Ron DeSantis dug into the batter's box, his shadow stretching to the backstop in the morning light.
The first pitch was a fastball, although that's a generous description. Even through his sun-squinted eyes, it must have resembled a beach ball as it floated to the plate. With an almost casual flick of the wrist and a twist of the hips, DeSantis sent it soaring. It traced a spectacular arc before landing over the fence -- a good 320 feet from home plate -- and coming to rest beside a sign that boasted "Home of the Titans."
The sign referred to the high school baseball team that plays at the Alexandria, Va., field -- but to the Republican onlookers, scrimmaging a month before their annual congressional game against the Democrats, it felt like a portent. To this clutch of lawmakers in ill-fitting baseball pants and gut-hugging T-shirts, DeSantis wasn't just a 5-foot-11 first-term House member from Florida, a man who in suit and tie looks like any of a thousand lawyer-lobbyists who clog the capital. He became a Titan of their very own.
And he has much to bear. His teammates view DeSantis as a solution to the problem that is Rep. Cedric Richmond, the young Democratic pitcher from Louisiana who is universally considered the best congressional baseball player in memory, and the reason the Republicans have been completely embarrassed in the past two contests at Nationals Park.