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Common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.

There comes a time, generally every four years or so, when the average American comes to reflect on his or her government and conclude that he isn’t particularly well represented. He sees the institutional impediments to accountability: the electoral college, the political action committee, the gerrymandered district, the uncommitted delegate. He flips on the television and observes the wreckage of modern party factionalism, which at best results in gridlock and at worst a pendulum of overreaches and reversals that ruin the lives of invisible people. Then, to escape this, he switches over to the sports channel and learns that his baseball team has signed Jose Reyes.

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Our intrepid reporter covers the annual Congressional baseball game

At the annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park yesterday evening, one name kept popping up among the participants: Cedric Richmond. Richmond is the Democratic Representative from Louisiana's 2nd District, covering New Orleans. Republican manager Joe Barton and his Democratic counterpart Mike Doyle both agreed in pregame interviews that Richmond was the best player they'd seen participate in their combined 49 years of involvement with the game. Doyle said, "He's playing on a different level than the rest of us." Richmond led his Democrats to a 7–2 victory, leading the way in all aspects of the game.

Richmond has been the ace pitcher for the Democrats since he was elected in 2010. He's started every game since then and has entertained his colleagues and staffers with the leftover skill he still carries from his college days at Morehouse. His fastball still gets into the low 80s, and he has a curveball and changeup to go with the heat. I didn't get a good look at the change, but I did see the curve plenty. It had an 11-to-5 shape that tended to roll a little bit, but he had impressive command of it. He mixed his pitches well and garnered lots of off-balance swings on the way to a complete-game victory, the seventh in a row for the Democrats.

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The BP team gives the players, current or former, that they'd like to see run for office

1) Branch Rickey
Branch Rickey was not a secular saint. He was a baseball man, and there was an element of self-interest in everything he did. “The farm system, which I have been given credit for developing,” Rickey said, “originated from a perfectly selfish motive: saving money.” Even breaking the color line wasn’t totally selfless. “The greatest untapped reservoir of raw material in the history of the game is the black race,” he said. “The Negroes will make us winners for years to come. And for that, I will happily bear being called a bleeding heart and a do-gooder and all that humanitarian rot.” Yet, you can also accuse Abraham Lincoln of being half-assed about emancipation. Even though their motives were not spotlessly clean, even if the results were imperfect, at least they moved in the direction of justice, which, as the Constitution says, is the whole point—to arrive at “a more perfect union.”

Ideology is not very useful; real world problems require nuanced solutions rather than predetermined responses. At the nadir of the Great Depression, presidential candidate Franklin Roosevelt said, “The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it; if it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” We don’t have much of that attitude these days, just gridlock based on putting faction above statesmanship and the thin slogans that pass for political philosophy. Give me the cigar-chomping, bowtie-wearing pragmatist who, seeing an opportunity to simultaneously right a wrong and exploit an opportunity, would swear “Judas Priest!” and go about the necessary business of thinking outside of the boundaries set by his supposed peers. And if he wanted to make Leo Durocher his running mate, well, even Ike had Nixon. —Steven Goldman

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January 20, 2009 1:40 pm

Prospectus Q&A: Brendan Harris


David Laurila

A political-minded conversation with the well-traveled utility infielder.

Having shuttled between multiple infield positions while playing for five organizations over five seasons, Brendan Harris understands the politics of baseball. With a political science degree from the College of William and Mary, the 28-year-old Harris also understands the American political system. Now with the Minnesota Twins, Harris shared his thoughts on both political spectrums as the country prepared to inaugurate a new president.

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The Tribe moundsman discusses politics and pitching as one pastime's season wound down and another ramped up.

From Curt Schilling to Nate Silver, a growing number of baseball notables have offered their opinions and analysis, and not only on the pennant races, but also on the political races. Cleveland Indians left-hander Jeremy Sowers has a degree in political science from Vanderbilt University, and you can now add his name to the list. Sowers talked about his two favorite subjects, pitching and politics, when the Indians visited Fenway Park in the last week of the regular season.

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If the Bartolo Colon trade was some big Selig conspiracy, how come Minaya offered Colon a $50-million, four-year extension? Bud had to approve that contract. Only after Colon rejected it, did Minaya trade him. Why wasn't that mentioned? Oh, I get it - if it's A FACT but it doesn't fit the conspiracy template/make Bud look bad in EVERY situation template - just ignore it. The end always justifies the means when it is Bud we are attacking. I don't mind opinionated journalists, but when you ignore important facts to make your argument look better, it destroys your credibility. Is BP's urge to bash Bud that strong that you must always embellish your pro-MLBPA side and ignore facts that might weaken your argument? --KS


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After any article in which I include a toss-off reference to politics, like calling our president "President-by-court-order," I get a lot of email that says, essentially, that I shouldn't talk about politics. For those of you in this group, I'm going to get to baseball here in about four paragraphs. Baseball is steeped in politics. The issues of tax burden and allocation: is it right to build a stadium for a team, and what good (if any) does it for the city? Labor relations and the roles of unions in the modern economy.

After any article in which I include a toss-off reference to politics, like calling our president "President-by-court-order," I get a lot of email that says, essentially, that I shouldn't talk about politics. For those of you in this group, I'm going to get to baseball here in about four paragraphs.

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