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It turns out the federalist system doesn't just apply to governing.

In baseball as in politics, states enjoy the autonomy that comes with having identities and duties distinct from the federal government. Take the Sacramento Rivercats, a Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics whose mid-game mascot race mirrors the version in our nation's capital.

During every home game for the major league Washington Nationals (who enjoy a not-insignificant fan base at The Bee's Capitol Bureau), people dressed in big-headed costumes of five of America's most venerated presidents race around the ballpark.

Until late last season, Teddy Roosevelt had never won. His woeful performance against George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln (William Howard Taft was added this season) spurred a grassroots pro-Teddy movement, including the blog Let Teddy Win. Our 26th president finally crossed the finish line first shortly after the Nats clinched their first playoff birth.

In Washington, fans cheer for racing presidents; in Sacramento, naturally, past California governors are vying for the victory.

"I think (the President's Race) sort of inspired this," said River Cats spokesman Mark Ling.

And reputations forged in politics can carry over to sports. Already saddled with the undesirable legacy of being the first recalled governor in California's history, Gray Davis endures the Teddy Roosevelt-like ignominy of never having defeated his opponents, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronald Reagan since the contest began at the start of the 2012 season.

Actually, Davis did manage to eke out a single win - but it was short-lived.

"We recalled it," Ling said.

PHOTO: Ronald Reagan records another victory. Courtesy of The Sacramento River Cats/Sara Molina.


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