On any day in Washington DC, you can find politicians from both sides of the aisle criticizing their political opponents. It's almost like a ritual: members express their outrage on camera, and then their supporters get on social media to reinforce their side's talking points and criticize the other side some more. At times, all the bickering can become exhausting, and everyone can use a break. Fortunately, for the past few weeks, both Republicans and Democrats in the Nation's Capitol found one thing they could agree on: cheering for the Washington Nationals baseball team. The Nationals had surprised everyone by getting into the playoffs and then going to the World Series. And now, they were on the verge of winning it all-- an outcome just about nobody had predicted earlier in the season. And some people believed it all had to do with "Baby Shark."
For a while now, some baseball players have had a song they use when they come up to bat. And if a player is in a hitting slump, he might change the song. That was the situation for Washington Nationals player Gerardo Parra back in June. Inspired by his two-year old daughter, he began to utilize the popular (and to some adults, very annoying) children's song she loved, "Baby Shark," whenever he walked to the plate. Ballplayers are often superstitious, and when Parra began to get some hits, he kept "Baby Shark" as his song. The fans at Nationals Park approved-- in fact, it didn't take long before they were loudly and enthusiastically singing along, as "Baby Shark" became the unofficial theme song of the Nationals, complete with hand gestures mimicking a shark.
Parra also instituted the custom of players doing a sort of happy dance in the dugout. And throughout much of the season, the Nationals were giving their fans a lot to be happy about. It had been many, many years since DC had seen a championship baseball team-- they last won a World Series back in 1924, with a different team-- the Washington Senators. On paper, this team (a descendant of the old Montreal Expos), didn't stand much of a chance against their World Series opponent, the Houston Astros. While the Nationals won 93 games this year, the Astros led the major leagues with 107 wins. They were confident-- they had won a World Series in 2017, and they had a number of well-known players. In short, few pundits gave the Nationals much of a chance.
Of course, as sometimes happens in sports, things didn't turn out the way everyone expected. The Nationals may have been the underdogs, but they never gave up and they never gave in, and they took the series to game seven, before defeating the Astros in Houston (in a unique series where, for the first time, neither team won a home game). Meanwhile, in rainy Washington DC, fans were sitting in Nationals Park, watching on the big screen, and singing "Baby Shark," as they celebrated the unthinkable: the Nationals were World Series champions.
Today, politicians were back to their usual partisan arguments, and the House took a vote on an impeachment inquiry. But all over the city, Democrats and Republicans paused to smile and exchange congratulations about their amazing baseball team. Many people were planning to attend the parade on Saturday, and in that brief time, politics and partisanship would cease to matter. And for a little while, the love of baseball and the joy of having a winning team would unite the city, and fans would be singing "Baby Shark" and doing a happy dance. And political debates would take a back seat to pride in how the Nationals showed all the doubters that even in these contentious times, miracles can... and do... happen.
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