Every summer without fail, the Capitol Hill tradition of congressional baseball comes back in full force.
Middle-aged men and women put on their baseball pants and local team uniforms. Batting practice commences at sunup, staffers are lured by the promise of beer and hot dogs, and our friends at Nationals Park allow the Democrats and Republicans to take over their field in a spirit of bipartisanship and baseball.
Really, what could go wrong?
The answer: not much. Congressional baseball is a fantastic, unique-to-Congress event. It has the feel of a summer baseball game with the camaraderie of a work happy hour.
But Hill Navigator knows that baseball isn't fun for everyone (insert collective gasp). And work events can be fraught with complications and interoffice conflicts. So here's a guide on how to make the staff ballpark night go more smoothly for everyone.
First, take it for what it is. This is not the Washington Nationals, nor is it even the P-Nats. These are men and women fulfilling a lifelong dream to be a sports star with the audience and arena to do so. For all you Baseball Prospectus fans, leave the dither at home and try and enjoy the mediocre ballgame without the major-league comparisons. No one wants to sit next to a whiner.
Second, root for the home team. Bring on the partisanship and get into the spirit of your side. It's one of the best days of the year to root for your party without any of the rancor or campaign ramifications. Bonus points for legislatively themed signage or creative partisan chants.
Third, mingle. I don't mean with just your office — get up and walk around the park. This can be especially useful if the idea of three hours with your fellow legislative assistants seems daunting. Take advantage of the above-average ballpark food (see recommendation below) and great setting. If the weather cooperates, it could be a beautiful (albeit humid) night, and you can be part of your office outing without being confined to a single space.
Fourth, watch the drinking. Seems obvious, but know your limits and remember it's a work event and not a trash-talking Yankees game.
Fifth, spin this to your local paper. If your boss is in the game, make sure you snap a pic and let your hometown papers know about it. You won't be missing votes, and you're likely to generate a story that even the most politically apathetic could still find interesting.
And several practical tips:
- Ditch the suit and ID badge. Change into casual clothes and don't walk around with that badge hanging out. You're not an intern, and if you are, you don't need to look like it.
- Read the CQ Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game Program . It tells you who's who and has some fun facts about the players (see the GOP team spotlight on Jeff Flake and the Democratic team spotlight on Adam Smith). Information is power in Washington, even the trivial hometown details come in handy. And as a bonus recommendation, check out this story on the Washington Literacy Center, who will greatly benefit from the funds generated by the game.
- Get the National Pastime Concrete at the Shake Shack. From what my sources tell me, the vanilla custard and chocolate toffee concoction is one of the best offerings at the ballpark.