During a 10-run fifth inning, Adam Eaton broke open a close game with a three-run homer that gave Washington a 6-1 lead. Anthony Rendon followed with a solo shot. Four batters later, Kurt Suzuki went deep to drive in three more. After each home run, the Nationals danced, with Rendon breaking out the Sprinkler.
The Nationals’ dance party tradition began in earnest on June 9 at the expense of an old friend. It was on that day, in the eighth inning of a 5-2 win at San Diego’s Petco Park, that Howie Kendrick, Trea Turner, Eaton and Rendon hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers against former Washington reliever Craig Stammen. Washington became the ninth team in major league history to hit home runs in four consecutive plate appearances and the first to celebrate each blast with a dance line in the dugout.
Who’s behind baseball’s hottest dance craze? The same guy who’s had thousands of fans chomping along to “Baby Shark” at the ballpark this summer.
“It’s [Gerardo] Parra,” Juan Soto recently told MASN analyst F.P. Santangelo. “Parra and Anibal [Sanchez], they’ve been really good friends since they played in Venezuela, and they bring all this stuff here.”
The Nationals signed Parra off the scrap heap after the veteran outfielder was released by the Giants in early May. In addition to hitting .279 with six home runs for Washington, primarily in a reserve role, he’s brought joy to the clubhouse and the dugout, and helped spark the Nationals’ remarkable turnaround. Wednesday’s win moved Washington 10 games over .500.
“Parra starts it and says we’re going to dance here,” Soto continued. “Everybody that hits a homer, we’re going to dance.”
That includes pitchers, as Stephen Strasburg learned after hitting his fourth career home run in a 13-4 win at Atlanta last month.
“To be honest, it was pretty nerve-racking,” Strasburg told reporters of what was going through his mind as he approached the dugout steps. “I didn’t really have anything. I’m not a big dancer to begin with.”
The important thing is that Strasburg tried, treating the opportunity to shake his hips for his cheering teammates like the privilege that it was. Not everyone is so lucky. Closer Sean Doolittle wanted to get down after recording his 25th save against the Giants earlier this month, but was turned away. There are rules to the dugout dance party, after all.
“I wasn’t in the dance line, you would have known about it if I was,” Doolittle told reporters. “I would have done something stupid and made a fool out of myself. I would have turned into a GIF or something. But I wanted to dance with the guys after the save, they said, ‘No, you have to hit a home run.’ So I was like, okay.”
Without further ado, here are the Nationals’ top 10 dance parties of the season so far:
10. Wipe Out
Some Nationals, including Suzuki, danced before the back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs in San Diego. The Hawaii native is fond of “surfing” through the dugout after homers, as his teammates put their arms up to form a wave. One such dance, in Philadelphia in early May, ended with Suzuki on the dugout floor after (accidentally) wiping out.
9. Turner Gets Down
Turner almost always looks like a kid at a middle school dance.
8. Suzuki Flosses
Surfing and flossing in one celebration? That’s a veteran move.
7. Rendon Does The Dougie
“I had to go back to my high school days, I did the ‘Dougie’ for a little bit, some of these people don’t know about it,” Rendon said of his dance that followed his grand slam against the Braves on July 29.
6. Big City’s Big Mood
Props to Matt Adams for trying, um, whatever this is.
5. The Sprinkler
An oldie but a goodie. When you hit as many home runs as Rendon has this season, you need to mix things up. Credit to Erick Fedde for doing it first after Turner’s home run on Monday.
4. Soto’s Shimmy
Soto could occupy several spots on this list, but his most memorable dance was the shimmy he did after taking the Mets’ Marcus Stroman deep earlier this month. Former Maryland star and Venezuela native Greivis Vasquez would approve.
3. Dozier Twerks, Twerks, Twerks, Twerks …
Dozier has some real style, but when he’s not getting piggyback rides from batting practice pitcher Ali Modami, as he did on Tuesday, his go-to move is twerking, which he has called “borderline inappropriate.” You be the judge.
2. Skipping Strasburg
This might be the happiest Strasburg has ever looked during a baseball game.
1. Victor Robles’s Smooth Moves
Don’t run on Robles. Don’t challenge the salsa-dancing master to a dance-off, either. These videos get me every time.
You might be wondering, where’s Parra? He’s anchoring the line in most of the videos above, leading the rhythmic clapping and chanting that accompanies every Nationals dance party. He’s Washington’s dugout DJ and he’s spinning a track that could have the Nationals dancing deep into October.
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