickets to the Mariners. Or who get on the Internet and listen to every game played by their former hometown team. I know I probably should let Kulongoski off the hook on that statement, but I can't. It's too preposterous.
Dwight Jaynes' sports talk show airs from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays on KPAM (860 AM).