With the Washington Nationals coming off a 4-game losing streak, and the red hot Cincinnati Reds coming to town, fans, players, and team officials alike pulled out all the stops Thursday to exorcise whatever demons were plaguing the team.
At high noon in front of the Nationals Park center field gate, fans gathered as the Nats’ self-appointed “Rubber Chicken Man” Hugh Kaufman sacrificed a chicken after burning sage to help break the bad juju, performing the Kaporos ritual then slicing the chicken’s rubber head off as it was held by Caps superfan Jenn Rubenstein.
Video of the ritual below courtesy of the excellent report at DC Sports Nexus.
On the field, Manager Davey Johnson shuffled the lineup, inserting Steve Lombardozzi in the two spot and moving Jayson Werth to cleanup. But it was pitcher Gio Gonzalez, who took on the cause of Chicken Mode last season, who emerged as the star of the game, pitching a one hit gem.
In the fourth inning, the mascot team took their superstitions to a new level, running the presidents race in reverse for the first time in history.
Starting from the usual finish line in foul territory, William Howard Taft got the best start of his short racing career. Taft hung onto his lead until the Rushmores were approaching the new finish line at the centerfield gate, but he simply ran out of gas, and George Washington took the win.
That’s right. It seemed that the Nats were willing to try anything to change the team’s luck Thursday, but they still didn’t let Teddy win for the first time in 2013.
Photos and video courtesy of Hugh Kaufman and Luis Albisu