The sports world is buzzing about tomorrow’s anticipated announcement of a fifth racing president.
Major League Baseball, not generally a fan of gambling in baseball, published its own odds on its Cut 4 blog, listing John F. Kennedy as a 5-to-2 favorite. Apparently Barack Obama’s not far behind, but Grover Cleveland is listed as a 1000-to-1 long shot.
Yahoo’s Big League Stew put forth their own presidential odds, giving Grover Cleveland only a slightly better chance at 500-to-1. Their top pick: Ronald Reagan (“That winning smile, that Brylcreem hair”), at 5-to-1. Arizona Senator John McCain added his vote for Reagan (with a nod to Teddy) via Twitter.
The always great Dan Steinberg of the Post’s DC Sports Bog invited his readers to chime in at a special Washington Post forum devoted to the topic, where fans have put forth a range of off-the-wall ideas ranging from FDR in a wheelchair, to Confederate president Jefferson Davis (to “bring out more fans from VA”). Ouch.
Several outlets are asking their readers to chime in, with mixed results. At The Huffington Post, the leading candidate so far is “None of the above.”
CNN is running a Political Gut Check poll on Facebook. Andrew Jackson is hanging on to an early lead in a WTOP listener poll. This after Teddy’s 5th cousin Franklin Roosevelt (who married Teddy’s niece Eleanor), emerged as the fan favorite in a DCist reader poll from the end of last season. Note that poll ruled out voting for any presidents that came after Eisenhower.
Perhaps it seems a bit like piling on, but in keeping with the spirit of things, here are my own odds:
John F. Kennedy (3-to-1): If you’re looking for a president with a unique personality and charisma, somebody who’s iconic yet distinct from the Rushmore 4 and easy to caricature, then JFK could be your man.
Richard Nixon (5-to-1): If you want a president who doesn’t show up for every race, but appears every once in a while to interfere with things, then “Tricky Dick” fits the bill perfectly. You can also count on a strong contingent of Nixon fans to get riled up over it.
William Henry Harrison (20-to-1): Dark comedy would be pretty groundbreaking territory for the Nationals, but the potential is too great to ignore. The president known mainly for dying just after his inauguration could be the Nats’ new designated loser, finding creative ways to repeat his fate nightly along the warning track.
Zachary Taylor/Millard Fillmore/Chester Arthur/Warren Harding (25-to-1): It’s a tie between these four presidents who would also make worthy candidates for “loser” status when compared to the Rushmores. They share in common a relative obscurity, an indistinguished record of service, and importantly, a funny name.
Gerald R. Ford (30-to-1): If you’re looking to replace Teddy Roosevelt as the mischaracterized loser, then look no further. Ford was an All American football star, yet after tripping in public a couple of times, Saturday Night Live successfully turned his national image into that of a bumbling fool. You can bet if the Nats continued that tradition, they’d rile up some Ford fans.
William Howard Taft (35-to-1): Lots of fans on Twitter think our only 300 pound president would make a great racing caricature. I’m just not sure the fat jokes would pass the PC test or be terribly sustainable.
Ronald Reagan (40-to-1): It’s hard to argue with Yahoo’s top pick, as Reagan is among the most easily caricatured presidents, but his recency and still-controversial standing in this highly-political town tells me the Nats will shy away.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (50-to-1): He’s iconic, with his own coin and his own memorial on the mall. The prospect of a FDR in a motorized wheelchair carries a ton of possibilities; but the Nats already have one larger-than-life Roosevelt.
Bill Clinton (100-to-1): See Reagan, above. Plus he’s still alive.