Video Presidents attack GEICO Gecko, Jefferson gets stuck

It’s hard to say what got the Rushmore Four riled up Tuesday night, but after watching fellow racing president William Howard Taft cross the finish line at Nationals Park, the Nats’ remaining racing presidents decided to gang up on the GEICO Gecko.

Presidents attack GEICO GeckoThe sponsor, who helps out at the finish line nightly, is usually off limits to the presidents’ antics, but immediately after Tuesday’s race, Thomas Jefferson pushed the amphibian insurance salesman into the Grounds Crew’s tarp in foul territory.

The slippery mascot evaded Jefferson, who got stuck behind the tarp, but then Teddy Roosevelt charged at him, followed by George Washington, who grabbed the lizard and jumped on top of him.

Perhaps they didn’t save as much as they’d expected on their car insurance.

Video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome

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

Presidents race is no longer “The Main Event”

The two longest standing criticisms of the Nationals presidents race appear to have been addressed in consecutive games.

The Nationals’ refusal to let Teddy Roosevelt win for nearly seven seasons was, of course, nationally known — a concern that reached even as far as the White House.

GEICO Presidents Race

Presidents race scoreboard introduction as it has appeared since Nationals Park opened in 2008
(Photo:Adam Fagen)

Presidents Race Nationals Park Scoreboard

Presidents race scoreboard introduction on Wednesday

(Photo:Adam Fagen)[/caption]But more grating to many Nationals fans was the introduction of the presidents race as “The Main Event” at Nationals Park.

Since opening day 2008, Nationals P.A. announcer Jerome Hruska has announced the arrival of the middle of the fourth inning with “Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time for the main event. It’s the GEICO presidents race!”

For true baseball fans, even those who liked the antics of the Rushmore Four, this was like nails on a chalkboard.

But on Wednesday afternoon, amid the frenzy of Teddy’s second victory and the heartbreak of a second playoff loss, was a gift to serious Nats fans.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Hruska announced, “it’s time for the Presidents Race!”

Whether this change is permanent, is tied to limitations on playoff sponsorships, or is related to a longer-term change remains to be seen. The announcement was accompanied by a new graphic that omitted the familiar GEICO logo, the GEICO logo was omitted from the presidents’ uniforms, and the ever-present GEICO Gecko was not in his usual spot at the finish line.  

State Farm is the official insurance company of MLB.

Teddy shows no fight before record Nats Park crowd

Phillies fans at Nationals Park - CBP South - Citizens Bank Park SouthGeorge Washington wins the Washington Nationals Presidents RaceGEICO Gecko introducing the GEICO Presidents Race at Nationals ParkAn all-time record crowd of 44,675 squeezed into Nationals Park Saturday night, but everybody on the field, including Teddy Roosevelt, appeared to have nothing left after Friday night’s late-inning heroics.

It was estimated that as much as 50% of the standing room only crowd hailed from Philadelphia, but with the Phillies staking a 5-0 lead, and the Nationals doing nothing but squandering opportunities, the mood felt increasingly like a Phillies home crowd as the night wore on, capped by a group of fans in the outfield who held signs spelling out “Welcome to Citizens Bank Park South.”

In the fourth-inning presidents race, Teddy Roosevelt finished in last place for the second night in a row, as George Washington sneaked by Thomas Jefferson for the victory. Teddy seemed ready to admit that the race is fixed against him, tweeting after the race “Drats, foiled again!! If only I could race a vegetable or something!”

The night also featured a change to the presidents race introductions. For the last four seasons, Nationals Park P.A. announcer Jerome Hruska has intoned “Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s time for the main event. It’s the GEICO Presidents Race!” Hruska’s bold introduction is the subject of much derision by fans who take offense at the notion that something other than the game would be called “The Main Event.”

While the unfortunate phrase didn’t change, the emphasis did, at least for one night. Fans on Saturday were instead greeted by a new video featuring the sponsor’s soft-spoken Gecko. It may not satisfy the critics, but it was a nice clarification between between the voice of the team and that of the race’s commercial sponsor.

Video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome

Photos/Scott Ableman.  All rights reserved.

Abe Lincoln harrasses the GEICO Gecko once again

On a sunny Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park, Teddy Roosevelt took an early lead in the 4th-inning presidents race, but faded quickly as George Washington put on a burst of speed to take the lead; but George couldn’t maintain the pace, and Abraham Lincoln once again was well-positioned to finish strong and take his 16th presidents race of the 2010 season.

The day after Abe inexplicably flattened the GEICO Gecko, our 16th president was at it again, this time crossing the finish line, then grabbing the Gecko’s flag and waving it in a triumphant march up the first base line.

Perhaps it’s the heat.

Video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome

Abe Lincoln takes out the GEICO Gecko

Thomas Jefferson took an early lead in the Nationals presidents race Friday night at Nationals Park and held onto the lead, showboating as he spun across the finish line.

But it was Abe Lincoln who stole the show, veering off course at the last minute and drawing gasps as he plowed into the sponsor. The diminutive GEICO Gecko was clearly not prepared for Abe’s open field tackle.

Perhaps Abe wasn’t able to save 15% on his car insurance.

Video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome

A birds-eye view of the presidents race

Abe Lincoln extended his winning streak to 4 games at Nationals Park Saturday night, as the Let Teddy Win blog was invited once again to take part in the team’s semi-annual blogger’s night.

Nationals Park video control room

Live coverage of the presidents race from the Nationals Park video control room

For most of the bloggers in attendance, the highlights were likely the myriad interview opportunities with Nats players and management, and the opportunity to cover the game from the press box; but for this Presidents Race Fan, the high point was reporting on the race from the video control room high atop Nationals Park, where the magic is created for the stadium’s live HD scoreboard.

Nationals Park PA Announcer Jerome Hruska calls the presidents race

And the winner is... Abe!!!

It’s safe to say that Nats Park regulars would be blown away by the sheer number of people and skill required to deliver the elaborate graphics and live in-stadium coverage of every race; and speaking of that coverage, those who believe the play-by-play is all scripted need only watch Nationals PA Announcer Jerome Hruska call it live as the race unfolds on the field below.

Unfortunately, down on the field it was deja vu for Teddy fans, as Roosevelt took a huge lead before his glasses fell off, and Abe Lincoln came from behind to win for the 4th night in a row. George Washington fell into the Geico Gecko at the finish line, marking the first time in presidents race history that the sponsor was taken down.

Before the game, I had a chance to speak to catcher Ivan Rodriguez, who guaranteed that he’d be behind the plate for Stephen Strasburg’s debut on Tuesday night. With 3 networks covering and over 200 press credentials issued, the buzz is building for that sellout game. Up in the press box, there was much speculation that Tuesday could be the night for Teddy to end his streak. We can only hope…

A special thanks to Nationals Senior Manager of New Media Chad Kurz for arranging the day.

Here’s the race as seen from the stands, courtesy of YouTube member lfahome:

And here’s the race as edited live in the booth and called by Jerome:

Nationals Park fan experience changes include “photo station” with giant racing president bobbleheads

The new racing president bobbleheads at Nationals Park Today the Nationals made official many changes to the Nationals Park fan experience, including new food options, a major renovation of the Red Porch, and the unveiling of seven-foot stationary bobbleheads at the “Nats Family Fun Area” in the likeness of George, Tom, Abe, Teddy, and the GEICO Gecko. Other changes include new value meals, picnic tables, live post-game shows in the centerfield plaza, and some additional food options coming for mid-season.

I have been out of the country for most of the past two weeks and have missed a lot, including today’s media tour, where the announcements are being made. While I’ve been out, the Washingtonian Magazine wrote up this blog as one of DC’s “Can’t Miss Clicks,” and season tickets were delivered including — surprise of surprises — a photo of me holding a Teddy Rally Sign on the September 10th ticket. Photo to follow.

Most of the changes will be on display tomorrow evening for the exhibition game between your Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles. The full announcement from the Nationals:

WASHINGTON NATIONALS ANNOUNCE WHAT’S NEW AT NATIONALS PARK
Team Upgrades Red Porch Restaurant and Nats Family Fun Area to Improve Fan Experience

The Washington Nationals today unveiled a variety of improvements to Nationals Park. To enhance the fan experience at the ballpark, new concessionaire Levy Restaurants was introduced in February; major renovations were completed on the Red Porch Restaurant; significant changes were made to the Nats Family Fun Area in the Center Field Plaza, including the GEICO Racing Presidents Photo Station and the Exxon Strike Zone; and additional directional signage has been installed. New statues and artwork will be displayed in the Center Field Plaza and at the Home Plate Gate. The statues and artwork will be unveiled during a ceremony on Wednesday, April 8 at 11:00am.

The Red Porch Restaurant in the Center Field Plaza, open to all fans two-and-a-half hours before game time, has undergone a complete remodeling and will open on April 4 for the Nationals exhibition game vs. the Baltimore Orioles at 6:05pm. Outdoor dining patios have been created on both sides of the restaurant with an awning covering the Center Field Plaza tables. Sliding glass panels and rollup glass doors will open to expose both the Center Field Plaza and the playing field so that fans may experience the sights and sounds of the ballpark while enjoying their meal indoors. Decorative fans and lighting adorn the open ceiling and all furniture is being replaced. The new menu will feature three styles of wings, including Thai-style chili wings, an Italian chopped salad pizzan, and a selection of Minor League Kids Meals for $6. The Red Porch will also feature a variety of draft beers and a selection of American micro-brew craft beers.

The Nationals have partnered with Levy Restaurants for food and beverage operations, the leader in premium sports and entertainment dining. New menus will be launched on Saturday, serving both traditional fare and upscale items, including regional dishes and innovative versions of D.C.’s favorites. Four new concessions concepts will be introduced at the park including a Healthy Plate cart, featuring healthy wraps, fresh salads, vegetables and hummus and fresh fruit; The Pit at the Red Loft, opening mid-season and serving traditional pit barbeque prepared on a charcoal grill; a barbeque concession stand, also opening mid-season on the main concourse, serving ribs, pulled pork and brisket; and the Triple Play Grill, located in the Left Field V and offering a pulled pork sandwich and foot-long Crab Louie sandwich. Additional menu boards have been added to 40 concession stands increasing visibility throughout the park. The team will offer three value meals at various stands, all at a cost of $7, the Nats Dog Meal, Nats Dog, 16-oz. soda and chips; Nacho Value Pack, small nachos and two 16-oz sodas; and the Popcorn Value Pack, 12-oz popcorn tub and two 16-oz sodas.

“The Nationals are committed to providing a first-class fan experience at Nationals Park,” said Nationals President Stan Kasten. “Nationals Park remains one of the most affordable entertainment options in Washington, DC with a large variety of ticket deals and value menus offered. We feel that enhancements to the Red Porch, the partnership with Levy Restaurants, the new entertainment options in Center Field Plaza and the improved product on the field will combine to create a memorable day at the ballpark in 2009.”

The Nats Family Fun Area which includes the GEICO Racing Presidents Photo Station, Sony Playstation Pavilion, Exxon Strike Zone and Build-A-Bear workshop has also undergone renovations. GEICO continues its sponsorship of the most popular in-game feature at Nationals Park with the creation of Racing President Bobbleheads, seven-foot stationary bobbleheads in the likeness of George, Tom, Abe, Teddy and the GEICO Gecko. Fans may take photos with the bobbleheads from gates open to final out. The Exxon Strike Zone has been completely revamped, providing fans with the opportunity to practice their pitching and hitting skills on the latest in simulated equipment while learning that baseball fundamentals are rooted in physics. The walls of the Strike Zone are covered in math and science facts that illustrate their relationship to the game. One wall of the new Exxon Strike Zone is devoted to the energy efficiency considerations that went into creating Nationals Park, the first LEED-Silver certified ballpark in the country. Through a partnership with ExxonMobil, fans can view tips on how to become more energy efficient in their daily lives.

The ballclub has added a variety of amenities designed to make the Nationals Park experience more enjoyable. Guests arriving at the ballpark will receive ticket information from new LED boards installed above the ticket windows at First and N Street, SE, the Main Box Office, the ticket windows adjacent to the team store and above the Center Field Gates. Fans that enter the ballpark through the Center Field Gates will get a glimpse of the games starting line-up as displayed on the façade of Parking Garage B, listed by position on large Topps Starting Line-up Cards. Johnny Holliday and Ray Knight will host MASN’s pre- and post-game show live from Nationals Park on a stage located in the Center Field Plaza. Picnic tables have been added on every level of the park throughout the concourses and 75 Nationals baseball cap-topped recycling bins have been provided by Coca-Cola to make it easier for fans to recycle. Additional directional signage has also been installed throughout the ballpark.

The Nationals will unveil the ballpark’s new statues and artwork on Wednesday, April 8 at 11:00am. Through a partnership with the Commission on the DC Arts & Humanities, Omny Amri of Timeless Creations, Inc. has created three white bronze statutes to honor the legends of Washington, DC baseball history – Josh Gibson, Frank Howard and Walter Johnson. These statues, along with The Ball Game – a mobile designed by Walter Kravitz and located at the First Base Gate, will debut at a public ceremony next week. A media advisory with information on this event will be distributed shortly.

Photo courtesy of Miss Chatter

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