Vote for the Let Teddy Win pumpkin!

The Washington Nationals have announced the finalists for their annual pumpkin carving contest, and the final selections include a very familiar face.

The Let Teddy Win pumpkin is a finalist in the Nationals pumpkin carving contestLoyal blog reader Larry LaHaie’s “Let Teddy Win” pumpkins were selected by the panel of judges, and voting has been opened up to the fans at nationals.com.

Your vote could help win Larry a game-worn Adam Dunn jersey — a well-deserved reward for the ten hours he says he spent carving his personal Mount Rushmore into the face of a large autumn squash.

The Lansing, MI software engineer’s effort is all the more impressive given that he doesn’t even live in the DC area; but, he says, “I’ve just kind of fallen in love with the fans, the team (okay, not Elijah Dukes), the area, and the idea of baseball making such a triumphant return to D.C.”

“The contest is judged partially on Nationals’ spirit,” said LaHaie, “and I feel like rooting for Teddy is a great representation of that. If you root for the Nationals, how can you not root for Teddy? And vice-versa? Teddy’s going to prevail one of these days, and so are the Nationals.”

It’s hard not to cast your vote for that kind of spirit. Voting is open now through Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 2 p.m. ET, and fans are allowed up to ten votes per day.

Let’s make it a blowout victory for Teddy!

Panther Returns To Attack Teddy During Presidents Race

Photos of the presidents race at Nationals Park.Followers of the presidents race agree that of all the crazy ways Teddy Roosevelt has managed to lose this year, few stack up to the panther attack that derailed our 26th president on
April 26th.

Last night at Nationals Park, the panther made a surprise return.

With Tim Redding and the Washington Nationals leading the St. Louis Cardinals by a seemingly comfortable margin in the middle of the 4th inning, Teddy dashed out to take an early presidents race lead. But the panther followed him out of the centerfield gate and chased him as he rounded the warning track.

The crowd was cheering for Teddy to beat the panther to the finish line, but there was little any of us could do other than grab a camera and record the inevitable.

It was a clean take-down.

As has happened so often this season, Abe was there to steal the victory. It makes one wonder who That Cat is working for.

It was all a fitting complement to a wild day at the ball park. With the teams’ already-thin pitching staffs stretched to the max by the last-minute doubleheader, big hits and wild plays were the order of the day. Two players hit their first career home runs, leads were blown by both teams, and finally, in the 10th inning of a 29-hit slugfest, Elijah Dukes capped a career night with his first homer as a National — a 2-run no-doubt-about-it game-winning shot.

Now that I think about it, it was such a night to remember that I forgot about the first game of the doubleheader. Did Teddy win?

I Think I’m Going to Like Chico Harlan

Those of you who get your Nationals news from blogs and feed readers may have not have noticed a big change in Nationals coverage over at the Washington Post.

Barry Svrugla, who had covered the Nationals beat since the team first moved to DC, recently moved on
to cover the Redskins.

Barry is great at what he does, and helped bring the
Post into the 21st century with his frequent and candid posts on the Nationals Journal blog. I was sad to see him move on from the Nats beat.

However, in just a few short weeks, Svrugla’s replacement Chico Harlan has proven to be razor sharp with the pen. In today’s Post Harlan paints a painful picture of pitcher Odalis Perez’s day, battling through 6+ innings just hours after undergoing an emergency root canal. Great stuff.

Some of the other memorable gems Harlan has given us in this short season:

On a 12-2 drubbing at the hands of the Phillies:

Certainly science has a name for this, the kind of implosion too vast for common math to quantify.

On the trials of starting young players:

Milledge and Dukes are both 23. Peña is 25. Whether they flourish or flounder, they will play. Sometimes, they will play games like this one.

On the anemic Nationals offense:

With the season 47 games old, they’re still waiting for the offense to break from its sleepwalk. They’re still waiting for a lineup to produce with runners in scoring position. They’re still waiting for results to catch up with logic, because an entire roster of hitters can only flounder below their career averages for so long, right?

On Manager Manny Acta’s shaved head:

With a razor, using the same technique that Carlos Delgado once taught him, Acta shaved the stubble from his head. He was ready for a clean start. Head fully Mr. Cleaned, Acta then turned to his next cleanup job — the team outside his office door.

On Shea Stadium:

Shea Stadium, decrepit and months from demolition, deserved a game like this one — filled with both trash and trash talk.

Yes, I think I’m going to like Chico Harlan.

Since When Was Cheering Unprofessional?

New York Mets losing pitcher Nelson Figueroa, after last night’s 10-4 defeat at the hands of the Washington Nationals, called the Nationals players — led by Elijah Dukes — “truly unprofessional” for cheering loudly from the visitor’s dugout at Shea Stadium.

“They were cheerleading in the dugout like a bunch of softball girls,” Figueroa, said. “I take huge offense to that. If that’s what a last-place team needs to do to fire themselves up, so be it. I think you need to show a little bit more class, a little bit more professionalism. They won tonight, but again, in the long run, they are who they are.”

Yes Nelson, and the Mets have reminded us who they are as well. Last off-season, Lastings Milledge was run out of town by his Mets teammates for such unprofessional behavior as high-fiving after making a big play. I think I’ll take a team full of young, enthusiastic players who never quit when they’re down over a bunch of overpaid underachievers who choke in the stretch and point fingers afterwards.

Am I wrong? Since when was cheering for your team unprofessional?

Photo by flickr user tagvestibule

The Washington Nationals Got Younger. Will They Be Better?

It’s been rumored that Stan Kasten is considering adding more presidents to the presidents race at Nationals Park in 2008. Could this be part of The Plan to make the team younger as they seek to build a champion? Teddy Roosevelt is currently the youngest of the racing presidents, but he was born 149 years ago, so none of them are exactly spring chickens.

But seriously, the team did get younger this week. The question on fans’ minds is did they also get better?

At the recently-concluded winter meetings, Washington Nationals GM Jim Bowden made several big moves. When the dust cleared, the Nationals had said goodbye to Brian Schneider, Ryan Church, Jonathan Albaledejo, Billy Traber, Justin Jones, and Glen Gibson.

The new faces on the Nationals include Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, Tyler Clippard, Aaron Boone, Matt Whitney, Garrett Guzman, and as has been reported by Barry Svrugla., catcher Paul LoDuca.

Followers of the Washington Nationals such as Mark Zuckerman and Chris Needham seem to agree that the team made a lot of progress this week. But while I applaud Bowden for executing against The Plan, I’m not ready to greet the moves with anything other than a little cautious optimism.

Did the Nationals address needs? Yes.
Did they get younger? Absolutely.
Did they acquire some upside potential on the cheap? Without question.

On the flip side, they also created some holes that have yet to be filled. There are no left-handed bats to speak of, and more importantly, they left themselves with only Jesus Flores at the catcher position. The signing of LoDuca doesn’t fill that hole. It only puts an exclamation point on the fact that they couldn’t fill it. LoDuca’s 1-year contract is a stopgap until a long-term solution is found.

At some point, when the Nationals acquire their catcher of the future, let’s take a look at what they had to give up to get him, and then we can do the math. If it turns out that another year of seasoning is all Jesus Flores needs to become an all star behind the plate, then Bowden looks like a genius.

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