Liberals Hate Baseball


Either David Reinhard’s ghost-writing the Oregonian‘s Susan Nielsen after her two-week hiatus from the op-ed pages, or she’s decided to become a sort of mini-Ann Coulter in the interim. Apparently, liberals not only hate Bush, freedom, the troops, the police, morals, and religion, but according to Nielsen we hate “fun” and America’s favorite pastime, too. It’s getting kind of hard to keep up.

Her argument’s difficult to follow, as most of these types of arguments usually are, but based on her read of “Portland’s most liberal circles”, baseball’s a no-go until all possible social services are paid for. Nobody from these circles is mentioned by name, so it’s hard to judge off-hand just how influential these liberals might be in city politics. It’s awe-inspiring to me that the supporters of the baseball plan could be stymied by super-liberals who are so elusive and powerful that Nielsen can’t even name them. Not even Neil Goldschmidt had that kind of clout.

The charge that “Portland liberals don’t do corporate” is fairly laughable as well. The supporters of the baseball plan are mentioned: Vera Katz, Oregon Chai, and Nike. These aren’t exactly people or companies I’ve seen conservatives clasping to their bosom. There are an awful lot of companies in this city whose founders and owners support liberal causes. Somebody’s buying coffee from those Starbuck’s shops on Hawthorne and ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s; there aren’t enough conservatives or middle-of-the-roaders to keep them going.

I’m all for corporations myself. As a contract programmer, I make some of my best money from corporations. But one thing I can’t do as a small business owner is perform a lot of work for someone I’m not absolutely sure can afford to pay me. For new customers and companies I’m unsure of, I require money up front and payments along the way. I’d go bankrupt if I took on a large project, did the work without payment, and a customer defaulted on me. Call it fiscally conservative. It may not be as “fun” as risking my house on some dot-com’s ability to pay me or plunking everything down on black at the roulette wheel, but that’s just me.

We (liberals and everyone else in the Portland area) have been told time and again that sports ventures are — to mix sports metaphors here — a slam dunk, yet there has been a continual landslide of money at PGE Park, followed recently by the bankruptcy of the Rose Garden Arena, despite the operating company being associated with Paul Allen, the owner of the primary users of the arena, the Portland Trailblazers. Apparently, somebody’s not paying someone else enough in rent.

A plan in which the baseball team’s owners or another entity guaranteed any public losses associated with siting a team in Portland would probably do just fine with everyone, whether they liked fun or not. If the stadium lost money, if the team lost money, so long as the public didn’t end up bailing somebody out yet again, that would be fun in and of itself!

It’s not as if just having a baseball team is an assurance of success — if it was, the Expos wouldn’t be moving. Maybe it’s because of those Canadian liberals.