Washington, D.C., has long claimed to be first in war and first in peace. Through Sunday, the city can add another claim to its resume: first in the National League East.
Through Sunday's games, the Nationals stand in first place in the their division, with eight wins and four losses, including wins at all three home games. Leading the charge has been outfielder Jose Guillen, whom the Nationals acquired in a trade over the winter.
Guillen has hit five home runs thus far, the most among all National League batters. Teammate Vinny Castilla, signed by the Nats in the spring, has added three home runs and a .429 batting average, second best in the NL.
After two full weeks of games, the Nationals hold a two-game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies, Floria Marlins, Atlanta Braves and New York Mets for first place. The team's next 13 games will be against those four division foes.
Pete Marchant, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs, said he doesn't expect the new team to keep up its winning ways for too long.
"They're in a strong division," Marchant said, referring to the competition of the Braves and Mets. "I can't see them doing this well all year."
A sellout crowd of more than 45,000 packed RFK Stadium Thursday night for Washington's first home game, including several Senators of both the former-baseball-team and Capitol-Hill varieties.
Marchant said he thought the crowd was a mix of true baseball fans and those looking to be part of the spectacle of Opening Day.
"There were a lot of baseball fans there that could appreciate the atmosphere," Marchant said, "but there were definitely some people there just because it was a big event."
Senior Polson Kanneth, former president of the Student Confederation who also attended the game, agreed.
"A big part of the crowd was there because it was the first home game for the new team," Kanneth said. "People wanted to experience it. They are going now for the thrill of having a team."
Kanneth also said that RFK was difficult to maneuver around, not only because of the large crowds but because of the security necessitated by President Bush's pre-game appearance, as he threw out the first pitch.
"It was chaotic to get around the stadium," Kanneth said.
He also said that he saw marksmen above the stadium, presumably part of Bush's security detail.
Marchant said that leaving the game by Metro rail was a difficulty.
"On the way to the game, the trains were crowded but there were no delays," Marchant said. "But on the way out, there was a huge line to get down to the rail. It was really bad."
Kanneth said he thought Metro did what it could to make things run smoothly. He noted that Metro added trains to the Orange and Blue Lines and that Metro employees kept on top of things to keep individual trains from overfilling.