A crazy night of milestones for the Nats and the presidents

Was it the moon?

The beautiful bright moon that hovered over the Nationals Park scoreboard wasn’t officially full, but what other explanation could there be for the 4 1/2-hour spectacle that unfolded Thursday night.

The night that had it all started with an awesome display by one young superstar-to-be and ended with a burst bubble about another.

In between, the game that saw 43 players pound out 30 hits over 13 innings was overflowing with personal drama.

Take your pick: Jordan Zimmerman’s return from Tommy John surgery, the roughing up of St. Louis Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, Albert Pujols hitting his 400th career home run, then twisting his ankle in extra innings, Drew Storen blowing his first save, Roger Bernadina hitting his first home run at Nationals Park to tie the game in the 9th, Ian Desmond’s walk-off RBI in the 13th inning…

As if on queue, the Nationals racing presidents were prepared to match the drama step by step with a few oddities and milestones of their own.

In his 4th appearance this season, Teddy Roosevelt’s longtime nemesis “That Cat” appeared along the first baseline, dancing about in front of the stands during the 4th-inning presidents race.

Teddy jumped out to a big lead in the race, but when he spotted the panther, he veered off course to pummel him into the stands.

Thomas Jefferson took the tape.

As the game advanced into the night and the crowd thinned, the Bull Moose took to the stands to entertain the crowd.

In the 12th inning, Teddy parked in centerfield section 101, posing for photos with fans. When he was still there at the top of the 13th, we knew trouble was in store.

For the seventh time in presidents race history, the Nationals took a home game into the 13th inning, leading to that rare treat for presidents race fans:
a second official race of the night.

Apparently Teddy didn’t get the memo.

When Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln burst out of the centerfield starting gate, Teddy was still hanging out with fans in the stands. He jumped up from his seat and raced around the concourse, but didn’t make it to the field in time to compete.

In another milestone, George, Tom,
and Abe crossed the finish line in a dead heat. The race was too close to
call, and Screech awarded a first-ever
presidents race tie to Tom and Abe.

Here are two great videos courtesy of YouTube member lfahome, including a great capture of Teddy’s encounter with That Cat!

Racing presidents visit Canada to explore their Expos roots

After appearing for 3 nights at Vermont’s Centennial Park, home of the minor league Vermont Lake Monsters, the racing presidents turned north and crossed the border to pay a visit this morning to Olympic Stadium, the long-time home of the Montreal Expos.

This marks the first time the presidents have left the country.

Teddy provided the photo via Twitter, and Thomas Jefferson is reportedly helping the other presidents get by in french-speaking Quebec.

Nats presidents to race in Vermont and Pittsburgh

The Nationals Racing Presidents arrive at Centennial Park, home of the Vermont Lake MonstersThe Nationals’ own racing presidents are making their furthest trip north this weekend, as they pay a visit to the team’s Short Season Single-A Affiliate, the Vermont Lake Monsters.

The presidents will be racing during games held tonight through Saturday.

This marks the first time the Racing Presidents have performed at Burlington’s Centennial Park.

The Nationals have also confirmed that George, Tom, Abe, and Teddy will be accompanying the team to Pittsburgh on Labor Day weekend.

This marks the presidents’ first return to the scene of the crime — PNC Park — where one year ago Pittsburgh’s racing pierogie Potato Pete flattened Teddy Roosevelt like a pancake in what ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt called “The Greatest Highlight I’ve Ever Seen.”

The Presidents v. Pierogies Race-Off will take place at PNC Park on September 3rd, 4th, and 5th. Expect a good contingent of Nationals fans to make the 4-hour drive for the holiday weekend series. Good tickets are available.

Photos courtesy of the Washington Nationals and Flickr member afagen

Racing legends follow familiar pattern – Let Grace Win?

In June, the Arizona Diamondbacks announced plans to introduce a new attraction to home games at Phoenix’s Chase Field. At the end of the 5th inning, four 10-foot tall foam-headed “legends” would race around the ball park in uniform.

In July, just before the All Star break,
the characters were revealed.

Given the short history of the team, they all hail from the D-Backs’ lone World Series championship roster from 2001.

Arizona’s legends (Luis Gonzalez, Matt Williams, Mark Grace, and Randy Johnson) are now the MLB’s second race (after the Nationals’ own racing presidents) to be based on real people.

Having been away traveling recently, I was planning to write about the new Legends Race during the Nats next road trip, but the Nationals forced the issue with their two August series vs. Arizona.

Last week, the racing presidents — at least the Diamondbacks facsimiles of them — made an appearance against the Legends at Chase Field in Arizona, and Diamondbacks play-by-play announcer Daron Sutton held up a cardboard cut-out of Teddy’s face with a sign that said, “Even I could beat Mark Grace”.

The Arizona Diamondbacks Legends are issued a challenge by the Washington Nationals racing presidentsThis week the Diamondbacks arrived
at Nationals Park but the racing legends stayed at home;
so on Saturday night (after a botched attempt on Friday the 13th), the presidents held up signs asking “Where Are The Racing Legends?”

Perhaps the signs should have said “We are the Racing Legends.”

With the huge popularity of our own Rushmores, it was inevitable that another team would attempt to duplicate the formula, and it appears that the Diamondbacks have gone to school on George, Tom, Abe, and especially Teddy.

Sure enough, with just a month of races under their belt, poor Mark Grace, who is currently the D-Backs color analyst for the FOX Sports Arizona baseball broadcasts, seems to be following the path of Teddy Roosevelt.

And Gracie isn’t just 0-for-24. In the first month, he’s been distracted by Silly String, held up by Darth Vader, blocked by Kung Fu Panda, and generally bullied around by the competition.

Arizona Diamondbacks Legend Race Mark Grace has inspired a site Let Grace Win

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the icing on the cake was the near-instant appearance of a blog at LetGraceWin.com.

Remarkably, the website made its debut on the same day that the first race was run, when Mark Grace was still one of three winless legends.

How did the site’s creator, Jeff Summers, know that Grace was destined to play the role of lovable loser?

Summers, a technology executive, web designer, and longtime Diamondbacks blogger, says he didn’t know. He says he became a fan of the Let Teddy Win blog when his daughter discovered it, and has become a student of Teddy’s travails. “I religiously look to it to see if today is finally the day Teddy wins,” he said.

“During the first race, Los Angeles Dodger outfielder Manny Ramirez disrupted the race throwing a towel at Grace causing a distraction costing him a win,” said Summers. “The LetGraceWin site started out just describing ‘Towel-gate.’ Each night something seemed to happen causing yet another loss.”

“I seldom if ever miss a home game so the fans knew I would know who won the race,” Summers added. “It wasn’t just who won, they also wanted to know how they won.”

A longtime student of the game, Summers attributes Grace’s misfortune to the “Cubs curse,” since Grace spent most of his career with the famously cursed Chicago franchise.

“I keep thinking he can’t go winless forever, can he?” Summers asked. “But after seeing the challenges of Teddy Roosevelt I’m more than a little frightened at what I have ahead of me.”

Racing presidents honor Jason on Friday the 13th

Nationals racing presidents as Jason for friday the 13th by Cheryl NicholsA five game losing streak is a pretty scary thing for Nationals fans, but on Friday night at Nationals Park, the Nats racing presidents upped the ante, emerging from the centerfield starting gate wearing “Jason” masks to honor Friday the 13th.

Whatever they did, it worked, as Nats pitcher John Lannan helped break the streak and send all the bad luck the way of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

After the race, the presidents attempted to display a message for the Diamondbacks, but didn’t manage to coordinate the signs. More to follow…

Video courtesy of YouTube member shmaggie23.
Photo courtesy of Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network

Nats release half-price coupon code for Stephen Strasburg’s return

The Washington Nationals have released a coupon code “for Teddy’s fans” for this week’s series vs. the Florida Marlins, including Tuesday night’s much-anticipated return of Stephen Strasburg to the Nationals Park mound.

The code gets you half-price tickets in the outfield corners ($17), outfield mezzanine ($14), and upper infield gallery ($8). You must order at Nationals.com using Coupon Code “TEDDY”.

As always, 400 Grandstand-level seats (Section 401/402) will be available for $5.00 each at the gate before the game. No coupon required.

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