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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

In defense of T.R.

Thanks to William Yurasko for alerting me to this Examiner item about the disparity between "Teddy's" on-field performance and the real Theodore Roosevelt, who was an amazing physical specimen, athlete and competitor, especially for his time.

This has bothered me since last season, and I'm glad to see that others are as bothered by this as I am. Theodore Roosevelt wasn't made a part of Mount Rushmore because of his good looks, it is because he was a truly great president, the most popular and famous American of his time, and an evangelical proponent of living a strenuous life of vigor and exercise. He was a fierce competitor and sportsman. So I find it somewhat painful that his image is consistently relegated to ridicule.

Oh, sure, it has been somewhat perversely fun to shout, "Run, Teddy, RUN!" during the President's Race, and to see the constant variations upon how he will lose, but the parody gets a little mean-spirited when the club has him "cheating" to try and win and being disqualified. T.R. was, above all things, an intensely honorable man who would take great umbrage at the idea of cheating to win. His sportsman's code of honor and high moral character wouldn't have allowed it.

Still, I'm hoping very much that the club decides to put him in Rough Rider regalia, complete with cavalry saber, and has him charge in on horseback. That would be awesome, and it's an idea that I've suggested to the team (though I believe that the horse angle has already been considered, so if this ever does happen, I certainly don't deserve any credit). I think that they could get a Park Service mounted police officer, or other local law enforcement mounted division officer to wear the costume, or perhaps a professional stuntman. Wouldn't that be cool? Because after that rappelling entrance that "Teddy" made on Opening Day, I have to wonder just how they can keep this thing going. What next, parachuting (or paragliding?) into the stadium? I'll bet that would be terrifying for the person in the costume. Perhaps an army jetpack entrance? A motorcycle drive-through, sponsored by Harley-Davidson? The possibilities are intriguing.

Sooner or later, they have to let him win, though. They have to. They must. Could they possibly be waiting for Opening Day next year? That means 77 more losses for poor old "Teddy". I'm not sure which is a more depressing thought, 77 more losses by "Teddy" or by the Nationals. At least when they are on the field, the Nationals have a better chance for victory.

*EDIT* Okay, I just had a little epiphany about the whole "Teddy" phenomenon. I posted it in some comments on Nats320 blog, and I'll re-print them here:

"Alright, I posted about this, but one aspect that I neglected to include is this: The one problem with Teddy always losing is that it takes some of the drama (however contrived) out of the equation. It's become a 3 man race, not 4. I thought that the whole Teddy-losing shtick was done for the 2006 season, so where does it end? I've guessed that he wins when the new stadium opens.

Is Teddy supposed to be a metaphor for the Nationals? "Hey, just like Teddy, we might lose all the time, but aren't we still fun to watch?" I don't really believe this, but it's a theory.

Perhaps "Teddy" is supposed to lose just as Charlie Brown was never destined to kick that football from Lucy in the "Peanuts" strips. Even after over 40 years of drawing Charlie Brown, it would have been pandering on the part of artist Charles Schulz to allow him to ever kick that football. The whole point was, he never was going to kick it, so what became important was HOW HE DEALT WITH IT."

This is how one manages to love a team with a losing record. If you are obsessed with the W/L column, you will live and die a thousand deaths, but if you simply enjoy what the team has to offer, then you can transcend the gut-wrenching lows of defeats and keep the flickering flames of hope burning in your heart.

I love the Washington Nationals. Win or lose. True love doesn't embrace the box scores.

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