Fans plan public chicken sacrifice for 5:00pm Tuesday at Nationals Park

Fans showing up to Nationals Park two hours before first pitch Tuesday night will get a little extra for their money.

Washington Nationals Rubber Chicken Man Hugh Kaufman displays his Chicken Mode T-ShirtHugh Kaufman, aka the Nationals’ “Rubber Chicken Man,” will be leading a group of fans through the Kaporos ritual outside the centerfield gate, sacrificing a rubber chicken to “ward off the bad juju” that has fallen on the team as they’ve lost four straight to fall out of first place in the National League East.

Longtime readers are familiar with the ritual, most recently performed at the ball park after the Nationals lost the first two games of the 2014 divisional playoffs. Remarkably, it seems to usually work. The team went on to win game three. Kaufman’s sacrifices have preceded winning streaks almost annually since 2005, and have been called on by previous manager Davey Johnson, and by pitcher Gio Gonzalez, who has been known to wear a “Chicken Mode” t-shirt in honor of Kaufman.

Behind the scenes with the genius behind the Nats Star Wars Day Racing Presidents costumes

Washington Post intern Lauren Loftus has published a wonderful behind-the-scenes profile of the genius behind the customized racing presidents costumes from Sunday’s Star Wars Day promotion at Nationals Park.

Nationals Star Wars Day Racing Presidentsracing presidents star wars costumes Natsracing presidents star wars costumesLongtime readers know that the Nationals’ racing presidents were built by Randy Carfagno Productions in New York City, but when Star Wars costumes, wigs, astronaut helmets, or other repairs or embellishments are called for, who do the Nationals call on?

DC-area parents are no doubt familiar with the work of Ingrid Crepeau, longtime puppeteer behind the children’s shows produced by Silver Spring-based Dino Rock Productions. Loftus’s piece explains how Crepeau has in recent years built a successful side business building, repairing, and costuming local sports mascots.

Crepeau tells the Post she’s been working on the presidents for six years, which makes a lot of sense. It was six years ago that Teddy missed several races when his costume frame cracked, an incident that the Post at the time called a “classic Washington cover-up.” On several other occasions, Teddy’s glasses have been damaged. With Crepeau on board, there’s no longer a need to send costumes to New York for repairs.

The piece also includes behind-the-scenes video. It’s a lovely profile of somebody who loves her work. “I love children’s laughter,” Crepeau tells Loftus. “That’s the best sound in the world, isn’t it?”

Video and Photos: The Washington Post

Video: Martha Washington knocks out five racing presidents with one swing, George wins

Martha Washington knocks out Nats Racing Presidents RaceMartha Washington knocks out Nats Racing PresidentsA bearded Martha Washington showed up for the Nats’ presidents race Monday night at Nationals Park and wielded a giant lollipop to knock out her husband’s five foes with one mighty blow.

Celebrating both the 46th anniversary of the moon landing and National Lollipop Day (who knew?), the first first “lady” handed out lollipops to fans in the front row of section 134A while the racing presidents engaged in a relatively slow-paced race around the warning track.

As the presidents approached the finish line, George Washington shrewdly pulled back. That’s when “Martha” reached into the stands and grabbed a giant lollipop.

William Howard Taft had a slight lead over Tom, Abe, Teddy, and Calvin, but the first first “lady” turned and swung the giant lollipop right into him, causing a presidential chain reaction, ensuring victory for the trailing founding father.

Photos: @NatsBigChief27 & lfahome
Video: lfahome

Photos & Video from Star Wars Day at Nationals Park: Jedi Knights, stormtroopers, an epic battle between costumed racing presidents, and Teddy Roosevelt dressed as a Wookie

Sunday was the first Star Wars Day at Nationals Park. The Nats transformed every aspect of the fan experience into an intergalactic voyage, but the hit of the day by far was the Nationals’ racing presidents, who dressed as characters from the movies and were swarmed by the sellout crowd wherever they went.

Despite the brutally hot weather and the 5-0 beating that the team took at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers, it’s fair to say that the promotion was a resounding success, though when it came to the 4th-inning presidents race, the Nats forgot two important rules: the good guys always prevail, and you always let the wookie win.

More on that in a moment, but since a picture is worth a thousand words, here without further ado is our photo compendium of the Nats Star Wars Day.

First, representing the evil empire:

Nats racing president “Honest” Abraham Lincoln was Darth Vader (of course):Nationals Star Wars Day Darth Vader Abraham Lincoln

Nats racing president George Washington as Darth Maul:Darth Maul Nationals Star Wars Day

Nats racing president William Howard Taft as Boba Fett:Nationals Star Wars Day Racing Presidents Boba Fett

Next, representing the good guys:

Nats racing president newcomer Calvin Coolidge as Luke Skywalker:Nats Star Wars Day Luke Skywalker Racing Presidents Calvin Coolidge

Nats racing president Thomas Jefferson as, yes, Princess Leia:Nationals Star Wars Day Princess Leia Racing Presidents Jefferson

…and Nats racing president Teddy Roosevelt as Chewbacca the wookie:Nationals Star Wars Day Teddy Roosevelt Chewbacca Wookie

The inspired costume for Teddy was a seeming nod to the Let Teddy Win movement, leading some in the stands to adopt a “Let the Wookie Win” chant during the 4th inning race, a reference to this notable clip:

The costumes certainly didn’t stop with the racing presidents. Actors posing as Luke, Han, Leia and all of your favorite characters were stationed throughout Nationals Park to pose for photos with fans, but the most overwhelming presence was that of the evil empire, which stationed stormtroopers, imperial guards and officers both on and off the field.

Darth Vader makes his entrance:Darth Vader Nationals Star Wars Day

Imperial guards, officers, and stormtroopers:Washington Nationals Park Star Wars Day Costumes

Emperor Palpatine and the evil galactic empire deliver the lineup card for the Dodgers: Nationals Star Wars Day evil dodgers

Bryce Harper is surrounded by Stormtroopers during the national anthem:Nationals Star Wars Day Bryce Harper

R2D2 in the house: Nationals Star Wars Day R2D2

Jedi Master Screech the Eagle: Nationals Star Wars Day Screech

Fans got creative in ways too numerous to mention, and several were selected to go on the field and help introduce the players.

Star Wars Day Nationals Park fans costumes

Nationals Star Wars Day Costumes

Nationals Park Star Wars Day Costumes

On Nats HD, PA announcer Jerome Hruska used a voice filter to sound more like Yoda, and introduced the epic battle to come in classic Star Wars fashion. When it came time to introduce the players, every Dodger was represented as an imperial stormtrooper, while every member of the Nationals was given the hero treatment.

Nationals Park Star Wars Day Scoreboard

Washington Nationals Park Star Wars Day

Nationals Park Star Wars Day Max Scherzer

Finally, there was that matter of the presidents race. The fourth inning ritual started with the famous Star Wars Cantina music, and then pitted the galactic empire against the rebel alliance as Darth Vader (Abe Lincoln), Boba Fett (William Howard Taft), and Darth Maul (George Washington) took on Princess Leia (Thomas Jefferson), Chewbacca (Teddy Roosevelt), and Luke Skywalker (Calvin Coolidge) in a relay race.

Teddy (Chewbacca) handed Coolidge (Skywalker) a big lead in the anchor leg, but George (Darth Maul) passed Cal and engaged him in a light saber battle on the first base line.

Racing Presidents Star Wars Day Luke Skywalker Darth Maul

Cal lost his light saber, George took the win, and in keeping with what transpired on the field, the evil empire prevailed.

Video for LetTeddyWin.com by lfahome

Nationals Park introduces Pepe Food Truck by chef José Andrés

The Nationals’ debuted another new local food option for fans at Nationals Park with the introduction of Pepe Food Truck by celebrity Spanish chef José Andrés.

Jose Andres Pepe Truck Nationals Park

Jose Andres Pepe Truck Nationals Park Pollo Frito

The spicy and rich Pollo Frito at Pepe Food Truck

Jose Andres Pepe Truck Nationals Park Mushroom sandwich

The Elana, featuring Portobello mushrooms and carmelized onions on crispy bread

The truck, named “favorite truck in all of Washington” by Washingtonian Magazine, made its debut inside the right field plaza outside the new team store on Friday night.

Like the popular celebrity sandwich stand G by Mike Isabella on the first base side of the concourse, the small menu features a handful of premium-priced sandwiches with gourmet ingredients.

Pepe by José Andrés stands out from other food options at Nationals Park in three significant ways. First, unlike other sandwich stands in the Park, the sandwiches here are served piping hot. On Friday night, even after a long walk back to the opposite side of the stadium, our sandwiches were hot and toasty, but a welcome departure from the typical pre-made sandwich or frigid bun.

Second, the menu will not be fixed. On Friday night, the four sandwiches included a spicy fried chicken sandwich, a confit chicken breast sandwich with bacon, a rich “sausage burger”, and a dynamite vegetarian sandwich with portabello mushrooms and carmelized onions on a delightfully crispy bun.

Finally, you won’t find Pepe Food Truck at every game. In true food truck fashion, you’ll have to pounce at the opportunity when you see it, because it may be gone the next minute. Pepe won’t be at Nationals Park on Saturday, but they’ll be back for Sunday’s series finale.

Friday’s Menu:

Jose Andres Pepe Truck Nationals Park Menu

Video: Abe Lincoln enlists Ant Man to knock out Nats’ presidents race competition

Abe Lincoln Ant Man racing presidents raceTeddy Roosevelt Ant Man racing presidents race Abe Lincoln Ant Man racing presidents raceThe Nationals presidents race has a history of borrowing from popular culture. Friday was the release date for the feature film Ant Man, and racing president Abraham Lincoln wasted no time jumping on the summer blockbuster bandwagon, recruiting the diminutive superhero to help eliminate his competition.

“Honest” Abe emerged first from the tunnel for the fourth inning race wearing his black formal suit usually reserved for Sunday races and sporting an unusual bulge on his back.

No sooner had the five other racing presidents followed wearing their white home uniforms, then Ant Man emerged from under Lincoln’s cape.

The action star proceeded to chase after each of the racing presidents and knock them out one by one with flying leaps.

He caught Teddy Roosevelt last and wrestled him to the ground, then escorted Lincoln across the finish line.

Video below featuring the race as called by Nats PA announcer Jerome Hruska, followed by our finish line video.


Finish line video by lfahome

Who to root for in the Nationals’ presidents race? Fangraphs breaks it down

For everybody who ever claimed “the Nationals always lose when Teddy wins,” the baseball stat geeks over at FanGraphs have attempted to create the definitive analysis of who to root for in the Nats’ presidents race.

Nationals Racing President George Washington

If you’re Bryce Harper or Jordan Zimmerman, you should root for George Washington, according to FanGraphs

Using data compiled here at the Let Teddy Win blog, sports reporter Zachary Abate has analyzed our data beginning in 2013 — the first year after the Nats allowed Teddy Roosevelt to win, as well as the first year president William Howard Taft joined the mix.

During that time, Abraham Lincoln has won the most races, and the Nationals have won 61% of home games. After FanGraphs added run differential and player stats to the mix, Abate concludes that George Washington is the president to root for.

His reasons: The Nats win the most games and have the biggest run differential when George wins. Even more impressive: Bryce Harper also has the highest batting average and Jordan Zimmermann has the lowest ERA when George wins.

Which president is the worst for Harper? “Honest Abe” himself, Abraham Lincoln.

Bryce Harper Presidents Race stats
As for cause and effect, it’s not quite as clear. Perhaps George is more inspired by what’s happening on the field? To know for sure, FanGraphs would have to break down production before and after the 4th inning race.

But that’s the beauty of baseball. Advance presidents race stats are apparently just in their infancy.

And Teddy? Yes, it’s true. The Nats’ winning percentage is lowest when the Rough Rider wins the race, despite a positive run differential per game that’s second only to George. In other words, it seems Teddy has the worst luck.

Read the full analysis here.

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