- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
If you hired an anthropologist to do a study on why baseball celebrations are particularly raucous, a few factors might be cited, in boldface type:
1. The season is really, really, really long
They hit and throw and travel and hit and throw and travel day after day after day -- really, for most of about eight months -- and baseball players are taught, from an early age, to maintain an emotional equilibrium, because the failure is inherent. Good hitters make outs 7 out of 10 times, relievers are often called on the day after a lousy outing, and starters go back to work, preparing for their next start, right after getting pounded.
In the National Football League, they build up their emotional crescendo to the day of the game, channel emotion for the field of play, and then go nuts on Monday. But baseball players mostly repress anger and joy for all spring and all summer, focusing on the next at-bat and the next pitch, and for those fortunate enough to actually win something, as the Dodgers and Red Sox were Thursday, they tend to go crazy in the same way that a college student does after getting a diploma.
2. They are competitors and their DNA demands they improve upon the past
If you watch highlights of past championships, such as this one from the 1969 New York Mets, the players basically got off the field with a few handshakes and hugs as quickly as possible, toasted the championship trophy and saved their most arduous celebrating for the less formal settings.
Over time, however, the stakes were raised: TV was invited in. More champagne and beer was used for dumping over the heads of teammates than for drinking. Wade Boggs climbed on the back of a police horse, and the Red Sox introduced swim goggles to deal with the sting of alcohol spray. Teams began producing T-shirts and hats specifically for the celebration. (Ka-ching!)
The only time it got a little awkward was when Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, 62 years old at the time, ran around the bases at Yankee Stadium after Florida won the World Series.
3. Somebody else has to clean up the mess
This is the best part. Any fraternity pledge knows the bleary, morning-after first peek at the damage, and while some help might be enlisted, the collection of cans and the cleaning of carpet is the last toll taken for any party. But there’s a pretty good chance that Clayton Kershaw, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz are not touching a mop today.
So in light of that history, should anybody be surprised that the Dodgers clambered over the outfield wall and jumped into the pool in Arizona?
Isn’t that the first thing a visiting team might think to do, at this stage in the evolution of championship celebrations, if they wrap up a title in that park? Isn’t that just a natural thought, like a visiting team finding the costumes from the Sausage and President races in Milwaukee and Washington, respectfully, and running around the field?