In one of the most partisan days on Capitol Hill in recent memory, Democrats retaliated against Republicans on the diamond, holding their GOP colleagues in baseball contempt just hours after Republicans had done the same with their attorney general.
Boosted by an 11-run effort in the second inning, Democrats poured on the pain tonight, winning the CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game title, 18-5, on what ordinarily would have been a split day politically.
Earlier in the morning, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to uphold President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Later in the day, House Republicans voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for alleged noncompliance in the controversial “Fast and Furious” invesitgation. But as the sun set over the nation’s capital, lawmakers exchanged political weapons for Louisville Sluggers in a light-hearted and spirited foray into America’s pastime.
And Democrats sure made a statement, displaying some of the most productive offense in the 51-year history of the cross-party baseball classic.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) — in his second year in Congress but playing like a John-Dingell-worthy seasoned veteran — had one of the longest hits of the evening, blasting one to deep center in the third inning. When he scored at home plate later in the inning, he was showered with “MVP!” chants, with a deferential Democratic crowd alluding to his 2011 performance that was perhaps one of the only bright spots for the party that year.
But in an evening of collegiality, perhaps the most telling moments were the ones between fathers and sons and politicians running for higher office but content for an evening just to be part of the team.
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) was inducted into the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame, enshrined for a home run that he hit in the 1970s. The most striking statement by Paul, known for his independent libertarian streak and his perennial presidential candidacy, was his clothing choice.
Clothed in a late-1970s Houston Astros uniform — dubbed by many as one of the ugliest in the history of sports — Paul, when asked by Roll Call of his sartorial preferences, played up his token line.
“I’ve never been afraid to be bold,” he said.
During his short-lived Congressional baseball career, “They always put me in center, but I had trouble with it, so I insisted they put me in right field,” the libertarian icon said.
His son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), however, was a bit more blunt.
“My guess is that he has no idea that that was dubbed one of the 10 ugliest. But here’s the good news: How many people can wear the same set of clothes 30 years later? Some people outgrow their clothes and he hasn’t,” the younger Paul said, before justifying his father’s choice with a Reaganism. “As Reagan said, ‘Paint in bold colors, not pastels.’”
Paul, the only Senator to suit up for the game, was also blunt and good-natured when responding as to why more of his Senate colleagues don’t participate in the annual game.
“It’s hard to get folks off of oxygen, you know, and out here to play,” the Senator teased before quickly clarifying, “I’m just kidding!”
By this time next year, though, Paul might not be the only Senator to lace up his cleats. Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), who are all running for Senate, not only played in the game but also contributed for both their sides.
Murphy had an RBI single to start the Democratic onslaught in the second inning that all but secured the game from the onset. And Donnelly had a single to the shallow infield at the top of the fifth to help contribute to the Democrats’ lead.
The game was also an opportunity for dads who spend a lot of time on the road to show off to their kids. Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) showed up to play shortstop in a Cubs jersey, with his wife and three children, most of whom were wearing matching “Dold” Cubs uniforms to cheer him on.
When asked whether having a teammate show up in a Cubs jersey jinxed his side, Rand Paul said, “It hasn’t been quite a hundred years since the Republicans won.”
But in the great tradition of Cubs fandom, Republicans will have to wait until next year.