Leave minor league ball plan on bench
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:07 PM
"Pennant fever - we've got it.And after watching our Seattle Mariners take three of four from the hated Bronx Bombers over the weekend - on the hostile turf of Yankee Stadium, no less - we've got one word for the non-believers:October.Indeed, with the race for the World Series in full, glorious swing, how can you say enough about baseball? Despite the crazy escalation of player salaries, periodic labor strife, and the occasional bad-apple idiot like John Rocker, baseball unites the nation's sports fans like nothing else, a peerless amalgam of power and grace, real time held in lazy suspension for nine innings of play, the quintessential American pastime...But our thoughts here are occasioned less by the Mariners' solid output than the upcoming work of the new Kitsap County Public Facilities District, which gets under way early next month. The seven-member PFD board, empaneled by county commissioners earlier this year, will look at public recreation needs around the county and propose a list of projects for development with public funds.And amongst the specific proposals to be considered will be a new ballpark facility, of sufficient scale and class to bring a minor league baseball franchise to Kitsap County. Among that project's proponents is a Silverdale attorney who serves on the PFD board and reportedly is interested in minor-league team ownership. To this, baseball fans that we are, we say - Yer out!We'd rather see the board looking at unique needs that aren't being met locally - some suggest a Kitsap ice rink, for local skaters and perhaps a youth hockey program - rather than a new playpen for would-be hobbyist team owners. Improvement of local parks and trail systems, or perhaps a string of modest ball fields to support Kitsap's myriad youth baseball and soccer teams, would serve many more county and Bainbridge Island residents than a big-ticket ballpark.The PFD, it should be noted, has its own taxing authority, and could put one-tenth of a cent sales tax increase before voters to back up the issuance of bonds. But competition for sales tax revenues in the post I-695 days is going to be fierce; with Kitsap Transit set to take its own three-tenths of a cent sales tax hike to voters this fall, we suggest that local public transportation needs should take priority.For those who want to see tomorrow's stars today, minor league baseball teams already thrive in Everett (single A) and Tacoma (triple A). And with a half-billion-dollar major-league ballpark just across the water - a brilliant facility, and judging by the ferry queues on game afternoons, hugely popular with West Sound residents - putting in a minor-league park on this side of the water makes little sense.When the PFD fills out its lineup card for countywide projects, we hope a minor-league baseball facility is batting ninth.Now, more about those M's: Earlier in the campaign, we recall, 23rd District legislative candidate and learned Mariners fan David Harrison suggested that the team ought to consider giving up southpaw pitcher John Halama for a left-hitting outfielder.We would note that Halama closed out the Yankee series with a solid start to earn his 10th win of the season. And the M's did pick up the needed hitter, Al Martin, giving up only a ham-handed utility infielder and an unproven triple-A pitching prospect in return.As endorsement time rolls around this fall, we will not hold Harrison's lapse in baseball judgment against him (and would hope he doesn't hold this chiding against us).But, we're glad he's running for legislator, not general manager. "