We need more face-to-face team play and less partisan sniping – or else

WASHINGTON -- When it comes to mass killings and terror attacks, Wednesday's shooting at the Congressional Baseball Game practice wasn't that big of a deal.

Only the shooter died. But that's because of the hustle, skill and bravery of the Capitol Police officers there.

Imagine what would happen if a bunch of representatives and senators got assassinated.

It could change the balance of our government and launch a series of special elections and more of the same kind of partisan bickering and beating each other over the head that has left us battered and bitterly divided in recent years.

And look what's going on in social media: We have lost our minds.

Consider the language that we and our legislators have been using. Almost every day there's some new high-and-inside fastball that has the other side ducking.

We don't just disagree, we call the other side traitors and haters. They're committing treason; they're trying to kill people; they're trying to ruin the country. And they must be stopped!

It's just the kind of language that might make some nutcase go off the deep end and start committing murder.

Many on both sides think and say the exact same things: We are so smart and the other side is so stupid and evil - their brand of dysfunctional control is horrifyingly new.

But in reality, this philosophical divide has been going on way before this country began. I suspect the differences are rooted in our DNA.

It's one of the reasons it's important to get together and play baseball, to look each other in face instead of sniping from behind microphones or computer screens.

The Congressional Baseball Game has been going on - save for the Depression, war and other interruptions - since 1909.

Similarly, every year the Virginia House and Senate get together to play basketball to raise money for the Massey Cancer Center.

That's really who we are.

And guess what: this philosophical divide that's been with us all these years is a good thing.

It's why the congressional baseball game record is essentially tied. This country needs some semblance of balance between the ideologies.

And it starts in Washington DC. If this shooting causes those guys to say, "Hmmm, maybe we should work together," then that's a good thing.

And it should trickle down to each and every one of us, especially on social media.

We can't keep beating each other up like we've been doing without something really bad happening - worse than what we saw Wednesday.

Aren't we - ultimately - on the same team?