The Washington Nationals entered June 19 with a 33-38 record. Just a few weeks before that, many Major League Baseball pundits considered the Nats' 2019 season over, especially considering slugger Bryce Harper now played for one of the club's rivals. Manager Dave Martinez said after his club's fifth-straight loss, "You can't put blame on one thing. You really can't. This is a team thing."
What this team didn't realize, however, is that an undeniably catchy children's song would break that slump and spark a movement that stuck with Washington all the way to the club's first-ever World Series.
Why Do the Washington Nationals Play Baby Shark?
When Nationals outfielder Gerardo Parra walked up to the plate on that fateful day in June, the veteran was in an 0-for-23 slump. He needed a change — a taboo among many superstitious baseball players — and decided switching up his walk-up song was the answer.
His choice? Baby Shark by Pinkfong.
"My [2-year-old daughter Aaliyah Victoria] loves that song," Parra said. "Before the game, I tried merengue, reggaeton, hip-hop, then I said, 'You know what, I want to put in Baby Shark.'"
If you've been living under a rock, don't have kids or grandkids, or simply never turn on the radio, Baby Shark is the hottest song since Michael Jackson's Thriller. It's been viewed 3.6 billion times — yes, BILLIONS with a B — and is the sixth-most watched video in YouTube history.
Naturally, fans enjoyed a mid-game chuckle as kids went crazy when Parra debuted his walk-up music for the first time, but something about the Baby Shark song's magic worked.
Parra doubled in his first at-bat, hit a home run in the eighth inning, and baseball's coolest craze began at Nationals Park.
After Parra and 'Baby Shark' beat Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies in both games of that June doubleheader, Washington finished the season with a 59-31 record, outlasted the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card game, knocked off the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS, and swept the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS.
All the way, Nationals fans dressed in shark costumes and took part in the team's good luck charms: Baby Shark signs.
Drive in one run? "Baby Shark" with your fingers back to the dugout.
Multiple runs? Perform a "Mommy Shark" with your hands.
Home run? You get the full-on, wide open, giant chop like "Daddy Shark."
Here are thousands of grown adults at the Washington Nationals' ballpark in mid-October doing Baby Shark in unison. What a time to be alive.
Washington Nationals' Baby Shark Video
"I was like, 'Look, this guy is amazing. He's changing the culture of this team.'" Nationals fan Matt Kucinich told USA TODAY Sports prior to Game 4 of the NLCS. "I've been watching since 2005, the whole time they've been (in DC), and we're doing really, really well. We're so used to defeat. There's something different."
One key thing to note: Matt Kucinich wore a giant shark costume to the National League Championship Series-clinching game.
The Washington Nationals will await the winner of the ALCS between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees. With red-hot arms on the mound like Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin and Sean Doolittle, plus the likes of Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto tucked into the heart of Washington's offense, 2019 could be the year Washington, D.C. gets a major sports title.
If you thought Baby Shark was massive before, just wait until Nats fans are on the MLB postseason's biggest stage when the Fall Classic begins.
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