HBO’s VEEP Selina Meyer to join Nationals presidents race Tuesday night

Teddy Roosevelt Selina Meyer VEEP Washington Nationals Presidents RaceA giant Selina Meyer mascot will join the Washington Nationals racing presidents Tuesday night at Nationals Park, as part of a promotion for Sunday’s season premier of the HBO series VEEP.

As first reported by the intrepid Dan Steinberg at The Washington Post, the Julia Louis-Dreyfus character will join Teddy Roosevelt in a relay race vs. a team of Abe Lincoln and William Howard Taft. No news on what the founding fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson will be up to.

The giant likeness of Dreyfus will also be in the center-field plaza before the game, and will be featured in several in-game promotions.

Steinberg’s report did state that this “will mark the first time a television character will appear in the race,” but in fact, a giant Brian Griffin from Family Guy participated in a similar promotion back in May, 2010.

Photo/Washington Nationals

Taft skips first presidents race of 2013, Gecko flattens Washington

New racing president William Howard Taft sat out the first presidents race of 2013 at Nationals Park.

Taft sits out first presidents raceThe unofficial race was part of Friday’s exhibition opener vs. the New York Yankees. Taft wasn’t part of the introductory video, and spent the entire race in the stands at section 133, taking notes on his new opponents in preparation for Monday’s official opener.

The race was otherwise reminiscent of previous seasons, with Teddy Roosevelt trailing far behind Abe Lincoln at the tape. George Washington tried to take out his frustrations on the sponsor GEICO Gecko, who was ready for George and flattened him.

Video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome

No Teddy, no Taft for racing president auditions

George Washington President Race Auditions Nationals ParkThe Nationals held their annual racing president auditions Saturday at Nationals Park, but hopefuls looking to taste a first victory dressed as William Howard Taft left disappointed.

In continuing with a long-standing tradition, only the costumes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abe Lincoln were available for the auditions. Teddy Roosevelt, as usual, was reportedly on vacation, and contestants were told newcomer William Howard Taft is resting for the season.

With the Nats expected to draw record crowds this season, the part-time job is as coveted as ever. 58 candidates were invited to the tryouts from about 300 applicants. Previous jobholders must reapply annually.

Racing president auditions have become a Presidents Day weekend tradition in DC in recent years, but the 2013 tryouts were postponed to March as the presidents paid a special visit to Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills of South Dakota to celebrate Presidents Day this year.

Video: WTOP

Teddy gets his own Topps baseball card

Teddy Roosevelt Topps Baseball Card - Commemorative - Winning presidents race
In yet another milestone for the Rough Rider, Teddy Roosevelt’s historic first presidents race victory has been commemorated on a new Topps Heritage baseball card.

The card is part of a “Memorable Moments 2012″ series and is titled “Teddy Wins First Presidential Mascot Race.”

“Teddy finally won a race. So we gave him a #HeritageBB card,” the company tweeted this morning.

As the ever-observant Dan Steinberg pointed out at the Washington Post, the photo that was used was not, in fact, from the event supposedly being commemorated. It was taken the following week at game 4 of the 2012 National League division playoffs, just before Teddy turned around and fell backward over the finish line for his third career victory.

Nationals mascot Screech has appeared on baseball cards before as part of the Topps official mascot series, and the actual former president was featured on a card, but this is a first for any of the racing presidents.

Teddy’s playing poker, Bill’s on a snowmobile as Roosevelt & Taft reach South Dakota

Teddy Roosevelt in Deadwood South DakotaNats Teddy Roosevelt playing pokerNats William Howard Taft on SnowmobileApparently, some things never change.

Nationals racing president Teddy Roosevelt comfortably beat rival William Howard Taft to the Black Hills of South Dakota on the eve of Presidents Day, but rather than head to Mt. Rushmore, Teddy opted to visit the Old Style Saloon #10 in Deadwood, South Dakota, where he tweeted “I just had to swing by. Hope this stop doesn’t lose me the race!”

Black Hills locals soon reported that Teddy had joined a poker game at the saloon, posting photos on Facebook Sunday afternoon.

Hours later, Taft tweeted from aboard a snowmobile, “Perfect, you stay in one place. I’ve got my eye on the prize and even found some help!”

Clearly both presidents will achieve their goal of reaching Mt. Rushmore by Presidents Day. Whether Teddy comes back to beat Taft remains to be seen, but one thing is certain. The Big Chief has a long way to go to catch up to the Rough Rider in the popularity department.

In the Nationals’ corresponding Twitter contest, Teddy’s vote count is more than double that of Bill.

Poker game photo courtesy of Black Hills Travel Blog

Teddy takes an early lead in fan voting as race vs. Taft begins

William Howard Taft Racing President departing on adventure to Mt. RushmoreNats Racing presidents Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft took off this morning on their Executive Adventure to Mt. Rushmore, with Taft tweeting a photo from the starting line.

Fans who follow the presidents on Twitter @Teddy26Nats or @NatsBigChief27 are being asked to use the hashtags #VoteTeddy or #VoteBill to voice their support.

Results appear real-time at Nationals.com, and no surprise: in the early hours, support for Teddy is nearly tripling that for Taft.

The race ends Monday at Mt. Rushmore.

Racing president auditions postponed as Teddy Roosevelt & William Howard Taft race to Mt. Rushmore

Racing president auditions will not be held on Presidents Day weekend this year.

The Washington Nationals announced this evening that they would break the tradition in order to promote their newly-conjured rivalry between racing president fan favorite Teddy Roosevelt and newcomer William Howard Taft.

The two presidents will take off Friday in a 4-day race to race to Mt. Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota, where they will meet up with their fellow racing presidents on Presidents Day.

The Nationals will promote the race as “Bill and Teddy’s Executive Adventure,” and ask fans on Twitter to use the hashtags #VoteBill or #VoteTeddy beginning Friday to pick their favorite. One supporter of each president will win a “private mascot appearance” with her choice.

The Nats had been mum about confirming the date for auditions, and now we know why. Ted and Bill’s road trip have pushed the auditions to Saturday, March 2.

Nationals Presidents Race AuditionsPresidents Race AuditionsApplicants have only until next Wednesday, February 20 to apply for the part-time summer position by sending a cover letter, resume and photo to entertainment@nationals.com.

As always, applicants must be adults between 5’7” and 6’ 6” in height, can handle wearing a 45-pound costume for hours, can commit to at least 35 home games, and can run 200 yards in 40 seconds or less (yes, that’s with the costume still on).

The Nationals typically select 50 to 60 applicants to be invited to auditions, in which they will race against each other, run a 40-yard dash, dance, and show their celebration skills.

For a sense of what’s in store, check out our video chronicle from last year’s auditions:

Nationals Promotion/Giveaway Schedule for 2013

The Washington Nationals 2013 game day promotion/giveaway schedule is out, including three bobblehead nights and four Saturday night post-game concerts, up from the three highly successful concert nights last season.

Based on past years’ choices, it’s a good bet we’ll see the team’s first bobbleheads for stars Bryce Harper and Gio Gonzalez and new centerfielder Denard Span (unless new racing president William Howard Taft gets the nod).  We’ll update the schedule below as soon as confirmed.  Additional giveaways will include a cap, t-shirt, pilsner cup, lunch tote, baseball tote, kids arm sleeve, team poster, and backpack.

UPDATE: Retiring manager Davey Johnson got the nod for Bobblehead #3 behind Harper and Gonzalez (see below), and the concert performers have been announced (Blues Traveler, Thompson Square, Gavin DeGraw, and Montgomery Gentry).

The popular Pups in the Park promotion, in which a section is reserved for canine guests, returns to Nationals Park for four dates in April, May, June, and September. The team has also added food promotions, including $1 Hot Dog, $1 Ice Cream, and $5 beer + peanuts nights.

It’s a robust promotion schedule, with only a few oddities (a cap that’s only for adults, a poster giveaway on post-game concert night).  Families should note that Kids cannot run the bases after the late Sunday start on August 11.

2013 Washington Nationals Promotional/Giveaway Schedule

Date/Time Opponent Promotion
Fri Mar 29 2:05 NYY Exhibition Game
Schedule Magnet (1st 20,000 fans)
Mon 4/1 1:05 FLA Opening Day Cap (1st 20,000 fans)
Wed 4/3 7:05 FLA $1 Hot Dog Night
Wed 4/10 7:05 CWS $5 Beer + Peanuts Night
Sat 4/13 1:05 ATL Gio Gonzalez Bobblehead (1st 15,000 fans)
Sun 4/14 1:35 ATL Pups in the Park
Screech’s Birthday
Kids Opening Day
Kids Run the Bases
Signature Sunday
Sat 4/27 1:05 CIN Patriotic Series – Military Appreciation Day
Sun 4/28 1:35 CIN Kids Run the Bases
Signature Sunday
Tue 5/7 7:05 DET MLB Network Backpack (1st 25,000 fans)
Wed 5/8 7:05 DET $1 Hot Dog Night
Fri 5/10 7:05 CHI Pilser Cup (1st 15,000 fans age 21+)
Sat 5/11 7:05 CHI Pups in the Park
Sun 5/12 1:35 CHI Signature Sundays
Kids Run the Bases
Sat 5/25 7:15 PHI Lunch Tote (1st 15,000 fans)
Sun 5/26 1:35 PHI Signature Sundays
Kids Run the Bases
Mon 5/27 1:05 PHI Patriotic Series – Memorial Day
Thu 6/6 7:05 NYM Ladies Night
Sat 6/8 4:05 MIN NatsLive Post-Game Concert: Blues Traveler
Sun 6/9 1:35 MIN Pups in the Park
Kids Run the Bases
Signature Sunday
Thu 6/20 7:05 COL $1 Ice Cream Night
Sat 6/22 12:05 COL Baseball Tote (1st 20,000 fans)
Sun 6/23 1:35 COL Bryce Harper Bobblehead (1st 15,000 fans)
Kids Run the Bases
Signature Sunday
Wed 6/26 7:05 ARI $1 Hot Dog Night
Black Heritage Night
Mon 7/1 7:05 MIL $1 Hot Dog Night
Tue 7/2 7:05 MIL $1 Ice Cream Night
Wed 7/3 6:05 MIL Post-Game Fireworks
Thu 7/4 11:05 MIL Patriotic Series – Independence Day
Sat 7/6 4:05 SDG NatsLive Post-Game Concert: Thompson Square
Sun 7/7 1:35 SDG Signature Sunday
Kids Run the Bases
Sat 7/20 7:05 LAD Davey Johnson Bobblehead (1st 15,000 fans)
Sun 7/21 1:35 LAD Kids Arm Sleeve (1st 10,000 fans 12 & under)
Signature Sunday
Kids Run the Bases
Fri 7/26 7:05 NYM T-Shirt (1st 20,000 fans)
Sun 7/28 1:35 NYM Signature Sundays
Kids Run the Bases
Mon 8/5 7:05 ATL $1 Hot Dog Night
Thu 8/15 4:05 SFG Adult Cap (1st 15,000 fans age 21+)
Patriotic Series
Wed 8/28 7:05 FLA Hispanic Heritage Night
Sat 8/31 7:05 NYM NatsLive Post-Game Concert: Gavin DeGraw
Sun 9/1 TBD NYM Kids Run the Bases
Signature Sunday
Fri 9/13 7:05 PHI Patriotic Series – Heroes Day
Sat 9/14 7:05 PHI Pups in the Park
Sun 9/15 1:35 PHI Kids Run the Show
Kids Run the Bases
Signature Sunday
Mon 9/16 7:05 ATL $1 Hot Dog Night
Wed 9/18 7:05 ATL $5 Beer + Peanuts Night
Sat 9/21 7:05 FLA Team Poster
NatsLive Post-Game Concert: Montgomery Gentry
Sun 9/22 1:35 FLA FANtastic FANale
Kids Run the Bases
Signature Sunday

UPDATE: Here is the Nationals Promotion Schedule 2014, in which the number of bobbleheads will triple

Who is the new racing president? Everybody weighs in.

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.

At The City Paper, Will Sommer that William Howard Taft would “represent all of the lesser known presidents.” Taft also shows up as the well-reasoned pick at the Nationals 101 blog.

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.

Nationals to introduce 5th racing president on Saturday

The Washington Nationals confirmed this morning that they will be introducing a fifth racing president to fans this Saturday at NatsFest at the DC Convention Center.

Nationals 5th racing president Twitter

Is JFK the 5th Racing President Washington Nationals
Twitter is abuzz with speculation as to who it will be, but the most common guess seems to be JFK.

A giant Kennedy likeness made a surprise appearance during a race two years ago, and was seen again posing with fans at The Fairgrounds outside the stadium after Game 5 of October’s playoff series at Nationals Park

Who do you think it will be?

UPDATE: Everybody weighs in (including me)

Twitter photo by Rebecca Evans

Nationals “presidential announcement” planned for Saturday

Since Teddy Roosevelt’s historic first victory at the end of last season, the Nationals have been promising some new twists for the season ahead.

A giant John Kennedy was spotted outside Nationals Park after the final playoff game of 2012, leading some to speculate about expansion of the Rushmore Four. Rumors also swirled about retirement for Teddy, but Roosevelt himself has vehemently denied the possibility.

It appears that the speculation will finally end on Saturday at NatsFest, the team’s mid-winter fan festival. This Tweet came from team officials on Wednesday:

Nationals NatsFest Announcement Racing Presidents

Details here as soon as they are available.

Natsfest returns January 2013 at DC Convention Center

Bryce Harper at NatsFest 2011Jayson Werth and Michael Morse at NatsFest 2011Racing Presidents at NatsFest 2011The Washington Nationals have announced the return of NatsFest, an off-season fan festival featuring meet-and-greet opportunities with players, staff, and future prospects, plus interactive sessions, family activities, memorabilia, and of course racing presidents.

The winter weekend event was a hit with fans in previous years, but was poorly attended after being moved to a weekday in late March 2011. There was no NatsFest in 2012, and the team had been mum about whether the event would return.

NatsFest 2013 will take place Saturday, January 26 at DC’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center from 12:00pm – 4:00pm. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children. Children 2 and under are admitted free.

Season ticketholders get a $5.00 discount per ticket, and get an exclusive admission from 11:00am – Noon.

In previous years, lines for player autographs have stretched to over an hour. The Nationals hope to quell this problem by limiting autographs to those who purchase $20.00 “autograph vouchers.” The number of vouchers will be limited, and proceeds go to the Nationals Dream Foundation.

There will be separate area for kids including face painting, balloon art, inflatables, and mascot appearances, including the racing presidents.

Full details at Nationals.com.

UPDATE: Fan activities will include player and mascot photo stations (this is separate from the pre-purchased autograph tickets), “Player Story Times” for kids, caricatures, games, a trophy display (Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards?), and booths with giveaways including MASN, 106.7 The Fan, and the Junior National Kids Club.

Major league players in attendance will include new off-season additions Dan Haren and Denard Span, plus Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond, Ross Detwiler, Danny Espinosa, Christian Garcia, Gio Gonzalez, Bryce Harper, Steve Lombardozzi, Ryan Mattheus, Tyler Moore, Drew Storen, Kurt Suzuki, Chad Tracy, Jayson Werth, and Jordan Zimmermann. No word yet on whether Rafael Soriano will be there, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Notably absent from the list are manager Davey Johnson (traveling in Africa), third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (on his honeymoon), pitcher Stephen Strasburg (hosting his annual charity 5K run in San Diego), and first baseman Adam LaRoche.

Minor Leaguers on board for NatsFest include Corey Brown, Brian Goodwin, Nathan Karns, Ryan Perry, Anthony Rendon, Will Rhymes, and Matt Skole.

GM Mike Rizzo, owner Mark Lerner, and broadcasters Bob Carpenter, F.P. Santangelo, Charlie Slowes, and Phil Wood are also scheduled to participate in special presentations and Q&A sessions.

Teddy Roosevelt Nominated for MLB Greatness in Baseball Award. Voting is Open.

Major League Baseball has nominated Teddy Roosevelt for a 2012 Greatness in Baseball (GIBBY) award.

MLB GIBBY AwardIt’s not MVP or even Comeback Player of the Year, but Teddy Roosevelt’s historic first victory has been nominated in the “Oddity of the Year” category.

The Nationals seem likely to take the category. Teddy’s big moment is competing against Michael Morse’s “phantom” home run just a few days earlier in St. Louis.

Voting is open now.

Video: Teddy triumphs in all star villains presidents race

Teddy Roosevelt Wins Kool Aid Man helpsTeddy Roosevelt Wins presidents race Kool Aid ManTeddy Roosevelt celebrates victory Nationals presidents raceTeddy Roosevelt celebrates victory Nationals presidents raceIt’s been a postseason of redemption for Nationals racing president Teddy Roosevelt, who is on a sudden winning streak after losing 525 straight races.

Facing possible elimination Thursday night at Nationals Park, infielder Mark DeRosa read the team a speech by Teddy Roosevelt before the game. Then, when the presidents race began, the Nats trotted out an all star cast of Teddy’s past nemeses to help exorcise his demons.

As George, Tom, and Abe raced around the warning track towards the first base line, they were met in succession by a who’s who of bad guys.

Long-time interloper That Cat tackled George Washington.  Then a shark who attacked Teddy in August took out Thomas Jefferson.

Luc the Lobster, who has made several appearances over the years, tackled Abe Lincoln.

By that time, George Washington was back on his feet and actually passed Teddy and looked ready to steal the victory, but Mr. Kool Aid, a fan favorite who last appeared in 2010, appeared from the stands and decked the founding father.

Teddy turned around and fell backwards over the finish line, then pranced and posed around the stadium, basking in the glow of victory as the sellout crowd chanted his name.

On the national broadcast, TBS analyst Bob Brenley took Teddy to task for his celebration. “You’re pimping it a little bit in front of the other presidents,” he said. “Act like you’ve done it before.”

After 7 seasons of losing, most fans seemed willing to cut the Rough Rider some slack.

After two blowout losses in playoffs, fans plan chicken sacrifice Thursday at Nationals Park

Nationals Playoffs Baby - Photo by Kim WrightWashington Nationals Rubber Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman at Nationals ParkWashington Nationals Rubber Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman displays his Chicken Mode T-ShirtLongtime readers and serious Nats fans are familiar with Hugh Kaufman, aka Rubber Chicken Man.  Kaufman is best known for the signs he displays from his seats behind the Nationals Park home dugout, but more significantly, he has been sacrificing rubber chickens to break various Washington Nationals’ strings of bad luck since 2005.

The ritual has inspired Kaufman’s followers to create Chicken Mode t-shirts, and even pitcher Gio Gonzalez jumped on the bandwagon, wearing one on FOX 5 News, and asking Hugh to make him and the other players some chicken soup (Kaufman obliged).

2012 has been largely devoid of panic, the lone exception being in May, when a string of injuries led manager Davey Johnson to actually call for a chicken sacrifice. Dutifully, Kaufman delivered.

Which brings us to the National League Division Series playoffs.

With the Nationals suffering consecutive crushing defeats at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals, and facing the first playoff elimination game in team history, Kaufman has announced a rubber chicken sacrifice to take place Thursday at 1:30pm outside the Nationals Park center field gate.

The unsanctioned event is open to the public.

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