Jeff Miller: Time for baseball to keep the cork plugged

It is the most child-like of all our professional sports, baseball is.

Also the most childish.

So recently we’ve been subjected again to a rash of thoroughly juvenile and wholly unnecessary salutes to binge partying and contrived spontaneity as the players wet themselves with champagne and beer.

Wet themselves? Just seemed like the right choice of words when discussing baseball players, the most immature-behaving pro athletes on the planet. And, folks, it’s not even close.

No other group of arguably grown men derives more satisfaction from public flatulence, open nudity and general arrogance than baseball players do. In their language, crotch-grabbing is a form of communication.


Why would any one of them — never mind a group of them — show the intellect, depth and independence necessary to stop treating every postseason advancement like a medical breakthrough that alters the course of mankind?

It’s not going to happen.

Why do they do it, anyway, why do they douse each other in adult beverage?

Because that’s the way it always has been done. How’s that for sound reasoning?

Now, before the accusations of being a fuddy or a duddy begin, understand that this isn’t an attempt to steal genuine joy. It’s a call to return common sense, to bring perspective back to something that has become comically warped.

In no other sport is just reaching the postseason considered worthy of acting like a bunch of drunken idiots. Winning a postseason title? Sure, have at it, boys. Winning a postseason invite? Please.

The NHL’s Ducks don’t shampoo with Budweiser for clinching the No. 6 seed. The NBA’s Lakers don’t power wash themselves for winning the Pacific Division. NFL players are too busy being exhausted to empty bottles of booze atop each other after every playoff victory.

Yet, the Cardinals and Orioles this month did the whole overwrought bubbly bash for winning one game to advance to the division series.


Maybe you don’t think these forced, worn-out champagne showers are a problem. OK, fine. But the game itself disagrees.

For years, baseball has been urging teams to rein in the stupidity. Former commissioner Fay Vincent once explained: "I think the celebrations are unattractive in large measure because they involve alcohol. It’s ritualized, and I think it’s silly."

More recently — like just a few days ago — Commissioner Bud Selig told the Los Angeles Times: "This is something I am not happy about: spraying champagne all over. I’m not a fan of that."

Asked if he’d like to put an end to the disingenuous practice, Selig admitted, "I don’t know that we can."

It has reached a point where baseball now has had to impose guidelines limiting the amount of alcohol teams can wheel into the clubhouse. Rules about appropriate behavior and responsible drinking are spelled out.

In other words, unable to be trusted to do the right thing, the players have been taken by the hand and instructed on what, exactly, is the right thing.

In the aftermath of Nick Adenhart’s death in 2009, we repeatedly urged the Angels to do something — both symbolic and significant — to draw attention to the dangers of drunk driving. Maybe suspend beer sells for one game or one inning or just one anything.

The Angels, of course, did nothing because that would have cost revenue. Five months later, their players soaked Adenhart’s jersey with champagne and beer upon winning the American League West.


For that particular party, the Angels went through 210 bottles of champagne and 22 cases of beer. Though that is excessive, let’s hope they enjoyed it. They haven’t made the playoffs since.

Today, we applaud TBS for making the call to limit the images of the Tigers’ celebration Thursday to a few seconds. There was only a quick shot of two players — wearing goggles, of course — spraying suds around like high school cheerleaders at a fundraising car wash.

Too often, these clichés look to be mostly done-for-TV, no more authentic than the appearance of a changeup. TBS was willing to say no thanks. Well done.

So, was this the beginning of the end? Was TBS’ decision a first step toward more measured, sensible frivolity? Don’t count on it.

These are baseball players, remember, and if they are known for anything, it’s their ability and desire to imitate what they’ve seen other players do.

The Angels’ Kendrys Morales missed more than a season and a half after breaking his leg in a pile of merry teammates following his last-swing grand slam in May 2010.

The embarrassing, ridiculous, thoroughly juvenile and wholly unnecessary injury did nothing to slow last-swing celebrations around baseball.

The players still pound the star on the helmet, still chase each other around, still act like children.


It could all be endearing, and, at one time, it probably was. At best now, these over-baked celebrations can be called only enduring.

No more. The time has arrived for these things to be unplugged rather than uncorked.

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