Teddy was a loser. A laughing-stock. A shameful joke. He embodied the Washington Nationals’ franchise perfectly. From 2005 to 2010, Teddy finished last in every race. The Nats finished last in the NL East those years too. Enough was enough. In the winter of ought ten, the Natinals Nationals decided to change their stars. Ownership had just drafted Bryce Harper first overall, a year after drafting Stephen Strasburg first overall and weeks before Strasburg’s elbow would pop. They finally wanted (after years of needing) someone to change the culture. So to the surprise of the baseball world, they signed former world champ and Philadelphia Phillie, Jayson Werth, to more money and more years than anyone thought reasonable. For the first year ever, the Nationals didn’t finish last in 2011. They’ve had winning records every year since. But Teddy still lost. Every time. He was still O-for-ever.
While ‘11 began the turnaround, 2012 is the year that started the winning. The Nats led the division for most of the season and clinched early. They were the best team in baseball. And still Teddy lost. Every time. The Nationals were going to the postseason with the best record in baseball. And then the inexplicable happened. On the last day of the season, with the calendar already turned to October, the team tempted fate and Let Teddy Win. He won all of the postseason races too. The team wasn’t as successful.
From 2013 on, Teddy has oscillated between winning the most races and middle-of-the-pack. The days of chronic losing are over. For Teddy and for the Nats. Yet, tremendous regular season success has not translated to the postseason for the baseball team. The Nats have gone from Losers to Chokers. Or have they? Perhaps the Teddy-Finally-Won-Jinx strikes every October like a yearly hive of locusts.
New Guy, Davey Martinez, went to great lengths to help the team deal with their October failures. It got weird. But it was necessary. They say sports are 90% mental. Anyone that’s every competed against an older sibling or parent knows this. Venus Williams was able to beat her sister, Serena, long after Serena’s skills surpassed her own, solely on sibling rivalry. Beating her big sister is a hump Serena had a hard time getting over. But once Little Sister broke through, their match-ups were never the same. Serena handled her from then on.
The Nats clearly have a hump to get over. The camel bit was too on-the-nose, though. They should have kept Teddy losing. Every time. You can’t forget where you come from.Two home games into the 2018, Teddy has won and the Nats have lost. Past seasons have proven that the Teddy Jinx is October-only, but having him win is not doing anyone any good. Eight games into a season is way to early to make any kind of definitive statement on a baseball team. Two races is plenty to see that nothing is going to change with the jinx. It’s already too late to have him start losing. I’m not sure that would matter anyway. It’s too far gone.
What if there was no Teddy? What if he quit winning and losing? What if the costume was confiscated, burned, and scattered into the Anacostia River? The team has lost four in a row, so now seems like a good time to try something. Sacrificing rubber chickens has done nothing. Why not Teddy? They’ve got other presidents to fill the spot. Would he be missed? Sure. That’s mostly the point of ritual sacrifice. Teddy was doomed on October 3rd, 2012. There’s no reason the rest of us should suffer too. If 2018 is about fresh beginnings, let’s start fresh. Teddy losing would have been the way to go. But it’s too late for that now.
There are over 150 games left to determine the Nationals’ 2018 season. There’s plenty of time for the team to get out of this fun. Maybe breaking the Teddy Jinx sooner than later is in order. I’m sure we all agree it must be done before the fall.
Burn the muppet. Break the jinx. Win.