John Baer: For NY-Pa. sporting pols, all bets are off, except 1

POLITICIANS GO ga-ga over sports. From using tax dollars to build stadiums, to attending big games with great seats in owners' or donors' boxes, to inviting championship teams to the White House, the state House, City Hall, wherever.

Heck, our governor/former mayor even does an Eagles post-game gig for Comcast SportsNet.

And, of course, there's ever-present "friendly wagers" among pols in cities and states that are home to competing teams, a show of solidarity with ordinary people - as in, see, I'm just one of the guys.

Is it good, clean fun, no harm done? Or are participating pols boorish, jock-sniffing, self-promoting, bandwagon jumpers? You make the call.

For me, the quality of the bet says it all. And there's one great bet among the dreck of predictable wagers on the Phils/Yanks World Series. More on that later. First, to the uninspired.

U.S. Sens. Arlen Specter and Bob Casey bet New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand cheesesteaks from Philly against cheesecakes from Junior's in New York. How original.

This could be a trap, by the way. Our senators don't say where the cheesesteaks would come from, but the New York Daily News last week ran a story with a photo of mice in Junior's cake display at its Brooklyn location. Nice.

Gov. Rendell bet New York Gov. Dave Paterson the same thing he bet Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer when the Steelers played (and beat) the Cardinals in the Super Bowl - a little tourism package. Yawn.

If Yanks win, New York gets to send two of its citizens to Philly for 4 days, 3 nights. Winners get meals, tickets to museums and a lunch with Rendell (this is a prize?).

I suspect that New Yorkers are asking, "What's second place, 8 days in Philly and two meals with Rendell?"

A Phillies victory sends two of youse to Manhattan. Same deal: food, tickets to stuff and a gubernatorial luncheon. Amtrak and local venues grab the tabs.

New York winners will be picked by lottery, Pennsylvania's by online essay contest: 250 words on why you love the Phils.

And, showing the creativity that Congress usually shows, Philly Congressman Bob Brady and central Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Holden have a "high-stakes" bet with Bronx Congressman Jose Serrano. Care to guess?

Yep, cheesesteaks. Brady says he'll throw in some soft pretzels and Tastykakes. Serrano is betting "a coveted gift basket" from Mike's Deli, in the Bronx. Hopefully without vermin.

Brady also told TMZ.com that he's so sure that the Phils will win that he tried to get head-shaving bets going with his N.Y. counterparts, including an offer to sport a Mohawk if the Yankees win. No takers.

"None of them New York people had any guts," Brady said.

Philly City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr. bet New York City Councilman Daniel Garodnick: hoagies, soft pretzels and Tastykakes against New York cheesecakes (eek!) and bagels. Same ol', ho-hum, let them eat kakes.

Even Cardinal Rigali bet New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan (can they do that?). It's a case of (shocker) Tastykakes against a dozen New York bagels. Not exactly the bread of life.

There is one bet worth wagering and winning. It's between Mayor Nutter and Mayor Bloomberg. No matter who wins, the mayors host and take part in public projects, painting a mural at a rec center and the interior of a school.

If the Yanks win, Nutter goes to NYC for a day of service wearing a Yankees jersey. If the Phils win, Bloomberg comes to Philly for service in a Phils jersey.

Kudos to both. Nice to see public service rather than self-promotion about the glories of one's city, state or food. It's an inventive, goodwill wager among all the mundane, feed-one's-face efforts of others. *