I grew up with the Montreal Expos, and where there are players from that organization I was very passionate about, I find myself in a different position when it comes to the Washington Nationals. I have favorites on the Nationals, though am more team oriented.
Growing up very impressionable and loving the game of baseball, I was immediately enamored with the Expos tri-colored hats, and colorful stripes down the sides of a crisp white uniform. I was transfixed immediately. Wasn’t just the look however, I was drawn to the style of play of a fleet-footed early 1990’s Expos squad.
For a skinny, little kid who batted leadoff for his Little League team, the easiest player for me to mimic was Delino DeShields. I pulled my stirrups to my knees, pulled down the double flaps on my batting helmet, and I emulated his game. I was on a camping trip, listening to the radio in the tent late at night when the call came across, Delino DeShields traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Pedro Martinez. I was crushed. The trade worked out for the Expos, but I had lost my favorite player.
When the Expos were moved to Washington, like all Expos fans I was conflicted. Would I still follow the team? Would I consider them my favorite? Of course. Jose Vidro was still on the team and he was one of my favorites in Montreal. I had to continue to follow him, even though he never looked good in a Nationals uniform.
That being said, I believe my favorite homegrown Nationals player was Jordan Zimmermann. The pitcher from a small-school burst on the scene and turned into an All-Star, who led the league in wins in 2013. He was tall, lengthy, often wore his stirrups to his knees, rarely wore his emotions on his sleeves. I was able to relate with JZimm. I pitched when I was younger and always took a back seat to a better pitcher on the team. I quietly went about my business, much like Zimmermann.
Seven good years is what the Nationals got out of Zimmermann, and I was hoping he’d be back this year after finally breaking free of the five-year contract which bound him to Detroit. Unfortunately, he signed in Milwaukee. No matter where he pitches, I’ll always be a huge supporter. For an Expos fan turned Nationals fan, the first player-shirt I bought, was a number #27, Jordan Zimmermann.