The Real Problem with Willy Mo Peña

Lost amid the all-star headlines yesterday was the news that the Washington Nationals’ beleaguered left fielder Wily Mo Peña was likely headed to the disabled list.

Wearing Teddy's Number 26, Wily Mo Pena grounds into a double play.  Flickr photo by MissChatter.The 26-year-old would-be slugger might very well be the biggest disappointment for the Nationals in a season choc full of disappointments. Touted as an everyday middle-of-the order power hitter when GM Jim Bowden acquired him from Boston, Peña has instead hit an embarrassing .205 this season with just two home runs and 10 RBI.

Now an MRI has revealed that Peña has been playing with a small tear in his left rotator cuff and a frayed labrum in his left shoulder, something the Nationals should have diagnosed much earlier. Bowden pointed to this discovery as “certainly the main reason” that Peña has not performed, but just to be safe, may I suggest that the Nationals made another mistake that could be affecting Wily Mo’s play.

Teddy Roosevelt Jersey T-Shirt Number 26When the Nationals brought Peña here from the Red Sox, they changed his uniform number from 22 to 26, the number previously worn by pitcher Ramon Ortiz.

Surely Wily Mo asked for the number he’d worn while with the Cincinnati Reds, but if he’d been paying attention, he might have noted that the #26 is already owned by the most cursed member of the Nationals for the last 3 seasons: Teddy Roosevelt.

In an organization that has had more than it’s share of bad luck, Teddy has easily been the most snakebitten of all. Until Teddy’s run of bad luck clears up, the organization might think about keeping #26 set aside just for him.

My advice to Wily Mo: Rest that shoulder, and when you come back, ask for a new number.

Photo of Wily Mo Peña courtesy of Nationals blogger Miss Chatter.

Lincoln unfazed as Uncle Slam joins the presidents race.

For the Washington Nationals’ last game before the All Star break, the team today welcomed Potomac Nationals mascot Uncle Slam to Nationals Park to cheer on the team and participate in the Nationals presidents race for the first time. Unfortunately for Teddy fans, the extra competition did nothing to slow down a juggernaut called Abe Lincoln.

Potomac Nationals Mascot Uncle SlamFor those unfamiliar with Uncle Slam, he is the mascot for the Washington Nationals’ Class A minor league affiliate Potomac Nationals, which play just a short drive down I-95 in Prince William County Virginia. It was a timely appearance. With the Nationals away until July 29, the next two weeks are the perfect time to check out some of your future Nationals at intimate Pfitzner Stadium. The current roster includes such top prospects as pitcher Ross Detwiler and first baseman Chris Marrero, and rehabbing Nationals such as Ryan Wagner. Even Ryan Zimmerman is expected to get two rehab starts next week with the P-Nats.

As for the presidents race, Teddy came out in front and was followed by Uncle Slam, but as has become so common this season, Abe Lincoln turned on the afterburners to pass everybody before they reached the finish line. Abe’s seventh straight victory marks a first-ever homestand sweep of the presidents race. Teddy, Tom, and George all need to hit the training room over the all star break if they are to have any hope of catching Abe this season. Maybe Teddy should ask Abe what he’s been eating for breakfast.

Photo: Scott Ableman

Abe goes for homestand sweep Sunday at Nationals Park

Washington Nationals fans filled the stands Saturday night to watch pitcher Collin Balester’s inauspicious Nationals Park debut vs. the Houston Astros.

Despite the home team’s recent string of misfortune, it’s good to see the weekend crowds consistently topping 30,000 regardless of opponent. Great weather has certainly helped, and by now Washingtonians are figuring out that parking at Nationals Park is easy and getting to the stadium is a piece of cake whether driving or taking Metro.

Abe Lincoln extended his presidents race winning streak on Saturday at Nationals ParkUnfortunately Saturday night’s presidents race offered no drama for Teddy fans. Abe Lincoln remains on a tear and showed no signs of letting up, chasing Thomas Jefferson from behind and taking the lead in the stretch to keep his streak alive. Teddy Roosevelt did not appear to even try.

Sunday marks the last game before the All Star break and Teddy’s last chance at presidents race glory for several weeks. If Abe wins, it would be his 7th straight and a first-ever presidential sweep of an entire homestand. Somebody’s got to stop him. Why not Teddy? The weather should be good and tickets are available, so Teddy fans — I hope to see you all cheering him on tomorrow at Nationals Park!

Photo by flickr member afagen

Teddy runs the wrong way, Abe takes 5th straight.

Tonight’s sunset over the Anacostia River turned the sky a beautiful shade of pink over the left field wall at Nationals Park.

Perhaps that’s why Teddy Roosevelt chose to run in that direction after taking the field for the 4th inning presidents race.

As George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abe Lincoln raced along the right field warning track, Teddy headed left and never made it to the finish line, stopping to engage a ball girl along the way.

Back across the field, Abe was making quick work of George and Tom, bursting ahead to extend his winning streak to 5 straight (and skipping across the finish line), and with only two games to go before the all-star break, raising the possibility of a first-ever homestand sweep of the presidents race.


Video by YouTube member SchwartzVideo

Video of Last Night’s Presidents Race

From Vimeo member Ed, here’s a new video of last night’s T-Shirt Tuesday presidents race in which Teddy took a huge lead, but suffered a wardrobe malfunction near the finish line:

Teddy Nearly Steals T-Shirt Tuesday Victory from Abe

It was free T-Shirt Tuesday tonight at Nationals Park, and the stands were filled with 10,000 Nationals fans wearing free Abe Lincoln t-shirts.

Based on the results from the previous T-Shirt Tuesdays, Abe had to be the prohibitive favorite to run away with tonight’s presidents race, but when the middle of the 4th inning arrived, it was #26 Teddy Roosevelt who jumped out to the big lead, which he extended as he rounded the warning track into the home stretch along the first base line.

But as Teddy approached the finish line, he lost his shoe, tripped and fell. Abe came charging from behind and hurdled over Teddy to claim his 24th presidents race victory this season.

George, Tom, and Abe have now all held serve on their free T-Shirt Tuesdays at Nationals Park. Unfortunately we have to wait another month for Teddy’s big night. Let’s hope his shoes are tied tight on August 12.

Abe’s T-Shirt Tuesday Kicks Off Nationals Homestand

Tuesday night the Washington Nationals return to town to face the Diamondbacks and Astros in a couple of series that promise great weather, light summer traffic, and some big promotions at Nationals Park.

The Nationals are in need of some home cooking after a brutal week which netted as many devastating injuries as team victories. For loyal Nats fans, it seems like an eternity since Nationals Park was packed and rocking for the team’s last home series against the Baltimore Orioles.

Washington Nationals Racing President Abe Lincoln at Nationals ParkRegular readers don’t need to be reminded that this is Abe Lincoln’s T-shirt Tuesday. The first 10,000 fans to enter Nationals Park on Tuesday will receive a free Washington Nationals Abraham Lincoln T-Shirt. Given his recent record, it’s doubtful that Abe needs any help to win the presidents race, but it should be noted that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson won on their free t-shirt nights, so the pressure is now squarely on Abe.

The homsetand will also feature Friday night fireworks, Hispanic Heritage night, and another free movie Saturday night after the game on the Nationals Park HD scoreboard. As for the presidents race, it’s hard to imagine how our racing presidents could top the excitement of the last homestand. After a week that featured kangaroos, president-on-president violence, sabotage, grudge matches, and an “unsanctioned” victory by Teddy Roosevelt, it was good to get a week off. I’m assuming that Teddy has gotten over it as well and will not be working with the grounds crew on Tuesday.

Photo by flickr member jsmjr

Teddy skips presidents race to assist grounds crew

Washington Nationals racing president Teddy Roosevelt skipped the presidents race to help the Nationals Park grounds crewPerhaps racing president Teddy Roosevelt was just tired from yesterday’s big win vs. the Orioles bird, but today at Nationals Park a lot of Teddy fans were disappointed to see our #26 give up any chance of building on last night’s momentum.

Through the early innings of today’s game vs. the Baltimore Orioles, Teddy was seen on the field with the grounds crew, pitching in and raking the turf to the best of his awkward ability.

Washington Nationals racing president Teddy Roosevelt skips the race to help the grounds crewWhen the runners were introduced for the 4th inning presidents race, Teddy was not there to take the field. Instead he was shown on the Nationals Park high-definition scoreboard, driving a Toro in circles and playing with the grounds crew equipment.

Unlike last night, there were enough participating presidents to make this last presidents race of the homestand official. Abraham Lincoln overtook Thomas Jefferson to resume his winning ways, keeping Abe on pace to set a presidents race record for victories in a season.

Flickr photos courtesy of Nats fans Miss Chatter and afagen
Video by YouTube member VelocityAtrocity

Teddy Wins!

Teddy Wins unsanctioned presidents race vs. Orioles Bird at Nationals ParkTeddy Roosevelt had never won a race at Nationals Park (at least not without being disqualified for cheating); but tonight a packed house got to cheer as our beloved #26 came from behind and crossed the finish line to claim victory in a 1-on-1 grudge match vs. The Bird from Baltimore.

It was a night of firsts, starting with the first Washington Nationals home game since July of 2006 not to feature an official presidents race. The “unsanctioned” event was announced only yesterday, after Teddy was tripped by the Orioles mascot, robbing him of a presidents race victory.

Nationals Park Scoreboard Statistics for Teddy Roosevelt and the Orioles BirdWith the outfield scoreboard displaying the two contestants’ vital statistics (Moustache-span: 2.5 ft), the racers were introduced and Teddy appeared from the centerfield gate draped in an American flag. The Bird got a huge jump out of the gate, but Teddy quickly turned on the afterburners. As they raced past the centerfield wall flashing “TED-DY,” Teddy passed The Bird to run away with it in the home stretch.


It was the unquestioned highlight for Nationals fans in an otherwise depressing 9-1 loss to the Orioles. No, this one doesn’t count in the standings (if there was any doubt, it was removed when the “The Presidents Racing Association of America” announced the fact shortly after the race), but one can hope that Teddy’s come-from-behind victory will serve as momentum and inspiration.

Photo courtesy of flickr user The West End
Video by YouTube users theblackdog2071 and 3031oaktown

Presidents Race Standings Now in High-Definition

Now those of you who go to the Washington Nationals games at Nationals Park don’t have to rely on our standings page to track presidents race results. On Wednesday night, for the first time since the Nationals moved to their new stadium, the presidents race standings were featured on the on the centerfield wall scoreboard. For some reason, it took the Nationals a full half of the home season to bring back this tradition which we’d come to expect at RFK Stadium.

Washington Nationals presidents race standings on the outfield wall during the presidents race at Nationals ParkBetter yet, the Nationals have begun showing the current standings during the presidents race. It looks awfully cool as the presidents race by the 14-foot high out-of-town scoreboard wall. I’m sure the team figured that if you were looking for score updates from around the league during the presidents race, then you had to be a loser anyway.

Nationals T-Shirt Tuesday Features Racing Presidents

Washington Nationals T-Shirt TuesdayYesterday’s home game against the Philadelphia Phillies marked the continuation of the Washington Nationals’ T-Shirt Tuesdays, which will run all season at Nationals Park.

Each Tuesday home game throughout the season, the first 10,000 fans arriving at Nationals Park will be handed a free t-shirt compliments of one of the team’s sponsors. The t-shirts have a small Curly W on the front, but a different design on the back each time.

The first T-Shirt Tuesday featured a photo of Nick Johnson sliding, but last night’s shirt was the first of a series that will feature our racing presidents. As you can see, George Washington is posed on the back, with his famous (?) quote “Who’s Your Founding Father?”

George certainly seemed motivated by the occasion, as he led the presidents race from wire to wire, holding off a late comeback by Abraham Lincoln. Could this be a sign of things to come?

Next T-Shirt Tuesday is June 3 vs. the St. Louis Cardinals.

Photo by flickr user Scott Ableman.

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