Whatever It’ Is, These Guys Just Don’t Have It

Posted April 30, 2009 at 4:10pm

Author Tom Wolfe once described it as “the right stuff.— In the “Rocky— movies, it was “the eye of the tiger.—

Whatever it is, the members of the Missouri Democratic House softball team, the Show Me Asses, don’t have it.

Nor do they necessarily want it.

By all statistical measurements, the Show Me Asses — staffers from the offices of Democratic Reps. Ike Skelton, Emanuel Cleaver, Russ Carnahan and William Lacy Clay — are bottom dwellers in the world of Congressional softball and occasionally the butt of bad softball jokes.

In existence since 2005, the Show Me Asses have never finished higher than 86th place, according to official U.S. House Softball League standings. Last year, the team finished with one win and 11 losses and came in 110th out of 120 teams. (Their lone victory came against the Nutmegger squad from the Connecticut State Society of Washington, which, with two wins last year, finished 109th in the overall standings.)

But second-year Show Me Asses coach Jason Rauch, a legislative assistant with Skelton off the field, said in a preseason interview that his team is working toward a higher goal than mere wins and losses.

Unlike most other aspects of life on Capitol Hill, the Show Me Asses try not to take things too seriously when they step out on the softball field.

“Our core philosophy is we want to make sure that if you come out and you want to play, you get an opportunity to play,— Rauch said.

He said the team would certainly like to win more games, and probably could do just that if it trimmed its roster and instituted mandatory practices. But that would run counter to everything the Show Me Asses stand for.

“I’ve heard of some teams who have tryouts,— he said. “I’m not going to do anything that makes people feel like they’re still at work.—

But like the cherry blossoms and the D.C. tourist season, hope springs eternal, and the Show Me Asses enter the 2009 season with high aspirations of not finishing at the tail end of the House Softball League standings again this year.

“I think this season is going to be closer to the ’07 season,— Rauch said.

Rauch was referring to the storied Show Me Asses squad that finished the 2007 season with seven wins (and 11 losses). It was a team that went on an August run after an unexpected early season win.

Simply put, 2007 was the heyday of the Show Me Asses.

The team was helped that season by a fairly steady lineup and the acquisition of several key staffers from the office of Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), who was elected to the Senate in the fall of 2006.

But the Show Me Asses dream team didn’t last.

During the 2008 season, the McCaskill staffers formed the McCaskillers and joined the Senate Softball League. That team went on to finish 7-2 last year, good enough to claim second place in its division.

But despite the success they achieved last year, Clark Porter, a Senate policy aide and coach of the McCaskillers, said his team hasn’t forgotten about the Show Me Asses. In fact, a friendly rivalry has sprung up between the two teams during interleague matches.

Last year, McCaskill bet a homemade gooseberry pie against a bag of walnuts from Skelton over which team would win the series.

The Senator didn’t have to worry about baking.

But Rauch said a few notable recruits, including one staffer who joined Skelton’s office from the Navy’s Office of Legislative Affairs, have added some new strength to the Show Me Asses lineup this season. And there’s always the chance the team could benefit from the star power of the state’s Democratic Members, who have occasionally made appearances at games over the years.

Carnahan said in a statement that the team has his full confidence entering the 2009 season.

“I’m comfortable with other teams underestimating the might of the Missouri Show Me Asses,— Carnahan said. “After all, the team is as stubborn and determined as a Missouri mule. I’m very confident they will build upon the foundation of fun they laid last season.—

Why would Carnahan, who comes from one of the state’s most successful political dynasties, root for such an underdog squad?

“I was asked that same question when I endorsed then-Sen. Obama and his presidential run in May of 2007 when many insiders counted him out,— the Congressman said.

Rauch said that whatever happens this season, his primary goal is to ensure those who come for a game on a Thursday afternoon enjoy the experience.

“That’s one of the advantages of the House Softball League,— he said. “Those of us in the 110th [ranking] area can schedule games against teams who see things like we do — [that] go out there and have a good time.—

Like the Roll Call EditOrioles, who finished 115th last year and hope to open their season with a win May 7 … over the Show Me Asses.