We’re about to have a World Series presidents race, and Teddy needs to win

Nationals Park is hosting its first World Series game Friday, and the national spotlight on all things Nats has never been brighter. So when the fourth inning arrives, if the team knows what’s good for them, they’ll make sure Teddy Roosevelt wins the presidents race.

Washington Nationals Teddy Roosevelt Racing Presidents Race SignsThe superstitious among us will point to Teddy’s season trajectory, which eerily mirrors that of the team. Teddy lost his first races of the season, and floundered into late May, but then ran off a five-race winning streak starting May 24 and dominated the field from that point forward and taking the season title. Sound familiar?

In the playoffs, the Nationals’ lone loss in five home games came during the NLDS, when the team inexplicably allowed Thomas Jefferson to cross the finish line first. It was the only postseason presidents race that Teddy Roosevelt didn’t win.

Now, consider the trajectory of the entire franchise. Among the worst teams in baseball from 2006 when the presidents race was first introduced, the Nationals finally had a breakout year in 2012. Over the next seven seasons, the Nationals became an elite team, winning their division four times, but still getting tagged by some as losers for failing to advance past the first round. Teddy, too, broke out in 2012, winning his first race after going winless for 6 1/2 years.

The Nats won their division again in 2014 and 2016, when Roosevelt won the presidents race season title, but much like the Nationals themselves, Teddy couldn’t shake his image as a lovable loser.

Former Nationals star Jayson Werth openly complained that the team needed to let Teddy win because Teddy represented the wrong image for a winning team. You can’t build a winning culture, he argued, around a lovable, grinning, happy-go lucky loser.

“The Presidents Race and Teddy Roosevelt are very symbolic of where this organization goes,” Werth said on ESPN. But what if Werth was right while getting it all wrong?

The Nationals spent much of the decade as the feared juggernaut of the NL East, with nothing but early exits from the playoffs to show for it. Now, through a remarkable season-long makeover, the team has emerged as the quintessential lovable, happy-go-lucky, confident sub-500 team who snuck up on the world, and on Friday bring a 2-games to none World Series lead home to Nationals Park.

They did it with group hugs. They did it with dugout dances. They did it with childrens songs about baby sharks. And looking at the numbers, perhaps they did it with the help of Teddy. Perhaps it’s finally time to recognize that there could not be a better model for the ethos of this team than a confident, happy, grinning, and winning racing president Teddy Roosevelt.

Wild indeed! Nats “Lose Control” of PA system during NL Wild Card game, run presidents race in silence, and Brittney saves the day

An hour into Tuesday’s NL Wild Card game at Nationals Park, as Max Scherzer was completing his 4th inning on the mound, the stadium’s emergency alert system malfunctioned. Alarms blared in the press box, and the stadium’s PA system went silent.
Nat Pack tries to stop Teddy Roosevelt Racing presidentsRacing president Teddy Roosevelt is sent backBrittney Saves the Daywashington Nationals Racing Presidents Lose Control

For baseball purists, it was a rare opportunity to temporarily enjoy the sounds of the game without modern “influences.”

But then the Brewers side was retired, and the Nats presidents race began.

The usual introductory video played on the Nats HD scoreboard, and the racing presidents entered through the center field gate, but there were no introductions or play-by-play to be heard from Nationals Park PA announcer Jerome Hruska. There was no “Runnin’ Down a Dream” playing by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. And when the “Secret Service” handlers placed a fake boom box on the field so that the presidents could pause and perform a dance number to “Lose Control” by Missy Elliott, there was only silence.

Without a clear Plan B, chaos ensued. Teddy Roosevelt ignored his handler’s pleas to stop, and raced past the dance spot toward the finish line, only to be stopped there by another handler. Abe Lincoln zoomed by, accidentally breaking the finish line tape; but both were sent back to the boom box to perform their dance number. Without music.

Waiting there was Nats in-game host Brittney Ramsey, who crouched on the sideline and shouted out the rhythms so the presidents could follow along and perform their dance moves while a confused sellout crowd looked on in silence.

Finally, one of the handlers yelled “Go, Teddy, Go! Finish the race!” Teddy broke for the finish line, and took the first presidents race victory of the postseason.


In new book, professor argues that Nats should never let Teddy Roosevelt win again. Wait. What?

This week marked the publication of an excellent new book on Teddy Roosevelt and his relationship with American sports and fitness. The 329-page volume The Strenuous Life: Theodore Roosevelt and the Making of the American Athlete is a lively account of how a sickly child became obsessed with athletic and fitness, carried that obsession into the White House, and influenced a nation.

The Strenuous Life Theodore Roosevelt by Ryan Swanson

A new book on Teddy Roosevelt argues against the Let Teddy Win movement

The book also paints a less than flattering portrait of the 26th president from the perspective of most baseball fans.

Author Ryan Swanson, a history professor at the University of New Mexico’s Honor’s College, devotes an entire chapter to Theodore Roosevelt’s relationship with baseball, which at the turn of the 20th century has already established itself as “the national game.”

Titled “Baseball’s great Roosevelt Chase,” the chapter references the Nationals’ presidents race and the Let Teddy Win movement, but harkens back to myriad rebuffed efforts by representatives of the Major Leagues to get Roosevelt to make an appearance at games including the World Series.

After failing to attend a single game during his first term of office, the American League’s Ban Johnson made a show of offering Roosevelt an unlimited free pass to games, according to Swanson.  “The management has issued a golden pass to President Roosevelt, who may desire to see what a real, strenuous, bold athlete looks like,” the Sporting Life reported in 1906.

Swanson explains that when that didn’t work, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Leagues presented a solid gold “Presidents Pass” to Roosevelt on May 16, 1907 at the White House. Engraved with Roosevelt’s image, the gold pass conferred lifetime membership, including free admission to 36 leagues and 256 cities. 

That didn’t work either. Swanson writes that the hero of San Juan Hill had very poor eyesight as a child, and expressed a fear of being hit, citing Roosevelt as saying “I don’t think that I should be afraid of anything except a baseball coming at me in the dark.”

Perhaps more significantly, he opens the chapter with a quote from Teddy’s oldest daughter Alice: “Father and all us regarded baseball as a mollycoddle game.  Tennis, football, lacrosse, boxing, polo, yes – they are violent, which appealed to us.  But baseball? Father wouldn’t watch it, not even at Harvard.”

So Teddy was apparently not a fan. And now that the book has been published, Swanson is openly calling for the Nationals to return to the tradition of not letting Teddy win. “Don’t let TR, a noted baseball curmudgeon, win anymore. No mas!” Swanson wrote this week. “Get right with baseball history and perhaps, just maybe, the Nationals will find themselves playing playoff baseball again this October.”

(Don’t tell Swanson, but before Teddy won, most believed that the curse worked the other way around.)

Heading to Nationals Park in 2019? Download these new apps first.

The Washington Nationals’ historically busy offseason has drawn much attention in baseball circles for GM Mike Rizzo’s high-profile signings and trades that addressed every perceived area of need on the field.

But fans heading to Nationals Park beginning next week are advised to turn their attention off the field for a moment and take note of some significant changes to the stadium experience, particularly to several apps that could enhance their experience and speed entry into the park.

Getting In

Binbox App Nationals ParkA new Nationals Park bag policy prohibits backpacks inside Nationals Park, but those coming from work with backpacks can now store them in one of the Binbox lockers that have been installed around the perimeter of the park.

The hitch: you must install the Binbox app (available from  the App Store or Google Play) and set up an account before using Binbox for the first time. If you think you might need a locker, download it now. Binbox has offered the promo code DCSPORTS to get your first hour free.

Note: All drawstring bags, purses, diaper bags, soft-sided coolers, and sling bags that do not exceed 16″x16″x8″ are still permitted. The Nationals are also giving away a limited number of Curly W drawstring bags at the Team Store now through March 25.

MLB Ballpark AppManaging Tickets

Fans should also install the newly-redesigned MLB Ballpark app (available from the App Store or Google Play), and log into their account before heading to the park. 

NATS PLUS cards for season plan holders and partners have been retired. 

The Ballpark app, which stores your tickets, is now the primary method for entering games. Nationals Ballpark AppeCASH, which is used by season plan holders for concessions and souvenirs, is also stored in the app.

The downside: You’ll need a well-charged phone and an internet connection to move about the park (you can also print your tickets at home, or iPhone users can add tickets to their Apple Wallet).

The positives: You can transfer, scan, or upgrade seats from the app, and Red Carpet Rewards are now fully integrated as well.

Enjoying New Food Options

The Nationals announced a new and innovative partnership with food delivery service Caviar to open its first in-stadium concession stand near section 106, featuring food options from different local restaurants each month. Items from Tiger Fork, Mason Dixie, Duke’s Grocery and Toki Underground will be among those featured, and fans can use the Caviar app to order ahead for pickup (available at the App Store and Google Play).

Caviar app Washington Nationals ParkCaviar is just one of the new food options that the team previewed for members of the media on Thursday (Scott Allen has a complete rundown at the Post’s DC Sports Bog). Highlights of other new offerings include:

Hank’s Oyster Bar (Section 108): Fish & chips, Oyster and shrimp po’ boys, fish sandwiches, Old Bay fries

Rappahannock Oyster Co. (Scoreboard Pavilion): Harris Creek oysters on the Half Shell

Lobster Shack (Section 105): Lobster rolls

Medium Rare (Section 136): Steak sandwich stuffed with fries

La Casita Pupuseria (Introduced late last season in Section 140): Pupusas (pollo con queso, revuelta con queso, frijol con queso)

Bao Bao (Section 116): Steamed buns (Ssamjang mushroom, hoisin pork and char sui chicken)

Taco Caminando (Section 233): Walking taco (like a Frito pie in a bowl)

CHIKO (Section 238): Bulgogi hoagies, Korean fried chicken wings, Furikake tots

D.C. Empenadas (Section 244): Buffalo chicken empanadas, Spinach & feta empanadas

Old Hickory Barbecue (Bud Light Loft): Bone-in short ribs, Mexican grilled corn

Nats Dogs (Several locations): Hebrew National has replaced Nathan’s as the official hot dog of Nationals Park

New food, seven bobbleheads, and the return of fireworks highlight Nationals changes and promotion schedule for 2019

Juan Soto Bobblehead Washington NationalsThe Washington Nationals revealed their 2019 promotion/giveaway schedule today (weeks earlier than usual), featuring a bump in the number of popular bobblehead dolls that so many fans look forward to annually.

After offering only three bobbleheads two years ago, the team has equaled it’s historical high of seven bobblehead giveaways, including first-ever bobbleheads for outfielders Juan Soto (April 12) and Adam Eaton (July 12), and for pitcher Patrick Corbin (August 17).

At a recent “hot stove” event for season plan holders, Nationals Senior VP Mike Shane said that Soto rejected early renderings of his bobblehead because he “wasn’t smiling.” So Soto’s doll, the first of the season, features a grinning #22.

Trea Turner BobbleheadNats bobblehead collectors can look forward to several firsts, including a Trea Turner bobblehead that is the first to feature the Nationals alternate blue “script Nationals” uniform.

On Marvel Super Hero Day May 25, Ryan Zimmerman will be featured on a “Captain Zimmerman” bobblehead that features a Captain America-style Curly W shield, and a Sean Doolittle bobblehead to be given out on Star Wars Day June 15 will feature the All-Star closer dressed as Obi “Sean” Kenobi, complete with Jedi robe and blue light saber.

Max Scherzer will be featured on the other bobblehead on June 21, and a previously-announced bobblehead day of September 13 has been changed to “PenFed Giveaway,” leaving open the possibility of a record eighth bobblehead doll.

Most Nats bobbleheads are produced in quantities of 25,000, but the special edition “Captain Zimmerman”and “Obi-Sean Kenobi” bobbleheads will be limited to the first 10,000 fans, so plan to queue up early.

Ryan Zimmerman Bobblehead Washington Nationals Bobbleheads Captain Zimmerman

The schedule features a record number of theme events that require a special event ticket purchase to participate. These include promotions such as Yoga in the Outfield, Ladies Night, Caturday, Pups in the Park, Taste of the World, Stich ‘N Pitch, Margaritaville night, and a new Father’s Day Catch on the Field.

The list also includes dozens of theme nights representing more than half of all home games for groups such as military branches, college alumni, scouts, teachers, youth baseball leagues, and first responders. These also require a special event ticket to sit with the honored group. Such events have been hugely popular in the past and are the focus of a Nationals marketing team looking to bring new audiences to the ball park.

Washington Nationals Radio LanyardAfter opening day features a t-shirt on March 28, expect die-hard fans to scramble for the second game giveaway on Saturday, March 30: a battery-operated radio lanyard that is permanently tuned to 106.7 The Fan and works only inside Nationals Park, with a promise of no delay and “enhanced gameday elements.” The item had been promised last season but delayed because the first batch did not meet the team’s standards.

The team will also give away an expandable beach bag (May 2), a Nationals water bottle (July 23), a racing presidents tote bag (July 27), a Nats camo tank (August 31), a PenFed giveaway TBD (September 13), a Nationals beer stein (September 14), and a Nationals puffy vest (September 29).

Washington Nationals Kids Watch Screech Hooded Towel

Additional giveaways reserved just for kids include a Washington Nationals kids watch on “Kids Opening Day” (April 28), when the team celebrates Screeches birthday and the park is teeming with mascots from other area teams and schools.

Other kids’ giveaways include a Max Scherzer Jersey (May 26), a Screech hooded towel (June 23), a Teddy Roosevelt squeezable toy (August 18), and a lumberjack cap (September 15). All kids’ giveaways are limited to the first 10,000 children age 12 and under.

For the third year, National season plan holders will be given the option of purchasing up to two “Guaranteed Giveaways” coupon books, which reserve one of each giveaway item to be picked up after the promotion date, whether or not you attend that game. In past years, Guaranteed Giveaway books cost $109 each.

Fireworks Fridays throughout the season, which disappeared in recent years, have returned for 2019 and are scheduled for April 26, May 24, June 14, and August 30. There will also be fireworks on Wednesday, July 3.

Washington Nationals Walking Taco - Taco Caminando

The Taco Caminando “Walking Taco”

The team is also introducing three new food concessions for 2019:

A new concept called Taco Caminando will feature the “Walking Taco,” a 16 oz. cup filled with a belly bomb of corn chips, chili, cheese, diced tomatoes and sour cream (in other words, a rebranded Frito pie).

In addition, Maryland-based restaurant La Casita Pupuseria will feature pupusas and other Salvadoran food, and a new concession called Bao Bao will feature steamed Bao — steamed dumplings stuffed with savory fillings.

Giveaways below. Full schedule of special events and ticket offers at Nationals.com.

2019 Washington Nationals Giveaway Schedule

Date Opponent Giveaway
Thu 3/28 NYM 2019 Schedule T-Shirt
(25,000 fans)
Sat 3/30 NYM In-Park Live Radio Lanyard
(20,000 fans)
Fri 4/12 PIT Juan Soto Bobblehead
(25,000 fans)
Sun 4/28 SDG Kids Watch
(10,000 kids 12 & under)
Thu 5/2 STL Expandable Beach Bag
(20,000 fans)
Wed 5/15 NYM Trea Turner Bobblehead
(25,000 fans)
Sat 5/25 NYM Captain Zimmerman Bobblehead
(10,000 fans)
Sun 5/26 MIA Kids Max Scherzer Jersey
(10,000 kids 12 & under)
Sat 6/15 ARI Obi “Sean” Kenobi Bobblehead
(10,000 fans)
Fri 6/21 ATL Max Scherzer Bobblehead
(25,000 fans)
Sun 6/23 ATL Kids Screech Hooded Towel
(10,000 kids 12 & under)
Tue 7/2 MIA Adam Eaton Bobblehead
(25,000 fans)
Tue 7/23 COL Nationals Water Bottle
(20,000 fans)
Sat 7/27 LAD Racing Presidents Tote Bag
(25,000 fans)
Sat 8/17 MIL Patrick Corbin Bobblehead
(25,000 fans)
Sun 8/18 MIL Teddy Squeezable Toy
(10,000 fans 12 & under)
Sat 8/31 MIA Camo Tank
(20,000 fans 21 & over)
Fri 9/13 ATL PenFed Giveaway TBD
(25,000 fans)
Sat 9/14 ATL Nationals Beer Stein
(20,000 fans 21 & over)
Sun 9/15 ATL Kids Lumberjack Cap
(10,000 kids 12 & under)
Sun 9/29 CLE Nationals Puffy Vest
(20,000 fans)

From DCist: An Oral History of the Nationals racing presidents, and a major first admission of conspiracy

DCist today published a wonderful Oral History of the Nationals Racing Presidents, lovingly curated by intrepid journalist Matt Blitz. including a first-ever formal admission by a team official that the fix was in for Teddy Roosevelt.

DCist Racing Presidents oral historyBlitz tells the history of the presidents race through interviews with many of the people behind the scenes and involved in its creation, revealing even a few things I hadn’t documented on our facts page, such as the inspiration that costume designer Randy Carfagno received from none other than Bette Midler.

But Blitz’s biggest “scoop” comes from Josh Golden, an ad agency executive who served as the Nats’ Director of Creative Services for the team’s first two seasons. “The first race we had George win, but we [decided] we didn’t want to go in order, so we skipped Teddy,” Golden told Blitz. “…people started emailing us, “Why hasn’t Teddy won?” There wasn’t a plan to [have Teddy lose] until those emails started coming in. By the fifth game, we had decided that Teddy isn’t going to win. Let’s make it a thing.”

Yikes. I may or may not have written a couple of those emails.

Great stuff and a worthy read.

After throwing in the towel on 2018, Washington Nationals let Teddy win

The Washington Nationals formally threw in the towel on the 2018 season Tuesday, then promptly let Teddy win.

125 games into the season, the once heavily-favored but snake bitten Nationals finally accepted the reality of their losing record and today announced trades of Daniel Murphy and Matt Adams — key players in the final year of their contracts — to the Cubs and Cardinals, while issuing a public statement of explanation and disappointment.

Teddy Roosevelt wins Nationals presidents raceThen, as if to send a message that all bets are off, they let Teddy win the presidents race.

It’s been many years now since Theodore Roosevelt’s initial epic 6 1/2 year losing streak was first broken, but Teddy returned to his consistent losing ways in 2016, and lost 86 straight heading into this year. When the Teddy won on opening day, it appeared that the team had a change of heart regarding the Bull Moose, but then the losing began again.

As chronicled in our season standings, Teddy’s misfortunes this season have been epic. He’s been slammed into the wall and attacked by swords multiple times. He’s been distracted by bowling, haircuts, hypnotism, picnics, selfies, penalty kicks, pet cats, bunnies, and the YMCA.

But after Nats ownership admitted to throwing in the towel on the playoffs, they perhaps superstitiously also took the handcuffs off Teddy, who raced from the back of the pack to run away with Tuesday’s race.

It’s too late for Roosevelt to catch Washington, Jefferson, or Lincoln in the standings, but Teddy, like the Nats, have six weeks left to regain respectability.

 

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