Teddy says retirement is out of the question

Teddy Roosevelt chats with The Washington PostStill basking in the glow from Wednesday’s historic victory, Nationals mascot Teddy Roosevelt participated in a live online chat Friday with The Washington Post, and gave an emphatic denial to rumors of his retirement.

“Retirement? RETIREMENT?,” the mascot wrote. “Let me make this clear, I will NOT be retiring anytime soon! The best is YET to come!”

Nats broadcast F.P. Santangelo had speculated about a night of boozing it up on the town in celebration Wednesday, but Teddy tried to put that to bed as well.

“To tell ya the truth, I went home and got some much needed rest.,” he wrote. “…I want to make sure I am ready to go when the Nats come home for NLDS Game 3!”

On his relationships with George, Tom, and Abe:

“We don’t really talk about the racing much. On the field, we are all fierce competitors, but off the field we are good friends.”

Full transcript here.

Photo: The Washington Post

Is tonight the night? Let the Speculation Begin

For years now, many Nationals fans have been advancing a common theory about the presidents race: Teddy will win when the Nationals win.

Teddy Roosevelt Washington Nationals presidents raceFrom the Nationals Park stands to the Red Loft bar to Twitter and online discussion forums, the only thing up for debate among many fans is the exact timing.  When they make the playoffs. When they win the division. When they finish their first winning season. When they host their first playoff game. When they win a pennant. When they make the Worlds Series. When they win the World Series.  Everybody has a theory.

On Thursday night, the first of those milestones passed.  The Nationals clinched their first playoff berth, and if the chatter on Twitter is any indication, quite a few people are expecting a Roosevelt victory Friday night at Nationals Park.

In today’s Washington Post, columnist Tracee Hamilton argues that the Nats can’t let Teddy win now.

“If, say, Teddy wins during the Nationals’ first home playoff game, and the Nats subsequently lose that game,” Hamilton writes, “the ‘When will Teddy win?’ discussion will devolve into ‘The Curse of Teddy.’

Hamilton’s solution? “Avoid the decision. Announce he’s reached his (between) innings limit for the season, and shut him down. It worked with Strasburg.”

Cute.

Personally, I don’t know when Teddy’s going to win. I just know I have to be there when it happens.

Video: The Post Profiles some seriously insane Nats fan

When The Washington Post asked me to stay mic’d up during yesterday’s game, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Here it is. The Post released the companion video to presidential speechwriter Paul Orzulak’s must-read opinion piece on the Let Teddy Win movement, and well, the video speaks for itself.

I am amazed by how quickly producer Brad Horn pieced this together.

Orzulak calls for Teddy to win on August 18

If presidential speechwriter Paul Orzulak gets his way, Teddy Roosevelt will win the Nationals’ 500th presidents race on August 18.

Washington Nationals' Teddy RooseveltIn an opus for the Washington Post opinion pages entitled “Seriously, Nats: It’s time for Teddy to win,” Orzulak presents the most thorough and cogent case yet for the Washington Nationals to finally let Teddy win.

“In the long history of organized sports, no team or individual at the collegiate or professional level has ever lost 500 times in a row,” Orzulak writes.

But that is, in fact, the fate that awaits Teddy on August 18, rainouts or extra overtime races notwithstanding.

“Teddy winning wouldn’t just make sense for the 2012 Nats — it could even boost the national mood,” Orzulak writes, laying out a meticulous list of president Roosevelt’s qualifications and of the injustices handed his 2012 counterpart.

It’s today’s must read. Video report to follow.

Nats say presidents race move wasn’t to avoid foul play

The Nats are saying Thursday’s surprise change in direction of the opening day presidents race was not designed to avoid foul play by the likes of Jayson Werth, according to a report this morning by Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post.

The source said that the team plans to alternate which side of the field the presidents run on, a strategy that’s equally likely to confound any sabotage plans, and anybody else who wants to (ahem) cheer and/or photograph the finish line.

Steinberg is a close follower of the Let Teddy Win movement, and thank goodness, because the Post gets messages returned a lot faster than the rest of us. LTW’s inquiries about future plans for the race were not answered.

UPDATE: Soon after this posted, I heard back from a Nats spokesperson who wanted to point out that Thursday was not the first time that the Presidents have run that path. “We like to keep fans on their toes and mix the race up from game to game, depending on what works best,” she said. When had they run that path before? On the final race of the 2011 season.

Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page

Jayson Werth tells the Post he’s not joking

In this Redskins-obsessed sports community, it’s fair to say that many people locally haven’t paid close attention to the Nationals’ amazing September.

Jayson Werth blocks Thomas Jefferson in the presidents race - Photo by Chris TatemSo it’s also not surprising that when people hear about Jayson Werth’s attempt to interfere with the presidents race, many who weren’t there assume it was a scripted gag.

But as we’ve known since May, Werth again made it clear to the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore that he is a serious member of the Let Teddy Win movement.

The self-proclaimed “last member of the Bull Moose Party” is passionate about putting an end to any remnants of what he saw as “an expectancy of losing,” and while he believes the team has turned the corner, he sees Teddy’s losing streak as a remnant of that mentality.

“It was a joke on some levels, but on some levels not,” Werth told Kilgore. “There’s an expectancy of losing there. It goes back to the first month of the season when we won two games in a row and [a reporter] asked me about the two-game winning streak. It’s like, ‘No.’ That whole thing had to stop. That had to stop in a big way. When an organization or a team is really young and is coming from many losing seasons, it starts to get ingrained. I’m not saying that I’m the one who changed it. It’s got to be a conscious effort on everybody’s part. But I definitely wasn’t complacent when I saw that happening.”

It’s safe to say that Werth won’t be interfering with the presidents race again, but here’s hoping our new favorite National doesn’t drop his membership in the Bull Moose party. If Werth can recruit more players and fans to the cause, and the team does well, perhaps the pressure will build for the Nationals to let Teddy win in the 2012 season.

Photo courtesy of Flickr member Chris Tatem

Dan Steinberg explains why Teddy’s going to win on Monday

Could Monday be the day we’ve all anticipating — even begging for — for nearly five years?

In tonight’s Sports Bog over at washingtonpost.com, the always-on-the-ball Dan Steinberg spells out ten reasons why Teddy Roosevelt could win the presidents race on Memorial Day.

In addition to the vocal opinions of Jayson Werth and the reactions we’ve chronicled here, Steinberg points out many other reasons it makes sense for the team from a Marketing standpoint to let Teddy win on Memorial Day.

I’ll add another: It could take an event of Great Bull Moose proportions to steal the thunder from Roy Halladay and the Phillies.

Whatever happens at Nationals Park tomorrow, I know I’ll be there to see it. Here’s hoping FP’s prediction comes true.

Video: 2011 Presidents Race Auditions

Nationals Racing President AuditionsRacing President auditions were held Saturday at Nationals Park, continuing
a 5-year tradition of assembling Mount Rushmore hopefuls for tests of speed, stamina, and silliness on Presidents Day weekend.

The Nationals received over 150 applications for the coveted president positions according to Entertainment coordinator Tom Davis, and 60 applicants were selected to receive
Nationals Racing President Auditionsinvitations to Saturday’s tryouts.

Candidates were asked to run a 40-yard dash in costume, compete against each other in two races, demonstrate their dancing and celebrating skills, and complete a panel interview with the entertainment staff.

For those who’d never run before in a 10-foot high, 45-pound costume, wind gusts of up to 60 mph added to the degree-of-difficulty; but the conditions
Nationals Racing President Auditionswere a welcome alternative to last season for returning candidates, who last year had to race in two feet of snow.

As in previous years, Teddy Roosevelt was absent from the proceedings, but the contestants were able to run in the traditional 2006-2010 period garb costumes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Abraham Lincoln.

Our video chronicle of the day:

This year, three guest media candidates donned the famous costumes on Saturday, resulting in some great additional perspectives for PR fans. Danny Rouhier from WJFK 106.7 The Fan filed this video chronicle, Washington Post fitness columnist Lenny Bernstein added his outstanding perspective, and Dave Levy from WeLoveDC added this terrific report.

A Washington Post “Closer Inspection” of the Nats’ presidents race

If you thought you knew all there was to know about the Nats’ racing presidents, Kris Coronado at the Washington Post Magazine this week features a “Closer Inspection” of our Rushmore favorites.

The interview with Nationals Entertainment Coordinator Tom Davis reveals even a few details we didn’t have on our presidents race facts page. For example, did you know that Teddy’s #26 jersey is made from the same Majestic Performance Apparel COOL BASE polyester wicking fabric that the players wear?

A worthy read for any presidents race fan. Thanks to both Kris and Tom for the nod to LetTeddyWin.com.

Teddy wins Peepsidents Race in Post diorama contest. Voting open now!

The Washington nationals racing peepsidents are represented in a Washington Post peeps diorama contest entryThe Washington nationals presidents race received a fitting tribute in an entry to this year’s Washington Post Peeps Diorama contest.

The entry, titled “The Peepsidents Race” and depicting a Teddy Roosevelt victory, was selected as a semifinalist from over 1,100 entries to the popular annual contest.

The Post’s chosen winner was an equally-inspired send-up of the movie “Up,” but the People’s Choice voting opens today, and the Peepsidents have collected quite a few votes already. You can view the gallery and place your vote here (click on the “Peoples Choice” link).

The nationals racing peepsidents are represented in a Washington Post peeps diorama contest entryThe Peepsidents was created by DC resident Morgan Barr and a team of coworkers at the U.S. Office of Trade Policy Analysis, who turned to this site to watch videos of past presidents races, and included a number of painstakingly-created details from Nationals Park (or “Nationals Peep,” as the diorama scoreboard states).

Ads on the scoreboard include The Washington Peep, Peepeiser, Peepza Hut, and Peepsi.

Of course, it wouldn’t be the presidents race without oversized heads, so the team expanded the heads of the four racing peeps using plastic eggs.

Barr says that the presidents race is the main reason she goes to Nationals games. “Only, in the Peeps universe, Teddy does win!,” Barr told the Post. “I definitely think that our diorama will help raise awareness to Teddy’s plight,” said team member Justin Hoffman. “We hope this season will bring success to both Teddy and the Nationals.”

Flickr photos courtesy of team member Justin Hoffman

Nationals blogs forced to fill the print gap

With the Washington Nationals preparing for their most highly-anticipated spring training since the team moved to DC, the oft-snakebitten franchise finds itself without a voice at DC’s major newspapers.

The Washington Times today announced restructuring and layoffs that include drastic cut-backs in local news and sports reporting. The staff reductions of over 40% mean the Times is throwing in the towel on local print news to focus on national politics.

The announcement comes after Washington Post Nationals reporter Chico Harlan reported that he is leaving the Nationals beat as soon as the Post can find a replacement.

Of course, anybody paying attention saw it coming. Two seasons ago, when Harlan took over the Nats beat, he made it clear he wouldn’t stay in the job more than a couple of years. As for the Times, even their most tenured sports reporters have been interviewing for jobs this year as they watched readership drop and were continually asked to do more for less.

Nats followers will surely miss Mark Zuckerman and Ben Goessling’s Chatter, and the commentary of Thom Loverro, who last season so eloquently argued that the Nats must Let Teddy Win in order to escape the curse of Teddy Roosevelt.

But I’m going to miss Chico the most. Harlan won me over in his first weeks on the job, but the humor and eloquence with which he chronicled last year’s train wreck of a season merits a plaque in the sportswriter’s hall of fame.

As for the Nats, the sad reality is that come opening day, the Nationals Park press box will be home to just one full-time print journalist who has never covered the team.

Nationals president Stan Kasten has always had a love/hate relationship with bloggers, but his decision last season to embrace the Natosphere is looking mighty prescient. As print coverage continues to wither, a small army of loyal and dedicated Nationals bloggers continues to cover the team’s every move. The team has followed up this off-season with conference calls and invitations to press conferences as the Nats announced their skipper and GM.

The Natosphere is remarkably strong for such a young franchise. For better or worse, it represents the most consistent local coverage of our favorite team. Kudos to the Nats for recognizing the growing role of blogs in local coverage.

Post calls Teddy’s absense a “classic Washington coverup”

Washington Post Reliable Source calls Washington Nationals racing president Teddy Roosevelt's absence a classic Washington coverupThey say you’re nobody in DC until you’ve been covered by The Reliable Source column in The Washington Post. Teddy Roosevelt’s recent disappearance drew the attention of the Post’s Roxanne Roberts, who in today’s paper writes about the Nats failure to let Teddy win, and calls Teddy’s reported injury “a classic Washington coverup.”

This barely 24 hours after ABC News White House political correspondent Karen Travers was seen snooping around Nationals Park, preparing a story about Teddy scheduled to air tomorrow.

The focus of DC political scandal 90 years after his death? I think Teddy Roosevelt would have been proud.

Post’s Stephen Hunter calls for Nationals fans to turn against the presidents race

With Manny Ramirez and the Los Angeles Dodgers arriving at Nationals Park tonight for another free T-Shirt Tuesday, Nationals fans are holding out hope that the homestand which begins today can help erase their painful memories of the last two home series in which the Nationals were dominated by the Mets and Rockies.

Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post thinks we should hate the Washington Nationals presidents raceIn today’s Washington Post, film critic and author Stephen Hunter writes about the pain and disappointment of following a losing team. Calling himself “an expert on baseball hurt,” Hunter argues that baseball is “just a toothache,” and the only way to cope is to learn to hate. Choosing the object of that hate is the beginning of the mission.

While Orioles fans have a ready-made villain in owner Peter Angelos, it’s not so obvious for Nationals fans. With no history, no curses, and no larger-than-life monstrous personalities to target, Hunter has concluded that Nationals fans must find something else to hate passionately, and his target of choice is the presidents race.

Hunter calls the team’s racing presidents “charmless, awkward, silly, sexless and pointless,” and is encouraging Nationals fans to channel their frustrations by nurturing vitriol against Teddy and his endless quest for victory.

I’ve always enjoyed Stephen Hunter’s writing, but on this point, I think he is deluded by his years of baggage as an Orioles fan. Hunter argues that hatred gives baseball fans purpose and a mission. I’m all for hating the Mets and Phillies, but do we need to hate our own team? A small pocket of presidents race haters has shown up here in the comments and on “About Me” page. What do you think?

Photo by flickr member Ron Hogan

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.

Presidents Race Featured in First Post Hunt

Our beloved racing presidents continue to entrench themselves as fixtures in Washington, DC culture.

High culture, I might add…

Sunday brought thousands of people to downtown Washington for the first-ever Post Hunt — a live, brainteasing, scavenger hunt/puzzle founded and hosted by humor columnists Dave Barry and Gene Weingarten, and Washington Post Magazine editor Tom Shroder.

The contestants picked up clues which led them through downtown DC, and eventually to Washington Square, where they found puzzle #4 — a race being run repeatedly the Washington Nationals’ racing presidents and a man in a deer costume.

As the race was run again and again, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place “in the money” finishers were repeatedly announced as the deer, followed by George Washington and Abe Lincoln. A sign “Presidents Race: A Time For Change” was an additional clue that participants were to consider the money values of the winners — the buck, followed by Washington (the quarter) and Lincoln (the penny).

The solution to this puzzle: $1.26.

Photo by flickr user afagen

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