The Washington Nationals are in first place in the National League East. A big question for Nats fans in the team's first season is: Who's your favorite player?
You've got to have a favorite Nationals player by now. They've played 66 games. Having a favorite player is part of the fun about having a hometown team.
The Nats have some real all-stars. Nick Johnson is a slick-fielding, clutch-hitting first baseman who has carried the team through a load of injuries. Even though Johnson has been Washington's best player, for me he's a little too perfect to be a favorite player.
I like pitcher Livan Hernandez. He is a strong right-hander who can throw forever. But I like Livan because he wears a big, floppy shirt with the number 61 and long, sloppy pants. Livan looks like he is pitching in his pajamas.
Or how about Chad Cordero? The Nats' star reliever has been terrific, but what I love about him is the way he wears his hat. His lid is so low that it almost covers his eyes. His hat looks plain silly, like it should have earflaps or a plastic propeller on the top.
That's the thing about favorite players. Sometimes you root for them for reasons that have nothing to do with how well they play.
Years ago, my favorite player for the Boston Red Sox was Elijah Jerry "Pumpsie" Green. Believe me, Pumpsie was no star. He played shortstop and second base and hit .246 with no power. But I wanted him to get a hit every time he stepped to the plate. My grandmother cried when she heard that the Sox traded Pumpsie to the Mets. I think I just loved that nickname -- Pumpsie.
So who's your favorite? You've got to like Vinny Castilla. The guy is almost 38 (that's old for a big leaguer), he can barely run and yet he is one of the team leaders in stolen bases.
Brad Wilkerson is a solid ballplayer. And check out the super-sleek sunglasses the Nats center fielder wears during day games. Wilky looks like he is stepping into outer space.
With his long hair and goatee, Nats reliever Gary Majewski looks like he just stepped off a pirate ship.
Or maybe you like Cristian Guzman. He is hitting worse than Pumpsie Green, but the way the Nats shortstop flicks the ball from his glove to his hand before he fires it to first base is oh-so-smooth.
You see, there are plenty of reasons to have a favorite player that have nothing to do with home runs, errors or earned run averages.
I asked my teenage daughter, Kerry, to name her favorite Washington National.
"Ryan Church," she answered. "He's hot."
I hope she was talking about his batting average.
Fred Bowen writes KidsPost's sports column and is the author of sports novels for kids.