Correction to This Article
An earlier version of this article cited a quote in the Boston Globe that was attributed inaccurately to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.). The Globe quoted Kennedy saying Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is "like a brother to me." In fact, it was Hatch who said that of Kennedy.

The Bad News Donkeys?

A failed outfield play by Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) in 2004 typifies his party's recent frustration in the annual game.
A failed outfield play by Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) in 2004 typifies his party's recent frustration in the annual game. (By Matthew S. Gunby -- Associated Press)
  Enlarge Photo    
By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) has the toughest job in Washington: manager of the lowly Democratic congressional baseball team.

Losers of seven straight to the dreaded Republicans since their come-from-behind win in 2000, the Democrats will march out onto the field tonight at Nationals Park in search of their first win of the Bush presidency.

Some Democrats don't even know what it feels like to hoist the coveted Roll Call trophy. (Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, is the main sponsor of the game.)

Doyle, who is winless as manager since taking the helm in 2006, volunteered to resign that position if he loses tonight's game, but Democratic leaders emphatically told him to stay put.

"Nobody wants the job," he said yesterday.

So Doyle is taking some unorthodox steps to pull out a win this year, including a historic move. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) will start as the Democratic designated hitter. It is believed to be the first time a Democratic woman has ever started in the annual baseball game.

Sanchez wears the Roman numeral IX as her number, a reference to the Title IX laws that mandate equality in athletic scholarships for men and women at the high school and collegiate level. She got the DH assignment because she can flat-out hit, better than most of the guys, as demonstrated by her line-drive single late in the game during last year's 5-2 loss.

Her start reminds us of the time Coach Buttermaker turned to Amanda Whurlitzer to turn around the season for "The Bad News Bears."

According to David Meyers, managing editor of Roll Call and unofficial statistician of the annual Democratic-Republican battle, the GOP has won 32 of the 46 games since the early 1960s. In the last three contests, Republicans have outscored Democrats by a combined margin of 36-14.

Doyle is attempting to take advantage of the game's friendly rules, which allow for unlimited substitutions, so players can come in and out of the game repeatedly. This means that some lawmakers who can hit but can't field won't get anywhere near the field. This includes smooth-swinging Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.). Others should keep their gloves warm and leave their bats in their offices.

"I've got a runner's card, a hitter's card and a fielder's card," Doyle said, noting that pressure is building within the caucus. "I've got about 17 guys that aren't speaking to me, I've got two death threats -- and those are within my own delegation. Other than that, it's going fine."

Another Ceiling Shattered

In another first, the Rev. Patricia Bryant Harris, a Methodist pastor in Wilmington, Del., this week became the first black woman to serve as a guest chaplain in the Senate. She opened the historic session of the chamber praying that the "result of all the works within this place free people, free nations from grief, hunger and pain."

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company