Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

William Taft??


Is William Taft a more random choice for the 5th racing president?  Who here, prior to today, would have even named Taft as a short-list candidate?

Aside from the fact that, last time I checked, there was still only four presidents on Mt. Rushmore, did we really need a 5th racing president?  Does this mean we’ll be introducing a new president every few years from now on?  Does this mean that eventually we’ll have a dozen charicatures of former statesman “racing” to the finish line (inexplicably greeted by a giant felt Lizard, to pay homage to the ever present commercialism rampant in today’s game)?

I will say that after reading Dan Steinberg‘s article in the Saturday Washington Post, that I understand the selection a bit more.  I fully admit that I had no recollection of Taft’s presidency in general, nor did I remember that he and Teddy Roosevelt had a massive argument (which of course is now ripe for mocking during every race), nor that Taft is apparently responsible for both throwing out the first pitch and (by urban legend) establishing the 7th inning stretch.  I’m a bit more on-board now.

However, had I known that making a change was in the works, I think I would have gone in a different direction.  I would have either selected arguably the last remaining inarguable “great” president this country has had (Franklin Roosevelt), or I would have dumped all four of our existing presidents and simply created characatures of the last four sitting presidents to do the racing.  Imagine a race with Barack Obama, the  younger George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and the older George Bush.  How funny could that be?  On a nightly basis you could have each president’s predecessor messing with his successor, or you could play off of each president’s nuances.  There’s equal balance between Republicans and Democrats here, and I’m sure that W. wouldn’t mind being the “Teddy Roosevelt” lovable loser of the group 🙂

Written by Todd Boss

January 26th, 2013 at 9:33 am

6 Responses to 'William Taft??'

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  1. I was briefly puzzled by the Taft decision, too, but not for long. First, in addition to the reasons you listed (I haven’t read the Steinberg piece yet), Taft was also physically distinct from other presidents because he was obese, which could make for a funny mock-up Taft costume. The race is supposed to get laughs, after all.

    Second, FDR was the next president that came to my mind, too, as the obvious fifth choice (as far as all-time great presidents, FDR would probably be second overall anyway, behind only Lincoln), but you obviously can’t use him in a foot-race because he was disabled. I can only imagine the controversy that would start if FDR was running around a baseball diamond. Remember the fight over the FDR memorial, Todd?

    And finally, with all the political polarization in our country, no way will the team take the risk of using recent presidents. We don’t need psychotic birthers protesting that President Obama is in the president’s race, or antiwar protesters booing Bush 43. Reagan is such a conservative icon that I doubt you could even use him. Maybe Nixon? (Yeah, that would be pretty awesome.) Certainly they could go a bit further back and use Ike or Truman, and anyone before that (FDR excluded) is fair game.


    26 Jan 13 at 12:22 pm

  2. I thought about the FDR disability aspect … but there’s plenty of footage of him from the period standing next to world leaders. But yeah, i see your point. He was wheelchair bound and i’m sure someone would be pretty pissed (as they were with his memorial) if he wasn’t displayed as he lived.

    I’d love to have the last 4 presidents racing. I mean, its supposed to be funny right? America needs to find its sense of humor again. But of course you’re right; political bipartisanship seems to be at an all time high, and any perceived slight of any recent figure would be a mess.

    Todd Boss

    26 Jan 13 at 1:04 pm

  3. I’m totally with clark17–MLB these days treats potential controversies as if they are nuclear waste. FDR normally only allowed himself to be photographed standing or sitting in such a way that hid his disability. There was a huge controversy when the FDR memorial was dedicated because he is portrayed sitting in a wheelchair. No way the Nats want to ignite that debate again.

    Taft will be great as the new lovable loser now that Teddy has won the race. Wonder if they’ll try to get milage out of the legendary incident when he got stuck in the bathtub because of his heft? Nah…even that would likely be too controversial.


    26 Jan 13 at 2:24 pm

  4. I was hoping that they would wheel him out today in a bathtub. But then again, I am a bad person …

    John C.

    26 Jan 13 at 9:32 pm

  5. John C. brings up a good anecdote. The corpuleant Taft is so far the only President to get stuck in a bathtub. No press on how many people it took to get him unstuck. The imagery. 🙂

    It has to be for comic effect, as Taft was a pretty mediocre Ppresident and an awful Chief Justice.

    Mark L

    27 Jan 13 at 2:20 pm

  6. I think this is just the Chris Christie effect.


    28 Jan 13 at 10:06 pm

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