Of the 55 players who appeared in uniform for the 2005 Washington Nationals, only 4 are still with the team.
Pitcher Livan Hernandez, who returned late last year for a second tour; pitcher Jason Bergmann, who arrived August 28 of that year; third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who was brought up in September; and shortstop Cristian Guzman. Guzman, obviously, is the only one who's been with the club continuously from day one, despite having missed an entire season on the DL, and parts of a couple of others.
Guzman is a survivor, really; in the final year of his contract, and having just been told he's no longer the everyday shortstop, he's reportedly willing to help the ballclub any way he can in order to play. This is not a guy who's going to be demanding to be released in order to sign elsewhere. He's a National.
In that sense, he reminds me of Jim King.
Most of you won't know the name, but Jim King was a lefty-swinging rightfielder for the expansion Senators. He was an original expansion pick in December 1960, and stayed with the club until he was traded to the White Sox for Ed Stroud at the trading deadline in 1967.
When told after a home game against the Yankees that he was headed to Chicago and the pennant race, he broke down and cried. He really didn't want to go. At 34, he'd found a home in Washington, and wanted to finish his career with the Senators.
He might as well have, as it turned out. The White Sox only kept him for 23 games before sending him to Cleveland for Rocky Colavito. The Indians released him after the season ended, and he went home to Elkins, Arkansas.
Ed Stroud had 3+ seasons in a Senators' uniform, and was their principal base-stealing threat, but King had a lot of fans in DC. Jim hit 89 home runs over 6+ seasons in Washington; it doesn't sound like a lot, but when he connected for 24 in 1963, it was a new town record for a lefthanded hitter, later broken by Mike Epstein's 30 in 1969.
King was a good defender, too, with a strong accurate arm. He had 13 assists from rightfield in '63, and that was on a club that only won 56 games.
Anyway, I bring up this whole issue because I keep hearing some of the more negative "fans" insist that any player who'd want to stay with a second division club like the Nationals "must not care about winning."
Actually, it's because they do care about winning, but they also care about their lifestyles in a particular town, and many feel a strong sense of loyalty to their own franchise.
Jim King never played on a winning ballclub in Washington, yet he didn't want to go anywhere else. He was a Washington Senator. Cristian Guzman obviously feels the same way about the Nationals.
And I don't see anything wrong with that.