Racing Presidents help christen “Natitude Park,” but Nats still don’t Let Teddy Win

Natitude on display at Washington Nationals Natitude ParkNatitude hastagPresidents race with NatitudeGeorge Washington wins the presidents race at Nationals ParkWhen the Washington Nationals introduced their much-misunderstood “Take Back the Park” program in February, and followed it in March with their 2012 Natitude marketing campaign, they put a lot on the line.

In shining a spotlight on past indignities, team president Andy Feffer left little room for error.  A poor start by the team or an overwhelming invasion by Phillies fans, and the Nats marketing team would be under major heat.

On Friday night, the Nationals doubled down on their brash marketing approach, renaming the stadium “Natitude Park,” and passing out “Our Park” signs to fans at the bottom of the stands.

Like it or not, the Nationals relentless marketing had an impact, as the term “Natitude” passed even “DC” and “Mitt Romney” among trending topics in the DC Twitterverse.

With group ticket sales curtailed, Phillies fans were dispersed throughout the ball park, and various attempts to start Phillies cheers were quickly drowned out by a packed house of Nats fans who clearly got the message, repeatedly drowning out the Phillies cheers every time they started.

The racing presidents ignited their Natitude by running through a giant hashtag to start their fourth-inning race. Apparently George Washington brought more Natitude to the table than his opponents, running away with the victory.

Before the game, rumors were flying from inside the stadium that the Nationals might let Teddy win if the game was a sellout.  It wasn’t, but it’s still very possible for Saturday afternoon, when the busloads arrive from Philly.

Video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome

Lincoln wins one for Mark Grace.

Mark Grace with the racing presidents - Photo by Teddy26NatsAbe Lincoln wears a Mark Grace mask to win the presidents race at Nationals ParkAbe Lincoln wears a Mark Grace mask to win the presidents race at Nationals ParkRacing Mark Grace may have never won the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Legends Race, but at least he can now claim a victory in the Washington Nationals presidents race.

Despite being in the Nationals Park press box for Fox Sports Arizona, the Dbacks veteran and broadcaster failed to respond to a challenge from the racing presidents; so Honest Abe took things into his own hands.

After Wednesday night’s race, the presidents held up signs saying “Racing Gracie = No Show,” and “He Must Be Scared.”

On Thursday, Lincoln emerged for the fourth inning presidents race wearing a makeshift “Racing Gracie” mask.  The great emancipator then proceeded to smoke his competition, earning a first victory of sorts for the hard-luck Legend.

After winning the game and yet another series, the Nationals are riding high entering Take Back the Park Weekend, which kicks off Friday night vs. the Phillies.  The effort has drawn national attention, and most recently led D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray to issue a proclamation declaring an official “Natitude Weekend.”  With Stephen Strasburg set to kick off the festivities Friday night, Nationals Park should be rocking, and fans should leave extra time to get to the park.

Photo/Washington Nationals

Nationals trot out “classic” presidents for Harper’s debut

Washington Nationals racing presidents begin the presidents race at Nationals ParkPresidents Race runs left George Washington Wins photo by Cheryl NicholsPresidents Race Teddy Roosevelt Loses with bulging pantsNationals Park was buzzing Tuesday night as the hometown fans got their first glimpse of rookie sensation Bryce Harper.

Harper is already beloved for his throwback-style approach to the game, and perhaps in appreciation, the Nationals brought back the “classic” racing presidents to kick off the homestand.  It was their first appearance of the season, and with luck they’re back to stay.

For those who hoped Harper’s debut might be an excuse for the team to finally let Teddy win, the fourth-inning festivities were yet another cause for disappointment.

The presidents ran left for the third time this season, moving the finish line to the third base side.  Teddy had an early lead, but may have been slowed by his bulging belly, which seemed to drop lower and lower as the race progressed.

George Washington put on a burst of speed to take the victory and move past Abe Lincoln in the season standings.

Finish line photos courtesy Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page

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