The Brewers introduction of the Racing Sausages was pretty fantastic when it started all of those years ago because nothing like it had really been seen before. And it was aesthetically wonderful, as the tall, skinny sausages bobbed up and down awkwardly and hilariously. More so than they do now, actually, likely because of the improved nature of the costumes and the fact that the people racing have a bit more of a clue. Originally, though, it was an odd bit of almost, I dunno, David Lynchian weirdness entering baseball.
Many teams now have derivative versions of the Sausages. Large mascots involved in a foot races and the like, corporately sponsored or otherwise. The Washington Nationals version — the Presidents Race — is one of the better ones, I think. The costumes are fun. They’ve even built in some comedy and character notes to it all (the “Let Teddy Win” thing from a couple of years ago, etc.).
The originals were the Mount Rushmore presidents: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt. In recent years we’ve gotten William Howard Taft and Calvin Coolidge, though not always. Those newer additions aren’t Rushmore-worthy but they’re not objectionable I don’t suppose. Taft’s better legacy was as a Supreme Court justice and Coolidge was more of a competent steward than an truly inspiring leader, but no one, I hope, gets too worked up about them these days.
Yesterday, however, a new president showed up. Herbert Hoover. Interesting choice. I get that the Nats probably don’t want recent presidents as part of the race as they may be polarizing, but I think Hoover is one of older presidents who probably still inspires a bit opinion. He was really bad. The Great Depression wasn’t exactly his fault — even if he was in two administrations which preceded his own — but he addressed it remarkably poorly, either unable or refusing to recognize the scope of the crisis while steadfastly and stubbornly adhering to conservative, hands-off principles when hands definitely needed to be on. An engineer and technocrat by nature, he likewise had almost no ability to communicate with the American people and came off as profoundly distant and uncaring as a result. And it wasn’t all just bad image and deportment. After the Depression hit he signed into law a a tariff that fueled trade wars and made the Depression even worse.
Maybe after the Rushmore guys we just don’t have any truly inspiring presidents to turn into racing mascots. FDR, I guess, but having a man who was confined to a wheelchair in a footrace is a bit of an issue. Maybe the could go full comedy with it and get a series of those now rather anonymous 19th century presidents involved. Zachary Taylor and Franklin Pierce don’t exactly have a current legacy of, well, anything, but you could probably make ’em funny.
Oh well. I’m just stuck on the idea that it’s hard to find a less-inspiring guy than Herbert Hoover.
UPDATE: I learn that this is a historical society thing. So, OK. Still Hoover sucked: