- Very Close Race for Senate Nomination in Georgia
- Welcoming 100 Sandy Hook Moms
- Bonus Quote of the Day
- Gingrich Warns Republicans About Overreach
- Father Hopes to Follow Son as Mayor
May 29, 2012
May 28, 2012
While the female players will be the focus of the fourth annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game on June 20, we shouldn’t forget the contribution their male colleagues make as coaches.
Both the Member team and the press team have male coaches. The press team uses the services of New York Times Deputy Washington Bureau Chief Carl Hulse and Associated Press Special Correspondent David Espo.
Reps. Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and Kevin Brady (R-Texas) pitch in on game day for the Congressional women. But one source close to the team tells Roll Call that Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) has been particularly active in helping to prepare the team for this year’s game.
Perlmutter has met with the ladies several times this year, hopping on his bike for the early morning practices at a park on the Southeast side of town.
May 25, 2012
As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we wanted to give readers a quick roundup of what we learned this week in our ventures out on the diamond.
* Courting Disaster may be the only the team that plays with a dry sideline. Indeed, not a single red cup containing that special liquid could be found. Instead, the team relied upon that good old-fashioned beverage known as H2O.
* The Colorado Cutthroats like to take to Twitter, but only when it comes to thrashing the opposition. Wonder if the team will be as bold after a loss?
* Congressional Softball Commissioner Gary Caruso has had number of jobs in Washington, D.C. But the one thing that has remained constant during his stay in the nation’s Capitol: tending to his softball duties.
* For some teams, the rain is no obstacle when it comes to getting their softball on. When Courting Disaster squared off against the Destroyers earlier this week, the game was interrupted by some heavy rain during the 4th and 5th innings. But rather than throwing in the towel, both teams decided to muddy their cleats and pull through, and the rain eventually subsided.
May 24, 2012
Do you believe in miracles? The Press Hits! sure do.
Sen. Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) office softball team put up an unbelievable nine-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to knock off the Great Scotts of Sen. Scott Brown’s (R-Mass.) office, 14-13, on Thursday night.
There was no shortage of storylines in the Senate Softball League Division 3 game — liberal vs. conservative, New York vs. Massachusetts, veteran vs. newcomer — but the most entertaining one had little to do with traditional rivalries. Full story
The Colorado Cutthroats lived up to their pre-game smack talk Thursday night, taking it to the EditOrioles, CQ Roll Call’s softball team, 23-7.
We had noted earlier this week that the Cuttthroats had been in absentia from the land of Twitter, only to return with some hard-hitting dialogue about what they had in store for their opponents. Full story
On June 20, the women of the Congress and the women of the press will square off for the fourth annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game. The game’s primary purpose is to raise money for the Young Survival Coalition, an organization that aids young women with breast cancer.
A key element of the game is the back-and-forth between Members and their press counterparts. To give you a preview of what you can expect from this year’s game, we searched through the video archives to track down the Members’ “victory floor statement” from last July.
The video makes it clear that the Members reveled in using the formal setting of the House to celebrate last year’s 5-4 victory. Full story
Gary Caruso has spent the past 30-plus years moving in and out of Congressional offices and committees, agency appointments, private-sector positions and stints in the White House. He’s a Washington insider in every sense of the word — but he’d probably prefer the term “infielder.”
Caruso has served as commissioner of the Congressional Softball League for almost 30 years. In a career spanning four decades, 15 Congresses and five presidents, Caruso has been a constant presence from May to September in downtown Washington, D.C.
The CSL was founded in 1971 as Capitol Hill’s casual league, or “B” division. “B” in this case stood for beer-drinking, which is tolerated during games more than anywhere this side of the Red Sox clubhouse. Originally a friendly alternative to the more structured, competitive balls-and-strikes league, it ultimately absorbed those teams upon the latter league’s folding during the 1980s.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s from the University of Pittsburgh, Caruso began his Hill career in the late 1970s, working for former Rep. Austin Murphy (D-Pa.) — and, of course, playing softball. He took over operation of the CSL in the early ’80s after a few years of successfully running its popular end-of-season tournament.
Caruso left the Hill after Republicans won control of Congress in 1994, but the rise of the Internet has allowed him to continue running the league effectively.
“Originally, organizing a league meant you had to send a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter, and people had to fill out all the stuff and send it back,” Caruso said. “It was really a labor of love. … When technology broke in, it became a lot easier and a lot more routine.”
For the most part, the biggest headaches of Caruso’s job today come from administrative hiccups — accidental double- registrations, payment problems and the like. However, Caruso entered the spotlight in 2006 when a group of mostly Republican teams broke off from the CSL to form their own league.
The heart of the schism lay in Caruso’s controversial playoff system. The CSL seeds teams based on record but breaks them into groups such that the No. 1 seed plays the No. 16 seed, the No. 17 the No. 35 and so on, rather than simply pitting the top teams against the lowest. Caruso believes the system promotes competitive playoff games, while critics saw it as “softball welfare,” according to emails obtained by the Wall Street Journal at the time. (Read more about the league split in Roll Call’s archives.)
“We made the competition a little more even in the first two rounds. … What that meant was that some of the more competitive teams got knocked out that, in a true ‘best-plays-the-worst’ system, would’ve survived,” Caruso said. “Some of the more competitive teams decided they didn’t like that.”
The seceding teams established their new home, the House Softball League, with stricter rules, power rankings and a traditional playoff system. The Congressional League endures, and Caruso stands by the system.
“We have always been casual. We’ve always been a big, open, umbrella-type organization,” Caruso said.
Caruso, 61, now works in communications at the Homeland Security Department and still plays softball with his team, the Yellow Journalists. The CSL has recovered from the schism, and Caruso has served more than his due time as commissioner. So why not hang up the cleats?
“You see these Capitol Hill staffers who, at 6:20, make every effort to get the hell off the Hill and go down to play ball one night a week — it’s because it’s in our blood, that’s what we like to do,” Caruso said. “You have to be a softball player to understand that.”
May 23, 2012
Last week, we tweeted at the Colorado Cutthroats, noting that the House Softball League team had not shown its Twitter feed some love in quite some time.
Through the help of 21st-century technology (cough, BlackBerry), we received notice last evening that the team had decided to follow us. Much obliged.
The team’s Twitter feed had been populated by nothing but crickets since July 21 of last year.
But 18 hours ago, the Colorado Cutthroats made a triumphant return with some good old-fashioned trash talk. And the recipient of the team’s online fire? None other than CQ Roll Call’s in-house softball team, the EditOrioles.
“Hoping the weather holds this week for our annual showdown with the EditOrioles so we can show them what’s what,” the tweet read.
We’re not taking sides in this fight, but they always say not to pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel. Or, in this case, by the pixel.
May 22, 2012
Derek Kettner can fly around the base pads and the clouds.
On Tuesday night, he manned the mound for Courting Disaster as the team of Supreme Court employees faced off against fellow House Softball League team the Destroyers. The final score resembled a failed, late ’90s duel between Todd Van Poppel and Salomon Torres, 21-14, with the Destroyers prevailing.
Kettner, who fared better at the plate than he did at the mound, will likely shake off the loss with an easygoing flight at the Montgomery County Airport.
Away from his job as a Marshal’s aide to the Supreme Court justices, the Buffalo native flies a Piper Dakota plane. A licensed pilot since 2010, Kettner tries to fly once a week, an aerial escape from the pressures of life in the Beltway.
On game day, it’s not uncommon to hear some players express the need for new team shirts.
Usually, the rank and file go straight to the top, talking to their captains about how the current team shirt isn’t cutting it. Indeed, the lack of clothing unanimity among some teams leaves them looking like a band of ragtags rather than a cohesive unit.
With the season still young, there’s time to make your team look good, whether it’s winning or losing.
May 21, 2012
On an overcast Monday night, the Whiskey Caucus, a House Softball League team, fell 15-13 to the Three Amigos, a team primarily made up of staffers from the Texas delegation.
But for the Whiskey Caucus, softball isn’t just a game of wins and losses. It’s a way to preserve the memory of a departed teammate.
As Ben Brockschmidt, a staffer in the office of Rep. Timothy Johnson (R-Ill.), told Roll Call that Eric Fatla was a driving force in forming the Whiskey Caucus softball team more than two years ago.
In the early part of 2010, Fatla, a Hill staffer turned George Washington University law student, along with Brockschmidt and others made the collective decision to splinter away from Licensed to IL, another House Softball League team. The decision took the Whisky Caucus from pure social club to scrappy softball team.
When it comes to summing up the prospect of softball surviving this week’s onslaught of expected rain, we turn to the wise philosopher Astro: “Ruh-roh!”
The Weather Channel’s website shows a Monday-Thursday forecast that is pessimistic for those looking to grab their gloves and bats and head out to the Mall for an evening of fun.
According to the site, tonight will see a scattering of thunderstorms.
Tuesday’s forecast features 79-degree heat but will likely have PM thunderstorms.
It gets no better Wednesday, when the heat rises up to 82 degrees but so, too, does the chance of rain, at 60 percent.
And if teams are hoping Thursday will become their refuge, they may want to think again. It will be a toasty 78 degrees with the looming possibility of scattered thunderstorms.
See the weekly forecast here.
The Whiskey Caucus is solving Washington’s partisan woes one drink and softball game at a time.
A member of the House Softball League, the Whiskey Caucus was started in 2008 by Capitol Hill staffers as a means of social gathering, and the team began playing softball in 2010. At the time of its creation, the club had six members. Today it has more than 100.
For some off-the-field mingling, the club meets every Friday (sans holidays) for a drink, though the location is not disclosed on its website. Full story
May 18, 2012
If you’re like us, you might have been left tossing and turning last night over the unsolved mystery surrounding the origins of RAND Slam!, the Senate Softball League team.
Yesterday, we scratched the office of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) off the list of possibilities after his communications director tweeted out her surprise at the existence of a team incorporating her boss’s first name into their own.
After some deep digging, the mystery has been solved.
This afternoon, a representative from the RAND Corp.’s Washington, D.C., office confirmed via email that the wonkish nonprofit organization is indeed the team’s sponsor.
According to the email, the team is “excited” to be back on the field after a three-year hiatus.
The House Softball League, unlike the Congressional and Senate leagues, doesn’t rely only on wins and losses to determine its standings. Instead, it uses a “ratings power index” that takes into account a team’s winning percentage, its opponents’ winning percentage and its opponents’ opponents’ winning percentage.
After the Congressional Budget Office scored the numbers this week, Texas Republic (2-0, .775 RPI) rose to the top of the standings, edging slightly ahead of WAM! (1-0, .767). There are a few teams with three wins and no losses, including the Republic’s next opponent: the sixth-ranked Mastadons, based out of the office of Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio).
Meanwhile, the Bada Bings’ victory last week over Pew’s Your Daddy made it the only 4-0 team in the Congressional league. The gang from Microsoft will seek to pad its record when it takes the field against the Energy Department’s Big League Chu (0-2).
There aren’t any meaningful standings to report from the Senate League, where the results of only three games have been posted across the eight divisions.