HOUSTON — If you want to know just how weird and random and glorious this World Series run is for the Washington Nationals, consider this: As Wednesday night turned into Thursday morning and the Nats were taking a 2-0 lead over the Astros, thousands of people 1,400 miles away were sitting inside a baseball stadium in Washington D.C. pretending to be sharks.
Baby Sharks and Daddy Sharks and Mommy Shark. And heck, even Grandpa Shark and Grandma Shark.
“Baby Shark” — a song that toddlers across this country can somehow recite and has been viewed billions of times on YouTube — has become the unlikely rallying call for a team of baseball players making a surprise run toward their franchise first World Series title. It’s also been eagerly embraced by a city so hungry for that title it would sing kids songs if that’s what it takes.
It’s fitting in a way. Baseball is a game that we traditionally fall in love with as children, but the game has gotten serious and expensive these days. An entire circle of fandom getting gobbled up by a kid’s song and then televised across the country — as it will Friday night when the Nats host Game 3 — is probably a good thing for baseball.
If you thought they went crazy for the “Baby Shark” song in Washington D.C. before this, just wait ‘til it’s the first home World Series game in franchise history with the Nats are leading the heavily favored Astros 2-0. It will be bonkers.
And it’s pretty safe to say we know who the 3- to 6-year-old demographic will be pulling for.
The Nationals’ ‘Baby Shark’ origins
The Nats have one man and his 2-year-old daughter to thank for this. Gerardo Parra started this season with the San Francisco Giants, playing 30 games before he was designed for assignment and claimed by the Washington Nationals as a back-up outfielder.
It’s not often a midseason DFA move for a back-up 32-year-old outfielder becomes this much of a thing, but it goes to show just how magical this Nationals season has been. Parra was looking for a spark back on June 19. He’d been in an 0-for-22 slump. So he changed his walk-up song.
His 2-year-old daughter loved the “Baby Shark” song, so Parra asked the Nats to make that his walk-up song that day. Odd choice, but sure. He doubled and homered that game. Baseball being the superstitious game that is, the Baby Shark craze was born day.
Here’s the part where we tell you that these things happen in baseball all the time. It’s a long season and the 25 guys on the roster spend so much time with each other that inside jokes get taken to great lengths. Teams find their “things.” They come, they go. They’re useful until they’re not anymore.
Baby Shark is a completely different animal for the Nationals. It’s not just a T-shirt the team wears for batting practice, it’s something they entire fanbase has adopted. It’s like the modern version of the Rally Monkey. When Parra comes up in home games, things get especially nuts.
“It’s been cool to see Nats fans coming to the park in shark costumes,” said Nats relief pitcher Sean Doolittle. “We had a Baby Shark stuffed animal on the fence in the dugout in the NLCS. It’s been cool to see the way that fans of all ages have connected with that, but I hope especially the younger fans, they see how much fun our team has playing the game.”
If you’ve watched the Nats this series, you’ve probably seen the Baby Shark. When they get a big hit, there’s a good chance you’ll see someone do the shark clap to celebrate. There are different claps and dances for singles, doubles, triples and home runs.
Juan Soto, for instance, did this after his two-run double in Game 1.
As the series shifts to D.C., get ready to see more of it.
‘Baby Shark’ on the biggest stage
As crazy as the Baby Shark craze has been, the World Series is propelling it to new heights. Consider that the National Symphonic Orchestra was playing “Baby Shark” in honor of the Nats making the World Series and that the Nats have unveiled “Baby Shark” flags and towels.
“What’s even cooler-slasher-weirder is to look up in the stands and see middle-aged men doing Baby Shark,” says Ryan Zimmerman, the longest-tenured Nationals player. “But that’s what sports do — that’s the beautiful thing. Whether it’s baseball or any other sport, it gives people three to four hours to forget everything else and have fun. To root for a team or do Baby Shark at the field.”
There’s another cool ramification of this: It’s one way to get kids interested in baseball.
As MLB tries to court younger viewers, this is pretty much a bullseye with the very young crowd. Turn on the World Series, Mom and Dad, so your little kids can watch these baseball fans and baseball players go nuts for Baby Shark.
Who knows, maybe Gerard Parra, back-up outfielder, might have unknowingly created an entry point for a new generation of baseball fans.
“That’s most important,” Parra says. “Bring the kids to the ballpark and enjoy the game.”
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