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Davey Martinez tells great story of Gerardo Parra's rise as 'Baby Shark'

Davey Martinez tells great story of Gerardo Parra's rise as 'Baby Shark'

WASHINGTON -- As the great ice skater Chazz Michael Michaels once said, "it gets the people going."

Nationals manager Davey Martinez was enjoying the evening with his team up 7-4 in Game 4 of the NLCS on Tuesday, just nine outs away from a World Series berth, when he felt something was missing. This game needed some juice.

The crowd had gone through a frontload of emotions with seven runs in the first inning and they were in the middle of a long wait until Clinchmas. So, Martinez peered down the dugout and called on the life of the Nationals' party, Gerardo Parra.

That gave the 43,976 fans in attendance what they really came to see and hear. They wanted their favorite band to play their biggest hit; 'Baby Shark.'

"I only put him in the game today to get the fans going again," Martinez joked.

Parra, though, came through with a single to back it all up. He has become a fan favorite on the 2019 Nationals and, for the most part, his production on the field has justified the hype.

Parra's greatest asset for the Nationals, however, is not his game. It is his presence in the clubhouse as the odd-ball who zips to his locker every day on a scooter, blows a party whistle after wins and wears red-tinted sunglasses in the dugout.

He's weird, but in a good way. And he is undeniably a key ingredient to a Nats team that is now further than any D.C. baseball club has been in 86 years.

As he sat at the podium soaked in various forms of celebratory alcohol on Tuesday night, Martinez told a detailed story about Parra earlier in the season, how a conversation between the two helped Parra realize exactly what his role for the Nationals needed to be.

"There was a point in time where he was struggling real bad. He was like 2-for-30, and it was kind of -- everything was kind of down a little bit. I didn't feel that energy, and I brought him in the office, and I said, 'hey, what's going on?' And he goes, 'oh, you know, I'm not hitting. I'm not helping the team.' I go, 'no, no, no.' I said, 'I don't care if you're 2-for-100, your job is to bring the energy every single day. That's who you are.' I said, 'you play that music loud. You pump up the guys.' I said, 'you're the guy that brings that energy every day,' and he just looked at me, and he goes, 'you're right.' He said, 'I'm not doing my job.' I said, 'well, go do your job'," Martinez recalled.

"Needless to say, after that, he started hitting again, and he came back to my office a few days later, and he goes, 'hey, thank you. I didn't realize that I need to have fun too, not worry about' -- I said, 'yeah, hey, bring it every day.'"

Parra has been the symbol of the Nationals' clubhouse chemistry this season which has been hailed as a strength. Major League Baseball is an everyday grind of 162 games and Parra has helped everyone on the team remember on a daily basis that it is just a game.

Martinez and the Nationals believe that approach overall is a big reason why they were able to overcome a 19-31 record to make the playoffs and now the World Series. Parra, though it may not show up in wins above replacement, has been invaluable.

"What he's done in that clubhouse has really changed the way these guys go about their business. I mean, it was business. There wasn't a whole lot of -- he made it fun for this team," Martinez said.

"Those guys up there, every one of his teammates love him, love him. All the fans love him. He's just that guy. He's the Parra Shark."



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Jayson Werth explains why he 'always thought' Bryce Harper could end up with Phillies

Jayson Werth explains why he 'always thought' Bryce Harper could end up with Phillies

During Phillies spring training on Friday, Jayson Werth visited his old team and former Nationals teammate Bryce Harper. It just so happened he had arrived on the one-year anniversary of Bryce Harper deciding to leave Washington to sign a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies. 

Werth spent six seasons sharing an outfield with Harper but before his days in Washington, he helped the Phillies win the World Series in 2008. His play in Philadelphia earned him a seven-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals in 2011. 

Harper's exit from DC is a sore subject for Nationals fans, even though a World Series championship definitely helped numb the pain. Werth explained in a story by NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury that he always had a hunch Harper could end up in Philly. 

"I always thought this would be a possible destination for him, even way back when, for a bunch of reasons," Werth said. "Kind of where the team was, the money was right, the owner was right, the town's right.

"But more than anything else," Werth added with widening eyes, "Citizens Bank Park is just an awesome place to hit. We always talked about that."

Werth clarified he doesn't want anyone to think he was pushing Harper to Philadelphia, just that as players they naturally had plenty of conversations about other ballparks. And it's hard to argue with that. 

Before he played a single game for the Phillies, Harper was Citizens Bank Park's all-time leader in slugging percentage. In 2019, Harper hit the second-most homers of his career (35) and his second-highest slugging percentage as well.

Werth even enjoyed a nice bump hitting in Philadelphia. During his time with the Nats, Werth his .291 with a .922 OPS to go along with 15 home runs and 45 RBI in 52 trips to Citizens Bank Park. 

Between the 81 games in a hitters ballpark and a $330 million contract without the deferred payments the Nationals reportedly offered to Harper last year, it makes a decent amount of sense he decided to take his talents north. 

But hey, the Nationals won a World Series the following season, and in epic fashion I might add, while there's no guarantee the Phillies get there any time soon. I mean, have you seen their pitching staff outside of Aaron Nola and Zach Wheeler?

So Bryce is happy and Nats fans are happy. Everyone wins, right? 

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How have MLB teams fared the year after winning the World Series? Not great

How have MLB teams fared the year after winning the World Series? Not great

The Washington Nationals have climbed the baseball mountaintop by winning the 2019 World Series. Now the question is whether they can stay there.

Even with Anthony Rendon gone, they have plenty of talent. But history shows a troubling track record for reigning MLB champions.

In the last 15 years, only one team that won the World Series even made it back the following season. That was the Phillies, who lost to the Yankees in 2009 after winning the title the year prior. There has not been a repeat champion in baseball since the 2001 Yankees.

Here is a look at the last 15 World Series-winning teams and how they fared the next season:

[Team (WS year) - record next season (difference in record, playoff result)]

Red Sox (2018) - 84-78 (-24 wins, no playoffs)
Astros (2017) - 103-59 (+2 wins, ALCS)
Cubs (2016) - 92-70 (-11 wins, NLCS)
Royals (2015) - 81-81 (-14 wins, no playoffs)
Giants (2014) - 84-78 (-4 wins, no playoffs)
Red Sox (2013) - 71-91 (-26 wins, no playoffs)
Giants (2012) - 76-86 (-18 wins, no playoffs)
Cardinals (2011) - 88-74 (-2 wins, NLCS)
Giants (2010) - 86-76 (-6 wins, no playoffs)
Yankees (2009) - 95-67 (-8 wins, ALCS)
Phillies (2008) - 93-69 (+1 wins, lost in WS)
Red Sox (2007) - 95-67 (-1 wins, ALCS)
Cardinals (2006) - 78-84 (-5 wins, no playoffs)
White Sox (2005) - 90-72 (-9 wins, no playoffs)
Red Sox (2004) - 95-67 (-3 wins, LDS)

The last 15 World Series champs have gone on to average 87.4 wins the following season. Thirteen of the 15 teams won fewer regular-season games as defending champs. And the biggest increase year-over-year was just two more wins. That was done by the 2018 Houston Astros, and some would put an asterisk next to that win total.

Some teams have really bottomed out. The Red Sox won 24 fewer games in 2019 after winning the 2018 World Series and had 26 fewer wins in 2014 after winning in 2013. The 2013 Giants won 18 fewer games than they did in 2012 when they won it all.

Eight of the 15 teams, so more than half, failed to make the playoffs. But of the seven teams that did, five made their League Championship Series. So, technically a third of the last 15 World Series champions reached the ALCS or NLCS the following year. Those on their own aren't terrible odds.

Now, as troubling as this research may seem for the Nationals' outlook, there are reasons to believe they can make another World Series run. They have a nucleus of young talent that could maintain or even raise the team's ceiling.

Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Trea Turner could all get even better. Top prospect Carter Kieboom could play a factor. Their bullpen should be improved. And they could win more regular-season games just by avoiding the injuries and slow start they incurred last season.

But perhaps expectations should be set accordingly. It is very difficult to win a World Series. Repeating as champs, or even getting close to doing so, has proven nearly impossible in recent years.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.