After losing eight straight games, Democrats are already saying last week’s win in the 48th Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game is the beginning of a dynasty.
“It’s our turn,— said Rep. Mike Doyle (Pa.), the Democratic manager. “Unless they pick up some new recruits in the next election, we’re going to do to them what they’ve been doing to us for the last decade.—
In an interview Friday, the Democratic skipper reflected on his team’s surprising 15-10 win last Wednesday at Nationals Park and on Democratic chances in the future. This year’s contest, which drew 4,297 fans, raised $140,000 for the Washington Literacy Council and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.
With their win, the Democrats take a 1-0 lead in the battle for the coveted Roll Call trophy.
According to the game’s official box score, both teams had 10 hits; Republicans committed 4 errors while Democrats had 2.
Rep. John Shimkus (Ill.), the GOP’s starting pitcher, threw 75 strikes out of 122 pitches, ending the game with six strikeouts and four walks. He gave up six earned runs.
Rep. Joe Barton (Texas), the Republican manager, brought Rep. Adam Putnam (Fla.) in to pitch briefly during the third inning, but the results weren’t what the GOP was hoping for. The Sunshine State hurler walked five and gave up six earned runs.
Doyle downplayed Putnam’s role in handing his team the win.
“The idea that they would’ve left John Shimkus in there and there would’ve been a different result … I don’t necessarily agree with that,— Doyle said. “John Shimkus was completely out of gas. I don’t subscribe to the fact that we dodged a bullet because Adam came in.—
“It wasn’t like we weren’t hitting John Shimkus,— he said.
[IMGCAP(1)]Barton’s office did not respond to an interview request for this story. Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), a Congressional game veteran, said Putnam’s entrance into the game had everything to do with the GOP’s loss.
Wamp also said his team’s bullpen was sent into disarray when Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) took himself out of the game after going public with an extramarital affair just a day earlier.
“Ensign was our backup pitcher, so obviously that was a big blow to us,— Wamp said. “I’m not even so sure [Putnam] wanted to go in, and I’m not sure Shimkus wanted to come out. … That obviously was a mistake.—
“I obviously appreciate Coach Barton’s desire to play everybody and not take it too seriously,— Wamp continued. “But I can assure you Mike Doyle was not going to substitute just to be fair to people — he was playing to win.—
Unlike the Republican staff, Doyle predicted that his bullpen will only get stronger next year. Although Rep. Joe Baca (Calif.), the Democratic starting pitcher, went the distance Wednesday night, the Democratic manager said Reps. Heath Shuler (N.C.) and John Boccieri (Ohio) were both ready for relief work.
Baca, his team’s most valuable player, threw 119 pitches, striking out five, walking four and notching nine earned runs in the game’s seven innings, according to the game’s official box score.
“We had two pitchers ready to go,— Doyle said. “Shuler was in the bullpen all night staying loose.—
Doyle spoke about Shuler’s obviously disappointing performance at the plate again this year. A former NFL quarterback, Shuler extended his lackluster performance in 2009, failing to get a hit in three at bats. His manager suggested the former Washington Redskin needs to work on his fundamentals before swinging for the fences.
“He’s a great athlete, but he wants to hit the ball out of the ballpark,— Doyle said. “He’s in front of a lot of pitches.—
While Shuler continued to underperform, Doyle said a number of his 24 players who swung the bat in last week’s game showed considerable promise. At the top of his list: freshman Rep. Jared Polis (Colo.).
“When he first came out to play, he didn’t appear to be a baseball player,— Doyle said. “He hit a tremendous shot out to right field.—
Like Doyle, Wamp, too, was bullish about Democrats’ chances in the coming years. He said GOPers needed to play well last week to win, while just a “mediocre— Democratic performance would do.
“The line in Vegas for the first time in 15 years was that they had an advantage,— Wamp said.
Wamp acknowledged this year’s contest likely was his last, ending a 13-game hitting streak that continued on Wednesday. The shortstop is gearing up for the gubernatorial contest in the Volunteer State, where primary voters head to the polls on Aug. 5, 2010.
As a parting shot, he’s encouraging team management to do a better job recruiting GOP lawmakers to play next year.
“There’s some talent that wasn’t out there that Republicans are going to have to call on in order to be competitive,— he said. “We’re going to have to scrape and claw and probably use our personnel a little bit better.—
“The Democrats have a potential of creating the same type of 10-year dynasty we had.—