The Washington Nationals got everyone excited Thursday by releasing this communique on Twitter:
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) January 24, 2013
The announcement probably stopped workflow in most D.C.-area offices. And not just there. This is something that literally every person in the world has an opinion on. Us, too. Who is suited best to join George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt at Nationals Park?
It's probably safe to assume the Nats will not pick a living former president, which disqualifies George Bush 41 and George Bush 43, along with Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. And, of course, the current president. It's too bad about Clinton, because he'd be hilarious. He's got a good face for the big-head caricature, and he'd always be flirting with the ball girls and eating McDonald's on the run.
That leaves the Nats with, well, a whole bunch of ex-presidents from which to choose. Here they are, with their odds:
Ronald W. Reagan (5-1)
That winning smile, that Brylcreem hair. He even worked in baseball, sort of, as a radio announcer for the Chicago Cubs. And he played Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander in a movie! "The Winning Team" I think it was called without looking it up. Some of his politics were divisive (Reagan's, not Alexander's), yet he's one of the most popular presidents ever (Reagan, not Cleveland).
William H. Taft (8-1)
They'd get easy laughs because of Taft's shape (he looked like an overweight Monopoly guy), but he also was the first president to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. Threw it to Walter Johnson, too, of the Washington Senators. Makes sense about a million ways.
John F. Kennedy (10-1)
He's a possible red herring, having made a cameo at a presidents race before. JFK is popular, mythical and makes for a good caricature. Great athlete in college, too. An internet commenter made a good point, though: He still has a living daughter and it would be a tad creepy for her. Reagan has living children too, not to mention Nancy Reagan, but it's not quite the same thing.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (16-1)
Probably the most iconic of the eligible presidents — with the glasses, the chin and the cigarette holder. Not to mention he was elected about 47 times. The tricky part is the elephant in the room: He usually needed a wheelchair to get around and, for lots of good reasons, FDR didn't like to be seen in public in the chair. A racing FDR almost certainly would have to be in a chair — which could be inspirational for people with disabilities. It also could be seen as mocking them, even if FDR "won" races sometimes. Aw, this is getting too heavy. Sorry, Franklin. Only one Roosevelt in this race.
Benjamin Franklin (20-1)
Sort of the Bill Clinton of his day in a social sense. Invented electricity, the dime store and the postage stamp. None of that is true, exactly. Franklin also was not a president, but he actually would make sense for this race in his own, wacky way.
Andrew Jackson (30-1)
Speaking of "too heavy," Jackson's record isn't helped by the whole "Trail of Tears" thing. He did like to have folks over to the White House for barbecues, though. Man of the people. Some of them, anyway. Great hair. Incredible eyebrows. He's on money, you know? That might just have to be his prize.
Lyndon B. Johnson (40-1)
Did some good stuff with the Great Society and the space program, but he also escalated the Viet Nam war. His middle name was Baines, as in Harold Baines, which is the only reason why I'd like to see LBJ race. He also had a good face for this race. Like a catcher's mitt.
Harry S Truman (40-1)
Now, you're talking inspired choices. The face, the hat, the clothes — OMG, the double-breasted suits — plus his natural spunk, why, it's just what the presidents race needs. Especially if he would make an entrance for every race like he did in "Futurama":
Still cracks me up every time. But they're probably not going to pick ol' Harry, either. Too much baggage.
Richard M. Nixon (45-1)
Perhaps the biggest baseball fan of any president, with the possible exception of John Quincy Adams. (Aw, I'm just kidding — baseball hadn't even been invented when JQA was president.) Nixon and David Cone had a conversation once, for crying out loud. Nixon's exaggerated physical features would lend themselves to giant racing president's head, and he'd always cross the finish line doing "peace" or "victory" or "Live long and prosper" or whatever that was with his fingers. There's only one problem with Nixon, and you know what it is. Maybe if they had a racing Woodward and Bernstein as well?
Gerald R. Ford (50-1)
He would be an inspired choice, given his athletic background with the Michigan football team. But also, curiously, his penchant for stumbling over himself later in life makes him a natural for hijinks during a presidents race. Considering that being clumsy is the best thing going for him, and it's been nearly 40 years since he was president, don't expect the Nats to pick him.
Dwight D. Eisenhower (60-1)
Everyone liked Ike. He was a general's general, but he also warned of the dangers of the military industrial complex. Really, though, he loved to golf. I don't think he's a fit.
James Madison and James Monroe (100-1)
Great presidents (probably), but everyone's always getting their order mixed up. All that most people remember about Monroe is the "Monroe Doctrine," which had something to "Manifest Destiny," which had something to do with building the railroads west, or something. And with James Madison, it's always about Dolley Madison, inventor of the snack cake. (Not true.) No, he's considered the "Father of the Constitution." Still, does anyone want to see these guys race? I didn't think so.
S. Grover Cleveland (500-1)
Now, this isn't the same Grover Cleveland who played baseball, but he was elected twice by the electoral college. Just putting him up here on the off-chance that the Nats will be confused. Did you know his first name was "Stephen"? He could have avoided going by Grover, but didn't! Shows questionable judgment.