WASHINGTON, D.C. The Washington Nationals, the team with the worst record in baseball last year, today announced that they will dedicate their 2010 season to Mimi, the late French poodle owned by Valerie Cardinale, long-time interior decorator for Alison Price, the second wife of minority owner Thomas Gibson of Arlington, Virginia. Players will wear black arm bands in memory of the dog.
“We look for inspiration wherever we can find it,” said Nationals’ Assistant Vice President for Promotions Andy Bannister. “Nobody really important in the organization died last year, which may account for the team’s lackluster play.”
Fred Tenney of the New York Giants, mourning the death of NL President Harry Pulliam.
Baseball players first used black armbands to express mourning in 1909, when National Leaguers donned the symbolic accessory following the suicide of League President Harry Pulliam. Since then, clubs have used the symbolic armband to motivate players, send signals to baserunners, cover holes in jerseys caused by head-first slides and express disappointment with teammates’ on-base percentage.
“I want you to go out there and win one for Mimi. Guys? You paying attention?”
“Death can be a bummer, but it can also inspire a team to do the little things like hitting the cut-off man or signing that extra autograph,” says baseball historian Bernard Small. “The Nationals use of a non-human, non-employee, non-playing relative of a non-front-office investor is unique in the annals of sport, and mortuary science.”
Washington players seemed both enthused and depressed by the announcement, and said they would do their best to honor the memory of an animal who was loved by all who knew her, unless they tried to take away her rawhide Poochie chew.
“Poochie” chew: Don’t even think about yanking this out of Mimi’s mouth.
“It’s probably the most exciting thing to hit the clubhouse in a really long time,” said backup catcher Wil Nieves. “The black armband will make our uniforms look totally sick!”