Caluatti: Ticket requests

If you don’t have a ticket yet for the Washington National’s history-making baseball home opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks at RFK Stadium today, don’t bother calling Lucy Calautti. Calautti, the chief lobbyist for Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, has been swamped with requests from members of Congress, lobbyists, the press and just plain baseball fans who want to be there when the nation’s pastime returns to the nation’s capital for the first time in 34 years.

If you don’t have a ticket yet for the Washington National’s history-making baseball home opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks at RFK Stadium today, don’t bother calling Lucy Calautti.

Calautti, the chief lobbyist for Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, has been swamped with requests from members of Congress, lobbyists, the press and just plain baseball fans who want to be there when the nation’s pastime returns to the nation’s capital for the first time in 34 years.

However, there are requests and then there are requests. One fan who quickly scored a ticket, even though he roots for the Minnesota Twins and the Baltimore Orioles, is Calautti’s husband, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

Not only did Conrad get a ticket, but he will be sitting near Selig and President Bush, who will throw out the first ball.

“I told him he won’t have to worry about being disloyal to the Twins and Orioles since he doesn’t have any National League team to root for,” Calautti said yesterday as she fielded dozens of calls from people wanting tickets.

“Yes, I’m being inundated with requests, and we’re very happy about it,” said Calautti, who grew up within walking distance of Shea Stadium in Queens and is a big New York Mets fan.

But she isn’t fazed by the problem of divided loyalties. Asked if she will switch her allegiance to the Nationals, she said. “No way. I love my Mets. If there’s any quality I have, it’s loyalty.”

Among the lucky members who also have tickets to today’s opener are Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), whose chief of staff Calautti was before becoming baseball’s director of government relations in 2000, and the Arizona delegation, which will sit behind the Diamondbacks’ dugout.

Calautti, whose skill as a political organizer helped get her husband elected to the Senate, works out of the office of the Cleveland-based law firm Baker and Hostetler.

After 43 years, Tommy John reconnects with old teammate

It’s a tad immodest for a co-author of Under the Dome to do this, but, as they say, there are no shrinking violets in Washington.

The adjoining photo needs a little explanation. In a previous life and a galaxy far, far away, the aforementioned co-author was a pitcher in the Cleveland Indians farm system, where he played with future major-league star Tommy John in Charleston, W.Va.

Thus, when he showed up to say hello to his old teammate at a recent fundraiser for Rep. Sherry Boehlert (R-N.Y.), who represents baseball’s Hall of Fame, John greeted him with the nickname he earned as a late-inning reliever.

Last week, an appropriately autographed photo arrived in the mail from John’s home in Charlotte, N.C., addressed to “Roadblock Eisele, c/o The Hill.”

Hill reacts to proposed restaurant smoking ban

With the D.C. City Council yet again considering a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, how are smokers in Congress reacting? It depends.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), whose family emigrated from Havana, Cuba, and who enjoys a good cigar, said, “I’ve never supported it [the ban]. I’ve always thought those decisions should be left to property owners.”

While in the Florida Legislature, Diaz-Balart opposed an amendment to the state Constitution that banned smoking in places that serve food. “It’s not the government’s role to tell restaurant owners what they can and cannot do,” he said. “I’ve always opposed that whole concept.”

But Rep. Mike Simpson (Idaho), another conservative Republican, had a different take. “It’s their decision,” he said, referring to the council. “I’ll live with whatever it is. I believe people shouldn’t have to smell other people’s smoke.”

But one of Congress’s most conspicuous smokers won’t be pinned down either way. Asked on his way to the floor from the members’ smoking area in the Speaker’s Lobby if he had a comment, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) replied, “No.”

A similar range of opinion was heard at Hill hangouts popular with smokers. Bill Butler, manager of the Capital Grille, said, “We have many loyal guests that are smokers and many that are nonsmokers. Whatever the resolution is, hopefully it works out for both.”

But Bryan Voltaggio, executive chef of Charlie Palmer Steak, admitted that it would be a problem if the ban were enacted. The council, he added, “should consider that cigars could be part of the restaurant experience for some people.” He noted that Charlie Palmer’s has always been cigar friendly, and has an air filtration system. People should be able to “go out and enjoy the things they’re accustomed to.”

But one pol certainly cares less than he used to. Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) quit smoking several months ago because his new wife hated it.

Jack Valenti: The legend return

Jack Valenti, longtime head of the Motion Picture Association of America, returned to Capitol Hill yesterday to testify before the House International Relations Committee.

Invited by Chairman Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), Valenti appeared in his new capacity as president of Friends of the Global Fight, a Washington nonprofit organization designed to promote the Global Fund, a multinational effort to combat AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

Valenti agreed to join the organization last summer to help the Global Fund meet its fundraising goals. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan had hoped the Geneva-based fund could raise $10 billion, but it has so far fallen well short of that goal. Already, Valenti has enlisted some Hollywood help, getting actor Tom Hanks to narrate a documentary about the group’s efforts.

“He felt that this was a cause he was passionate about,” a spokeswoman said.

In the spotlight yesterday, the 83-year-old Valenti discussed how the Global Fund could fit into President Bush’s strategy to combat AIDS throughout the world.

Wonkette victim of party-invite hoax

Washington media inboxes were abuzz yesterday with a party invite too good to pass up: Ana Marie Cox, the irreverent bloggeress Wonkette, throwing a book party on Sunday for Jessica Cutler, the even more irreverent Washingtonienne, who earned infamy for blogging about her sex-for-money exploits while employed by Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio). In addition to a reading by Cutler, attendees were promised free champagne and beer at Smith Point in Georgetown, the favorite hangout of the Bush twins.

Only problem was, it was too good to be true. Cox said she’ll be with her husband in New York City this weekend and blamed the invite on someone with “time on their hands.” But that someone, she added, wasn’t clever enough not to misspell a certain vulgar colloquialism of which Cox is particularly fond.

Cox helped break the Washingtonienne story last year. And Cutler has indeed written a novel, appropriately titled Washingtonienne, due out in June. But Cox said, “I haven’t even read the book, and I haven’t talked to Jessica in months. I wish her all the best, but my enthusiasm is not such that I’d throw her a party.”

She added that “the fake party invite is a practical joke possibility that has yet to be explored. But a fake Jenna and Barb invite would probably be funnier.”

Enzi, Green teams take 10-Miler trophy

The results are finally in from the Capitol Hill team competition of the Cherry Blossom 10-mile run April 3.

We can now report that Team Frenzi from Sen. Mike Enzi’s (R-Wyo.) office wrested first place on the Senate side from last year’s champions, the Crapo’s Couch Potatoes from Sen. Mike Crapo’s (R-Idaho) office, who took second.

On the House side, however, Rep. Mark Green’s (R-Wis.) office successfully defended its title.

About 500 staffers pounded the pavement in the 33rd annual run, but their results were the last to be finalized.

“The [congressional] teams take this so seriously that I literally go through each result by hand,” said event director Phil Stewart, who tallied the results. “With this group, I don’t want to put out anything that I have to change later on.”

The teams were scored on the cumulative times of their top two male finishers and top female finisher, or two females and one male.

As usual, most teams came armed with at least a creative name, if nothing else. The top three on each side, according to Stewart, were Sax in the City from Sen. Saxby Chambliss’s (R-Ga.) office, Durbin Sprawl from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Team Frenzi in the Senate and Not Zoe Fast from Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Hall ’n Asphalt from Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas) and Pay the Pryce from Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio).

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