At a fan fest today, the Nationals will announce the addition of a new American president to their much-beloved mascot race, which already saw a shake-up late in the Nationals' season when Teddy Roosevelt won for the first time ever. Crowd-pleasers that the Nationals are, they understood that fans really mostly want to see one thing: Fats guys running. It's why offensive lineman recovering fumbles and running them in for touchdowns is funny, it's why everyone loved Glen Davis and Oliver Miller (and now Reggie Johnson), it's America in a nutshell, and it will now be part of the most of American of traditions. William Howard Taft will be the newest racing president. From the understandably excited DC Sports Bog:
While the team considered all sorts of presidential options, this was actually an inspired choice. Taft avoids all the messy political subtext that virtually any post-war president would have created. He has an intimate connection with baseball, having started the tradition of ceremonial first-pitch tossing with a 1910 delivery before a shutout win by Walter Johnson at Griffith Stadium. He's also widely credited with having accidentally created the seventh-inning stretch.
Plus, Taft's facial hair and girth likely will inspire love and merchandise sales.
"They're all rather large, but he will be a little bit larger," [Nationals COO Andy] Feffer said.
Excellent. Worth noting, since we're all learning about William Howard Taft today (ah, the week before the Super Bowl), here's a passage on his weird habit of falling asleep constantly and everywhere, from "Taft and Pickwick: Sleep Apnea in the White House:
As President, Taft could fall asleep anywhere, anytime. He fell asleep during conversations with the Speaker of the House, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the wife of the French ambassador. He napped before and after a mid-morning meeting with the President of Mexico. Senator James Watson observed: "Most of the time [Taft] simply did not and could not function in alert fashion … Often when I was talking to him after a meal his head would fall over on his breast and he would go sound asleep for ten or fifteen minutes. He would waken and resume the conversation, only to repeat the performance in the course of half an hour or so." The White House butler would leave the last few courses of dinner in front of the sleeping Taft rather than awaken him. The doorman, who was the last servant to leave, would eventually collect the dishes.
Taft frequently fell asleep "in the middle of the day's business-at his desk, at a public affair, or while signing commissions." Publicly, he slept at the opera, at funerals, and, "invariably," in church. He fell asleep while playing cards, and while sitting upright in his car, even an open car on Fifth Avenue in New York City. On a cross-country drive "his great bulk would lunge from side to side as the car turned or jolted over street-car tracks and crossings, yet he would never wake." He could sleep while standing. Two photographs of Taft at a Naval review in November 1911 show him standing with face relaxed and eyes apparently closed.
Those were the days. The obvious gimmick for the new Taft mascot: falling asleep in the middle of the race. Get to work on the eyelid-shutting mascot technology.
Update, 2:40 p.m.: He lives. I was hoping for a portlier Taft.
Nats Will Name William Howard Taft New Racing President [DC Sports Bog]