Fans blame Teddy Roosevelt for Nats playoff collapse

For six years from 2006 through 2012, Washington Nationals fans talked of The Curse of Teddy Roosevelt, and everybody knew what they meant: Teddy’s continued losses in the team’s presidents race were seen as a curse that kept the team from winning.

Washington Nationals Teddy Roosevelt Scratched Injured Day to DayAbe Lincoln pushes Teddy Roosevelt to the Ground - Washington Nationals presidents race

Jayson Werth interferes with the Nationals presidents race

Outfielder Jayson Werth attempted to interfere with the presidents race in September, 2011. “People can laugh,” Werth said. “To me, the Presidents Race and Teddy Roosevelt are very symbolic of where this organization goes.”

But since the Rough Rider won his first-ever presidents race title this year, and extended his victorious ways into the 2014 postseason, many fans have concluded that the Nats are doomed to playoff failure precisely because Teddy is now winning.

An informal review of this week’s playoff chatter on Twitter (excerpts below) reveals a strong anti-Teddy Roosevelt sentiment that grew with each Bull Moose victory and each Nationals postseason loss.

So how did this happen?

Talk of a curse among fans goes back to the days of RFK Stadium, and was the inspiration for this blog, but of course back then it was Teddy’s failure to win that was the problem.

After the team opened Nationals Park and Teddy’s losing streak passed the 250 mark, Washington Times columnist Thom Loverro first compared it to famous baseball curses that had prevented the Cubs and Red Sox from winning for generations.

When the Nationals signed free agent Jayson Werth in 2011, the team’s new outfielder spoke openly of the curse, going so far as to say that the Nats wouldn’t win if Teddy didn’t as well.

Before his first season had ended, Werth had personally tried to interfere and stop Teddy’s losing streak.

Even the next season when the team built the best record in baseball, Werth continued to insist that Teddy’s losing streak was a curse.

Teddy Roosevelt Racing President dot drawing from page A1 of the Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2012

Teddy Roosevelt dot drawing from the front page of The Wall Street Journal
September 29, 2012

As the Nats improved on the field and Teddy’s streak passed 500 losses, a Ken Burns mini-documentary plus cover stories in The Wall Street Journal and other media outlets turned the curse into a national story. Even The White House called for a victory by Teddy to break the curse.

Then remarkably, just before the team’s first playoff appearance in 2012, Huffington Post editor Brandon Wetherbee, a longtime Cubs fan, pleaded that the Nats not let Teddy Win until after the team won the World Series. He argued that a Teddy victory followed by anything short of a championship would forever link Roosevelt to a reversed curse, much like the Curse of the Billy Goat that has haunted Cubs fans since 1945.

How prophetic he was.

The Nats clinched the 2012 division title, then the team let Teddy win on the last day of the 2012 season and again in the playoffs, and Teddy has won each of the team’s postseason races since.

When the Nationals failed to beat the Cardinals in the 2012 NLDS, a few people blamed Teddy:

But when the Nationals got off to a poor start in 2013, this sort of record-keeping became common practice after every Nationals loss:

Even as the Nats record improved and they roared back into playoff contention in 2013, a new myth was establishing itself: the Nationals had taken a turn for the worse since they let Teddy Win. When the 2014 season began and for the first time Teddy started winning more frequently, the myth grew:

You get the point.

So what’s the actual record say?

That data is hardly conclusive. Teddy only started winning regularly this year, and during the recently-completed 2014 regular season, the Nationals won an impressive 69% of games in which Teddy won the presidents race:

2014 Results


President
Regular
Season
Record
Team
Record
Team
Winning
%
Roosevelt 26 18-8 69%
Lincoln 25 15-10 60%
Taft 12 9-3 73%
Jefferson 11 5-6 45%
Washington 10 5-5 50%

This record includes two occasions in which the Nats played a 13-inning home game. Both times, Teddy won the late “bonus” race, and the team lost.  Counting only the regular fourth-inning race, the team was 18-6 (75%) when Teddy won.

But the story changes during the postseason. Since Teddy’s first win in 2012, the Nats have played five home playoff games. Teddy has won all of the presidents races, including two during Saturday’s 18-inning contest, and the team has posted a dismal 1-4 record.

Thus the curse.

As you can see, the Twitter curse talk started slowly after the Nats’ Game 1 loss:

Then came game 2. Teddy won the 4th inning race, and then the team suffered a blown save in the 9th inning. In the 13th inning, Teddy won again. Finally, the Nationals lost by a score of 2-1 in epic, record-breaking, heart-wrenching 18-inning fashion, and the chatter really picked up:

When the Nats hit the road and won game three in San Francisco, things quieted down. The momentum had shifted, but people still were getting digs in at Teddy. Then came game 4, in which defensive gaffes and wild pitches led to all three of the Giants’ decisive runs. The Nats were eliminated in embarrassing fashion.

Somebody had to take the blame:

It seems likely that until the Nationals win the World Series, this myth will continue to propogate, but I’d like to offer an alternative interpretation of things. The Nationals introduced a fifth racing president, William Howard Taft, after the 2012 season. Perhaps it’s a #TaftCurse that kept the Nats out of the playoffs last year, and caused this year’s postseason meltdown. Taft knocked things out of balance. He’s not one of the Mount Rushmore four. Get rid of Taft, and perhaps harmony will be restored at Nationals Park.

Tunnel photo: Anthony Gualtieri

3 Videos: Teddy Roosevelt levels Pittsburgh Pierogie Potato Pete

By now it’s well known that Nationals racing president Teddy Roosevelt has a history with Pittsburgh Pirates Racing Pierogie Potato Pete, dating back to a 2009 incident that ESPN SportsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt called “the greatest highlight I’ve ever seen.”Teddy Roosevelt pummels Pittsburgh Potato Pete

On Friday night at Nationals Park, the Pirates returned with the Pierogies, and The Hero of San Juan Hill was waiting for him. The racing presidents ceded the field to the their Pittsburgh counterparts, then ambushed each of them, leaving the last one, Pete, for Teddy.

As Pete approached the finish line, Roosevelt took an impressive leap over a folding table to take down Potato Pete in GIF-worthy fashion:

President Teddy Roosevelt Pierogie Potato Pete

Here’s the race as called by Nationals Park PA announcer Jerome Hruska, followed, of course, by our finish line video:


Official video: MLB.com
Finish line video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome

Video: Twin Sharknados mow down racing presidents

2 Sharknados Nationals Presidents raceFor the second straight night, Sharknado returned to Nationals Park, and this time attacked the racing presidents from both directions.

Sharknado 1 met the presidents on the warning track, knocking Teddy back into the pack. Only Abe Lincoln remained on his feet, but then Sharknado 2 arrived from the rear and leveled the Great Emancipator.

Jefferson recovered to his feet and was unchallenged for the win.

Finish line video by YouTube member lfahome for LetTeddyWin.com

Video: Nationals Park grounds crew repeatedly pummels Chicago mascot during presidents race

Grounds crew tackles LarQ the BearTeddy Roosevelt tackles LarQ the bearThe bear cub that attacked Teddy Roosevelt returned to Nationals Park Sunday afternoon, but ran into a buzz saw known as the Nats’ grounds crew.

“LarQ the Bear” (a reference to the much maligned Cubs mascot Clark the Bear) was prepared to disrupt the fourth inning race once again when the Nationals grounds crew emerged from the sidelines and pummeled the mascot into the ground.

That left Teddy Roosevelt with a clear shot at the finish line, but rather than grab the victory for himself, the Bull Moose decided instead to get into the act, jumping on the bear cub himself and egging on the crowd as William Howard Taft raced by for the win.

Nationals Park Grounds crew tackles LarQ the Chicago Cub - Presidents Race

Alien invades Nationals Park on World UFO Day

Alien in Washington Nationals Presidents RaceWednesday marked the 67th anniversary of the Roswell UFO incident, and so of course, invading aliens marked the occasion by disrupting the presidents race at Nationals Park.

William Howard Taft was the first to spot the alien lurking near the bullpen, but the other presidents ignored his warnings.

The alien turned out to be no threat at all, and Teddy took the win.

Video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome

Video: Teddy Roosevelt’s ESPN Sportscenter Ad

Tedddy Roosevelt ESPN ad commercialThe previously reported ESPN Sportscenter commercial titled “Universal Remote” and featuring Nationals racing president Teddy Roosevelt is now on air.

As usual, the hero of San Juan Hill gets little respect, being featured in just a cameo role.

But Teddy sure loves free candy:

Nats racing president Teddy Roosevelt to appear in ESPN Sportscenter ad

Nationals racing president Teddy Roosevelt ESPN adNationals racing president Teddy Roosevelt ESPN adThe Nationals racing presidents made an appearance at the ESPN “up fronts” on Tuesday in New York City, joining executives on Broadway’s Minskoff Theater stage for the network’s annual gathering of media buyers.

The annual presentation has evolved over the years into a multimedia show filled with network personalities.

The Disney-owned network unveiled a redesigned set for its flagship SportsCenter show, and revealed that racing president Teddy Roosevelt would soon appear in the show’s iconic TV commercials.

The Nats’ famous mascots then scampered on stage as part of a scripted gag, and posed for photos with attendees.

Teddy’s Sportcenter ad was shot last week at ESPN headquarters, and should appear on the air this summer.

Twitter photos: Washington Nationals/@Teddy26Nats

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