It’s the last week of practice for the 56th annual Congressional Baseball Game and Democratic manager Mike Doyle is looking for revenge after the Republicans ended the Democrats’ seven-game winning streak last year.
The Pennsylvania lawmaker has been managing the team for 11 years now and was a player for 12 years. He also has one of the game’s best players in his dugout: ace pitcher Cedric L. Richmond of Louisiana.
As long as Democrats don’t stage any overnight sit-ins before the game like last year, Doyle is confident they can reclaim the coveted Roll Call trophy.
Q: What do you expect for this year’s game?
A: Everybody’s working hard and we’re motivated to get back into the win column. The current [trophy’s] over in [Republican manager Joe L.] Barton’s office. I was over in his office the other day and they put the trophy very prominently so I’d see it as soon as I walked in. I could tell the trophy was begging me to bring it back.
I think this year we’re going to do a little better at the plate. We have a good fielding team and we have a good pitcher that should minimize the amount of runs they can score. If we hit like we’re capable of, I think we’ll be alright.
[Richmond] was coming off that shoulder injury last year and he had rehab but he was still a little weak. And then you add the 24-hour sit-in that most of us didn’t have much sleep because we were participating in it. He sort of ran out of gas in the last inning. We had gone ahead of them after the sixth inning and we were three outs away from really putting a stake in their hearts. Then he just couldn’t throw overhand anymore. When I saw him doing that, that’s when I pulled him out of the game because I didn’t want him to hurt himself. Our guys didn’t like losing and we want to get back on track. We’re trying to not plan any sit-ins before the game — that’s a new rule.
Q: Which new players will stand out?
A: The biggest surprise for us is Jimmy Panetta, and I just say ‘surprise’ because I didn’t know he was an athlete. He’s in tremendous shape physically. He can play baseball. He hits the ball with power. He’s a great fielder, he’s going to break into our starting lineup. Generally, freshmen don’t just waltz on the team and start. Hopefully, if he doesn’t have freshman nerves, he will be a good addition to the team. Nanette Barragán is a very good ballplayer. She is clearly someone who not only knows the game very well but has played it. Tom Suozzi, when he first came, he didn’t look fluid, he didn’t look comfortable playing, but today, he makes some great catches out in left field and he’s hitting the ball well.
Q: Which veteran players will stand out?
A: Pete Aguilar’s our backup pitcher and he’s been throwing. One of the things we’ve done better this year is we realized we just can’t expect Cedric to pitch seven innings every game. Every year, he gets a year older, too. We’re all getting up in age and last year really pointed out the importance of having a backup pitcher. [Aguilar] is good. He’s got good control, he’s not as fast as Cedric but he can throw strikes and he’s a good athlete. Pete Aguilar can play any position, infield or outfield or pitcher.
[Congressional Baseball Players Were Running on Empty]Q: How has the turnout at practice been?
A: [May 24] we had a huge attendance, some days you don’t, it’s people’s schedules. They’re like ‘Oh, Coach, I’ve got a fundraiser. I got a meeting.’ It’s like, I don’t want to hear any of it. Clear your schedules. I stress that we still have a lot of work to do in terms of some of things we want to be prepared for strategically.
Watch for HOH’s coverage of practice this week.