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April 1, 2015

Posts in "This Sporting Life"

March 27, 2015

Senate Loses Top Baseball Nut (Video)

Reid and Harper share a moment at Nats Park. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reid and Harper share a moment at Nats Park. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated March 30, 2:30 p.m. | With Harry Reid’s retirement, the Senate is not just losing its top Democrat. It’s losing its foremost baseball fan.

Over the years, the Nevadan would wax about the nation’s pastime on the floor, going so far as to say he and arch-frenemy Mitch McConnell were on the same page. “Mr. President, the Republican leader and I don’t agree on — everything. But we do agree on some things. And there is one thing no one can dispute we agree on. And that’s our love of baseball,” he said on the floor last year. Reid has particular affection for the Washington Nationals, whose season starts on April 6 with the Opening Day game against the New York Mets. For those who can’t wait, the Nats are playing the New York Yankees in an exhibition here Saturday.

Even though he was a fan already, Reid seemed to go into overdrive when the Nationals scooped up Nevada phenom Bryce Harper, bringing the brash slugger up to the big leagues in 2012 for their playoff run. Full story

February 11, 2015

MLB to Take its Talents to Miami, Not D.C.

All-Star fans won't be seeing this view, at least not from Miami. (CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

All-Star fans won’t be seeing this view, at least not from Miami. (CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

Major League Baseball has selected Miami for the 2017 All Star Game, shunning Washington, D.C., and the riverfront confines of Nationals Park.

Marlins Park, known for its cavernous interior accentuated by sparse attendance and an aquarium in the outfield, is located in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. The Miami Herald, which first reported the news, wrote that “the awarding of the 2017 event will mark the end of a long and bumpy road to bring the All-Star Game to South Florida.”

That’s an understatement. The Marlins were supposed to get the 2000 midsummer classic, but had that yanked after the franchise had a fire sale of the 1997 World Series winning team. Marlins Park opened in 2012, compiled a high-profile team headed by Manager Ozzie Guillen and shortstop Jose Reyes, then, when things didn’t work out, had a fire sale for those guys, too.

Maybe LeBron James can throw out the first pitch.

The 114th: CQ Roll Call’s Guide to the New Congress

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November 24, 2014

To Trot or Not to Trot

Ready for Turkey Day? (CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

Ready for Turkey Day? (CQ Roll Call File Photo.)

Staying put in Washington for the Thanksgiving holiday has its perks. No airport waiting lines. No captivity on I-95. A relaxed, convivial atmosphere. That’s good to keep in mind when arriving amid the forecasted snow and cold at Freedom Plaza for the 2014 Trot for Hunger 5K race.

The footrace, put on by So Others Might Eat, raises money to provide food, health care and clothing for the homeless. The D.C. trot, SOME’s 13th annual, is expecting more than 10,000 runners for an 8:30 a.m. start time for the kids’ 1-mile fun run and 9 a.m. for the 5K. SOME aims to raise $525,000 in its effort to feed the hungry and help the homeless.

To register for the event, go to SOME’s sign-up site at It’s $30 for an untimed run and $35 for a timed one. A hyper-competitive environment this is not. Ridiculous costumes are welcome, particularly of the avian variety. Ability is not an issue. Case in point? Your Roll Call After Dark columnist himself will be participating, rehabbing torn MCL and all.

SOME’s downtown D.C.-centered trot is just one of many in the area. Still, there’s something about seeing thousands of people running around in the cold, amid the Capitol Dome. The political world can cast a dark tone on Washington, and given congressional approval ratings, not too many folks view Capitol Hill in a positive light. Showing there’s more to D.C. than Republicans and Democrats trading potshots starts with events like this.

But surely there must be easier ways to get out of helping stuff the turkey on Thursday morning? SOME is more than eager to shoot you in the right direction for volunteer opportunities on Turkey Day and beyond. Drop them a line at

Among the many other places to volunteer are DC Central Kitchen, Bread for the City, Food & Friends, the Capital Area Food Bank, take your pick. If you want to volunteer, there’s a spot for you.

Something to keep in mind is that while Thanksgiving and the upcoming Christmas holidays are good motivators for community service and volunteerism — and charitable organizations are eager to accept goodwill during such busy times — the need doesn’t end with the holidays.

Roll Call Results Map: Results and District Profiles for Every Seat

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October 8, 2014

This Is What It’s Like to Be a Baseball Town

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“You can take that off now,” the Architect of the Capitol worker yelled out, pointing to my Washington Nationals’ hat as I rode past the Russell Senate Office Building this morning.

Was it capital city commiseration of Tuesday night’s loss to the San Francisco Giants, ending the Nats’ playoff run? He kind of laughed. I pointed to the hat and replied, “Nah. The hat stays.”

This is what it is to be a baseball town. The euphoria of the inaugural season in 2005 wore off relatively quickly, giving way to the dry, monotonous pain of 100-loss seasons, the slow climb to respectability and finally to perennial success. The 2012 playoff run was a novelty, cruelly snatched away too quickly. This year was different. It’s the same kind of pain other teams and their cities experience when they don’t meet expectations. The Nationals are a good team, and we expect them to win now. But it’s also just a pleasure to have a team in D.C. The idea stuck. They’re here. They’re ours.

That doesn’t make it any easier to get the relentless stream of emails from StubHub reminding us that our plans for Thursday night’s theoretical Game 5 and the National League Championship Series have changed: “This event has been cancelled. This event has been cancelled. This event has been cancelled.”

The Nationals are now part of the fabric of the town. Wear Nats gear on a game day and strangers will kibbitz on the team’s chances, question Matt Williams’ decisions and ask if you were there for all 18 innings of Game 2. There’s a shorthand now. Game 2 is the longest playoff game in Major League Baseball history. Game 4 means Jayson Werth’s homer to beat the Cardinals in 2012. Game 5 means the gut-punch loss the next night. Tuesday night’s Game 4 doesn’t have a name yet, but it will. It will likely have something to do with wild pitches, walks and bunts. Eventually, we’ll settle on something.

In the meantime, the hat stays.

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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By Jason Dick Posted at 12:17 p.m.
This Sporting Life

October 2, 2014

Take a Trip Down Baseball Memory Lane

Things weren't always so merry with Washington baseball. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Things weren’t always so merry with Washington baseball. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As the Washington Nationals open the National League Division Series on Friday, their second post-season appearance in three years, it’s easy to forget Washington baseball teams have frequently sucked.

Fred Frommer, author of “You Gotta Have Heart:  A History of Washington Baseball from 1859 to the 2012 National League East Champions,” never forgot. His book will make any Nat fan appreciate what they have now, and he’ll be discussing it at the National Archives on Friday at noon in the William G. McGowan Theater with his frequent discussion sidekick, former Senators announcer Phil Hochberg. It’s a nice way to prepare for the 3:07 p.m. game against the San Francisco Giants at Nationals Park.

Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney wrote about some of the Senators’ woeful ways in today’s Post. The upshot? To be a Senators fan back in the day, one had to have real guts. “In my childhood, the whole point of rooting for the Senators was to affirm one’s fortitude in the face of cellar-dwelling finishes. Show loyalty and optimism despite setbacks and disappointment. ‘We grew up not expecting much. That’s not a bad lesson for life,’ said Hank Thomas, 68, of Arlington, who cheered for the Senators as a child in the late 1950s,” McCartney writes.

And the first few seasons after the Montreal Expos moved here to become the Nationals were no picnic either. Remember when Nook Logan started in center field? It’s best not to.

If you can’t make it to the Archives, Fred and Phil will be live on YouTube.

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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September 25, 2014

Jog Like It’s the 1860s This Saturday at Lincoln’s Cottage


(Clark Mindock / Roll Call)

Heels pointed toward the Soldiers’ Home Cemetery in Petworth, runners in the Freedom XC 5k on Saturday will cross near the home where the Emancipation Proclamation was conceived and then continue further. Leg muscles expanding and contracting, they’ll move along the paths, normally closed, that wind through the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, passing a golf course, community gardens and fishing ponds.

Or, they could scrap the running idea and walk it instead. Full story

July 16, 2014

Roll Call After Dark Book of the Week: ‘National Pastime’ by Barry Svrluga

(Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

(Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Baseball’s All-Star Game break provides us with a respite from the churn of the 162-game regular season, as well as an opportunity to check out a great baseball book, Barry Svrluga’s “National Pastime.”

The Washington Nationals are in first place in the National League East at the break, a nice position for a team that was up-and-down and replete with injuries at the beginning of the season. Amid a so-far successful current season, last year’s winning season (which saw the team miss the playoffs) and 2012’s dynamic division-winning team, it’s worth remembering that the Nats’ first year in the District was anything but auspicious.

There was no owner. The team’s transitional home, RFK Stadium, was barely ready for prime time. The team was a collection of injured or unproven or washed-up players. The staff had almost completely turned over from the team’s previous year iteration in Montreal as the Expos. The manager was a crank. And yet, the team finished 51-30 at the halfway point and contended for a playoff spot deep in September before ending the season 81-81.

Svrluga, a Washington Post sports reporter, was there from soup to nuts, covering the last-minute glitch in negotiations with the District Council that almost caused the deal to move the Expos to D.C. to crater, all the way to the last homestead against the Philadelphia Phillies. The writing is briskly paced and has an eye toward the human story that went with the business story.

It’s also a great reminder that the Nationals’ current success on the field and with the city — as the area around Nationals Park fills up with breweries, condos and bike lanes — were never guaranteed in those rough-hewn first days at RFK.

June 20, 2014

How Life Imitates the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game

Members of Congress frequently use terms like “camaraderie” and “fun” and “bipartisanship” to describe the Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. All true. It’s also a place where they barrel into each, break bones, spill blood and jockey for influence on their own teams. In short, it’s an accurate depiction of life in Congress. Full story

June 15, 2014

Congressional Women’s Softball Game Highlights a Busy Week

Think it’s going to be a busy week in the Capitol, what with a full legislative calendar and House leadership elections? There’s just as much going on in the outside-work calendar, including a throw-down between members of Congress and the media and a telling of the Koch brothers’ tale.

Bendery, in a non-trash talking moment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bendery, in a non-trash talking moment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The 6th Annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game is Wednesday night, and the trash talk is flying, including a radio “Softball Smackdown” featuring Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., and Huffington Post scribe Jennifer Bendery on the Bill Press Show. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at Eventbrite. Proceeds benefit the Young Survival Coalition. The opening pitch is at 7 p.m. at the Watkins Recreation Center at 420 12th Street SE.

One of Washington’s high-profile film festivals, AFI Docs, gets underway Wednesday, with an opening night show at the Newseum of “Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey,” by Scott Teems. Actor Hal Holbrook, who has been portraying Mark Twain on stage for more than six decades, will be on hand to introduce the film. The festival, which as a full slate of 84 films, runs through June 22 at various venues in D.C. and Silver Spring, Md. For tickets and showtimes, visit the festival website.

Roll Call Book Club returns Thursday night, when we’ll sit down with Mother Jones Senior Editor Daniel Schulman to discuss his new book, “Sons of Wichita, How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty.” In case you don’t check in on the Senate floor every once in a while, the Koch brothers are kind of a big deal. However, the K-Bros that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has made into Democrats’ bete noire, Charles and David, are only half of the brood. Schulman’s biography serves up juicy bits on the eldest, Frederick, who’s a patron of the arts, and Bill, David’s fraternal twin, an America’s Cup winner and to this day a bitter rival to Charles and David. This free event, complete with wine, cheese and a book giveaway, starts at 6 p.m. at Hill Center at 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Please register on Hill Center’s website ahead of time.

Friday is the day we wrap the voting for the annual Roll Call Taste of America contest. Pulling for the deep-sea heavyweight, Maine’s lobster rolls? Want to make sure Iowa bacon wraps itself in victory? Trying to make sure Maryland crab cakes scuttle to victory? Then vote at The winner will be announced at the following week’s 53rd Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park.

May 21, 2014

Potty Humor at ACLI Capital Challenge

One of the more charming aspects of Wednesday’s ACLI Capital Challenge were, um, how do we say this? The bathrooms. Every race has its porta-johns set up for runners seeking last-minute relief before the starting gun. This 3-miler, though, had some fun with it, labeling each receptacle in a tongue-in-uhh-cheek manner: Senate, House, Media/Left Wing, Media/Right Wing, VA (please move to back of line) and much more.

Members only? Sen. Grassley apparently thought so. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

Members only? Sen. Grassley apparently thought so. (Jason Dick/CQ Roll Call)

And, of course, someone waited for his designated portable bathroom. Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, a dedicated runner and long-time ACLI Capital Challenge competitor, waited in front of the “Senate” john. When a young woman came out of an adjoining one, she offered it to him. He declined, preferring to wait for the Senators Only rest room.

Patrick Fernandez of Team Coast Guard took the 1st Male Overall category with a 14:59 time. Erin Taylor of Human “Capitol” Running Club GSA took the 1st Female Overall category with a 17:43 time.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, was the fastest male senator, with a time of 25:04. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., was the fastest female senator with a 35:15 time.

Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., was the fastest male House member, with a time of 18:29. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., was the fastest House female with a 25:05 time.

For full results, see the Capital Challenge website.

May 16, 2014

The Coveted Roll Call Cup, or Golf in the Capital

The Coveted Roll Call Cup (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Coveted Roll Call Cup (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

“This crowd has gone deadly silent, a Cinderella story outta nowhere. Former greenskeeper and now about to become the Masters champion. … He’s on his final hole. He’s about 455 yards away, he’s gonna hit about a 2-iron I think. … It’s in the hole!”

— Carl Spackler, “Caddyshack.”

The only reason horticultural expert/gopher hunter Spackler dreamed of glory at the Masters was that he had never gazed upon the Coveted Roll Call Cup. On Monday, when many a Washingtonian will be sleeping in, dreaming of legislative or political glories of their own (lots of primaries await on Tuesday after all), Congress’ 20 most-dedicated duffers will trek up to Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Md., for the annual First Tee Congressional Challenge for the chance at the untold golf glory found in grasping the Coveted Roll Call Cup.

You never know what you’ll see. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., the newly minted chairman of the special House committee on Benghazi in madras shorts that match his teammate, fellow Palmetto State Republican Mick Mulvaney? Check.

Mulvaney, left and Gowdy match up well. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mulvaney, left, and Gowdy match up well. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A little bipartisan bonding as members from across the aisle all beat the bushes looking for a lost ball? Check.

Reps. Joe Baca, Xavier Becerra and Zach Wamp look for a lost ball. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Reps. Joe Baca, Xavier Becerra and Zach Wamp look for a lost ball. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It all gets underway at 7:45 a.m. (not a misprint!) and will feature 27 holes of competition pitting Democrats versus Republicans in team and individual competition.

Last year, for only the second time in the tournament’s 12-year history, the sides tied, 10-10, and Republicans retained the cup. In the event of a tie, the team that won the cup the previous year gets to keep it. Why no tiebreakers? According to organizers, they try to make sure the matches wrap up around 3 p.m. so that members of Congress can make it to Capitol Hill or wherever else their business takes them. Votes are scheduled in the House for 6:30 p.m.

Before those votes, though, the winning team’s captain will be presented with the Coveted Roll Call Cup at 5:30 p.m. at Cornerstone Government Affairs. It all goes to benefit First Tee, a golf charity that seeks to introduce youth to the sport most often linked to power and influence — or for fans of Mark Twain, a good walk spoiled.

April 10, 2014

You’ve Got Hate! Feedback on Atlanta Braves Flag Burning Post is EN FUEGO!

(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Atlanta Braves fans rise up to defend their own! Justin Upton might be outfielder non grata in Washington, but he can take heart his aficionados will defend his right to not try. Also? Team die-hards are determined to shrug off Turner Field’s torching of Old Glory this week.

After the soon-to-be Cobb County Braves accidentally lit a giant American flag on fire with some ill-placed fireworks, the Internet lit up, too, including photos and snarky comments about the Braves’ patriotic conflagration. This included Roll Call After Dark, an unabashed Washington Nationals fan, who also took the opportunity to needle the Braves and their left fielder for an on-field foible that, while within the rules, was just kind of wimpy and an overly technocratic reading of the rules.

In an email received shortly after After Dark’s post went live with the subject line “Justin Upton and the Braves,” one reader stated: Full story

April 9, 2014

Burning Atlanta, or How the Braves Learned to Stop Worrying and Torch Old Glory

It’s bad enough that Justin Upton of the Atlanta Braves refuses to field balls in the outfield. Now his team burns flags at their home stadium.

According to Deadspin, the soon-to-be Cobb County Braves let Old Glory get too close to their fireworks display and — Boom! — some distasteful but constitutionally protected flamboyance occurred.


March 28, 2014

Calendar: Time to Make Outdoor Plans, Finally

Amazing what a couple of days above freezing will do for everyone’s disposition!

Whether it’s planning some fun runs, mussing about among the cherry blossoms or gearing up for the return of the Washington Nationals, it’s nice to be able to go outside without cold weather gear, finally.

Run, Run, Run

One of the biggest outdoor activities of the season brings together not just the Cherry Blossom Festival crowds but members of Congress and the physically fit. April 6 is the annual Congressional Federal Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run, a massive foot race that raises money for charity that contains the Capitol Hill Competition race-within-the-race. Race organizers on April 3 will present the a check to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in Room HVC-200 at the Capitol Visitor Center. Expect current and former members of Congress to attend. Congressional Federal CEO Charles A. Mallon Jr., is touting the 41 senators and 189 House members who are serving as honorary co-chairs of the race, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio. The event starts at 10 a.m. Capitol Hill Competition runners can pick up their race packets from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the same room. Full story

March 26, 2014

Suns v. Wiz: Home Town and Adopted Home Town Hoops

This is a tough one: Whom to root for when your home town team (Phoenix Suns) take on your adopted home town team (Washington Wizards.)

As a native Arizonan, born in Phoenix and raised in Cottonwood, the Suns were my first team. They were Arizona’s first team really, the first major league sport to grace the Valley of the Sun. There’s some sentimentality at work with the Suns.

But I haven’t lived in the Grand Canyon State since 1998, although, as my parents will attest, a lot of my crap is still there in their homes. My friend and former colleague, current New York Daily News scribe Dan Friedman, warns of the perils, nay, impossibility of divided loyalty. I try to listen to Dan as much as I can, even when he’s nearby.

So what’s it going to be tonight as the Purple Gang takes on the Wiz? Both teams are likely headed to the playoffs. Both have class act players and management.

Sorry, Wiz. When I see the following, it’s no contest.

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