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Posts in "Congressional Baseball"
July 23, 2014
Roughly one month after the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, players and fans have another reason to celebrate their performances at Nationals Park.
The winners of the Roll Call Fantasy Baseball competition were announced Wednesday, granting some coveted prizes to the top three fantasy teams.
As part of the competition, contestants could choose nine players from either team and earn points based on each player’s performances. A player earned 10 points for a single, 20 for a double, 30 for a triple, etc. Full story
July 22, 2014
Hot off the presses comes the box score for the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, which tells a tale of offensive firepower and creative defensive statistics, combined with an attendance of 8,503 at Nationals Park.
For those who attended the June 25 game to watch the Democrats’ 15-6 victory over the Republicans before the game was called due to rain in the seventh inning, the standout statistic might be that the Democrats’ runs came off of 11 hits, while the Republicans only managed those six runs off of nine hits.
Pitching was a key differential for the two squads. Democratic ace Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana pitched six frames, while four Republicans combined for six-and-one-third innings: Reps. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana, John Shimkus of Illinois, and Patrick Meehan and Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania.
Richmond walked only 3 batters, while the GOP walked 12 batters. That, combined with two errors from the GOP team, allowed a tough Democratic squad to capitalize and put the game out of reach.
July 2, 2014
From the opening stretches to Speaker John A. Boehner’s slow jam, watch members in all their glory as the Democrats capture their sixth-straight coveted Roll Call trophy in a 15-6 victory.
June 27, 2014
While members counted votes and confused reporters in their final week before the July Fourth recess, John A. Boehner, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell sang to overcome the odds.
What better way to spend your last day of school than running around a Major League Baseball stadium?
Matijs Lobato was able to spend his first night of summer vacation on the field at Nationals Park during the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game on Wednesday. He participated in a between-innings race to steal second base.
The 8-year-old boy also finished up his last day of second grade at Forestville Elementary School in Great Falls, Va., before taking to the field in front of scores of fans. Full story
June 26, 2014
For the sixth straight year, Democrats proudly hoisted the coveted Roll Call trophy at Nationals Park — before running for cover from the rain.
But the ensuing thunderstorm did not dampen the Democrats’ spirits after beating their Republican colleagues in the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game by a final score of 15-6. The game’s most valuable players were Reps. Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., and Kevin Brady, R-Texas.
“That’s pretty special,” Manager Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania said about the Democrats’ sixth straight victory. “It feels good and it’s one of those streaks you don’t want to end but you know it will someday. So we’re trying to enjoy it while it’s happening.”
The congressional Democrats’ baseball team secured a sixth straight victory on Wednesday night at Nationals Park, winning the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game by a score of 15-6 and securing a second straight coveted Roll Call trophy.
At a members’ reception after the game, Rep. Raul Ruiz of California secured the MVP honor for the victorious Democrats and Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas won the GOP’s MVP.
Ruiz posted impressive offensive numbers — hitting two doubles in the Democrats’ eight-run fifth inning — and showing impressive defensive skills at second base. Brady, a previous MVP during a more successful baseball era for the Republicans, showed off his offensive skills at the plate, securing two hits off of Democratic ace Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana.
June 25, 2014
Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., who was slated to play shortstop for the Democrats in tonight’s 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, will have to watch from the sidelines this year.
Huffman injured his shoulder during the team’s practice Wednesday morning. This would have been the second game for Huffman, who was elected to the House in 2012. And although he is disappointed he won’t be playing this year, he is confident his Democratic teammates will prevail.
“The good news is we have great depth on this team and we’re not going miss a beat,” Huffman told Roll Call in a phone interview. “I’m going to enjoy being a lightly medicated spectator and cheering for my team. And I’m confident that we’re going to be very strong” Full story
For someone who hasn’t been to a Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game before, it’s easy to spot a few players who stand out. There’s Rep. Cedric L. Richmond throwing flames from the pitcher’s mound. The Louisiana Democrat has 21 strikeouts and four earned runs in the past two games. Over that same span, he’s gone 5-for-7 at the plate, with three runs scored and two runs batted in.
On the other side of the aisle/field is Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, whose consistency is rivaled by only the Arizona sun. Over the past five years, he has batted over .300 with a double, a triple, two RBIs and two runs scored. In the field he’s just as good. The last error he made was in 2009, in a game that has had 24 errors since then.
But baseball is a team game. The following five players might not have a lot of flash, but they’re worth paying attention to.
1. Rep. Linda T. Sánchez, D-Calif.
Sánchez gets hearty cheers and jeers, depending on the side, when she steps up to the batter’s box. While she’s not very tall at 5 feet, 1 inch, she stands high in the batter’s box; during the past four games, she has had two hits in six at-bats, knocking in four runs. If she were on the Republican team, she would lead the team in RBIs. Flake and GOP Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Shuster have two RBIs apiece over the same span.
2. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla.
Rooney had a rough three-game stretch from 2009 through 2011, going hitless in six at-bats. The former Syracuse Orange football player turned it around in the past two years going 2-for-3. He got one of only three hits by the Republicans last year.
3. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo.
Like the Colorado Rockies’ all-time run leader, Todd Helton, there isn’t a lot of dazzle to Perlmutter’s game, but he gets the job done. In the past three years, the Democrat has scored six runs, including four in 2013. Perlmutter also stole a base in 2013.
4. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.
In 2009 and 2010, Donnelly hit a rough patch going a combined 0-for-4. Since then the junior Democratic senator from Indiana has gone 3-for-5 with three runs, a double, and an RBI. He finds a way to get on base other ways too, having been hit by pitches on two separate occasions.
5. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa.
Much like the nearby Pittsburgh Pirates, Shuster is consistently inconsistent. Over the past five years, during an odd-numbered year, he has no hits in seven at-bats. In even-numbered years, he’s 3-for-7 with two RBIs. We’re in an even-numbered year, so expect a big game from Shuster.
June 24, 2014
As members of Congress suit up for the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, one congressional candidate is using America’s pastime to appeal to voters.
Stroebel showcased his family in the 30-second spot released last week, and said he and his wife have used baseball to teach their children important life lessons. Full story
“Play every game as if it was your last,” says every manager worth his weight in sunflower seeds. And for a handful of members, the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game will be their last if they don’t win re-election later this year.
“This can’t be my last game. I still have at least a dozen hometown high school jerseys I need to wear,” joked Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell. After knocking off long-time Democratic Rep. Fortney “Pete” Stark in California’s 15th District in 2012, Swalwell was vulnerable to a challenge from another aspiring Democrat.
Swalwell caught a break in the primary earlier this month, though, and now the 33-year-old, one-time soccer recruit at the University of Maryland is the prohibitive favorite in the fall in a very Democratic Bay Area district.
Other members aren’t quite as fortunate.
Illinois Republican Rep. Rodney Davis is in the middle of the trifecta of congressional danger. He fended off a well-funded primary challenger in March, but is now one of Democrats’ top general election takeover targets. Even more challenging is the fact that he must face Democrats’ star pitcher, Louisiana Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, in the quest for the coveted Roll Call trophy.
Even though Davis went 0-for-2 against Richmond last year, a re-election loss by the 44-year-old No. 3 hitter to former Madison County Judge Ann Callis in the 13th District would be a blow to the Republican squad.
“I might have to leave practice a little early for an event, but that happens regardless of whether you’re in a competitive race or not,” Davis explained. “Rand Paul is playing and practically running for president,” he said with a laugh, talking about Kentucky’s junior senator/outfielder.
Rep. Jack Kingston is giving up his Georgia House seat to run for Senate. “I probably need practice more than anyone out there,” Kingston said. “Fortunately, most of the guys know what I’m going through.” He finished second in the GOP primary a month ago, and faces businessman David Perdue in the runoff a month from now. If he wins the nomination, Kingston will face a competitive general election against Democrat Michelle Nunn.
“[The game] is a great diversion from the barbecues, phone calls, debates and forums,” Kingston said.
A handful of other members face re-election races of varying degrees of difficulty.
Tennessee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is in the middle of a competitive primary with Weston Wamp, son of former Rep. Zach Wamp — a one-time shortstop of the Republican team and the 2013 inductee into the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame. Fleischmann defeated Weston Wamp in the 2012 primary, but they’ll face off again on Aug. 7.
GOP Rep. Steve Pearce represents a growing Hispanic population in New Mexico’s 2nd District. His opponent, former Eddy County Commissioner Roxanne “Rocky” Lara, raised more than $700,000 through the end of March and has been named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue program, but Pearce is still favored to win at this point.
Rep. Bill Johnson is also favored to win his race with former Democratic state legislator Jennifer Garrison, but his Ohio district is competitive. For now, his biggest challenge might be Richmond.
“I’ve never had a chance to come to the plate against him,” Johnson said. “I’m looking forward to having that chance this year.” Johnson has been a part of the Republicans’ “fielding team” in the past, but he should get some at-bats this year when the GOP squad shifts its strategy away from equal playing time for all.
At least one member is playing in his first and likely last game. Louisiana Republican Vance McAllister was elected to Congress in a November special election, and is waffling on whether he’ll seek re-election after a scandal.
California Rep. David Valadao made his congressional baseball debut in 2013. He is not playing in this year’s game, but an aide said the GOP congressman’s tough re-election contest was not a deciding factor. His opponent, Democrat and former Debbie Stabenow chief of staff Amanda Renteria, played softball at Stanford University and could be a force in the annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game — and potentially the baseball game, if she wins in November.
On the Democratic side, it looks like manager Mike Doyle will have his winning roster largely intact for at least another three years. One of Doyle’s best players should also be one of his most vulnerable, but Republicans failed to recruit a top-tier challenger against Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy.
“Nothing in life is easy or guaranteed, except when Cedric Richmond is on the mound,” Murphy said, comparing baseball to running for re-election. “Campaigning is definitely more challenging, but the game is something I look forward to.” Murphy has proved to be a prolific fundraiser and he is one of a handful of Democrats endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Rep. Timothy H. Bishop could be vulnerable, depending on the outcome of the incredibly bitter Republican primary in New York’s 1st District. And Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz starts as the heavy favorite over Republican state Assemblyman Brian Nestande in California’s 36th District.
Iowa Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley is in a competitive race for the Senate, but he bowed out of this year’s game with an apparent shoulder injury.
For weeks, both teams have been battling weather and election calendars in order to practice. “I missed two weeks because of the primary,” Doyle said. He won with 84 percent and resisted the temptation to donate to Keystone State colleague Bill Shuster’s tea-party-fueled primary challenger. Shuster, usually a solid Republican hitter, won his primary with 53 percent.
Doyle has experienced the pain of losing good players to electoral defeat (Ohio Rep. John Boccieri in the 2010 wave, in particular), but is enjoying his talented roster and superstar players because it wasn’t always this way.
“I lived through the Steve Largent years,” Doyle said.
June 22, 2014
Some ballplayers rack up win after win from the pitcher’s mound. Others bash hit after hit. Managers capture the coveted Roll Call trophy and put it on display in their offices. Any of these career paths can lead to recognition and honors.
But what about the low-key player who, over the course of 14 years, out-pitches his more celebrated teammates, wins an MVP award for his defensive prowess, changes the way pitchers are handled — and is the only player to ever strike out a Hall of Famer? One man has accomplished all of the above, and for that we have selected former Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., as the 2014 inductee into the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Hall of Fame.
June 21, 2014
Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle — or “Coach Doyle,” as he’s deferentially called by colleagues — doesn’t want to see anybody get hurt at the 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game.
That’s a good thing for a team of amateur athletes with an average age far past that of a professional ballplayer in his prime, and perhaps especially good for Rep. Joseph Crowley.
“I’ve been hurt twice in the last three seasons,” the New York Democrat readily admitted. “I’ve been hurt at the game. Typically, it’s pulling a muscle.
“We’re so psyched,” Crowley explained. “The adrenaline’s pumping. You’re running from votes, you’re changing in the car, you’re running into the stadium. There’s no time to warm up, the game starts. You’re just, like, pumping. All those people there!”
He paused and smiled. “It’s a really, really cool thing.”
Crowley, the vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus when he’s not manning first base, played in his first Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game in 1999, as a freshman lawmaker. He’s seen a lot and has a humble idea of his place in the scheme of things. “The second year, I remember I was out in the outfield, and I didn’t have my cleats that morning, and I was shagging a fly ball,” he recalled. “The field was so wet and dewy, I just lost my feet completely. Bang! Right smack on my back. And I got up and I said, ‘Why am I doing this? I don’t know why I’m doing this.’”
Crowley uses the word “hate” for anyone who’s a standout player, and “jealous” for anyone who competes to play first base. The latter point has been the source of a rivalry between him and Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio.
But despite his somewhat imposing stature and gruff baritone, Crowley is quick with a laugh and his eyes twinkle when he’s talking trash — a sign he takes it all in stride.
Some of Crowley’s favorite memories? “I enjoyed watching the Weiner years,” said Crowley of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, a fellow New York Democrat and Mets fan.
Crowley’s nicknamed the Democrats’ star pitcher, Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana, “Franchise” and calls freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy of Florida, “Franchise 2.” Murphy, Crowley said, is “like a gazelle” on the field.
He says his favorite moment inside the diamond was in 2012, the same day the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act.
“Folks made signs out in the field,” Crowley said. “‘Supreme Court 1, Republicans Nothing.’ Something like that.”
Was there ever a low-point in his congressional baseball career?
“Yeah,” Crowley said, trying to deadpan but ultimately bursting out laughing. “The day Steve Largent struck me out my only time at bat. I said, ‘I’m never gonna be here again!’ ”
The Oklahoma Republican who’s in two halls of fame — pro football’s and the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game’s — made him look silly. “I was there at the plate, and he threw a ball, and I fouled it off. And he threw another ball, and it was a ball. And he threw another ball, it was a strike, and I knew it was coming, and all I could do was look at it. And I watched it. It was a beautiful pitch, it was a curveball over the plate, and I remember thinking: ‘That guy is such a great athlete. I hate him.’
“But that was 15, 16 years ago,” Crowley shrugged. “Every year is a new beginning. I’m hoping to hit it out soon.”
June 20, 2014
Latisha Powell pointed to a paper pinned to the bulletin board on the bright blue wall and said, “When I came here, I couldn’t write that essay.”
Powell, 46, was once one of the thousands of adults in the District who do not have basic reading skills.
But after several months at the Washington Literacy Center, Powell was able to write that essay, about mothers, which began: “Don’t be ashamed.”
Shaking off the shame that comes with being functionally illiterate is a common experience for the 100 adults the WLC serves each year. Most of them do not have a high school diploma, but have completed 10 to 12 years of education.
Donna Snowden, 50, said she used to be embarrassed that she could not read, but she no longer felt alone after she came to the WLC. “I said, ‘Whoa, all of them can’t read either?’ I’m not ashamed no more. That’s what helped me back.”
That sense of camaraderie flows through the classrooms at the WLC, located in the Thurgood Marshall Center just off U Street in Northwest D.C.
The WLC was able to relocate to the center two years ago with help from funds raised by the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. Last year, the funds helped the WLC purchase the Wilson Reading System, a teaching technique that breaks down words.
According to WLC Executive Director Terry Algire, the Wilson system has been extremely successful. “The Wilson Reading System works,” Algire said.
She said the combination of small class sizes, professional instructors, eight hours of instruction per week and a successful reading system has helped make the WLC an effective program.
Algire is looking to expand the WLC and incorporate math tutoring as well.
“While we’re moving students, transitioning students into GED programs, job training programs and employment, what we’re hearing back is, ‘Their reading is really good, now can you help with the math?’ ” Algire said. “So what we’re going to do is find a math program that’s similar in technique to the way Wilson is taught.”
This year’s 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game donation will be used to research potential math programs and expand pilot projects where the WLC sends instructors to other adult education programs in an effort to reach more adults.
Algire said an estimated 64,000 to 90,000 adults in D.C. lack basic reading skills, which means just filling out a job application is an arduous task. She also said these adults face an unfair characterization.
“A lot of times, there’s a stereotype that adults don’t care,” said Algire, who added that the adults who drop out of high school are not apathetic. Instead, they are frustrated by learning differences that do not coincide with standard teaching techniques.
For students like Powell, the WLC is a place to learn what she was not able to learn in school. “I love it here,” she said.