Theodore Roosevelt is convinced that this year will finally be the year.
We're talking, of course, about the frenzied footrace that a costumed reincarnation of our 26th president competes in during the fourth inning of every Washington Nationals home game.
Each contest pits Teddy Ballgame against the foam-headed stand-ins for three other dead presidents -- George Washington
, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson -- and fans cheer as the Mt. Rushmore foursome runs halfway around the field.
But for one reason or another, Teddy Roosevelt has never won
the Washington Nationals Presidents Race
since the beloved tradition began in July 2006.
You can blame this incredible feat on bad luck or poor decision-making, of course, as Teddy has tripped, gotten lost and even fallen behind because he stopped to talk to fans.
But mostly his futility can be chalked up to mustachioed mischief.
For one thing, the dude has repeatedly been disqualified for using vehicles during the race, including a rickshaw and a motor scooter. Old Theodore has even been disqualified for "unauthorized use of a feline
," when he recruited a cat to tackle the other competitors.
With the Nationals opening their season this afternoon against the Philadelphia Phillies, the faux Roosevelt's many supporters, who have launched the "Let Teddy Win
" campaign, may finally have cause for some optimism that Teddy will break his four-year futility streak.
Asylum caught up with Washington Nationals
Entertainment Coordinator Tom Davis to get the scoop on Teddy's prospects for this season.
"Teddy has been training very hard this off-season," Davis tells Asylum. "I say that every year, but he really understands what it's going to take to win this season. He has been doing some cardio and weight training to prepare, and he's looking great. He's even got some new glasses, so he's ready to go."
But the fans who have suffered through each of Roosevelt's losses, near-wins, and disqualifications may pause before they buy into a new-and-improved Theodore. After all, Abraham Lincoln posted 40 wins last season
, George Washington took 22 races and Thomas Jefferson won 21, so he's clearly got his work cut out for him.
Nonetheless, Davis says Roosevelt is optimistic this year.
"I think it's a matter of Teddy realizing what it takes to win," Davis says. "You don't see Abe out there riding on a motorcycle. Abe takes it seriously. It's a matter of Teddy starting to understand what it takes, and I think he does now."
Teddy's new spirit is owed in part to the Nationals' recent personnel changes, which include the signing of top pitching prospect Stephen Strasburg.
"Teddy is excited about the team's off-season moves," says Davis. "He wants to show the fans he means business. I think he's done with all the kooky ways he tries to win: cutting corners, roughhousing and using any kind of machinery he can, from motorbikes to pedicabs."
But for now, the champagne remains on ice.
"Teddy is aware of all his fans, and it motivates him," says Davis. "We can only hope."