DoD Staff: Our favorite Nationals players growing up

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 22: Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after hitting a walk-off two-run home run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the ninth inning at Nationals Park on August 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 22: Ryan Zimmerman #11 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after hitting a walk-off two-run home run against the Philadelphia Phillies during the ninth inning at Nationals Park on August 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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Former Nationals pitcher, Jordan Zimmermann, just signed to play with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann #27 of the Washington Nationals throws a pitch to a Atlanta Braves batter in the first inning during a MLB baseball game at Turner Field on September 30, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Washington Nationals/Getty Images) /

James Simmons

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.

Next. Zimmerman and Gardner situations similar. dark

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