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Republicans dominate rainy Congressional Baseball Game

Protesters show up as planned, but few risk arrest

Catcher Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., prepares to tag Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., out at home plate during the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park on Thursday.
Catcher Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., prepares to tag Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., out at home plate during the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Climate activists had promised to disrupt Thursday’s Congressional Baseball Game, but in the end it was pouring rain that delayed the action.

The skies opened up in the fourth inning, sending lawmakers running for the dugouts. It took more than half an hour to get them back on the field, but Republicans kept their momentum going. They beat Democrats for the second year in a row, by a final score of 10-0.

In the stands, people unfurled a banner reading “Climate Emergency,” while protesters outside locked arms and tried to block the entrances to Nationals Park. Three were arrested for unlawful entry, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. 

“Activists will continue pushing until Democrats’ climate promises are signed, sealed and delivered,” said Now or Never member Michael Greenberg in a statement before the game. 

His group started planning the protest when they thought climate legislation was dead in the Senate. After news broke Wednesday that it might not be so dead after all, they decided not to cancel.

Members of Congress sounded off about the protesters as they warmed up for the game. “No one takes them seriously,” said Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., calling them “idiots.”

The point of the game is to raise money for charity, he stressed, like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington and the Capitol Police Memorial Fund. This year organizers raised more than $1.5 million with about 17,000 tickets sold.

Protesters shout during the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., urged people to read the climate provisions in the bill that Democrats released Wednesday, describing them as the most important yet. The new bill came after Sen. Joe Manchin III reached a surprise agreement with Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer to back items he previously said he would oppose. 

“I hope they’re taking a look at that when they protest today, but thank goodness it’s a free country where we can protest,” Phillips said.

The annual baseball tradition has been around for more than a century, with members of Congress trading runs and errors. But there were no scoring plays for Democrats on Thursday night, as Republicans shut them out completely.

The Republican team’s speed proved to be its greatest asset. Through fresh pinch runners, Republicans were able to steal multiple bases and score three runs in the first inning.

The game got off to a physical start. Democrats stopped the damage when Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, who is skilled in the ways of the filibuster, blocked hard-charging Kat Cammack from getting a fourth run by standing in front of home plate.

After the game resumed following the rain delay, the field held up. Linda T. Sanchez’s at-bat in the sixth was the biggest momentum-changer for Democrats, as the California Democrat got a standing ovation and multiple walks prompted a pitching change from Greg Steube to August Pfluger. But Democrats could not capitalize and saw three runners stranded after three consecutive outs.

As Republican runs piled up, it became clear that this would be another off year for the Democrats, who in 2021 lost their star pitcher Cedric Richmond to a job in the Biden White House.

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff, center, greets Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., and Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., right, before the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Retiring Rep. Kevin Brady said before the game that he thought it would be a close, given last year’s score of 13-12. He came prepared this time after lifting weights and adjusting his diet. “You want to fit into your uniform,” he said.

While this was his last Congressional Baseball Game, he said he feels good about the future of his team, knowing Randy Feenstra, Jake Ellzey and Pfluger will form a heavy hitting core. Pfluger ended the night with the title of MVP for the GOP.

Brady had a huge crowd in attendance, with fans of the Texas Republican donning red shirts depicting him leaping for a ball alongside Texas longhorns in celebration of his “last rodeo.”

During the rain delay, the crowd got a healthy dose of entertainment from a yellow-raincoat-wearing Screech, the mascot of the Washington Nationals.

Hardly anyone was spared from the rain, including Rep. Darren Soto, who was spotted in the spectator section, soaked head to toe.

When asked if he brought a towel or a raincoat, the Democrat laughed. “I’m a Floridian,” he said. “I’m not scared of rain.”

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