Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Toughest Job in Show Business And/Or Sports

The job in the title of this post was just invented yesterday. The Washington Nationals are going to give their fans something new in between-innings entertainment in the 2013 season. Massive on-field cardiac events.

The Nationals, like many teams, have a costumed mascot race at some point in each game. Since it IS Washington's team, the mascots are giant puppet-like costumes of the U.S. Presidents on Mt. Rushmore, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. This season, there will be a fifth, and if you haven't heard about this already, you won't guess who they picked.

FDR, JFK, Ronald Reagan? Naah (I salute the Washington wiseguy journalist on Twitter who expressed disappointment it wasn't Nixon). The fifth giant mascot head will be that of William Howard Taft, President from 1909-1913, one of those blessed and all-too-rate periods where pretty much nothing happened in American history.

The Nationals' tribute to this forgotten leader is in one sense very appropriate. Taft was the first President to be a stone baseball fan. He invented the tradition of the President throwing out the first ball on Opening Day, a fact for which I'll bet he's been roundly cursed by more than one of his successors in the White House.

The trouble for some unlucky Nats employee comes from Taft's only other claim to fame. He was our fattest President. Enormously fat. Taft was well over 300 pounds and his body was next door to spherical. If the Nationals use the slightest amount of historical accuracy when designed the Taft costume, the person inside it is going to be at some disadvantage trying to scamper around the basepaths on one of those delightful D. C. 90-plus degree and 90 percent plus humidity July evenings. How will he keep up with skinny Lincoln or robust T. R.?

Of course, the fix is in in all mascot races, and I daresay giant Taft will win his share. But victory will come at a heavy price, one paid by the I hope healthy, rugged physique inside the fat man -- screaming to get out.


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