Game on: Tragedy won’t stop annual baseball game

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WASHINGTON (AP) The game will go on.

The annual Congressional Baseball Game, which dates to 1909 and is a summertime tradition on Capitol Hill, will be played Thursday despite Wednesday’s shooting at the GOP squad’s practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

It’s an annual tradition in which aging former Little Leaguers don their spikes and dust off their gloves in a game played for bragging rights and to benefit several charities. It’s also a somewhat rare example of bipartisanship in an increasingly polarized Washington.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., assured lawmakers assembled at a members’ briefing that the game will be played as scheduled, prompting a standing ovation.

“It will be `Play Ball!’ tomorrow night at 7:05,” said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, the longtime manager of the GOP squad.

Once a relatively cozy affair, played at a minor league ballpark in Maryland, the game has gone big time in recent years and has been played at Nationals Park, just a few blocks from the Capitol.

“We do it for really three reasons. We do it for fellowship amongst ourselves. We do it for charity,” Barton said. “We raise a lot of money for three charities. And we do it because we like to play baseball and try to recapture a little bit of our youth. It’s a positive thing. Of all the things Congress does, this is one of the most benign, positive activities.”

Members of Congress practice for months for the event, and typically don the jerseys of a team from back home. The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call sponsors the game and awards a trophy once a side wins three of five games.

“It’s a good way raise money for charity and for members to get to know each other,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., whose election in 2010 upended the competitive balance of the annual event. Richmond played baseball in college and kicked off his congressional career with a one-hitter in 2011 and has been the game’s dominant player pretty much since then.

Last year, however, Democrats lost the game 8-7, ending a seven-game winning streak that mostly coincided with Richmond joining the Democratic side.

“I was fresh off of surgery, but they made more plays than we made last year,” Richmond told reporters. “This was a year we wanted to get even.”

Congressional leaders typically attend the event and former President Barack Obama – famous for shunning opportunities to rub shoulders with lawmakers – even went two years ago, watching from the Democratic dugout. Obama’s appearance came as he was struggling to win Democratic votes for an unpopular trade-related measure.

President Donald Trump will not be attending Thursday’s game, however, due to security concerns.

“While the president would like to attend the game and show his support for all of these brave public servants, he has been advised that there is not enough time to follow Secret Service protocols,” Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday.

To lawmakers, the annual game is one of the better opportunities for lawmakers to get to know each other outside of their partisan roles.

“The things that used to bring members together, whether it’s travel – that’s frowned upon. If you belong to the gym, they think `well, that’s a perk you shouldn’t have,”‘ said Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, the manager of the Democratic team. “All the chances to interact with each other outside our suits, and outside floor debate, are few and far between.”

Online: https://www.congressionalbaseball.org/

Bogaerts reportedly heading to the Padres for 11 years, $280 million

xander bogaerts
Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres and Xander Bogaerts agreed to a blockbuster $280 million, 11-year contract Wednesday night, adding the All-Star slugger to an already deep lineup.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the contract to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

The Padres already had Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop, but he missed the entire season because of injuries and an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.

San Diego also met with Aaron Judge and Trea Turner before the big stars opted for different teams. The Padres reached the NL Championship Series this year before losing to the Phillies.

“From our standpoint, you want to explore and make sure we’re looking at every possible opportunity to get better,” general manager A.J. Preller said before the Bogaerts deal surfaced. “We’ve got a real desire to win and do it for a long time.”

The 30-year-old Bogaerts was one of the headliners in a stellar group of free-agent shortstops that also included Turner, Carlos Correa and Dansby Swanson.

Bogaerts, who’s from Aruba, terminated his $120 million, six-year contract with Boston after the season. The four-time All-Star forfeited salaries of $20 million for each of the next three years after hitting .307 with 15 homers and 73 RBIs in 150 games.

Bogaerts is a .292 hitter with 156 homers and 683 RBIs in 10 big league seasons – all with Boston. He helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2013 and 2018.

Bogaerts becomes the latest veteran hitter to depart Boston after the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers in February 2020. Rafael Devers has one more year of arbitration eligibility before he can hit the market.

Bogaerts had his best big league season in 2019, batting .309 with a career-best 33 homers and 117 RBIs. He had 23 homers and 103 RBIs in 2018.

In 44 postseason games, Bogaerts is a .231 hitter with five homers and 16 RBIs.