FINALLY, AT long last and almost unbelievably, a sizable bipartisan group of lawmakers is playing ball.
Not on school funding, of course. Not on tax reform or pensions or state stores or transportation/mass-transit money.
No. They're actually playing ball.
This evening at Metro Bank Park, the minor-league home of the Washington Nationals' Double A Harrisburg Senators, the first ever "Capitol All-Stars Softball Game" is scheduled, weather permitting.
I do not mean to suggest that there are "All-Stars" of any kind in our Legislature.
But in this rare instance, many lawmakers are doing something good.
I can't believe I just wrote that.
I should write something such as, "Instead of stealing all hope for a better Pennsylvania, as they routinely do in Harrisburg, our usually inert elected officials tonight are looking to steal some bases."
But I digress.
The game is a charity event to benefit antihunger efforts. It was named by its sponsors: the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) and Pennsylvania Legislative Services (PLS), a Harrisburg-based online legislative research-and-analysis group.
Both PCN and PLS deserve major props for putting it together.
It's being played on the last evening of Hunger Action Month.
Proceeds go to Hunger-Free Pennsylvania and Feeding Pennsylvania, organizations that coordinate and manage food banks, pantries, soup kitchens, etc., serving nearly 2 million people throughout the state.
PCN is broadcasting the game live statewide at 5:30 p.m.
Think of lawmakers playing ball. Lots of laughs and, because it's them, lots of errors and falling down.
Thankfully, one scheduled player, Rep. Keith Gillespie, R-York County, is a certified EMT/paramedic.
Still, this is a unique opportunity to see people who can't agree on anything playing together for a commendable cause.
"Hunger isn't a partisan issue," says Caryn Long of Feeding Pennsylvania, "and I've been impressed with the number of members who have been willing to help."
About 50 legislators from both parties and both chambers are signed up on east-west teams split not by party but by geography.
Captains are House and Senate leaders: GOP Speaker Sam Smith; Senate Democratic leader Jay Costa; Senate Republican leader Dominic Pileggi; and House Democratic leader Frank Dermody.
Philly lawmakers set to play: Sens. Vincent Hughes and Larry Farnese; freshmen Reps. Ed Neilson and Brian Sims; and Rep. Pam DeLissio, who represents parts of the city and parts of Montco.
A couple of still-in-their-prime athletes are in the lineups:
Sims played football at Bloomsburg University. He was co-captain when the Huskies played for the 2000 NCAA Division II national title (losing to Mississippi's Delta State).
And Rep. Brandon Neuman, D-Washington County, played NCAA Division I-AA football for the Richmond University Spiders - he was a fullback.
Game tickets are just $5, or five nonperishable food items.
The stadium, on City Island along the Susquehanna River within view of the Capitol, is routinely listed among the best minor-league parks in America. It was used in the 1994 film "Major League II," starring Charlie Sheen.
Donated food and beer will be sold at the game. The beer's from Pennsylvania's "Billionaire Brewer," Dick Yuengling.
(The fifth-generation Pottsville brewmeister denied that he's a billionaire at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon in August. Earlier this month, Forbes put his net worth at $1.4 billion.)
Philly and Pittsburgh pro teams gave raffle items.
The Phillies, for example, donated a team cap signed by outfielder John Mayberry Jr. and two baseballs signed by pitcher Cole Hamels; the Eagles donated a football signed by receiver Jason Avant.
Organizers already raised more than $55,000.
I don't always say nice things about our lawmakers (or anyone else, for that matter), but today's an exception.
Congrats to all involved for getting something positive done in the Capital City - where positive usually strikes out, and where getting things done is no walk in the park.