McCollum’s Column: The ceremonial pitch, but maybe the right pitch

The ceremonial first pitch was in the dirt.

 

But maybe it’s the first small bounce that helps pull our country out of the mire.

David Bailey, a special agent for the Capitol Police in Washington, D.C., handed over his crutches Thursday night to make that first pitch at the annual Democrats vs. Republicans congressional baseball game at Nationals Park.

Bailey was heroic as anybody on that field. He was a member of the police who probably saved several lives and preserved part of the unraveling fabric of our country by engaging in a firefight with a gunmen who seriously wounded congressman and House Whip Steve Scalise at a practice in a Alexandria, Va., park the day before.

The inexcusable action by a deranged person was a despicable shot at our country and what it stands for, and what we have become — just as it was when Gabby Giffords, a Democratic congresswoman, was gunned down by another crazed individual in 2011.

Maybe, Thursday’s tragedy can serve as a humbling experience and a lesson that hate speech perpetuates more hate speech that energizes a cycle of violence that we are witnessing almost daily on a global scale.

Note that when news of the shootings reached the Democratic practice, the players knealt in prayer. The two teams joined in prayer, led by former Los Angeles Dodger star Steve Garvey, at the pitcher’s mound before the game.

Democrat Brad Sherman was asked about who won.

“America,” he said quickly.

Hopefully.

And maybe humanity — and possibly a balm to a democratic republic with flawed human beings trying to find their way against waves of social media, rapid-paced technology and the fog of hate that obscures loving our neighbor.

The Democrats wore LSU gear as a tribute to Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana. Democratic partisans reportedly held up signs such as “Scalise Strong” and “Geaux Scalise.”

The Nationals had to open up more seating for the record crowd of 24,959 for the game that has been played since 1909. This year’s event raised $1 million for local charities. Last year’s game netted about $500,000.

The Democrats’ star pitcher was Cedric Raymond, a close friend of Scalise’s beyond policy and philosophical debate.

The score? The Democrats won, 11-2.

Afterward, Mike Doyle, the manager for the Democrats, called to the microphone Joe Barton, the manager for the Republicans, and presented his team the traveling trophy and asked him to display that in Scalise’s office until he returns.

In context, this was a single day and a game that illustrates again how sports can unite us as well as divides us.

Sure. This display of goodwill across a p0litical divide may be just an application of lipstick that provide moments of beauty to the deep divisions and alienating issues that confront this country. But like that first pitch, it’s short hop upward.

At least for one night and one game, we caught a glimpse of the ideal, which should never disappear from our vision.

 

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