This column begins with a shout-out to Aaliyah Victoria Parra, the little girl whose father (Gerardo Parra) decided that her favorite song would be perfect for his walk-up music—and thus triggered a mad craze for Baby Shark that helped propel the Nats to win the World Series. Of course, it was only one of many factors in their unexpected triumph, but it is impossible to imagine their win without it. So thank you, Aaliyah!
Washington has a World Series champion for the first time in 95 years after a stunning series victory over the “what just happened to us?” Houston Astros!
It wasn’t just the hand motions to Baby Shark that this Nats team taught all of us. While watching their improbable if not impossible rise to the top, here are three lessons I learned from the 2019 World Series Champion Washington Nationals:
1. They won as a team. No single person won this champion—they all did. They did it together. The Nats got outstanding play from their entire roster. They constantly surprised everyone except themselves with their play and their wins. As Anthony Rendon said after the final game of the World Series, “We didn’t doubt each other.” Five words that signaled a level of confidence and trust that galvanized them into champions.
2. They won joyfully!It was not just a grim slog out of the basement when they were 12 games below .500 at 19-31 on May 23. It was a dance! It was exuberant and confident and infectious. At home games, it energized the fans. On the road, it confused and maybe even frightened the opponents. Their spontaneous joy and determined optimism became their winning trademark.
3. They won because they believed in their future. They believed they could beat the Brewers in the Wild Card game, and they did. They believed they could take down the mighty Dodgers in the National League Division Series, and they did—winning the series with that amazing grand slam in the 10th inning of Game 5. They demolished the Cardinals with a 4-game sweep in the National League Championship Series, bringing a pennant to Washington for the first time since 1933.
And while only 38 of the World Series have gone the full seven games, this one did—right down to the wire. And all the while, the Nats believed in themselves, in their game, and in their team.
Davey Martinez, the Nationals manager, said after game seven, “These guys, they’re confident, they really are, and they don’t lose that confidence or that focus regardless of the situation.”
The Nationals taught us a lot this season. About determination, about having faith in each other, about finding a win when it isn’t expected. About stepping up to the plate with joy and confidence.
And about Baby Shark, too! Thank you, Washington Nationals. You make us all feel like champions.