It's a particularly contentious time in our nation's capital, with Democrats and Republicans in Congress locked in debate while the country decides its next president. And yet, amid all of that, the two parties finally found some common ground.
Nationals Park, specifically.
Thursday night featured the 2016 edition of the Congressional Baseball Game, a tradition dating back more than a century. Republicans and Democrats from both the House of Representatives and the Senate faced off on the diamond, with all the proceeds going to charity.
Like all rivalries, this one took time to develop. The Democratic Party was founded in 1828 and elected its first president, Andrew Jackson, at the end of that year. The Republican Party, however, grew out of the dissolution of the Whig party in 1854, electing its first president in 1861 -- a man named Abraham Lincoln.
But unlike those other historic rivalries -- Giants vs. Dodgers, Yankees vs. Red Sox -- this one has been somewhat one-sided recently. Well, at least when it comes to baseball, we should say.
From 2008-15, the Democrats won seven consecutive games -- coincidentally, going undefeated while President Barack Obama has been in office. In 2016, the GOP would hope to turn the tables in Obama's final year in office.
But before the game action could get underway, there needed to be a first pitch. Thankfully, the one man able to forge cross-party unity was there just for such a purpose -- fresh off a visit with the Commander-in-Chief:
Fun surprise: Ken Griffey Jr throwing the first pitch at the Congressional Baseball Game pic.twitter.com/FWl0vnyIW0- Micah Backus (@micahbackus) June 23, 2016
Fans of both teams filled the stadium, complete with signage and appropriate levels of trash talk:
Even the teams' front office staff were on the edge of their seats in anticipation:
And, yes, the Racing Presidents obviously had to be there:
Congressional Baseball Game - D.C. is alright pic.twitter.com/yCyhGd8rxJ- Alex Beszhak (@beszh) June 24, 2016
If the Democrats were going to win, they'd have to do it on the back of their star player -- a man who the New York Times called "The Babe Ruth of Congress": Congressman Cedric Richmond of La.. Rep. Richmond entered the game with a 5-0 record, with 45 strikeouts scattered across just 27 innings. If you're curious, that's a 15 K/9. For reference, Jose Fernandez leads MLB in that category with 12.83.
Rep. Richmond, however, struggled. He gave up six runs in his 6+ innings of work, giving the Republicans a 6-1 advantage. But the Democrats rallied back, scoring six runs of their own in the top-half of the sixth frame, giving them a lead, 7-6.
Clearly, the support of their fans helped spur them on:
Democratic stands chanting "Fil-I-BUSTER" as Sen. Chris Murphy is at the plate #CBG2016- Bridget Bowman (@bridgetbhc) June 24, 2016
But the Republicans were good for some chants of their own, which may have ultimately decided the game.
Let's let The Hill set the scene:
Clearly, those brutal taunts got in Rep. Murphy's head. First, he gave up the tying run. And then ...
Yes, with their backs against the wall, the GOP pulled out a stunning walk-off win. And they couldn't have been happier:
Thus, the nightmare was over. After a title drought of seven long years, the Republicans finally defeated the Democrats in the Congressional Baseball Game.
Congrats to my fellow Republicans for winning tonight's Congressional Baseball Game for charity pic.twitter.com/v6XvhYeEwu- John Ratcliffe (@RepRatcliffe) June 24, 2016
Don't feel too bad for the Democrats though -- I'm sure they left happy as well. The event raised roughly $500,000 for three D.C. charities: The Washington Literary Council, The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington and the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation.