Continued from page 1

These were curses with a long tradition and history - even Philadelphia’s had a 25-year run.

The Nationals, it appears, have been cursed enough to have been cursed rather quickly, just five years into the franchise’s existence in Washington.

To deal with the curse, it’s important to identify it.

The Nationals weren’t exactly the Yankees before they started the live presidents races in July 2006 with a record of 122-137 since the franchise began play in the District. But you could make the case they have played like a cursed team since then with a record of 176-262 - all without Teddy Roosevelt ever winning a race.

That’s good enough for me. Curse identified: the Curse of Teddy Roosevelt.

Let Teddy win.

What simply seemed like a bad organization has taken off this year into something that defies incompetence. It started, of course, back in February when it was learned the highly touted Dominican prospect the Nationals had paid $1.6 million to in 2006, Smiley Gonzalez, was not who he said he was and was four years older than the team thought. Added to that were the reports that former general manager Jim Bowden was being targeted in a federal investigation into irregularities involving the signing of Dominican baseball prospects, forcing Bowden to resign.

It picked up speed once the season started, from the unveiling of the statues in center field of Walter Johnson, Frank Howard and Josh Gibson that were almost universally criticized - Walter Johnson’s grandson called his kin’s statue “hideous.” Then there were the “Natinals” misspelled jerseys that made the NBC nightly news and were good for a few days of laughs on “SportsCenter.”

Team president Stan Kasten angered the few Nationals fans left when he went on Philadelphia sports talk radio and invited Phillies fans to come down for the Nationals’ home opener - where their beloved announcer, Harry Kalas, died in the press box. The shooting pieces of sausage. The cutting of Daniel Cabrera, who left with the $2.6 million the Nationals are paying him this year. And on. And on.

A 14-35 record. A season-ticket base down to 12,000, nearly half the sales from the Nationals’ inaugural 2005 season.

It’s not just bad. It’s not just horrid. It’s a curse. And it won’t be lifted until they let Teddy win a race.

Win, Teddy, win.