Lincoln wins one for Mark Grace.

Mark Grace with the racing presidents - Photo by Teddy26NatsAbe Lincoln wears a Mark Grace mask to win the presidents race at Nationals ParkAbe Lincoln wears a Mark Grace mask to win the presidents race at Nationals ParkRacing Mark Grace may have never won the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Legends Race, but at least he can now claim a victory in the Washington Nationals presidents race.

Despite being in the Nationals Park press box for Fox Sports Arizona, the Dbacks veteran and broadcaster failed to respond to a challenge from the racing presidents; so Honest Abe took things into his own hands.

After Wednesday night’s race, the presidents held up signs saying “Racing Gracie = No Show,” and “He Must Be Scared.”

On Thursday, Lincoln emerged for the fourth inning presidents race wearing a makeshift “Racing Gracie” mask.  The great emancipator then proceeded to smoke his competition, earning a first victory of sorts for the hard-luck Legend.

After winning the game and yet another series, the Nationals are riding high entering Take Back the Park Weekend, which kicks off Friday night vs. the Phillies.  The effort has drawn national attention, and most recently led D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray to issue a proclamation declaring an official “Natitude Weekend.”  With Stephen Strasburg set to kick off the festivities Friday night, Nationals Park should be rocking, and fans should leave extra time to get to the park.

Photo/Washington Nationals

Mark Grace says “I’m coming for you,” Teddy says “Bring It!”

Racing Mark Grace on the Nationals Park scoreboardTeddy Roosevelt says Bring It Mark GraceArizona Diamondbacks TV analyst and “Racing Legend” Mark Grace responded to Wednesday night’s challenge with one of his own in the final race of the homestand Thursday night.

Following a decisive presidents race victory by Abe Lincoln, Nationals Park P.A. announcer Jerome Hruska intoned “Live from Chase Field in Arizona, it’s a special message for you Teddy.”

Just then on the HD scoreboard a video feed appeared of the Arizona Diamonbacks’ “Racing Legend” Mark Grace, holding a sign reading “Hey Teddy, I’m coming for you… We’ll see you in 2012.”

Teddy’s response? His own sign saying “Bring It!”

It appears we’ll see some Legends vs. Presidents action in the 2012 season. If so, it seems either Teddy or Mark will have to win.

After the race, the Nationals presidents met up with the real Mark Grace in the broadcast booth, where he was covering the game for Fox Sports Arizona.

Video courtesy of YouTube member lfahome.
Mark Grace photo by @Teddy26Nats

Racing legends follow familiar pattern – Let Grace Win?

In June, the Arizona Diamondbacks announced plans to introduce a new attraction to home games at Phoenix’s Chase Field. At the end of the 5th inning, four 10-foot tall foam-headed “legends” would race around the ball park in uniform.

In July, just before the All Star break,
the characters were revealed.

Given the short history of the team, they all hail from the D-Backs’ lone World Series championship roster from 2001.

Arizona’s legends (Luis Gonzalez, Matt Williams, Mark Grace, and Randy Johnson) are now the MLB’s second race (after the Nationals’ own racing presidents) to be based on real people.

Having been away traveling recently, I was planning to write about the new Legends Race during the Nats next road trip, but the Nationals forced the issue with their two August series vs. Arizona.

Last week, the racing presidents — at least the Diamondbacks facsimiles of them — made an appearance against the Legends at Chase Field in Arizona, and Diamondbacks play-by-play announcer Daron Sutton held up a cardboard cut-out of Teddy’s face with a sign that said, “Even I could beat Mark Grace”.

The Arizona Diamondbacks Legends are issued a challenge by the Washington Nationals racing presidentsThis week the Diamondbacks arrived
at Nationals Park but the racing legends stayed at home;
so on Saturday night (after a botched attempt on Friday the 13th), the presidents held up signs asking “Where Are The Racing Legends?”

Perhaps the signs should have said “We are the Racing Legends.”

With the huge popularity of our own Rushmores, it was inevitable that another team would attempt to duplicate the formula, and it appears that the Diamondbacks have gone to school on George, Tom, Abe, and especially Teddy.

Sure enough, with just a month of races under their belt, poor Mark Grace, who is currently the D-Backs color analyst for the FOX Sports Arizona baseball broadcasts, seems to be following the path of Teddy Roosevelt.

And Gracie isn’t just 0-for-24. In the first month, he’s been distracted by Silly String, held up by Darth Vader, blocked by Kung Fu Panda, and generally bullied around by the competition.

Arizona Diamondbacks Legend Race Mark Grace has inspired a site Let Grace Win

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the icing on the cake was the near-instant appearance of a blog at LetGraceWin.com.

Remarkably, the website made its debut on the same day that the first race was run, when Mark Grace was still one of three winless legends.

How did the site’s creator, Jeff Summers, know that Grace was destined to play the role of lovable loser?

Summers, a technology executive, web designer, and longtime Diamondbacks blogger, says he didn’t know. He says he became a fan of the Let Teddy Win blog when his daughter discovered it, and has become a student of Teddy’s travails. “I religiously look to it to see if today is finally the day Teddy wins,” he said.

“During the first race, Los Angeles Dodger outfielder Manny Ramirez disrupted the race throwing a towel at Grace causing a distraction costing him a win,” said Summers. “The LetGraceWin site started out just describing ‘Towel-gate.’ Each night something seemed to happen causing yet another loss.”

“I seldom if ever miss a home game so the fans knew I would know who won the race,” Summers added. “It wasn’t just who won, they also wanted to know how they won.”

A longtime student of the game, Summers attributes Grace’s misfortune to the “Cubs curse,” since Grace spent most of his career with the famously cursed Chicago franchise.

“I keep thinking he can’t go winless forever, can he?” Summers asked. “But after seeing the challenges of Teddy Roosevelt I’m more than a little frightened at what I have ahead of me.”

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