Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Teddy crosses the finish line first, at long last.
In a season of plenty of baseball firsts for the Nationals, perhaps the biggest first of them all just happened: Teddy won the Presidents Race.
OK, so maybe a victory by the giant-headed mascot resembling the old Rough Rider isn't quite as significant as the Nationals' first-ever NL East title and postseason appearance. But for plenty of fans who have cheered him on in vain since the live-action race began in the summer of 2006 at RFK Stadium, this was no small accomplishment.
Loser of 525 consecutive races prior to this afternoon, Teddy faced long odds to finally beat his three counterparts in the Nationals' regular-season finale against the Phillies. And when he burst out of the gate in center field well behind George, Tom and Abe in the middle of the fourth inning wearing gold Under Armor cleats, things didn't look good.
But then, one of those unfortunate calamities that befell Teddy so many times over the years finally did in the other presidents. A makeshift mascot supposedly resembling the Phillie Phanatic emerged in the right field corner and took out George, Tom and Abe in one fell swoop. He then escorted Teddy toward the finish line, with the triumphant, bespectacled, mustached Commander-in-Chief ultimately crossing the tape with arms extended.
The crowd roared with approval, though the cheers were even louder moments later when Ryan Zimmerman led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run to right to tie the game 1-1. Michael Morse then doubled and scored on Tyler Moore's two-bagger, giving the Nationals the lead and leaving everyone wondering what might have been for this franchise had Teddy simply won the race way back in 2006.
"I guess it marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter in Nats baseball," said right fielder Jayson Werth, who last year made his opposition to the Teddy losing schtick well-known..
"I am so glad Teddy won so we can stop talking about Teddy," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said with a strong hint of sarcasm. "People get more excited for a mascot race than a game. Yes, I'm excited Teddy won. I'm ecstatic."