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.

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.)

Racing president Teddy Roosevelt completes his seventh winless season

Teddy Roosevelt loss number 81There could not have been less drama in the 81st and final presidents race of the Washington Nationals’ 2017 regular season.

Wearing their Sunday best, Teddy Roosevelt faded fast while George Washington pulled away to secure second place behind Thomas Jefferson in the final season standings.

Sunday’s race capped the seventh completely winless regular season for the hero of San Juan hill.

While some are predicting a Roosevelt victory in the playoffs, others seem to be pleased that the team is putting the squeeze on the bull moose until they win a playoff series, and perhaps longer.

The Nats have clinched. Time to let Teddy win. For Jayson.

With ten home games remaining in the season, the 2017 presidents race crown remains up in the air, with George Washington and Abe Lincoln each within four victories of leader Thomas Jefferson in the standings. But one thing we know for sure:

Teddy Roosevelt doesn’t stand a chance.

Teddy Roosevelt Washington Nationals Presidents Race

Teddy Roosevelt is winded on an extra-long presidents race course, August 26

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle racing president Teddy Roosevelt

Teenage Mutant Ninja Teddy stops to gloat on 90s Night, August 13

Washington Nationals racing presidents vogue on Madonna's birthday

Racing presidents pause to Vogue on Madonna’s birthday, August 16

On Sunday, as Stephen Strasburg and the Nats were clinching their fourth NL East championship, Roosevelt quietly faded at the finish to lose his 73rd consecutive presidents race at Nationals Park.

We haven’t published full stories about every race this season, but we’ve continued to post summaries and videos after every race, and the narrative is worth revisiting. The Nationals revived their conspiracy against Theodore Roosevelt, and he is losing in spectacular and creative ways.

Teddy has been bowled over by Lincoln, battled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on 90s night, danced the Vogue on Maddona’s birthday, and been fooled by counterfeit currency on National Dollar Day.

He’s been distracted by the 2018 All Star Game logo, by fans in the stands, by Nats 50/50 raffle tickets, and by a book about Mount Rushmore on National Book Lovers Day.

And that’s just since the All Star break.

But now that the Nats have clinched, some fans are saying on social media that that’s enough. Harkening back to the 2012 season, when the Nationals won their first division, they say the Nats will now let Teddy win.

For others, letting Teddy win is a bad memory. They’ve reversed the curse concept, as they did in 2014 and again in 2016, saying that the Nats won’t win a playoff series if they let Roosevelt win.

To those fans, I point to Barry Svrluga’s column in Sunday’s Post, in which he chronicles Jayson Werth’s decision to sign with baseball’s losing-est franchise in 2010, and the team’s rise to elite status during the course of Werth’s seven-year contract.

Soon after joining the team, Werth become the most prominent member of the Let Teddy Win movement, lobbying and scheming to get the team to allow Teddy to win. “To me, the Presidents Race and Teddy Roosevelt are very symbolic of where this organization goes,” he said on ESPN in 2012. “It needs to be addressed. It needs to be answered.”

Entering the final year of his contract with the winningest record in baseball over the previous six seasons, Werth proclaimed “We did it” when I saw him in 2016.

Now Werth, who teammates call the heart of the franchise, faces what is likely his last opportunity to win a championship with the Nationals. Why on this occasion would the Nats decide to rub it in his face and turn Teddy into a loser again?

Dear Nationals. Let Teddy Win!

The presidents stop to admire the 2018 All Star Game logo:

Teddy stops to wave at former Nat Pack members in the crowd:

Abe pummels Teddy, then is attacked by a shark:

Washington fools the presidents with fake currency on National Dollar Day:

Teddy is distracted by a Mount Rushmore book on National Book Lover’s Day:

Abe distracts Teddy with Dream Foundation raffle tickets:

On 90s night, Teenage Mutant Ninja Teddy pauses to gloat:

Presidents dance The Vogue on Madonna’s birthday:

On extra-long extended course, Teddy gets winded:

Grounds crew enters field to tackle the presidents:

Video: Jefferson slams Teddy Roosevelt into the stands as Nationals attempt to quell curse talk

thomas-jefferson-playoff-presidents-racethomas-jefferson-nats-playoff-presidents-race-3thomas-jefferson-shoves-teddy-roosevelt-playoff-presidents-race-3thomas-jefferson-wins-playoffs-presidents-raceThe Nationals can’t seem to win — and not just division series.

Faced with relentless criticism about an alleged curse of Teddy Roosevelt, the team responded by having Teddy win every playoff presidents race from 2012 to 2014 through last week’s Game 1.

When that didn’t work out so well, they shifted gears and plotted a victory for Thomas Jefferson for Sunday’s Game 2 — which the Nationals won.

So for Thursday night’s decisive Game 5, another elaborate plot had Roosevelt fooling his fellow presidents by running the wrong way, then reversing course and bolting for the finish.

Again, it was Jefferson who caught up from behind, this time plowing into the Bull Moose and knocking Teddy into the stands.

Sadly for Nationals fans, the victories for Jefferson turned out to be as unrelated to the outcome as those historic Roosevelt wins, as the Nationals lost an epic heartbreaker to the Los Angeles Dodgers to end their 2016 season.

It was nonetheless a great showcase game for a team that has come a long way in it’s relatively short tenure in DC. Fans stayed — and stayed on their feet — until nearly 1:00am despite the closure of the Metro an hour earlier. The #NatsRide program, generated entirely by fans the day before the game, was an unqualified success, and a badge of honor for the team’s passionate and supportive fan base.

Some fans (see below) manage to still blame things on Teddy, but here’s hoping we’re finally past that.

Thanks to LetTeddyWin contributor lfahome for another season of great finish line videos:

Nats botch attempt to break playoff “curse” as Teddy Roosevelt doesn’t cooperate

teddy-roosevelt-presidents-race-playoff-curset-rex-chases-teddy-roosevelt-racing-presidentst-rex-chases-teddy-roosevelt-nationals-presidents-raceteddy-roosevelt-presidents-race-playoff-curse-t-rex-fixWhen the Washington Nationals were a perennial loser, many blamed the curse of Teddy Roosevelt; but the narrative switched after 2012, and fans began to believe that the Nats couldn’t win a playoff series precisely because they had let Teddy win.

So on Sunday, with Roosevelt having won the presidents race in each of the team’s six historic playoff games, the team conspired to prevent a recurrence.

The race began innocently enough, as the presidents stopped on the warning track to entertain the fans with some dance moves.

When the music stopped, Teddy got the early jump and dashed toward the finish. That’s when one of the dinosaurs from Friday’s race emerged from the stands to chase Teddy down.

The T-Rex was clearly supposed to stop Teddy short of the finish line, but the Bull Moose was too much to handle, and Teddy broke the tape as he fell.

What happened then stunned the crowd, and judge Screech and PA announcer Jerome Hruska followed the script and declared Thomas Jefferson the winner anyway.


Video: Teddy’s postseason dominance continues as two T-Rex chase down the racing presidents

presidents-race-t-rex-teddy-rooseveltteddy-roosevelt-t-rex-racing-presidentsteddy-roosevelt-t-rex-presidents-raceWhen the Nationals won their first division championship in 2012, Teddy Roosevelt snapped a six-year losing streak and dominated his opponents in the playoffs. Two years later, it happened again, and this year, with the Nationals winning their third division title, it appears Teddy can’t be stopped in the postseason.

Of course, Teddy’s had some help in the past, and Friday’s National League Division Series Game 1 was no exception.

An overly-elaborate narrative for the fourth inning race began when the presidents found two large eggs blocking their path on the warning track. Roosevelt stopped, turned around, and carried the eggs beyond the center field fence.

After some crunching sounds were heard, Teddy reappeared being chased by two people in T-Rex costumes. The dinosaurs pursued the presidents toward the finish line, tackling Hoover, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Taft in succession.

But they couldn’t catch up to the hero of San Juan Hill.

Meanwhile, the team lost a squeaker to the dreaded Dodgers, stranding nine runners along the way.

Let the curse talk begin anew.

Video for LetTeddyWin.com by lfahome

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