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Democrats Get Loose

Down 2-0, Squad Begins Practicing for June 23 Game

Excitement is building on the Democratic squad as players train for the 44th Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. The team began practices last week with high hopes of recapturing the coveted Roll Call trophy, as well as anticipation at the thought of playing in an actual Major League Baseball stadium.

“We’ve only won one out of the last three I’ve played,” said Rep. Joe Baca (Calif.), who pointed out the Republicans will be without their ace pitcher, Rep. John Shimkus. “I think it’s going to be a different story this

year. … They have no pitching, we have no pitching. … It’s basically about fundamentals and who can execute.”

One Democrat who might disagree with that sentiment is the team’s anticipated starting pitcher, Rep. Mel Watt (N.C.), who will be on the mound “unless there’s some change,” according to the manager, Rep. Martin Sabo (Minn.)

Sabo felt good about his team’s practices.

“It was a good practice,” Sabo said about the second day of drills, adding that “it was a little more extensive today than yesterday. Just trying to get people loosened up yesterday, so a little tougher.”

Those who took part in the practice all seemed very excited about the game’s return to Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

Rep. Ben Chandler (Ky.) said that as a “baseball afficionado” who grew up with the sport, he is thrilled to be playing at the former home of the Washington Senators and current residence of the Nationals. And more than others, he has personal reasons for being excited about the game.

“My grandfather was the commissioner,” Chandler said, and explained that his relationship with Hall of Famer Happy Chandler is one reason he is so in love with the game. “I remember as a child RFK Stadium, remember when the Texas Rangers were here as the Washington Senators, and I was just a child when the Twins moved away.”

Rep. Mike McIntyre (N.C.) is also happy to be playing in an MLB ballpark. “My younger son who is at the University of North Carolina now was up here a couple of weeks ago and we went out to see the Nationals play,” McIntyre said. “We were just envisioning our team being out there and how unreal an experience it will be to play in a real baseball stadium. We’re looking forward to it.”

Another participant who will enjoy his time on the diamond is freshman Rep. Russ Carnahan (Mo.). “I’m looking forward to it, it’s like being a kid again. Every kid’s dream is to play in a big stadium like that.”

Carnahan was then treated like a kid by a veteran of the team. When his turn in the batting cages came up and the rookie was still talking to the press, Rep. Anthony Weiner (N.Y.), a seasoned trash-talker, took him to the woodshed. “I know your media tour is going on,” he yelled out, reminding his colleague that “rookies don’t get to talk to the media.”

While Weiner is looking forward to playing in the stadium, he is more excited about taking down the Republicans. “I think we’re going to beat them like a rented mule. I’d be surprised if they play past the third or fourth inning,” the New Yorker opined.

Weiner did not express any concern over the size of RFK’s outfield (which, by the way, is absolutely cavernous in comparison with the game’s previous site, Prince George’s Stadium). Instead, he was worried about the facility’s scoreboard. “I don’t think they have three digits on the scoreboard to put up all of our runs. We might have to bring in our special chalkboard” to keep track of the slaughter, he said.

Of course, Weiner and his teammates have talked a big game before without being able to put their bats where they mouths are. Overall, Republicans have taken six of the last seven contests.

But that didn’t stop Rep. Jay Inslee (Wash.) from echoing Weiner’s sentiment. “The R’s have had a couple of good years,” he said, but added: “We found a new law of baseball. … Baseball playing ability and quality of public policy is inversely proportional. … That’s why the R’s have actually won a couple.”

McIntyre took a more conciliatory tone, however, when he was asked about the meaning of the game. “It’s about fun, it’s about fellowship, and working with your colleagues in a special way.”

The game will be played Thursday, June 23, at 7:05 p.m. Tickets are available for $8, through the managers’ offices (Sabo and Ohio GOP Rep. Mike Oxley). Proceeds benefit the Washington Literacy Council and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington.

Republicans lead the current best-of-five series 2-0.

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