Presidents' Day isn't often associated with baseball. That's understandable, as the holiday takes place prior to the start of the season. There just isn't any reason for the two to be connected.
At the same time, that's a little unfortunate. America's Pastime should celebrate America's great leaders. Presidents have a long history with the game, especially tossing out first pitches.
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Fortunately, we here at The Stew have found the perfect way to celebrate both Presidents' Day and the upcoming baseball season. We secured an interview with Washington National racing president Teddy, one of modern baseball's most prominent presidents and the on-field racing likeness of 26th president Theodore Roosevelt. He's a fan favorite and former underdog who inspired the "Let Teddy Win" campaign.
What follows is our Q&A with Teddy. We talked to him about his offseason training regimen, the craziest things he's seen on the field and whether he's the Nationals good-luck charm. Considering it's also George's birthday, we had to see whether Teddy would celebrate with his racing rival.
BLS: First off, what has your offseason been like? Where have you gone? What have you done? How are you keeping busy?
Teddy: My offseason has been good, I think it’s always important to recharge the batteries when the season ends. As usual I took some time to visit a warmer location during January. But other than that I have been visiting with a lot of fans all around the DMV, [and] even took part in a New Year’s Eve party. Lately, I have been hitting the gym pretty hard, two-a-days, I always want to make sure I am prepared when the season begins! Just yesterday I was out in D.C. working on shots for the new Presidents Race intro video!
How are you preparing for the races this year?
As I mentioned, I have been hitting the gym very seriously. I am always trying to get better. I have also been studying some race films not only from our races here at Nats Park, but also some Pirates Pierogies races as well. Those guys are great competitors, and I’m looking for anything that help give me an edge in the race. Last season it was really a battle for the Presidents Championship belt and this year I am determined to win it back.
Some of the Presidents get help from friends, or sometimes use illegal devices to get ahead (Segways, etc). Which one of the Presidents is the biggest cheater?
Hmmm, that’s a good question. You know, I don’t really see it as anyone cheating. Most of the time I think to myself “why didn’t I think of that?” But if you asked me who I think my greatest competition is, I would say hands down it's Abe. I don’t think there is another racer out there who likes to win more than Abe, and it shows from all his Ws. I’ve thought about him a lot during the offseason. I need to step up my game!
You’ve been a Racing President for a while now, what’s the dirtiest trick you’ve ever seen during a race?
I’m gonna be honest with you, I have seen a lot happen in the nine years I have been racing, and there is one thing that still haunts me. I was on the wrong end of its attack in 2014 and then again on Opening Day last year. To make matters worse I had to re-live it when I saw it on ESPN's "SportsCenter" again and again and again. I am talking about the Easter Bunny. I can handle anything once, but the fact that it came back last year, on Opening Day nonetheless, and took me out again, that’s just crazy, man! Close second, those darn life-sized gnomes!
Do you have any tricks up your sleeve for this season?
Oh yes, I most certainly do! I’m not gonna give you any hints, because I know the other Presidents will be reading this, but let’s just say I am much better prepared for this season than I have ever been before.
What are we more likely to see this season, you sporting Jayson Werth’s beard or Bryce Harper’s hair?
Oh, that’s a tough one. The funny thing about it is, as much as I would love to have Werth’s beard, I just can’t seem to grow a beard at all. The only facial hair I have is my mustache, even though it doesn’t have its own Twitter handle. So I guess I will go with Harper’s hair.
If you had to run the Presidents race with one Nationals player as your teammate, who would you choose and why?
I think everyone on the team brings something to the table, I don’t think I could ever choose just one, could we do a 26-person relay race? Haha.
We’ve seen the Presidents display their speed, but what about their power. If the Racing Presidents held a home run derby, who would win?
Funny you should bring that up because over the last few years we have actually held our own Mascot Home Run Derby, most recently this past December at Winterfest. I was victorious in 2014, but at Winterfest I didn’t even make the final round. Bill can really launch a baseball, when he makes contact that is. I would say it’s probably a pretty tight battle between Abe, Tom and myself (because those are the last three winners).
The year you won your first race the Nationals made the playoffs. Then, the year you had the most wins of any President (2014), the Nats also made the playoffs. Is there a connection? Are you the good luck charm?
I’m always trying to win, it just so happened that my first came in 2012. I know there are a lot of conspiracy theories out there and people want to make a connection between my races and the team, but I don’t really get into that much. I love racing, I love the Nationals and I really love the fans. But is there a connection between how I do and the team, I don’t see it, we both have our sights set on giving everything we got to win.
That said, all anyone focuses on is your first win in 2012. Do you feel like you’re coasting off that? Are bigger things coming from Teddy?
I don’t ever feel like I am coasting, I am giving 100% every day and constantly trying to get better. I always hear the fans yelling and cheering me on during the races, it really drives me! I wouldn’t normally do this, but I’m getting amped up just thinking about how close we are getting to Opening Day ... I’m going to beat Abe this year!
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there will be a giveaway in my honor on April 26, it’s a Teddy Window Cling! That’s just a taste of the bigger things to come!
It’s George’s birthday. Will you celebrate with him, or is your rivalry too big?
I know, very exciting birthday for him, the big 284! We may push, trip, rub elbows, etc. on the race track, but we are all great friends. When you spend so much time together, how could we not be? We will all celebrate with George on his birthday and then on Tuesday, I’ll be back in the gym, watching film, preparing for Opening Day, which is April 7 at Nationals Park for those who want to come cheer me on!
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