I can think of 10 reasons Giant Racing Teddy might earn his first career win in the Nats Presidents Race on Memorial Day afternoon. If you buy a ticket hoping to see this and he fails again, do not blame me. But I have reasons, and I'd like to share them with you.
UPDATE: Teddy lost. And with him, we all lost. I, especially, lost. My apologies. I thought this was legit.
1) The Presidents Race was, of course, the brainchild of Stan Kasten. Stan Kasten is no longer with the franchise, and COO Andy Feffer has been emphatic in several interviews with me that the franchise is still young enough that it shouldn’t feel beholden to any traditions; should try to break free, experiment and find its own way. So, to me, a Teddy victory is very much on the theoretical table, at least.
2) Teddy’s losing streak exploded into the news again last week, when Jayson Werth — the most expensive player in franchise history — publicly lamented the fact that Teddy can’t win.
“I mean, why doesn’t Teddy get to win?” Werth asked.
3) This was no passing fancy for Werth. The very next day, he stood at the top of the dugout steps for the race, and gestured in apparently authentic disgust when Teddy failed to win. Failed badly, in fact. This image comes from Let Teddy Win. It says more than any press release or quote sheet could. When you’re paying a guy nine figures, and your mascot is causing him such distress, maybe you pause and think.
4) It’s customarily been assumed by Nats fans that Teddy would win on the day of some sort of milestone: the day after the first clinched playoff berth, the day of the first home playoff game, the day of the first All-Star game at Nats Park, and so on. But if you think about it, from a marketing standpoint, that doesn’t make much sense. If Teddy wins on the day of a playoff game, it's a note on page D7. If Teddy wins on some random day in May, it might be A1 in The Post.
5) And so, what sort of day would give an even bigger marketing boost than “some random day in May?” Well, the Nats have always had a strong relationship with the military, but I can tell you that team executives have mentioned this connection far more often this year than in the past. Remember, they also did away with fireworks in favor of the sub horn to help emphasize this relationship. Monday is Memorial Day. That sort of works.
6) Beyond that, the team has also scheduled a special Adults Run the Bases feature on Monday for anyone who donates $10 to Hike for Heroes. “Run the Bases for Military Families,” is the official name of the event. I’m not sure if adults have ever been offered this chance before, but if so, it hasn’t happened very often. Do you think the event might get a little more publicity if a victorious-for-the-first-time Teddy joined these adults on the basepaths?
7) And beyond that, Teddy Roosevelt does have a certain connotation with the military, huh? And with Memorial Day, as it turns out. Legend has it that he nominated Oliver Wendell Holmes to the Supreme Court in part because of his admiration for Holmes’s Memorial Day speech, which gave the world this line: “We have shared the incommunicable experience of war; we have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top.” You might remember that line from Ken Burns’s “Civil War” epic, and its accompanying soundtrack.
8) Also, back to the marketing thing: if you wanted a date that you were guaranteed would have virtually no other D.C sports news, it'd be tough to do better than this Memorial Day. The Caps aren’t playing. The Redskins are locked out. D.C. United played on Sunday. There’s no Triple Crown threat, and no rain-delayed Memorial Day weekend car race. The NBA Finals and NHL Finals are still yet to begin. This is a black hole of sports news, and that virtually guarantees a huge splash for a victorious Teddy.
9) And with all this gurgling in the background, then came Sunday’s race. Teddy didn’t win, but his official Twitter account did pipe up after his 300th-some consecutive loss. “Sooo close I could taste it today!! I’ve gotta good feeling about tomorrow." That’s...well, it isn’t subtle, anyhow, is it?
10) And that wasn’t all. MASN color man F.P. Santangelo chimed in during the broadcast with a prediction of his own.
“Teddy’s going to win tomorrow,” he said, again via Let Teddy Win. “That’s my call, and I’m sticking to it.”
Doesn’t seem like a crazy call, all in all.