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Mattingly's departure could impact Nats' search

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Mattingly's departure could impact Nats' search

Just as the Nationals' managerial search appeared to be poised to enter a more advanced phase, a development on the other side of the country could throw some wrenches into the plan.

Don Mattingly's departure from Los Angeles early Thursday morning will have ripple effects across the majors, with the former All-Star first baseman now available for hire elsewhere and an attractive Dodgers job now open for several candidates already up for other managerial positions, including in Washington.

Given general manager Mike Rizzo's stated preference for a new manager with experience, Mattingly would be a logical candidate at least to speak with the Nationals. Owner of a .551 winning percentage and three division titles in five seasons with the Dodgers, he is a well-respected figure around the sport with plenty of experience managing a club in a big market with lofty expectations and several high-salaried star players. Questions about his ability to get along with some of those star players in Los Angeles, though, could be a detriment from the Nationals' perspective.

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Mattingly, 54, will have other suitors. The Marlins reportedly are interested and could make an aggressive push to hire him. The Mariners and Padres also are currently seeking new managers.

Even if the Nationals aren't seriously interested in Mattingly, his sudden availability could have a domino effect on their ongoing search. Among those the Dodgers could now consider include former Padres manager Bud Black (seen by many as the best fit in Washington), Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez (seen as a potential Nationals candidate now that Chicago has been eliminated from the postseason) and Dodgers bench coach Tim Wallach (who has interviewed with the Nats, according to Yahoo! Sports).

The Nationals are close to wrapping up their initial round of interviews, having already met with at least eight candidates, according to sources with knowledge of their search: Black; Wallach; former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire; former Giants, Cubs and Reds manager Dusty Baker; Giants bench coach Ron Wotus; Diamondbacks third base coach Andy Green; Diamondbacks Class AAA manager Phil Nevin; and former big-league infielder Alex Cora.

MORE NATIONALS: Report: Nats interviewed D-Backs coach for manager job

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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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Sorry Nats fans, you can't buy the exact same sunglasses as Gerardo Parra and Aníbal Sánchez

Sorry Nats fans, you can't buy the exact same sunglasses as Gerardo Parra and Aníbal Sánchez

Gerardo Parra first broke out his rose-tinted sunglasses in the middle of July, at a time when the Washington Nationals were still hovering around .500 after their seemingly disastrous 19-31 start to the season. 

Then Aníbal Sánchez joined in with some yellow-tinted glasses and the fun-loving pair, and the Nationals, began to garner more and more attention from fans.

Both were signed by the Nationals as free agents: Sánchez in December 2018, and Parra in early May of this year. 

While they've each proven smart pickups -- just look at Sánchez' near no-hitter in the NLCS Game 1 -- it's their uplifting attitude that has really helped get the Nationals to where they are: their first franchise World Series. 

After the craze surrounding Parra's "Baby Shark" walkup song, fans are now searching where to find glasses to match the two fan favorites.

When googling Parra, the fourth-most-googled phrase is "Gerardo Parra sunglasses." The same can be said for Sánchez. 

Alas, from the photos online, Parra and Sánchez's sunglasses are made by the Pepsi-run sparkling water brand bubly, meaning they're likely a promotional item not available to the general public. 

There are similar glasses online, however. A Reddit thread was created in August to help Nationals fans find similar glasses, and some lookalikes pop up in the Google search "bubly sunglasses." 

So, while you can't rock the exact same glasses, there are still options for joining in the fun!

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