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Democrats Try to Forget ’03 Loss

When it comes to recalling the low point for Democrats in last year’s opening game of the 11th best-of-five Roll Call Congressional Baseball series, some Democrats are claiming selective memory loss.

“I have total amnesia about what went on,” claimed the Democratic manager, Rep. Martin Sabo (Minn.).

And with good reason.

In the bottom of the final inning, with the bases loaded and the Republicans leading by two, Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) was picked off second by the GOP’s man on the mound, Rep. John Shimkus (Ill.) — just moments after Brown had unwisely attempted to steal third, while it was occupied by a teammate.

Although Brown evaded danger on the attempted steal, his lapse on the pickoff shut down a Democratic resurgence — a string of GOP errors in the seventh and final inning had momentarily lifted their hopes — allowing Republicans to coast to a 5-3 victory in the 42nd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.

Not that past history would have predicted any other outcome.

In more than four decades of Congressional play, Democrats have taken the coveted Roll Call trophy home only twice: in 1979 and 1994.

Understandably, Republicans, who have grown accustomed to the sweetness of victory, have no intention of relinquishing their prize.

“We’ve got the coveted Roll Call trophy. I finally took it off my dashboard and put it in my office,” crowed Republican manager Rep. Mike Oxley (Ohio), referring to the cup his squad retired in 2002.

“The newly minted Roll Call trophy is also on display in my outer office and provides an impetus for me to win another one,” the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee added. And if he wins two more games, he’ll get to keep it permanently — the winner of the previous year’s game gets to hang on to the trophy until the series winner is decided.

That said, Oxley maintained he has no intention of altering his winning “cast of characters” in the starting nine, including an infield of Shimkus as pitcher, Rep. Chip Pickering (Miss.) as catcher, Rep. Kenny Hulshof (Mo.) at first base, Rep. Kevin Brady (Texas) at second, Rep. Zach Wamp (Tenn.) at third and Sen. John Ensign (Nev.) as shortstop. The exception will be center field, because Rep. John Sweeney (N.Y.) has opted to retire from the game after 5 years.

“We do need to plug the hole in center field,” Oxley conceded.

“I got bored beating up on Democrats,” explained Sweeney. “Eventually it becomes like a Yankees-Red Sox series: you know what the outcome is going to be so why bother?”

As for the GOP’s injured second baseman, Oxley assured Roll Call that Brady, who dislocated his shoulder in a dramatic collision at home plate last year, has fully recovered.

For their part, the eternally optimistic Democrats remain confident that Lady Luck will finally smile on them today.

“It’s time for us to win,” said Sabo. “I expect somewhat similar results to last year — except with the numbers reversed.”

As for the Democrats’ missed opportunity in 2003, Sabo implied that Brown has been warned about keeping his eye on the ball.

“He’ll be more attentive this year,” predicted Sabo. “I think he understands he made a slight mistake.”

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