The Washington Presidents: The Bullpen

The Washington Presidents starting rotation is set, and for my money, it’s a formidable collection of executive talent. But many teams have discovered to their anguish (BREWERS!), that a pitching staff is made or broken by the clean-up men. Since we’re looking at a talent pool of 43 men, and we need to save most of our best remaining talent for the position players, the bullpen options are going to be less than ideal. As it should be. How many ball clubs get to be picky when it comes to relievers?

FUNGIBLE BULLPEN ARMS

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Benjamin Harrison, Relief Pitcher

A president notable mainly for his ability to grow an awesome beard and to complete an entire presidential term without dying of pneumonia, which is more than his grandfather could say. Just the sort of mediocrity destined to throw garbage innings in blow outs.

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Gerald Ford, Relief Pitcher

Somehow even more inconsequential than Harrison. His only claims to fame: pardoning Nixon (and setting the stage for 30+ years of executive branch power abuse) and being the only unelected president. Ford played football at the University of Michigan, so his athletic credentials are stronger than many other presidents, but I still wouldn’t be happy to see him coming in from the bullpen with the game on the line.

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Millard Filmore, Relief Pitcher

Umm…he signed the Fugitive Slave Act? Was named “Millard”? What do you want? He makes the league minimum!

And the rest…

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James Garfield, Left-handed One Out GuY

He was (supposedly) the first left-handed president, and the duration of his time in office would be comparable to the duration of his time on the mound.

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James K. Polk, long relief specialist

He’ll give you four innings. No more, no less.

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Martin Van Buren, Set-Up Man

Van Buren is an underrated figure in American history. Not as a president. Van Buren was a pretty bad president, but he also had a singular role in establishing modern party politics. Andrew Jackson is considered the father of the Democratic Party, but the fact is, that crazy old fuck spent most of his time in office chewing tobacco and challenging people to duels. Meanwhile, Van Buren was behind the scenes doling out patronage jobs and carefully crafting political coalitions to manufacture a durable constituency. Such craftiness would serve him well in a tight late innings jam. Plus, check out some of his nicknames: “Old Kinderhook,” “The Red Fox of Kinderhook,” “The Little Magician.” Tell me those aren’t the names of a high-leverage relief pitcher!

And that brings us to the most high profile spot in the bullpen, the closer. If I had my way, this team would not even HAVE a closer. The best reliever should pitch the highest leverage situations, and that’s rarely the ninth inning with a lead of three or fewer runs. But the baseball world at large is just not ready for such a radical concept, and I want to keep my presidential-roster-creating job as long as I can. Also, there’s one president who so fully fits the description of a closer that I couldn’t resist.

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Theodore Roosevelt, Closer

Closers are the only pitchers with their own entrance music. They are alleged to possess a superhuman ability to pitch under extreme pressure. They often have nicknames bestowed upon them by adoring fans. Many of them seem compelled to fashion larger-than-life personalities, accumulating tics and affectations like meth-crazed hipsters. Some tend towards the fat side. Most presidents are attention hogs and drama queens. If they weren’t they wouldn’t have run for office. But no president relished the spotlight quite like ol’ TR. His own daughter said that he wanted to be “the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral.” Just like Brian Wilson.

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