Deep thoughts about champagne celebrations after a Wild Card win

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On the one hand, if you’re happy and you know it, pop your corks. On the other hand, why are we still doing this, especially for early rounds of the playoffs?

source: Getty Images

To be clear: I’m not animated by some curmudgeonly “act like you’ve been there before” impulse. Yes, a few years ago I thought that maybe there were too many champagne celebrations in baseball, what with the clinch, the wild card, the division series, the LCS and the World Series. But I’ve mellowed on it over time and I now realize that it’s not my party, so I really don’t have a place to cry, even if I want to. These guys have worked all year, and if they want to party, let them party.

But I do look at these celebrations and feel like the whole enterprise has become something of a contrived show.

The question I have is who drives this. Is the default that the champagne celebration will occur, or is it something someone plans special per the team’s wishes? Is there a rule that the TV cameras have to be allowed access or, if the team chose, could they celebrate in private? Given that the champagne, the goggles, the T-shirts and probably even the plastic draped over the lockers is sponsored and institutionalized these days, is doing this or not doing this an act of paperwork and coordination with league partners and stakeholders, or is there still an element of spontaneous exuberance here?

I guess where I come back to is here: the first champagne celebration was almost certainly an off the cuff thing in which everyone was whooping it up and improvising, either because they smuggled the bubbly in to the clubhouse or because the team’s owner supplied it. Certainly the act of pouring it on each others’ heads and spraying it at each other was spontaneous. Now it clearly isn’t, even if the guys have fun doing it.

I look at Hunter Pence in this picture here, and I’m well aware of the fact that he’s one wonderfully strange dude. I feel like, if they said the champagne was going to end tomorrow, he’d come up with something more fun and crazy. And I tell myself: THAT’S something I really want to see. And I ask myself: is he allowed to?

UPDATE: Someone I know familiar with how all of this works tells me that it’s not as orchestrated and sponsored as I fear/complain about. There is no official champagne — clubs can use what they want — and there are no “official goggles” even if some are made available to the clubs. It’s not one of these deals where, like, Nike is going to send a corporate rep in if someone is wearing Oakleys or whatever. The coolers are provided by Budweiser, but Bud’s name is all over baseball already.

The more you know.