Dear Sharkadina People:
For the past few months, I've been having a little fun with you. I've downplayed your goofy nickname for Nationals outfielder Roger Bernadina - whom you call "The Shark" - because I thought your premise (that Bernadina chased down fly balls like a shark chases its prey) was flawed. Bernadina will occasionally make things too tough on himself by taking a bad first step or a circuitous route to the ball.
But I realized in the fifth inning of tonight's Nationals-Marlins game that it doesn't matter. In fact, that might be part of the premise for the nickname - Bernadina's routes to balls aren't always the most efficient, but like a shark, he has the violent closing speed to make up for it.
And after seeing his jaw-dropping, sprawling sno-cone catch on Mike Stanton's fly ball to end the fifth, and watching the replay several times, I'm here to tell you I'm on board.
Bernadina's catch wasn't technically perfect - he took a bad first step on the rocket from Stanton's bat - but he recovered almost immediately, tracking the ball right over his head and closing with his arms tucked in perfect form (remember the drill third-base coach Bo Porter had outfielders doing in spring training, running with a football to teach proper running technique?). He leapt, hung in midair for a second, caught the ball and landed on his back with his glove tucked under him. It was possibly the greatest catch I've ever seen in person. And you'll see it plenty more on highlight shows tonight.
So I'm here to tell you, Sharkadina People, that while I still think your nickname is a little odd, I'm getting on board. He's also 3-for-3 with a two-run double and a steal, and he's showing all the reasons the Nationals want to see if he can play every day.
This will be an adjustment for me, so I ask for your patience. But after seeing that, I'm reconsidering acknowledging your Shark-love.