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Team Teddy’s feeling pretty pumped right now.
“CONGRATULATIONS, TEDDY!” tweeted Mayor Vince Gray, a moment after the 26th president’s bulbous avatar soared across the finish line. At-Large D.C. Councilmember Vincent Orange tweet-bragged about capturing the moment on his iPhone. The Washington Post newsroom clapped and cheered. Ryan Zimmerman was so happy, he hit a home run.
All of this a few weeks after John McCain joked to ESPN that he would call for congressional hearings into the Nationals’ home-game Presidents Race, 525 of which Teddy has lost. Very cute—-but McCain wasn’t nearly done, giving Teddy a video pep talk. In between, the Obama administration also tossed Teddy its support.
In recent weeks Teddy’s plight has made the Wall Street Journal, ABC News, and Politico. As of 2:39 p.m. today, with this afternoon’s game not yet over, there were 70 news stories about Teddy’s long-forestalled win.
The last time America cheered this hard for a man in a body suit, he was walking on the moon. I bet that got a little annoying, too, but we didn’t have Twitter yet.
Still, not even the Bull Moose Party made this much of a deal out of Teddy Roosevelt.
So first off, congratulations, Nationals P.R. shop: Teddy’s not the big winner here. You are. You grew this thing from a clever gag into actual news, which of course it is not, because Teddy is in fact a sweaty guy wearing foam. Then again, I figured you’d draw this thing out even longer: Whether the team is winning or losing, attention equals money, and Teddy—-with his stadium supporters and fan site and celebrity proxies and ability to make Jayson Werth actually sad—-was nothing if not a magnet for low-calorie attention.
But mercifully, Teddy has won. Can he go away now?
A few reasons why Teddy irks me:
* T.R. wasn’t a loser. He started the Rough Riders. He took a bullet and still gave a 90-minute speech. He is one of three U.S. presidents most likely to win a presidential knife fight.
* As (prolific Teddy chronicler) Dan Steinberg has sometimes pointed out, Teddy’s plight eventually began to feel like a celebration of loserdom. Which is not something you want associated with your actually losing sports franchise.
* Gimmicks are great, but gimmicks are not news.
* Did you notice that this whole #Teddyin2012 campaign culminated with a massive ad for Under Armour? See today’s Jumbotron video, in which Teddy trained at the Under Armour facility, and the bright yellow Under Armour shoes he received immediately after. Teddy was a massive ponzi scheme for our attention, and this is what we get now that the Nationals have returned our goodwill.
Anyway: As the losing Nats went, so went Teddy. So now, perhaps, we have a triumphalist Teddy for our times. “I’m just getting warmed up!” he tweeted after winning. “Time to get ready for the postseason! You ain’t seen nothing yet! The Rough Rider has arrived!”