Of all the great surprises the Washington Nationals have supplied the fans of our Nation’s Capitol this year, none have generated nearly as much fanfare, or passion, as the one that has not yet occurred. In a season of firsts, of breakthroughs, of the baseball universe being flipped on its head and the written rules of convention sent through the shredder, one constant has remained: Teddy is still winless.
Here we sit, on the final day of the regular season, with the Nationals as 2012 National League East Champions. The only bit of business left to decide on the field is for the top overall seed, which Washington would clinch with a win or a Cincinnati loss. And while manager Davey Johnson and the team would love to see Edwin Jackson get his 10th Curly W, the locals have a more pressing matter on their collective minds. Is today the day Teddy finally wins?
The question has become a hotly contested one, from the Nationals fan base to a national audience. The story has been covered by ABC News and made the front page of the Wall Street Journal. ESPN’s E:60 magazine program recently featured Teddy in a Ken Burns-narrated piece featuring Arizona Senator and 2008 presidential nominee John McCain and Roosevelt’s great great-grandson Winthrop, both of whom extolled his reputation as “The Rough Rider.” The program noted that Roosevelt was the first president to own a car, the first to fly in an airplane, and the first to win a Nobel Prize, yet never the first to cross the finish line in the Presidents Race.
“I am outraged,” said Senator McCain during the piece. “I’m calling for Congressional hearings to right this horrible wrong.”
McCain, along with WWE star John Cena and members of the U.S. Army have appeared in videos over the past few days giving words of encouragement and training techniques, doing their best to help Teddy overcome both the physical and mental sides of the race. After 525 consecutive losses, what will it take for our 26th president to finally break through?
Surely Mike Rizzo, the Nationals EVP of Baseball Operations and General Manager, the man who laid the framework to take this Nationals club to the division crown would know. He engineered the rosters that have added 10, 11 and 17 (and counting) wins over the past three seasons. Could he be the one to provide the final push for Teddy to reach the top of the mountain?
“It’s above my pay grade,” said Rizzo on the night the Nationals clinched the NL East.
And so the mystery remains. One thing is for sure, though. Once the center field gate opens after the top of the fourth inning, the eyes of the nation will be on The Rough Rider, on the mustached and bespectacled President in the number 26 jersey, to see if he will, in his own words, “Fail while daring greatly,” or if this will finally be his moment of glory.