Every year there are three division winners in both the American and National Leagues. With the new wild card play-in game there are two wild card teams in each league. This means there are ten locker room celebrations where lockers are covered, Oakley goggles are worn by players and coaches, and bottles are popped with champagne soaking everything. The playoffs are an achievement for any team in a given time, but the celebrations are cliché and the same every time.
The Los Angeles Dodgers changed that this year when they were the first team to clinch a division title. Playing on the road in Arizona, the Dodgers won the NL West and had a celebration on the field right after the game. After the expected locker room excitement, the players ran back out onto the field and hopped into the Diamondbacks’ pool behind the outfield wall, and it was awesome.
Baseball is a game. It is supposed to be fun. The Diamondbacks may not have liked that the Dodgers had a pool party at the ballpark, but it’s not like they did it right after the game was over. They at least waited until the stadium was cleared and they were the only ones on the field besides maintenance and camera crews. I think Arizona is just jealous that they never thought of that whenever they won a division title or had a walk-off homerun. That could be their signature celebration, which there are few of in baseball. The Denver Broncos have the Mile High Salute, the Green Bay Packers have the Lambeau Leap, and the Atlanta Falcons once had the Dirty Bird.
No baseball team has anything like these football celebrations. The Diamondbacks may have missed their chance to start a trend, but they could continue it. Arizona would make SportsCenter every night with a celebration like that.
The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Cincinnati Reds to earn a berth in the NLDS against their other division rival the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates didn’t celebrate quite you would expect a team to whenever they advance to the next round of the playoffs until they got into the locker room. There was the champagne and beer chugging that they only show briefly on television because it is “bad behavior” by professional baseball players.
If you watched some of the post-game broadcast on TBS, they had a camera crew in the Pirates’ bullpen that showed Gerrit Cole throwing with his pitching coach beside him. He was not soaked in alcohol, didn’t have a playoff t-shirt on, and was giving awkward arm motions to the catcher (they weren’t the typical motions for curves, sliders, changeups, etc). Cole missed out on the best part of the game! Manager Clint Hurdle said that A.J. Burnett would be starting the first division game, so Cole was more than likely throwing on the schedule that he is supposed to pitch game two or three, but the Pirates could have let him celebrate in the clubhouse.
It’s been over 20 years since the Pirates won a playoff game. Cole is a rookie and he missed the locker room celebration. He may never get that chance again! I understand getting a guy ready for his next start, but that isn’t even rookie hazing; missing the locker room fun is like being in timeout. The bullpen catcher had to miss all of the fun as well. Perhaps the pitching coach didn’t want to have to wash his uniform and needed a reason to be out of the locker room during the celebrating. He yanked the rookie pitcher as an out to stay dry.
Playoff celebrations are getting more out of control, but why?
There should be a progression of celebrating if teams are going to insist on doing this every year for every series they win. Other sports don’t have the same type of extravaganza after each round of the playoffs like baseball does. If a team wins their division, they should each get a beer and some water guns to play with. After winning the division series (nothing for the wild card play-in game), they get upgraded to a six-pack for each player. He can drink them or spray them as he likes, but there is no covering the lockers. This way they might stay low key in celebrating or go home smelling like old beer.
Once a team has won the pennant and seals a spot in the World Series, the lockers can be covered and champagne can be used like it is now. Reaching the World Series is a great feat and warrants celebrating like teams do now for having a five-game winning streak. Players can get crazier and act like they actually won something because they finally did. Nobody is going to remember who won the AL Central in a few years, but they might remember a team getting to the World Series.
That brings us to a team being the best in baseball and winning the Fall Classic. Whoever is the lone wolf after 162 regular season games, a wild-card game, division and league championship series, and the World Series deserves to do whatever they want. There should at least be a Gatorade bath for the manager. Managers don’t seem to get much love in the celebrations because they are older, and players are always making a human Jenga stack on the pitcher’s mound.
There should be fireworks and confetti. There needs to be a mascot jumping around if the team has one. Fans should be given water balloons to join in the cheering. Players should have the cameras they can put on their hats so they aren’t busy trying to record everything without breaking their phones. The locker room party should be out on the field right then and there so fans watching on TV don’t have to wait half an hour to see it. There should be a live concert that starts right after the last out so it is a huge party. After all of the ceremonies and trophy presentation, the winning team is then flown to Arizona to swim in the outfield pool. That would make it worth the wait to celebrate and maybe make teams play a little harder to get that pool party.