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Gerardo Parra turns ‘Baby Shark’ into a rallying call

Gerardo Parra turns ‘Baby Shark’ into a rallying call

WASHINGTON -- Sean Doolittle recently finished a serious conversation about the Nationals turnaround, then had another thought.

“Parra...I don’t know if we do it without him,” Doolittle said.

Washington’s closer is unsure how to measure the value of his teammate for the last 52 games. When Parra walked into the Nationals’ clubhouse May 10 in Los Angeles, he appeared another spare part to be tested by a floundering 15-22 team. A day later, Parra hit a grand slam in a 5-2 win against the Dodgers. From there, his ebullient presence has spilled from the clubhouse, into the stands and populated the team store. The team is also 42-29 since he showed up.

This cheerful mode is not a departure for Parra. He was happy in Arizona when he debuted as a 22-year-old in 2009 and grew to a 5.7 WAR player by 2013. Parra remained jovial in Colorado for three years. When the Rockies visited Washington last week, several Colorado players came to chat with Parra who happened to be in the dugout on a FaceTime call pregame. 

Parra laughed about most things when sitting down with NBC Sports Washington in the Nationals dugout this week. 

“That’s me,” Parra said. “Try to bring positive every time to the clubhouse. It’s life. My job, your job. We have bad days. You have bad years.”

What about the song? Yes, the song, the clapping, crowd-stirring circumstance. Parra’s selection of the unshakable “Baby Shark” wasn’t intentional. An algorithm did it -- or it was ordained. 

Parra was slumping. He wanted to change his song. In the morning, his two-year-old daughter joined the long line of children charmed by the song’s relentless simplicity. Like so many parents, Parra survived “Baby Shark” on a loop. Then he went to work.

He pulled aside a clubhouse attendant to change his song. As he swiped through his phone hunting for something he liked, “Baby Shark” kept being pushed back in front of him. Finally, he gave in.

“So, every time I pick, want to move the song -- every time move it -- the “Baby Shark” coming,” Parra said. “I said, no, I don’t want “Baby Shark.” I do it like three times like that. Baby Shark coming, “Baby Shark” coming. I said, hey, do “Baby Shark”, my song for my kids, my babies.”

Parra is 32-years-old and has not caused a stadium-wide stir previously. He didn’t anticipate doing here in the District, where his walkup-song choice and astonishing OPS with runners in scoring position (1.314 in Washington) have produced kind of midseason phenomenon as the Nationals pulled out of their desultory start.

“It’s amazing right now,” Parra said. “I’m happy because I see the kids happy, it’s more important. Because that’s the baseball. You have to be happy. You have to be relaxed. Just want to say thank you for the support...it’s amazing. Everything that the fan’s feeling, I’m feeling too. I appreciate that.”

The effect of Parra’s usage of “Baby Shark” has trickled from the stadium and into homes. Davey Martinez’s granddaughter recently attended a game. Parra came to the plate. She was enthralled -- eyes widening at the redundant sound of his walk-up song. When Martinez went home, she said, “Papa, Baby Shark.” Martinez knew the drill. He sat down and spent a chunk of his evening away from the park surviving the loop.

Aníbal Sánchez is stationed next to Parra in the clubhouse. They have partnered in many of Parra’s upbeat endeavors, from wearing colorfully tinted sunglasses (Parra has three pairs, Sánchez asked for one, so there they are in the dugout), to the post-homer dugout dance party. 

All of this because Parra failed in San Francisco earlier this season. Washington called shortly after and he didn’t hesitate.

“I say, ‘OK,’ I don’t want to wait for another team,” Parra said.

So, he packed for Los Angeles, walked into the clubhouse, then hit a grand slam a day later. An irrepressible song eventually followed him to the plate, then into the merchandise and marketing departments. There’s an old saying about this: you can’t predict baseball.

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Former Nationals first baseman Adam Dunn on MLB's 2020 Hall of Fame ballot

Former Nationals first baseman Adam Dunn on MLB's 2020 Hall of Fame ballot

The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced on Monday the 32 names that are on the 2020 ballot, and one former Nationals player was listed.

That would be first baseman Adam Dunn, who played for Washington for two seasons, 2009 and 2010. 

In his two seasons in the nation's capital, Dunn displayed the power that had only been seen by Alfonso Soriano before in a Nationals uniform. Dunn hit exactly 38 home runs in both seasons, topping 100 RBIs during both campaigns, too.

Of course, should Dunn be selected into the Hall of Fame, the Nationals would not be his primary team. The slugger spent the first eight seasons of his MLB career with the Cincinnati Reds, and spent three and a half seasons with the Chicago White Sox following his time in D.C.

2020 is Dunn's first year on the ballot. While he had a long, respectable career, it's unlikely he's voted in right away, if at all.

The Nationals still don't have a primary member in the Hall of Fame, as catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez is currently the only player in the Hall that sported a Curly W since the team relocated to Washington from Montreal in 2005.

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Trea Turner undergoes surgery to finally fix his broken index finger

Trea Turner undergoes surgery to finally fix his broken index finger

Trea Turner finally found the time to have his finger fixed.

A Saturday Instagram post showed Turner holding up his heavily wrapped right hand and held the caption: "Only took 7 months to get this finger fixed but now my ring will fit better! 🏆 Thank you to Dr. Carlson and all the staff at @hspecialsurgery for taking care of me! World class job by everyone! Forever thankful!"

"Can’t wait to start hitting with 10 fingers..."

Turner did not play from April 3 to May 17 after fracturing a knuckle on his right index finger when he turned to bunt, and a pitch from Philadelphia starter Zach Eflin struck his finger.

Turner's absence was among several enormous blows to the Nationals' health early in the season. His replacements -- Wilmer Difo and prospect Carter Kieboom -- both played poorly. Turner finished his shortened season as a 2.4-WAR player. Difo and Kieboom combined for -2.1 WAR in limited duty. The swing from Turner to his replacements became a massive hole and coincided with the Nationals bumbling through April and May.

When Turner returned, he still was not healed. He swung with nine fingers on the bat. Often, it flew out of his hands at the end of the swing when he first began to play again. He was never able to bend the finger enough so the tip touched the palm of his hand. Turner also went to great length not to discuss his situation through the year.

There was no immediate timeline for Turner's recovery process available Saturday.

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