Gunman opens fire on practice for annual Congressional baseball game

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U.S. Representative and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and several of his aides were shot while at baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia this morning. The practice was in anticipation of tomorrow’s annual Congressional Baseball Game.

Details are still sketchy, but witnesses have told reporters that a gunman opened fire on Scalise and others at around 7:15AM. The shooting lasted for approximately ten minutes. Five people were wounded. Scalise is in stable condition. One of the wounded was said to have been hit in the chest. There are few details about the gunman other than that he is a white, middle aged man who had a rifle. Capitol Police were on the scene as a security detail and reportedly returned fire, hitting the gunman, who is now in custody. Go to NBC News for continued updates on the details of all of this.

UPDATE: Federal law enforcement officials identified the suspected shooter to NBC News as James T. Hodgkinson, a man in his 60s from Belleville, Illinois. Here is a profile on him from the Beleville, Illinois newspaper.

UPDATE: President Trump just announced that Hodgkinson has died from wounds inflicted by police returning fire.

The Congressional Baseball Game, played between Democrats and Republicans, dates back to 1909. There have been 79 games in the series, with the Democrats winning 39 times, the Republicans winning 39 times and the teams tying once. These days it’s a charitable event, with ticket sales and other proceeds supporting the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and the Washington Literacy Center. This year’s game is scheduled for tomorrow at Nationals Park. There is no word if it will still be played or if it will be postponed.

UPDATE:

The Congressional Baseball Game usually features some amusing and often comically bad baseball and the folks who play in it are, without question, some unpopular folks responsible for a lot of acrimony these days. But the existence of the game itself is a good thing for a good cause. It stands as one of the few remaining moments of bipartisanship that can be found in Washington these days. One of the few bits of grace in an otherwise ugly time. It’s a shame that it has been marred by violence.

Our thoughts go out to Representative Scalise and the other victims of this shooting. Here’s hoping everyone comes out OK.

It’s the tenth anniversary of the biggest rout in baseball history

Associated Press
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Ten years ago today the Rangers and the Orioles squared off at Camden Yards. The Orioles built a 3-0 lead after three innings and then all hell broke loose.

The Rangers scored thirty (30!) unanswered runs via a five-spot in the fourth, a nine-spot in the sixth, a ten-spot in the eighth and a six-spot in the ninth. That was . . . a lot of spots.

Two Rangers players — Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez — hit two homers and drove in seven runs a piece. The best part: they were the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup. There was plenty of offense to go around, however as David Murphy went 5-for-7 and scored five times. Travis Metcalf hit a pinch-hit grand slam. Marlon Byrd drove in four. It was a bloodbath, with Texas rattling out 29 hits and walking eight times.

On the Orioles side of things, Daniel Cabrera took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits in five innings. That’s not a terribly unusual line for a bad day at the office for a pitcher — someone will probably get beat up like that in the next week or so — but the Orioles’ relievers really added to the party. Brian Burres was the first victim, allowing eight runs on eight hits in only two-thirds of an inning. Rob Bell gave up seven in an inning and a third. Paul Shuey wore the rest of it, allowing nine runs on seven hits over the final two.

The best part of the insanely busy box score, however, was not from any of the Orioles pitchers or any of the Rangers hitters. Nope, it was from a Rangers relief pitcher named Wes Littleton. You probably don’t remember him, as he only pitched in 80 games and never appeared in the big leagues after 2008. But on this day — the day of the biggest blowout in baseball history — Wes Littleton notched a save. From Baseball-Reference.com:

Three innings and 43 pitches is a lot of work for a reliever and, per the rules, it’s a save, regardless of the margin when he entered the game. Still, this was not exactly a game that was ever in jeopardy.

When it went down, way back on August 22, 2007, it inspired me to write a post at my old, defunct independent baseball blog, Shysterball, arguing about how to change the save rule. Read it if you want, but know that (1) no one has ever paid attention to such proposals in baseball, even if such proposals are frequently offered; and (2) the hypothetical examples I use to illustrate the point involve an effective Joba Chamberlain and Joe Torre’s said use of him, which tells you just how long ago this really was.

Oh, one final bit: this massacre — the kind of game that the Orioles likely wanted to leave, go back home and go to sleep afterward — was only the first game of a doubleheader. Yep, they had to strap it on and play again, with the game starting at 9PM Eastern time. Baltimore lost that one too, 9-7, concluding what must have been one of the longest days any of the players involved had ever had at the office, both figuratively and literally.

Hall of Fame baseball announcer Rafael ‘Felo’ Ramirez dies

Associated Press
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MIAMI (AP) Rafael “Felo” Ramirez, a Hall of Fame baseball radio broadcaster who was the signature voice for millions of Spanish-speaking sports fans over three decades, has died. He was 94.

The Miami Marlins announced Ramirez’ death Tuesday.

Ramirez, who died Monday night, began his broadcasting career in Cuba in 1945 before calling 31 All-Star games and World Series in Spanish. He was the Marlins Spanish-language announcer since their inaugural season in 1993 and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

He was known for an expressive, yet low-key style and his signature strike call of “Essstrike.”

Several Spanish-language broadcasters, including Amury Pi-Gonzanez of the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants, have admitted to emulating his style.