Nats get superstitious with presidents race direction

Baseball is known for its superstitions, and nothing brings out the eccentric behavior like a good losing streak.

Day Game presidents raceWhile Nats fans are preparing a chicken sacrifice Thursday at noon, the mascot team has been doing what it can to change the team’s recent fortunes.

On Wednesday afternoon, the powers that be who run the fourth inning presidents race moved the finish line to the third base side for the second day in a row. The racing presidents ran along the left field warning track, in the opposite direction of their usual path. The team tried a similar tactic last season, switching directions only when the Nats lost, but the system was soon abandoned.

Rather than move the finish line, Nats brass should be more concerned with the race results. George Washington won again on Wednesday, keeping Teddy Roosevelt winless for the season. Teddy’s historic October victory as the Nats tied up their first winning season was said to have broken a long-standing curse. Why would they now not let Teddy win?

Photo of Wednesday’s race courtesy of Joan Jankowski

Video: Grounds crew pummels presidents. Teddy wins again. Nats don’t.

For the third time since his historic first win last week, Teddy Roosevelt scored a victory in the Washington Nationals postseason presidents race.

Grounds Crew Attack racing presidentsUnfortunately, after the St. Louis Cardinals completed the biggest comeback in MLB playoff elimination game history, the race would prove to be Teddy’s last of the season.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln did their best to prevent Teddy’s win, ambushing him on the outfield warning track, with George Washington knocking him to the ground and Abe taunting him as they ran past him.

The race carried on with Teddy doubled over on the warning track, but as the other presidents entered the home stretch along the first base line, members of the Nationals grounds crew left their positions and attacked, mercilessly.

As the grounds crew pummeled his opponents, an inspired Teddy Roosevelt caught up and passed them to win what would be the final presidents race of the season.

UPDATE: Here’s the finish line video. Note the joy with which the grounds crew pounds the racing presidents. One gets the sense that they are unleashing seven years of pent up October Natitude:

With the Nationals out of contention for 2012, Teddy’s fans are wondering what the team has in store for him. Rumors have run rampant about Teddy’s retirement (which the mascot denies), and about the possibility of adding new presidents to the mix.

Wall Street Journal reports Teddy seeks meeting with Obama, McCain calls it a “vast left wing conspiracy”

Teddy Roosevelt Racing President sketch Wall Street Journal

Dot drawing of Teddy Roosevelt from the front page of Saturday’s Wall Street Journal

The Nationals are seeking a tête-à-tête between racing president Teddy Roosevelt and Barack Obama, as Arizona Senator John McCain calls Teddy’s losing streak a “vast left-wing conspiracy being organized by pinko commie liberals,” according to Saturday’s Wall Street Journal.

The front page story by diplomatic correspondent Neil King, Jr. caps a week in which the Let Teddy Win movement has become national news, following an ESPN profile by Ken Burns and a White House statement in support of the cause.

King’s profile revisits the outrage expressed by McCain and White House spokesman Jay Carney over Teddy’s losing streak, adding additional perspectives from Roosevelt biographer Edmund Morris, and from Teddy’s great great grandson Kermit Roosevelt.

“I find this whole thing extraordinarily unfunny,” Morris tells the Journal.

“Teddy would have physically dominated any of those guys,” adds Roosevelt, who turns out to be a Phillies fan, and believes in a curse. “The Nationals will not win the World Series until Teddy wins the presidents’ race,” he said.

The Let Teddy Win blog gets a few nods as well, and the online story features a compilation of our race videos taken by longtime blog contributor lfahome:

Huffington Post says: Don’t let Teddy be our goat

Brandon Wetherbee of the Huffington Post writes today about the Let Teddy Win movement from the perspective of a Cubs fan, arguing that the Nationals shouldn’t let Teddy win until the season after a World Series victory.

It’s not that Wetherbee isn’t a supporter. He simply argues that a Teddy victory followed by anything short of a championship will forever link Roosevelt to an alleged curse, much like the probably-coincidental Curse of the Billy Goat that has haunted Wrigley Field for 104 years.

On the other hand, perhaps we’re already suffering from the Curse of Teddy Roosevelt.

Jayson Werth: “It’s bigger than me, man. It’s bigger than me.”

Jayson Werth says its bigger than meThat Cat interferes with the presidents race at Nationals ParkThat Cat tackles Teddy Roosevelt in the Washington Nationals presidents raceThat Cat takes down Teddy Roosevelt in the Washington Nationals Presidents raceThomas Jefferson wins the Washington Nationals presidents race

Saturday’s presidents race coup attempt by Jayson Werth stirred up expectations for more 4th-inning fireworks during Sunday’s home season finale at Nationals Park.

After Werth proclaimed that ““If Teddy can’t win, then no one wins,” speculation was rampant that one of two things would happen: either the Nats would succumb to popular pressure, or Werth would make a third attempt to secure a Bull Moose victory on his own.

But just before Sunday’s first pitch, Werth was asked privately about his plans, and his answer revealed all readers need to know about the anti-Teddy conspiracy in the Nationals front office.

“It’s bigger than me, man. It’s bigger than me,” he said, shaking his head. “I gave it my best shot.”

Whatever talking-to Werth received from Nationals management, and despite any assurances he gave them, it was clear nonetheless when Sunday’s race began that they weren’t taking any chances on another coup attempt in the season finale.

As the presidents were being introduced, the Nationals trotted out That Cat to patrol the first base line, flexing his muscles as if to dare Teddy to try to cross his path. Momma Screech stood by as well, in case reinforcements were needed.

As added protection against another right field revolt, the Nats moved the finish line to the third base side. After Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt began their usual route, Jefferson came out and bolted the other way towards left field and the new finish line.

As That Cat took down Tom, Abe, and Teddy in succession, Thomas Jefferson cruised across the tape uncontested.

Tom’s victory moved him into an improbable and first-ever season-ending tie with Abe Lincoln for the 2011 presidents race crown. If not for Werth’s antics on Saturday, Jefferson would have had the opportunity to win the title outright.

Meanwhile, the team’s rebuke of Werth is a rude awakening for Teddy fans who had hoped for an end to the conspiracy. After 441 races, the Rough Rider will enter the 2012 season without a single win, and the powers that be at the Nationals appear hell-bent on keeping it that way.

Video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome

After high expectations are dashed, even Abe Lincoln implores the Nationals to Let Teddy Win

Washington Nationals Presidents Race 5-30-2011Abe Wins.  Teddy far behind.Abe Lincoln supports Teddy?The “Let Teddy Win” buzz hit a fever pitch on Memorial Day at Nationals Park, with rumors spreading rampant that after high-level meetings in the Nats’ front office, a decision had been made to finally let Teddy win.

From the stands to the press box, from Twitter to even the Phillies’ TV and radio broadcasts, word was spreading to watch for a breakout race from Teddy Roosevelt.

Even outspoken outfielder Jayson Werth, who had refused to watch Sunday’s race, stepped out of the dugout and onto the field to see the big event.

Fans and reporters alike approached to say they had come not to see Roy Halladay and the Phillies, but to see Teddy take victory #1. Yes, everybody got the message.

Except Teddy.

In possibly the most disappointing performance in five years, Teddy ran wire to wire in last place, and failed to even finish.

Even showboat Abe Lincoln, after taking his 13th victory of the season, grabbed a Let Teddy Win sign from the crowd and held it up in support.

Nats management clearly doesn’t buy into the notion that Teddy must win to break the curse that keeps their team in the basement; but after roughing up Phillies ace Roy Halladay only to end up on the losing end of another 1-run game, why continue to tempt fate?

Video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome

Another Curse against the Nats? Or just the reason Abe Lincoln gets away with cheating.

In today’s Baltimore Sun, Mark Greenbaum and David O’Leary argue that the Nationals poor record in the team’s short history is not due to the fact that Major League Baseball decimated the Expos organization and talent pool, but because Nationals Park is haunted by the ghost of John Wilkes Booth.

Yes, it seems the the Nationals’ shiny new ball park happens to be on the site where Abraham Lincoln’s assassins were tried, hung, and buried.

Of course, the Nationals’ weak on-field performance dates not to the opening of Nationals Park, but to the introduction of the presidents race in 2006, leading others to have speculated about the curse of Teddy Roosevelt.

Interestingly, if any performance-related trend can be tied to the opening of Nationals Park, it’s the unlikely dominance of Abraham Lincoln in the team’s 4th-inning presidents race.

Back at RFK stadium, the first presidents race season titles went to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

But since moving to Nationals Park, Abe Lincoln has simply dominated, winning the crown going away in 2008 and 2009. This year, after losing his lead briefly to George, Abe went on a late season tear and with just ten home games remaining is positioned to take his third title in a row.

It’s been well established that Abe gets away with cheating, but perhaps it’s not Abe at all, and rather a higher power allowing the Great Emancipator to get away with murder…

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