- The Washington Times - Monday, May 4, 2009

Outside of the dugout, Washington Nationals players apparently feel free to dish about America’s other favorite past time: politics.

G2 found this to be the case when we chatted up some of the Nats, who were nattily attired in tuxedos for Dream Gala 2009 — the annual fundraiser for the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, the charitable arm of the ball club — Saturday night at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Prince George’s County.

First up to the plate was pitcher Joe Beimel, who says he learned about the game of politics on the knee of his father, a county commissioner in his hometown of St. Marys, Pa.

Mr. Beimel says that he is one of the few Democrats on the team. Although he says that talking politics in the locker room is considered somewhat “taboo,” he has gathered that most baseball players are Republicans in general.

Why? “Taxes. Players tend to make a lot of money.”

Mr. Beimel also says he was “a little disappointed” that baseball fan President Obama did not throw out the first pitch at the opening game as did President Bush last year.

“It would have been nice,” concurred Garrett Mock, also a pitcher. “But we understand. If the president came to a game, people would say he should be doing other things. If he doesn’t come, people criticize him too. We know he’s a sports fan.”

As for Mr. Beimel’s assessment of the team’s political majority, Mr. Mock compared baseball to capitalism. “In baseball, you have to look out for yourself. It’s an individual sport.”

Team manager Manny Acta, who at age 40 is one of the youngest of his peers in the league, would not reveal his own political persuasion, but volunteered “I don’t watch a lot of news. I’m more of a sports guy.”

As for that other sports guy in the Oval Office? Mr. Acta says he’s working on recruiting him. “We can’t change the fact that he’s a White Sox fan,” he said of Mr. Obama. “But we’d love to see him at a game eventually. We aren’t insulted that he has not been able to make it.”

Talk turns to pork

Swine flu appeared to be the last thing on everyone’s minds during Thursday night’s annual spring reception at the State Department.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was on hand in the department’s elegant reception room, which boasts one of the nation’s finest collections of 18th- and 19th-century art collections, thanks to gifts that have been received during the past half-century.

Mrs. Clinton scurried out after her remarks. However, we did spot a few other luminaries in attendance.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack had no problems sampling the succulent pork being served on the decadent buffet — although some have associated the meat with the outbreak of swine flu.

He told us “with absolute certainty, this is not food-borne, but you should use Purell,” Mr. Vilsack said, referring to the popular hand sanitizer that is now in high demand.

Ditto for philanthropist Nina Pillsbury, who said she won’t bat an eye about serving pork at the many soirees she hosts as a Washington grande dame.

Speaking of grandes dames, we caught up with the grandest of them all: Roberta McCain, mother of Sen. John S. McCain — who, at 97 years young, was treated like a rock star by adoring admirers of her famous son for most of the evening.

Her inspiration, apparently, is her grandchildren. With a twinkle in her eye, she couldn’t resist bragging about her grandson’s upcoming graduation from the United States Naval Academy.

John McCain IV will be the fourth McCain to graduate — since 1906 — from the esteemed Annapolis institution, she told us.

We also chatted about the feisty Meghan McCain. Mrs. McCain explained that she does not follow her granddaughter’s blog or tweets “because I can’t use anything with more than an on or off button.”

To contact Stephanie Green and Elizabeth Glover with a tip or to request event coverage, please e-mail undercover@washingtontimes.com.

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