Members of the George Washington University Colonials men’s basketball team had a ball wending their way through all the touristy spots in the Capitol.
The visiting collegians practiced taking the rock to the hole last week by performing impromptu dunks at various stops — including the Speaker’s Balcony and Statuary Hall — along the way.
The fun-loving contingent got the VIP treatment courtesy of former House aide Rich Landon. The ex-staffer told HOH he’s been pals with GWU coach Mike Lonergan since his shot-calling days at Catholic University of America.
Per Landon, Lonergan et al. ran into a number of congressional staffers — including one starstruck aide to Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — who sought out the national championship-winning coach to ask for autographs and pose for selfies.
Next on Landon’s to-do list: seeing about showing a few aging rock-and-rollers around his old stomping grounds. And he hinted that he’s been in contact with one of the most hirsute Washington Nationals about possibly making the rounds.
Between managing a busy pre-recess agenda, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., squeezed in some help for a boxer who needed a visa to be able to fight in the United States this weekend.
Reid, a former boxer and avid fan of the sport, saved the day for Argentinian Diego Chaves, set to face off against Brandon Rios as the chief supporting bout of a split-site HBO card with Rios-Chaves headlining the part of the show at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
Earlier this week, promoter Top Rank canceled a conference call with the boxing reporters to hype the bout, and news broke about Chaves’ visa troubles. Top Rank’s Bob Arum told Yahoo! on Wednesday, “When we became aware of this, we immediately called Sen. Reid’s office,” he said. “Christina Martinez from his office is assigned to these type of problems and she really worked hard. She got the State Department to cut through everything and got the visa issued.”
Arum, a close friend of Reid’s, is one of the sport’s most colorful figures and one of its most successful promoters for almost 50 years, whose best-known quote is, “Yesterday I was lying, today I’m telling the truth.” (This week he made news for saying he participated in a two-day orgy with Muhammad Ali right after the “Thrilla in Manila” between Ali and Joe Frazier.)
But Arum’s story about Reid’s intervention on behalf of Chaves is true, Kristen Orthman, a spokeswoman for Reid, told CQ Roll Call Wednesday.
Reid got a visit on the campaign trail during his 2010 re-election battle against Republican Sharron Angle from Top Rank-promoted boxer Manny Pacquiao, who doubles as a congressman in the Philippines and is idolized by Filipinos and Filipino-Americans. Pacquiao has boasted that the campaign appearance essentially won Reid reelection.
When a young man, likely an intern, approached Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin near the Capitol basement ATM Tuesday afternoon asking the Illinois Democrat to sign a baseball, he faced an unexpected question from this reporter: Did he prefer wooden or aluminum bats?
“I like both. Wooden’s better. It never hurts your hands,” he said.
It was July 26, 1989, when Durbin said in a one-minute speech (in the House, of course, Durbin’s oratory was more limited by a clock): “I don’t want to hear about saving trees, any tree in America would gladly give its life for a day of glory at home plate.”
Durbin signed the young man’s baseball, though it was unclear how many in the basement scrum knew the story behind the prodding. But in the immortal words of former HOHer Meredith Shiner, this column knows for sure: “May we mark this day every year to remember what America is really all about, and that even though it’s unclear who Durbin was addressing with this little ditty, aluminum bats have remained out of professional baseball for decades.”
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.
Team Scrantonicity has faced off against the Hit It Toomey squad each summer for the past three years with mixed results. Scrantonicity throttled its foes 20-10 last year, but Team Toomey has wracked up more “W”s than losses over time.
“Sadly team Toomey leads the all-time series 2-1. But I’m quite confident the series will be all even after tonight’s festivities,” a Casey aide assured HOH in a trash-talking email.
Those looking to get swept up in softball mania should make their way over to the National Mall (Seventh and Madison streets NW) around 6:45 p.m. to catch all the action.
Look for Casey to be snagging flies in the outfield (our tipster says the boss typically patrols right field), while Toomey tends to plant himself at third.
“Welcome home LeBron … We look forward to your contributions and leadership, on the court and off. And celebrating a championship wouldn’t hurt.” — Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, celebrates LeBron James’ re-signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Rep. Mike Doyle holds up the trophy as the rain begins to fall after his team won the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
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.”