Teddy Caught Cheating, but the Nats Prevail

Ask any struggling Nats hitter — when you’re in a slump, it’s easy to press too hard and attempt to do too much with one swing. Well, there’s no bigger slump than Teddy’s current losing streak, and tonight he succumbed to the pressure.

While Will Nieves was cooking up his late game heroics to lead the Nationals to victory, Teddy was busy blowing it for the 127th consecutive time. Tonight he shot out of the gate with a commanding lead, and looked like he could cruise to victory, but when he came to the outfield turn, he left the warning track and cut across the outfield.


Note the presidents race 2008 rally signs in the stands near the end of the clip!

No sooner had Teddy crossed the finish line then the judges announced his disqualification. The boos ensued. Whether people were booing Teddy’s unscrupulous effort or the larger injustice of Teddy’s losing streak is hard to say.

Just What the Doctor Ordered

This weekend should draw huge crowds at Nationals Park starting with tonight’s game against the Chicago Cubs, and the warm weather plus some well-timed heroics by Felipe Lopez may be just the thing the Nationals needed to spark a turnaround. This is a long homestand, and Nationals fans have probably started to figure out that the Metro’s continuing fear campaign about Nationals Park has no basis in fact.

The Nats Express continues to be a smooth and easy free option for parking at Nationals Park (even on Saturday when DC United will be playing at RFK), and with the Nationals having also announced the availability of cash parking near the park for home games, I may give it a try tonight, just to report on how smoothly it goes. By all accounts, the $15.00 lot is a short, safe, well-lit walk from the park.

With the weather turning warm, I hope to see all of you who’ve been ordering Let Teddy Win! t-shirts to show up and show your support for our favorite president. After each race, the presidents reach the finish line near the Nationals dugout, then head up the aisle by section 127. Wear your shirts tonight and join us in the aisle at the bottom of section 128 with a “Let Teddy Win” cheer in middle of the 4th inning!

Five Things That Need Work at Nationals Park

Last week I wrote about 5 things I love about the new Nationals Park. Truth be told, I could have gone on to list dozens more items, from food to views to little design details, but most of these things have been well documented by the press.

Perhaps the best compliment I could give to Nationals Park is that my list of points for improvement is so short, especially when I confine the list to things that the Lerners have control over changing.

#5: Game info on the scoreboard.We know the scoreboard operators will do a better job at keeping up now that they are used to their new toy. That’s not my complaint. The problem is that despite the vastly increased scoreboard real estate, in some cases we don’t seem to have as much info as we had at RFK. Specifically, information about a batter’s previous at bats doesn’t have a permanent spot on the scoreboard and doesn’t stay on the screen long enough. In addition, the pitcher’s pitch count shown does not distinguish balls from strikes — a great bit of info we had on 2 screens at RFK Stadium. If this info appears anywhere, I missed it.

#4: A Sign to Ease the Congestion, Please. The great new food options along the 3rd base line have created a terrible traffic jam in the first couple of games at Nationals Park. The lines have been so bad for Ben’s Chili Bowl that the entire concourse
is reduced to gridlock. Savvy fans have already figured out that this isn’t necessary, so how about educating the rest of the crowd? Put up a big sign with arrows above Ben’s that says “Ben’s Chili Bowl Half Smokes are available at all hot dog stands.”

Nationals Park Fan Photos#3: Update the “Fan Photo” options. The new “Fan Photo” photographers roaming the park are a fun addition that I hope generates some big revenue for the team (look for the photographers in the green shirts). Unfortunately, if they take a photo you like, there is a surprising paucity of nice framing options commemorating the inaugural game or inaugural season. Instead, the outdated offerings include a $150 option framed with dirt from RFK stadium, and a $34 acrylic-enclosed Nationals History that starts “The Washington Nationals have played only two full seasons through 2006…” C’mon Stan. I’d love to throw you more of my fan money, but…

#2: 41,888 Cupholders please. Much was made in the press about how Nationals Park would have 41,888 seats and 41,888 cupholders. Unfortunately, Nationals Park does not deliver on the latter. There were reports of many seats without cupholders. The main culprits are the angled rows where the number of seats is reduced as you get closer to the field, such as in section 110 along the 3rd base line. It seems to me that the team could come up with a solution, such as installing two cupholders on the back of a single seat.

#1: Explain the rules to Teddy! If Teddy is every going to have a chance to win the presidents race at Nationals Park, he can’t be kept in the dark. Last week’s opening night debacle, in which Teddy ran straight into center field rather than around the warning track with the other presidents, suggests to me that somebody on the inside is trying to mislead our 26th president. This is unfair! Teddy Roosevelt is among the smartest and most physically fit presidents in U.S. history. Give him a level playing field and Teddy will win!

Photos from flickr users randomduck, tbridge, Scott Ableman, and afagen

Join the Presidents Race Team, Get a Free T-Shirt

Presidents Race Let Teddy Win Shirt.Would you like a free Let Teddy Win
t-shirt?

I am looking for 1 or 2 season ticket holders to help me make sure the Presidents Race Standings are kept up to date. Unfortunately, my travel schedule does not allow me to attend every home game.

If you can commit to helping throughout the season by sending a quick email after the game, I’ll send you the Let Teddy Win! shirt of your choice, and other Teddy Roosevelt 2008 campaign goodies. Send me an email if you are interested or have any questions.

The Season Begins with a Bang at Nationals Park

Nationals Park Grand OpeningI will post more later today, but suffice to say the grand opening of our new Nationals Park was nothing short of a smashing success for every Washington Nationals fan in attendence.

Every Washington Nationals fan, that is, except Teddy.

Though Ryan Zimmerman’s walk-off home run thrilled and delighted the crowd, our great and much misunderstood 26th president disappointed his loyal fans once again. Whether he was trying to cheat or was just confused about the rules is uncertain; but while George, Abe, and Tom began their sprint along the warning track, Teddy simply shot across center field.

Had he not stopped to chat with a couple of members of the Atlanta Braves outfield, Teddy might have beaten George across the finish line, though whether he would have been disqualified remains an open question.

George’s achievement as the first racing president to win the presidents race at Nationals Park has been reflected in the newest section of letteddywin.com — the Presidents Race Standings page, which will continue to be updated throughout the season.

Video by YouTube user jrgwx

Flickr photo of opening day at Nationals Park by Scott Ableman

Changes to the Presidents Race at Nationals Park

Tonight is the big opener at our new Nationals Park, and presidents race fans are eager to see what Teddy Roosevelt has in store for the 2008 debut. Reports are that he’s been working out for the 2008 campaign, and that his last-place finish in last night’s preseason warm-up was just designed to lull the other presidents into complacency. In addition to being in great shape, we hear he may have a few new tricks up his sleeve.

Among the changes we’ll see this year is that the presidents race has been moved from the path that was traditionally used at RFK Stadium. As fans at the Nationals only preseason game at Nationals Park saw, the racing presidents no longer enter from the right field and run along the foul line towards home plate.

In Nationals Park, the racing presidents are being introduced one at a time from the center field fence, and then race around the warning track toward first base.

Those of us seated in the sections along the first base line should have nothing to complain about. Our shouts of “Let Teddy Win!” should be just the thing Teddy needs to help motivate him to his first victory.

See you all at the park tonight!

Flickr photo by excellent Nats fan MissChatter

Presidents Race “Best On-Field Promotion of 2007″

GameOps.com, a web site focused on sports entertainment and promotions, recognized the Washington Nationals presidents race with its Golden Steagle award for best contest or on-field promotion of 2007.

Of course I couldn’t agree more, but this is a nice feather in the cap for Stan Kasten and the young Nationals marketing team, especially considering that Gameops.com covers teams across a spectrum of sports (including frequently more creative minor league teams).

Lastings Milledge in the Presidents Race?

Could Lastings Milledge don the Teddy Roosevelt costume?Presidents race watchers should take note to watch manager Manny Acta’s lineup card this season to see whether he’s given center fielder Lastings Milledge the day off.

In a video interview on Friday, Lastings Milledge tells the Washington Post that he plans to take the first opportunity to help Teddy win the presidents race.

“I’m gonna dress up as Roosevelt. I’m gonna win for him,” Milledge said. “If I get an off day I’m gonna ask Manny if I can dress up and win one.”

Milledge likens Teddy’s quest to win the presidents race to the Nationals’ pursuit of the NL East title. His advice to Teddy?

“Hang in there, man… You know, he’s just gettin’ a rap like how we get, everybody expecting him to lose, so he’s going to come out on top.”

Visions of Victory for Teddy

Presidents Race on Brian Mosley's Lawn

Flickr user Brian Mosley has set up a little inspirational image for our beloved 26th president as he prepares for the 2008 presidents race campaign.

Brian, a self-proclaimed “overnight fan” of Teddy Roosevelt and the presidents race, read about the Let Teddy Win! campaign on DCist, picked himself up a presidents race rally sign, and then got out his camera.

Brian’s housemate has a collection of racing president bobblehead dolls from the 2007 season. As you can see by the photo, Brian set up an inspirational presidents race display in his yard under the rally sign, with Teddy leaving Tom, George, and Abe in the dust as he crosses the finish line. The photo appeared on flickr yesterday.

Teddy, are you paying attention? Visualize success!

Fred Malek, Presidents Race Fan …who knew?

Fred Malik, Presidents Race FanFollowers of the Washington Nationals know that local businessman Fred Malek played a big role in bringing baseball back to Washington, DC. He is well connected in the worlds of business, politics, and baseball, having once been, among other things, part-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team.

I had the priviledge of sitting by Malek at a Washington Nationals game at RFK Stadium in 2005, when major league baseball was still deciding who the new owners of the team would be and Malek was considered one of the 3 front-runners (this was back when I had VIP seats behind the 1st base dugout… alas, those connections are long gone and I while I’m still behind the dugout I will be back in row MM at Nationals Park.)

I’d never met Malek — only read about this high-rolling politico who managed billions of dollars in private equity funds. I was struck by his youthful enthusiasm for this losing team, and by his sheer popularity. Throughout the game, one fan after another approached his seat on the aisle, shook his hand, and told him they were pulling for him to win the bid to own the team.

Despite losing the bid, Malek remains a passionate fan of both the Nationals and their new ownership team. What I didn’t know was that Fred is also a fan of both Teddy Roosevelt and of the presidents race at Nationals Park.

In his blog at fredmalekblog.com, Malek describes the 4th inning presidents race as “the great Nationals tradition,” and goes on to voice his support for our favorite president, Teddy Roosevelt. He even puts in a generous plug for letteddywin.com.

Mr. Malek, I am proud to know that you are a reader, and thrilled that you are still such a strong supporter of the team. I have no complaints about what the Lerners have done with our beloved Nationals (after all, they brought the presidents race from the scoreboard down to the field), but I have no doubt that you would have been a great owner as well.

Photo from fredmalekblog.com.

Presidents Race Auditions Video

Yesterday’s presidents race auditions brought 55 finalists to the Washington Nationals former home, RFK stadium, to see if they had what it takes to don a giant president head and race from the outfield to home plate.

Ian Koski at Nationals Pride put together a terrific little video highlighting the presidents race audition experience, and featuring Steve Roche, Nationals Mascot Coordinator:

Teddy Roosevelt was noticeably absent. Could it be that the privilege of donning the esteemed Teddy costume is being reserved for the 20 winners? Not so, says Washington Nationals spokesman Tom Davis. “He needs to rest up,” Davis told WTOP News. “He’s had a rough couple of years. He’s looking to get back in shape.”

Congratulations to the new squad. See you at Nationals Park next month!

Presidents Race Auditions – When Else? Presidents Day!

Geico Racing PresidentsThe Washington Nationals have selected 50 finalists from the 120 applicants they received to become one of the 12-foot-tall racing presidents for the 2008 season.

The presidents race finalists have been invited to the new Nationals Park for auditions on Monday, February 18. Presidents Day, of course.

The finalists will be asked to demonstrate their ability to run the presidents race, dance, and celebrate while wearing a 45 pound costume.

Hoping to get some photos to share.

You can be in the presidents race

Presidents RaceHave you ever wanted to don the Teddy Roosevelt costume and race in the Washington Nationals presidents race? The Washington Nationals Mascot Coordinator is now soliciting applications via the team’s web site.

Applicants must be between 5’7″ and 6’6″ in height, able to run 100 yards wearing a 45 pound costume, and available for “at least” half the Washington Nationals home games. That’s 41 games plus playoffs (Ha! We can dream, right?).

Teddy wannabes should note that you don’t always get to be Teddy. The roles rotate between the staff, so all you lovable losers must also be able to demonstrate the brains of Tom and the honesty of George and Abe, from time to time.

Flickr photo by Scott Ableman.

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.

Presidents Race rally signs are here.

Presidents Race sign at Nationals Park.The presidents race rally signs have arrived and they look great!

I promised a photo as soon as the finished product arrived, and here it is. This is not cheap cardboard sign. It’s made of flexible weatherproof vinyl, is printed on both sides, and will easily last through the entire presidents race season. In fact, when you bring it home you can post it in your yard with the enclosed posts.

If you’re wondering how I got this photo, I just had to envision how it will look at Nationals Park, so I took a photo holding up the sign and combined it with this crowd shot from a 2007 Nationals game. Imagine an army of fans holding these up during the presidents race!

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