Champagne showers after the Division Series? Really?

32 Comments

Hey, if you’re happy, enjoy yourself and don’t let me stop you, but really: champagne showers after winning the Division Series?

If you ask any Phillies fan — and even if you don’t ask any Phillies fan — they’ll tell you in no uncertain terms that the expectation is winning the World Series. If they somehow get beat in the NLCS, they will almost certainly consider the season to be have ended in disappointment.

In light of that, you’d think that Philly would be a bit more subdued with the bubbly than they were last night.  They’ve really accomplished only a small component part of your expected goal, after all. Yet there they were, splashing around like Joe Carter just hit the walkoff home run.  Well, that is, if they were the Blue Jays in 1993 and Joe Carter had just hit the walkoff home run, but you get the idea.

The Yankees did some champagne showering after their series win on Saturday as well. Most accounts of it had it being a more subdued affair than usual — they sprayed the champagne, but stopped there and didn’t do the beer shower thing — but still: will any of them be satisfied if they’re knocked out by either Tampa Bay or Texas?  Will the season, ultimately, have been a success justifying a boozy celebration? I kinda think not.

I also kind of wonder about the whole history and dynamic of the champagne shower. I’m guessing it started as a spontaneous thing once upon a time, with some wiseacre middle infielder bringing in a bottle of bubbly or two in order to spritz a dour teammate.  Now everything is supplied, the room is prepared and even if some players don’t think it truly appropriate to celebrate at a given time, they’re expected to. Maybe Roy Halladay, if he had his druthers, would prefer that everyone wait until they at least clinch the NL pennant. He can’t, though, because all that stuff has been laid out for everybody and that’s just how crowds work.

My view of this is that it’s probably OK to celebrate clinching the division or wild card. No, it’s not ideal, especially for a team whose playoff hopes were never in doubt, but the regular season, she is a long one, and a man deserves to let loose after six or seven months of work. But after knocking off the Reds or the Twins? Jeez, fellas, you were expected to do that. Act like it, whydontcha?

And if you think I’m being overly grumpy here: well, you’re damn right I am. Gonna be all day, thank you very much, and there’s nothing you can do short of giving Brooks Conrad an atomic wedgie to stop me.

Chapman has trouble remembering convo with Cubs management about off-field behavior

chapmancubs
Getty Images
8 Comments

CHICAGO — Star closer Aroldis Chapman joined the Cubs on Tuesday, arriving to a mixed reaction in Chicago and saying he couldn’t remember what management told him about off-field expectations and behavior.

After Chapman’s awkward introductory news conference, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein insisted Chapman understands what the Cubs expect of him after an offseason domestic violence incident.

When the Cubs announced the trade with the New York Yankees on Monday, the team released a statement from Chairman Tom Ricketts saying they were aware of his 29-game suspension to begin the season under Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy.

Ricketts said he and Epstein talked by phone with Chapman before the deal was completed and “shared with him the high expectations we set for our players,” adding that Chapman was “comfortable” with them.

But when asked repeatedly about that phone conversation before Tuesday’s game against the crosstown White Sox, Chapman said through an interpreter that he couldn’t recall details because he was taking a nap at the time the call came in.

The question was asked several more times. A Cubs spokesman once asked the question himself to the interpreter, coach Henry Blanco.

“It’s been a long day,” Chapman said. “Trying to remember.”

Asked again several minutes later during the group interview if he could now remember what Ricketts said, Chapman shook his head.

“I still don’t remember,” he said in Spanish.

Epstein called it a misunderstanding and that Chapman was “pretty nervous” as he faced seven cameras and more than two dozen reporters.

“I was on the call, Tom was on the call, Aroldis was on the call and Barry Praver, his agent, was on the call. It happened and it was real,” Epstein said before the Cubs’ 3-0 loss to the White Sox.

Chapman was accused of choking his girlfriend and firing eight gunshots in the garage of a Florida home in October. The woman later changed her story and no charges were filed.

“You learn from the mistakes that you make,” Chapman said.

The case caused the Los Angeles Dodgers to back out of an offseason trade for Chapman. Cincinnati eventually traded him to the Yankees, and after his suspension, the 28-year-old Cuban converted 20 of 21 save chances for New York.

The Cubs have long boasted of stocking their roster with high-character players, helping earn the “lovable losers” label they’ve carried for decades since their last World Series title in 1908.

But the Cubs (59-40) have retooled their roster under Epstein and have the best record in the major leagues despite Tuesday’s loss in which Chapman didn’t pitch. Chapman, who threw a 105 mph fastball last week, fills perhaps the team’s largest hole as he replaces Hector Rondon as closer.

The Cubs sent four players to the Yankees, including shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, to get one of the game’s top relievers. Epstein said they wouldn’t have made the deal if not for the phone call he and Ricketts had with Chapman.

“Tom laid out the exact same standards that he lays out to everyone in spring training,” Epstein said. “He said, extremely clearly, `Look, Aroldis, I tell all the players this in spring training and it’s important you hear it and I need to hear from you on this. We expect our players to behave. We hold our players to a very high standard for their behavior off the field. And we need to know you can meet that standard.’

“Aroldis said `I understand. Absolutely, I can.'”

The Cubs activated Chapman before Tuesday’s game and designated left-hander Clayton Richard for assignment.

Reaction to Chapman’s acquisition in Chicago has been tepid. While there were supportive fans on talk radio, the Chicago Tribune carried a front-page column Tuesday criticizing the move. The back of the Chicago Sun-Times tabloid read “Spin City” over a picture of Epstein.

Chapman said he expected a “good reaction” from Cubs fans. He was also asked during the 20-minute meeting with reporters in the visiting dugout at U.S. Cellular Field if we would consider working with organizations looking to prevent domestic violence. Chapman said no.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon defended Chapman.

“He did do a suspension, he has talked about it, he’s shown remorse,” Maddon said. “Everybody else has the right to judge him as a good or bad person. That’s your right.

I want to get to know Aroldis. I think he could be a very significant member and he’s got the potential, yes, to throw the last out of the World Series. And if he does, I promise you I will embrace him.”

Report: Padres working on trading Andrew Cashner

ST. LOUIS, MO - JULY 21: Starter Derek Norris #3 of the San Diego Padres pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Busch Stadium on July 21, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
19 Comments

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports and MLB Network reports that the Padres are working to trade starter Andrew Cashner. He notes that a deal may be consummated before he takes the hill for Tuesday’s start in Toronto against the Blue Jays. The Marlins, Orioles, and Rangers have had reported interest in Cashner.

Cashner is 4-7 with a 4.79 ERA and a 61/27 K/BB ratio in 73 1/3 innings. He missed over three weeks between June 11 and July 2 due to a strained neck.

The right-hander is earning $9.625 million this season and will be eligible for free agency after the season.