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Congressional Baseball Game will go on, at Nationals Park

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USA Today Sports

Congressional Baseball Game will go on, at Nationals Park

WASHINGTON -- The game will go on.

The annual Congressional Baseball Game, which dates to 1909 and is a summertime tradition on Capitol Hill, will be played Thursday despite Wednesday's shooting at the GOP squad's practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

It's an annual tradition in which aging former Little Leaguers don their spikes and dust off their gloves in a game played for bragging rights and to benefit several charities. It's also a somewhat rare example of bipartisanship in an increasingly polarized Washington.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., assured lawmakers assembled at a members' briefing that the game will be played as scheduled, prompting a standing ovation.

"It will be `Play Ball!' tomorrow night at 7:05," said Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, the longtime manager of the GOP squad.

Once a relatively cozy affair, played at a minor league ballpark in Maryland, the game has gone big time in recent years and has been played at Nationals Park, just a few blocks from the Capitol.

"We do it for really three reasons. We do it for fellowship amongst ourselves. We do it for charity," Barton said. "We raise a lot of money for three charities. And we do it because we like to play baseball and try to recapture a little bit of our youth. It's a positive thing. Of all the things Congress does, this is one of the most benign, positive activities."

Members of Congress practice for months for the event, and typically don the jerseys of a team from back home. The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call sponsors the game and awards a trophy once a side wins three of five games.

"It's a good way raise money for charity and for members to get to know each other," said Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., whose election in 2010 upended the competitive balance of the annual event. Richmond played baseball in college and kicked off his congressional career with a one-hitter in 2011 and has been the game's dominant player pretty much since then.

Last year, however, Democrats lost the game 8-7, ending a seven-game winning streak that mostly coincided with Richmond joining the Democratic side.

"I was fresh off of surgery, but they made more plays than we made last year," Richmond told reporters. "This was a year we wanted to get even."

Congressional leaders typically attend the event and former President Barack Obama -- famous for shunning opportunities to rub shoulders with lawmakers -- even went two years ago, watching from the Democratic dugout. Obama's appearance came as he was struggling to win Democratic votes for an unpopular trade-related measure.

President Donald Trump will not be attending Thursday's game, however, due to security concerns.

"While the president would like to attend the game and show his support for all of these brave public servants, he has been advised that there is not enough time to follow Secret Service protocols," Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday.

To lawmakers, the annual game is one of the better opportunities for lawmakers to get to know each other outside of their partisan roles.

"The things that used to bring members together, whether it's travel - that's frowned upon. If you belong to the gym, they think `well, that's a perk you shouldn't have,'" said Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, the manager of the Democratic team. "All the chances to interact with each other outside our suits, and outside floor debate, are few and far between."

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Max Scherzer Giving Away Memorabilia For Good Cause

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Max Scherzer Giving Away Memorabilia For Good Cause

By Ryan Wormeli

Max Scherzer is the ace of the Nationals staff, a fan favorite, and the 2017 National League Cy Young award winner. He's also a soon-to-be father whose wife, Erica May-Scherzer, once accidentally threw out the jersey he wore when throwing his 2nd career no-hitter. This time around, I'm guessing they talked it over first before deciding to sell some of his memorabilia garage-style for a new fundraiser.

We don't have any more information about the fundraiser yet, but May-Scherzer posted some photos on Twitter this afternoon. 

And in case you're wondering, no, the Scherzer family cat featured in one of the pictures isn't for sale (we assume). Plus, even if they were willing to part with their cat, considering Scherzer is on a contract worth over $200 Million, their price would probably be pretty steep. How much would you pay to adopt the cat of a 3-time Cy Young winner?

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Why Bryce Harper would be a bargain at $500 million

Why Bryce Harper would be a bargain at $500 million

$500 million.

That number is so hard to wrap your brain around, but it's a number a lot of professional baseball players may soon start seeing on their contracts.

One player who could be the first to see that amount within the next year is Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper.

Harper will become a free agent in 2018 and people are already projecting his market value at close to $500 million, if not more.

Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton signed a contract back in 2014 for 13 years, $325 million, holding the league record.

For Fancy Stats writer Neil Greenberg, $500 million is a bargain for someone of Harper's caliber.

"Harper is every bit as good [as Stanton] but he's also young," Greenberg told the Sports Junkies Friday.

"I mean, we don't see a player that's as good as Harper, that's as young a Harper, hit the market almost ever I want to say. You look at how many years of his prime he has left and then even if you start to give him just the typical aging curb off of that prime, he's probably worth close to 570 million dollars starting from 2019 and going forward ten years. And that includes also the price of free agency going up and other factors."

Harper, who is only 25 years-old, brings more to a team than just talent. He's one of the most recognizable figures in baseball, bringing tremendous marketing opportunities to an organization. Greenberg dove deeper into how that will increase his market value.

"And that's just for the on-the-field product. You talk about all the marketing that's done around Bryce Harper [and] what he does for the game. In my opinion, and based on the numbers that I saw, he's a bargain at $500 million."

Don't we all wish someone would say $500 million is a bargain for us?

After crunching the numbers, the biggest takeaway for Greenberg is the return on investment the Nationals have gotten out of Harper.

"Like if you look at his wins above replacement throughout his career, he's given you 200 million dollars in value for 21 million dollars in cash and he's due what another 26 or 27 million this year. I mean he's already given you an amazing return on investment."

"So, if you're the Nationals having - benefited from that - you know you have a little bit of, I guess, wiggle room in terms of maybe you're paying a little bit for past performance 'cause, you know, when a player is on arbitration in their early years they don't really get paid that much."

The Nationals still have Harper for one more season and many feel they need to make him an offer sooner than later. Whenever and whoever he gets an offer from, it's going to be a nice pay day for him.