GOP Romps in 10-0 Shellacking of Dems at Nationals Park
WASHINGTON — It is one of D.C.’s most wholesome and much needed traditions, even if on occasion it becomes a slightly rain-soaked, lopsided affair.
In the end, the Republicans defeated the Democrats by a score of 10-0 in the Congressional Baseball Game on Thursday night at Nationals Park, an unexpected blow-out after last year’s 13-12 slugfest, which the GOP also won.
Prior to last year’s game, the Democrats had enjoyed a three-game win streak, and some in the stands lamented the loss of the party’s star pitcher, former Rep. Cedric Richmond, who now works in the White House as a senior advisor to President Joe Biden and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Though the decisive win caused some Republicans to gloat and predict the result foreshadows a red wave in the midterm elections in November, the game itself — a truly bipartisan event — largely transcends politics.
While almost all of the players take their participation very seriously — lifting weights, adjusting diets and participating in lengthy practices to ensure they, well, kind of shine, under the stadium lights — they also embrace the annual contest as a way to develop trust and friendship, just blocks from the highly partisan hallways of Capitol Hill.
That’s not to say there wasn’t a little sectarian controversy during last night’s game.
After a lead-off walk late in the game, Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., vice chair of the House Democratic Conference, was caught on camera flipping the bird at the GOP dugout as she walked from the field after being replaced by a pinch runner.
And then there were the two dozen or so climate activists who unfurled a banner reading “Climate Emergency” from the cheap seats in the outfield while other protesters outside locked arms and tried to block the entrances to the ballpark.
Although much of the air was taken out of the protest by the announcement Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had reached a deal on climate provisions that will be voted on next week, members of a group called Now or Never, decided to hold their protest anyway.
According to the group, about 150 people turned out at the baseball game to peacefully call on Congress to pass a clean energy bill and for President Biden to declare a climate emergency.
The protest inside the stadium was short lived, however, as the chanting inside began just after the start of the fourth inning and the skies opened up in a deluge moments later, sending demonstrators and fans alike scrambling.
According to the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, three protesters were arrested for unlawful entry into the ballpark.
Despite such moments, the game, which returned last year after being canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, had a highly sentimental air about it. For a number of players, Thursday night was their last hurrah on the congressional diamond due to their pending retirements or losses in recent primaries.
Before the game, boosters of Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, a great competitor and fan favorite, could be seen everywhere on the stadium concourse wearing red t-shirts depicting him leaping for a ball alongside Texas longhorns in celebration of his “last rodeo.”
Other popular but departing players like Reps. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., and Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., also got rousing applause whenever their names were called.
Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., who hit a home run in last year’s game, pitched five shutout innings for the Republicans Thursday night.
He was replaced on the mound by Rep. August Pfluger, R-Texas, who struck out two and got out of a sixth inning jam when the Democrats actually managed to load the bases.
Pfluger closed out the game by pitching a scoreless seventh inning and was named the most valuable player on this year’s Republican team.
Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., was named MVP for the Democratic teams.
But then, the game, which was first held in 1909, is about more than on-field heroics, it’s also a big-time charity event supporting groups like the Washington Literacy Center, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington and the Capitol Police Memorial Fund.
This year’s game raised more than $1.5 million with about 17,000 tickets sold.