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How ‘Baby Shark’ Saved the Washington Nationals

Since Nats outfielder Gerardo Parra started using the kids' earworm as his walk-out song, his team has gone from sub-.500 record to a wild card spot.

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The Washington Nationals were not playing well. They were falling well short of preseason projections that had them going 89-73, limping to a mundane 34-38 mark as of June 19, what would turn out to be a fateful date in Nats history.

Mired in an 0-23 slump, outfielder Gerardo Parra decided to switch things up. Instead of “Contra La Pared” by Sean Paul and J. Balvin, which he’d been using as his walk-up song since joining the Nats in May, he had the P.A. system in Nationals Park blare out a new song: “Baby Shark,” a song that Parra knows for the same reason you do: it’s his kid’s (in this case, two-year-old daughter Aaliyah) favorite song.

The rest, as they say, is history. Parra went 2 for 4 with a homer in the first game of the doubleheader against the Phillies — the team who’d signed away Nats superstar Bryce Harper in the offseason — and Washington ended up winning both games against their division rival.

The Nationals kept winning, going 12-4 in their next 16 games and bringing their record to 47-42 at the All-Star Break. And while the team hasn’t kept winning at quite that clip since the Midsummer Classic, Parra has continued to rake, raising his batting average from .209 to .244 since switching his walk-out song, including hits in five consecutive appearances as a pinch hitter after the break.

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The Nats have added a ridiculous Jumbotron animation of Parra clapping his hands along with the song, a motion that fans around the stadium replicate.

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Parra’s teammates have even adopted the “Baby Shark” choreography to celebrate hits. Singles get the Baby Shark sign, doubles the Mommy Shark motion, and triples and homers get Daddy Shark.

The Shark-loving Nats are currently in first place for the National League Wild Card. If the playoffs started today, they’d be in, a situation that was almost unimaginable given their wretched start to the season.

And while Parra wasn’t the first major leaguer to use “Baby Shark” as his walk-out song — that honor belongs to Elvis Andrus of the Texas Rangers — it’s hard to argue with the results, even if Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves can’t seem to wrap his head around it.