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Teddy wins the President's Race


Teddy wins the President's Race

In a season of plenty of baseball firsts for the Nationals, perhaps the biggest first of them all just happened: Teddy won the Presidents Race.

OK, so maybe a victory by the giant-headed mascot resembling the old Rough Rider isn't quite as significant as the Nationals' first-ever NL East title and postseason appearance. But for plenty of fans who have cheered him on in vain since the live-action race began in the summer of 2006 at RFK Stadium, this was no small accomplishment.

Loser of 525 consecutive races prior to this afternoon, Teddy faced long odds to finally beat his three counterparts in the Nationals' regular-season finale against the Phillies. And when he burst out of the gate in center field well behind George, Tom and Abe in the middle of the fourth inning wearing gold Under Armor cleats, things didn't look good.

But then, one of those unfortunate calamities that befell Teddy so many times over the years finally did in the other presidents. A makeshift mascot supposedly resembling the Phillie Phanatic emerged in the right field corner and took out George, Tom and Abe in one fell swoop. He then escorted Teddy toward the finish line, with the triumphant, bespectacled, mustached Commander-in-Chief ultimately crossing the tape with arms extended.

The crowd roared with approval, though the cheers were even louder moments later when Ryan Zimmerman led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run to right to tie the game 1-1. Michael Morse then doubled and scored on Tyler Moore's two-bagger, giving the Nationals the lead and leaving everyone wondering what might have been for this franchise had Teddy simply won the race way back in 2006.

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This year's Nationals roster is stacked with glorious facial hair

This year's Nationals roster is stacked with glorious facial hair

The following is a list of things the 2017 Washington Nationals appear to have: A talented outfield led by Bryce Harper and Adam Eaton. A rising superstar at shortstop in Trea Turner. A possibly major hole at closer.

The following is a list of things the 2017 Washington Nationals appear to not have: Razors. Shaving cream. A desire to groom their faces.

A fun tradition at each team's spring training is the annual photo day, because photo day forces professional athletes to pose in front of cameras like they're being featured in the poster of an upcoming blockbuster movie. And after poring through the snapshots from the Nationals' photo day, a single trend emerged.

This year's team is a hairy bunch.

Among that bunch are the usual suspects, such as Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth:

But there are some surprises, most notably of which is Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander tends to keep his mug 100-percent clean-shaven, but for now, at least, he's allowed his face to become quite fertile:

Then there's newcomer Adam Lind, who has a goatee that Duke's Blue Devil logo would be forced to respect:

Shawn Kelley, meanwhile, who's pictured below, has a beard that looks like...

...Derek Norris' beard, before Derek Norris' beard hit puberty and grew up to be the strong, mature beard it is today:

There are scraggly ones, such as Daniel Murphy's:

And fuller, more complete ones, like Eaton's (full marks, by the way, for the trade acquisition's ability to seamlessly connect 'stache to beard):

The most wild photo of all, however, was this one of Turner. Is this the Nats stud, or a picture of Leonard DiCaprio from a scene in The Revenant? Hard to tell with all that stubble the infielder's cultivating:

One potential positive of this team-wide movement: If Turner and his teammates keep what they're growing down in Florida going throughout the season, their faces will be plenty warm by the time playoff baseball comes around. 


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Nationals' Bryce Harper mashes monster homer on second pitch of spring training

Nationals' Bryce Harper mashes monster homer on second pitch of spring training

The Nationals played their first game of spring training today against the Mets. They won, but that's not nearly the biggest story of the day. It was Bryce Harper's first at-bat that stole the show. 

On just the second pitch he saw of spring training, from lefty Sean Gilmartin, Harper mashed a ginormous home run to right center field. MLB.com shared video of the bomb. 

According to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, Harper smacked the ball at least 400 feet. In his second at-bat, he hit a line-drive single on the first pitch. 

Let's just say it was an exciting start to the year for Harper, who won the 2015 NL MVP only to endure a let-down last season. As Castillo points out, the slugger hit .226 against left-handed pitchers in 2016. 

Harper enters spring training at 230 pounds, up 15 pounds of muscle from last year. 

“I just felt going into the offseason you want to get as strong as you can, try to maintain your weight the best you can and just do everything the right way,” he told the Post. 

MORE NATIONALS: Baker thinks DC sports teams can win a championship this year