There are no baseball games today, and the season will end, at the very latest, next Wednesday. But we have another event coming up shortly that will have many people glued to their TV, complaining about the quality of the announcers and, as it appears likely, at least partially unhappy about the results.
There are midterm elections on November 6. What’s at stake is … well, if you haven’t been paying attention, don’t ask me for help.
There are 34 Senate seats up for a vote along with 435 House seats. That first number, 34, isn’t very large. But 435, that’s a lot of elections! Some of the candidates have made a national name for themselves. Some haven’t.
In baseball, the numbers are even larger. There were 990 players who got at least one plate appearance this season. There were 799 pitchers who faced at least one batter. Some of them were crossovers. There were pitchers who batted and position players who pitched.
But still, that’s a lot of baseball players. Some of them have made a national name for themselves. Some haven’t.
So, continuing a tradition that dates all the way back to last October, on this off day, I prepared a quiz for you. What follows is a list of 25 men. Some of them saw action in major-league games this year. Some of them are incumbent members of Congress seeking re-election. Can you tell who’s who?
To make it (marginally) easier, every baseball player listed appeared in games prior to September 1, although not necessarily this season. Nobody’s exclusively a September 2018 call-up.
Do your best! Answers below. No cheating. No looking at your neighbor’s answer sheet.
- Michael Reed
- Corban Joseph
- Ryan Burr
- Andy Barr
- Chris Stewart
- Juan Vargas
- David Young
- Tyler Danish
- Joe Wilson
- Taylor Davis
- Jake Newberry
- Mike Kelly
- Bob Latta
- Ryan Weber
- Scott Barlow
- Joaquin Castro
- Jose Trevino
- Bobby Scott
- Bill Foster
- Chris Bostick
- Tanner Anderson
- David Price
- Aaron Brooks
- Mike Bishop
- Roberto Gomez
- Michael Reed was a minor-league free agent whom the Braves signed over the winter. He got two singles in seven plate appearances, spread over seven games in July, August, and September.
- On May 13, 2013, Corban Joseph played for the Yankees in a doubleheader against Cleveland. He played the entire first game, a 1-0 loss, at first base. He played the entire second game, a 7-0 victory, at second base. He handled 14 chances in the field flawlessly and was 1-for-6 with a double and a run scored. That comprised his entire major-league resumé until the Orioles called him up for four games in June and 10 more in September. In the intervening years, he went from the Yankees to the Braves to the Orioles to the Nationals and back to the Orioles again. In 19 plate appearances this year, he had a .541 OPS. If you’ve heard of him, it’s probably because of big brother Caleb, whose OPS this year was barely higher, .575.
- Ryan Burr, a White Sox pitcher, had a 3.12 ERA through seven appearances in August and September. Then, on September 26, he allowed five runs and three walks, a single, a double, and a homer in one inning, more than doubling his ERA to 7.45.
- Andy Barr is a Republican representative of the 6th District in Kentucky. FiveThirtyEight rates his race against Democratic challenger Amy McGrath a toss-up. His full name, Garland Hale Barr IV, sounds a lot less like a baseball player name than Andy.
- Not the first trick question. Won’t be the last. This isn’t the journeyman catcher who got 16 plate appearances with Atlanta and one with Arizona this year, the seventh and eighth teams for which he’s played in a 12-year career. That’s Christopher David Stewart. This is Christopher Douglas Stewart, a three-term Republican representative of Utah’s 2nd. He has written 18 books after barely passing a creative writing course at Utah State University.
- Juan Vargas is a three-term representative of California’s 51st District, which covers the entire California/Mexico border. A Democrat, he’s the son of Mexican immigrants and one of 10 children. He was raised on a chicken ranch (that’s what they call places where chickens are raised, ranches?) and was a Jesuit for several years before getting a J.D. in the same Harvard class as Barack Obama.
- David Young is a Republican who has represented the 3rd District in Iowa for two terms and may not get a third. His website includes his schedule for “Coffee With My Congressman Iowa Town Meetings.” The last one was over eight months ago.
- Tyler Danish turned 24 only last month, but he’s already appeared on the mound for the White Sox in three seasons. However, in 13 major-league innings, he’s walked 12 unintentionally and allowed 17 hits.
- Good baseball name, right? But Joe Wilson is a Republican representing South Carolina’s 2nd. He was a Teen Age Republican at the High School of Charleston and has a perfect attendance record in the House since joining Congress in 2001.
- Taylor Davis batted .400 for the Cubs. But it was in only five at-bats.
- I wasn’t sure whether to include Jake Newberry in this quiz. On one hand, Jake is more an athlete name than a politician name, right? On the other hand, this Jake pitches for the Royals, and it’s hard to imagine a more anonymous player than a Royals pitcher. The 23-year-old righty was pretty good, with a 2.13 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings over his first 13 games (well, okay, he did walk eight guys), but he got lit up for four runs in two-thirds of an inning in his last game.
- There have been two guys named Mike Kelly and one named Mike Kelley in MLB history. None of them are in the game today. This one is a Republican who used to represent the 3rd District in Pennsylvania, but due to redistricting is now in the 16th, and FiveThirtyEight gives him a 14-in-15 chance of winning.
- Bob Latta, Republican representative of Ohio’s 5th District, is the son of Del Latta, who represented the district for 30 years. Sort of like Vlad and Vladito. Well, maybe not.
- Ryan Weber started seven games and relived 14 for Atlanta in 2015-2016. He got into one game with the Mariners last year and signed with the Rays over the winter. He pitched one game for Tampa Bay in April and took the loss in a June 4 game against the Marlins when the Rays were still figuring out the whole Opener thing; he relieved starter Matt Andriese after two frames and pitched five innings. After that, the Rays designated him for assignment twice and he’s now a free agent.
- Another Royals pitcher, Scott Barlow was a minor-league free agent whom the Royals signed last winter. He got into six games, throwing 15 innings spread among April, May, and June, compiling a spiffy 15/2 K/BB ratio.
- Joaquin Castro represents Texas’ 20th Congressional District, which includes San Antonio. He’s a Democrat. He recently got into hot water for insinuating that Jared Kushner may have played a role in the death of Jamal Khashoggi.
- Jose Trevino is a catcher whom the Rangers called up for a June series against the Rockies. He went 2-for-8, driving in three runs, and nobody stole a base on him. Sent back to the minors, he played only one more game the rest of the season due to a shoulder impingement in his non-throwing arm.
- Bobby Scott is a 13-term Democratic representative of Virginia’s 3rd District who will pretty much absolutely, positively serve a 14th term because he’s running unopposed.
- Bill Foster is a Democrat who represents the 11th District in Illinois. He and his brother started a company in their teens that manufactures most of the theater lighting equipment in the U.S. He’s a research physicist who was a member of the team that discovered the top quark, the heaviest subatomic particle, so it’s natural that he’s the co-chair of the Inventions Caucus.
- Chris Bostick was hitless in two at-bats for the Pirates, got sold to the Marlins, and batted .214/.313/.286 in 16 plate appearances for the Marlins. He’s primarily an OF/2B but he’s also played some third base and shortstop.
- Tanner Anderson is a Pirates pitcher who was second-team All-Ivy at second base for Harvard as a sophomore. He appeared in six games for the Pirates. In his last five, covering 9 1/3 innings, he had a 2.89 ERA but an uh-oh 5/6 K/BB ratio. In his first game, though, on July 2, he was charged with six runs, five earned, on six hits and two walks over two innings, which gave him a 6.35 ERA for the year.
- You totally knew this was a trick question, right? David E. Price has represented North Carolina’s 4th District from 1987 to 1993 and continuously since 1997. He got a Bachelor of Divinity and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale, neither of which probably serve any purpose for his role on the Veterinary Medicine Caucus.
- Aaron Brooks is a right-handed pitcher. He had a 6.67 ERA in 55 1/3 innings in 2015, going with Sean Manaea from Kansas City to Oakland at the trade deadline for Ben Zobrist. After the season, the A’s traded him to the Cubs for Chris Coghlan and he missed almost the entire year with a hip contusion. He went to the Brewers last year and Milwaukee traded him to the A’s for cash in September this year. He had three scoreless appearances in his second stint in Oakland, three years after his last MLB appearance.
- Mike Bishop is a two-term Republican representative of Michigan’s 8th District locked in a tough re-election campaign. He’s been an outspoken opponent of the USDA-funded research experiments that have killed hundreds of cats and kittens, even though he’s described in this article as “not a cat owner.”
- Right-handed reliever Roberto Gomez got into five games with the Giants in April and allowed runs in all but one of them. On the plus side, he had an 8/1 K/BB ratio. On the minus side, he was hurt much of the rest of the season, pitching only 23 innings.
0-10: You and me both.
11-15: Sorry, we forgot to mention that farm directors aren’t eligible.
16-20: OK, you’re starting to scare us.
21-25: So what exactly do you do with your weekends?
Thank you for reading
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