Video: Today’s Chicken Sacrifice at Nationals Park

Washington Nationals Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman sacrificing a chickenEarlier today, we shared the full story of the chicken sacrifice at Nationals Park, performed by “Rubber Chicken Man” Hugh Kaufman in response to the team’s recent string of injuries.

Here now is the video chronicle, including notes on how to make a rubber chicken kosher, bonus theories about Ozzie Guillen’s voodoo dolls, and The Washington Post’s Dan Steinberg cracking up as the ritual is finally completed:

Davey Johnson calls for the sacrifice. Chicken Man delivers.

After Monday night’s game vs. the San Diego Padres, Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson was asked whether the already injury-riddled team was snakebitten after losing two catchers in just three days.

“There’s been superstitions, to change our luck and do different kinds of things,” he said. “Sacrifice a chicken or something. I mean, you know, I’ve heard it all.”

What Johnson didn’t know was that Hugh Kaufman was listening.

If you’ve watched the Nationals on TV, chances are you’ve seen Kaufman. The self-styled “Rubber Chicken Man” sits directly behind the Nationals dugout for almost every game, waving a red Curly W flag in one hand and a bright yellow rubber chicken in the other.

And at some point during the season, the chicken loses its head.

Washington Nationals Rubber Chicken Man Hugh KaufmanWashington Nationals Rubber Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman at Nationals Park“The beginnings of the ritual Rubber Chicken Sacrifice started 7 years ago,” says Kaufman. After a hot start to their inaugural season in 2005, the Nationals found themselves losers of 11 of 15 games in July.

Kaufman felt that the good energy had been sapped from the ball park — that the fans and the team had become “flat,” “lame,” “out of sync.” So he got a rubber chicken and ritually sacrificed it at RFK Stadium.

With the bad Juju expunged, the mood seemed to improve, so Kaufman has repeated the ritual at least once a year ever since, starting each season with a new chicken, and decapitating it when it seems the Juju gods have turned on the team.

So when Davey Johnson called for the sacrifice, Hugh knew what he had to do. “I’ve probably sacrificed a dozen chickens in the last seven years,” Kaufman says.

At high noon on Wednesday, Kaufman and some of his Facebook followers met at the gates to Nationals Park, and the deed was done.

Washington Nationals Rubber Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman displays his Chicken Mode T-ShirtRubber Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman and Let Teddy Win Sacrifice a chicken at Nationals ParkIn response to Davey Johnson, Rubber Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman Sacrifices a chicken at Washington Nationals Park“I think Davey has recognized the whole history of baseball Voodoo into the whole history of the sport, and so again has shown tremendous leadership for this squad.”

Kaufman did his homework, following the orthodox Jewish tradition of Kaporos, in which chickens were ritually sacrificed before the Yom Kippur holiday. “This is an offshoot of that,” Kaufman explained before pulling out his butcher knife. “That’s where you transfer the sins to the animal, and so if there are any hidden sins in that Nats locker room, Cool Heat or something like that, that gets transferred to the chicken so when you take the head off, that gets rid of the bad Juju.”

After spinning the chicken counterclockwise above his head, Kaufman asked me to hold the bird, and brandishing a Davey Johnson autographed baseball, finished the job.

Kaufman, an engineer and longtime administrator for the EPA, has built a following since those early days at RFK Stadium. Last season, he started passing out rubber chicken pins from his perch above the Nats dugout as a means of welcoming members to the “Secret Society of the Rubber Chicken,” a group that now claims several Nationals players among its ranks (full disclosure: I am a long-time member as well).

Chicken Mode T-Shirts at Nationals ParkAt spring training this year, some members sported new Chicken Mode t-shirts as a fan counter-point to the “Beast Mode” shirt that’s most closely associated with outfielder Michael Morse.

“Michael Morse loves his “Chicken Mode” shirt,” says Kaufman, “even though he can’t stop laughing every time he looks at it.” Pitcher Gio Gonzalez is also a fan.

As for the chicken? It’s not going anywhere. “The Juju gods have been appeased,” says Kaufman. “No more injuries.” And for the rest of the season you’ll still find Hugh Kaufman right above the Nationals dugout, waving a red flag and a now-headless rubber chicken.

Update: DC Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg was there and filed this report for the Washington Post

Video to follow. Update: Here it is.

George Washington takes two in the rain. Pierogies next.

It’s still early, but George Washington is separating himself from the pack.

The Nationals racing presidents kicked off the latest homestand with two rain-soaked races Monday and Tuesday at Nationals Park, and apparently George Washington likes his track sloppy.

Washington Nationals Presidents Race by Cheryl NicholsOn Monday night, the presidents raced to the third base side and Washington separated himself early, then danced backwards over the tape in a showboat move. The next day, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt all slipped and fell on the warning track, leaving George with a clear path to the finish line, and a 3 game lead over second place Thomas Jefferson.

The forecast is outstanding for the rest of the homestand, but George’s opponents may have some different obstacles to deal with, as the Pirates and Orioles are both expected to bring their mascots along.

Photo:Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page

The Classical: “Now is the perfect time to let Teddy win”

Independent sports website The Classical today published an interview and profile of baseball’s greatest injustice — the conspiracy that prevents Teddy Roosevelt from winning the Washington Nationals’ presidents race.

Writer Aaron Gordon explores why the Nationals promote the race as “the main event,” and suggests that now is the perfect time to let Teddy win.

Nationals racing presidents at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park

The racing presidents accompanied the Washington Nationals to Pittsburgh’s PNC Park this week, marking the fifth straight year the presidents have faced off with Pittsburgh’s racing pierogies.

Racing Presidents vs Racing Pierogies at PNC Park, photo by Joseph GuevaraPNC Park has never been kind to the presidents — particularly Teddy Roosevelt, who famously got leveled there by Potato Pete in 2009.

Perhaps that’s why he and sat out the first race of the series Tuesday night. As George Washington and Abe Lincoln squared off against Jalapeño Hannah and Sauerkraut Sal, Teddy and Thomas Jefferson manned the finish line.

As they always seem to do at home, the pierogies trounced the presidents.

Photo courtesy Joseph Guevara

More video: ESPN visits Let Teddy Win & surveys NL players about the racing presidents, plus Teddy’s takedown

If there was any doubt that the Nationals are a hot national sports story, consider the hour-long Baseball Tonight pregame show preceding ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball coverage of Nats vs. Phillies.

ESPN - Nationals Presidents RaceJust a few minutes were devoted to the Phillies, while segment after segment focused on DC-centric topics, from Bryce Harper to the Nationals starting rotation to the team’s “Natitude” and “Take Back the Park” campaigns.

And yes, they even took the time to poll players around the league on the appeal of the Nationals’ racing
presidents:

After calling the fourth-inning presidents race, ESPN play by play man Dan Shulman references his visit earlier in the day to the Let Teddy Win website:

And our usual finish line video from regular contributor lfahome:

Video: Teddy assaults George Washington, breaks his glasses, then shills for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball

The Washington Nationals entered Sunday night’s game vs. the Phillies on a roll. With the league’s best record and a chance to sweep the Phillies on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, it was a prime opportunity to finally let Teddy win before a national audience.

Teddy Roosevelt pushes George Washington on ESPN Sunday Night BaseballNationals Presidents Race Teddy Roosevelt pushes George Washington on ESPN Sunday Night BaseballPresidents Race Teddy Roosevelt Broken Glasses by Cheryl NicholsPresidents Race ESPN Sunday Night Baseball by Cheryl NicholsPresidents Race ESPN Sportscenter by Cheryl NicholsThe ESPN crew, which hadn’t been back to Nationals Park since the stadium opened, certainly was ready for the moment, featuring the racing presidents in the Baseball Tonight pregame show, and at length again during the fifth and ninth innings.

ESPN play-by-play man Dan Shulman took note of the Let Teddy Win movement as well. “There are all kinds of blogs and websites devoted specifically to the fact that Teddy has never won a race here,” Shulman said on Sunday’s broadcast, getting it almost right.

“I don’t fully understand this because I wasn’t here,” Shulman added, “but Jayson Werth won a race last year, and Teddy Roosevelt has never won a race.  I looked up the standings.  I had some free time today.”

The presidents were dressed in their Sunday best for the nationally televised game, and Roosevelt, for his part, appeared ready to take on the challenge, going right after standings leader George Washington in retaliation for last night’s showboating.

But Teddy’s glasses came loose, and before he could get his bearings, Washington was on his feet again and sped past the field to take another victory.

Not realizing how much coverage they were getting, the presidents then pulled out signs at the finish line in an egregious attempt to get even more. The signs said “ESPN Sunday Night Baseball” one one side, and “ESPN This Is Sportscenter” on the other.

Clip from the ninth inning below.
More video to follow.

Post-race photos courtesy Cheryl Nichols/DistrictSportsPage

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,060 other followers

%d bloggers like this: