The New Sports Rivalries

Written by :
Published on : November 6, 2016

 

 

Everyone knows about Yankees vs. Red Sox and Michigan vs. Ohio State. Those and many other old rivalries are classic. Important parts of the fabric of sports history. But what are the new beefs? The modern day feuds? We look in every major sport and highlight the contemporary era of rivalries.

 

Toronto vs. Cleveland

Hear me out, first the Cavs bounced the Raptors out of the playoffs last year and just a bit ago, the Cleveland Indians said goodnight to the Toronto Blue Jays. Maybe this rivalry is a little one-sided but be sure, Drake and all of Toronto are looking forward to their next chance to get revenge on Cleveland.

 

Patriots vs. Broncos

 

Want to win a Super Bowl? Chances are you have to beat one of these guys to do it. Things really started cooking when Peyton joined Denver. Manning vs. Brady part two. Featuring new team colors. Even with Peyton retiring, this matchup is still serious. I could easily see both franchises back in the AFC Championship game.

 

Detroit vs. Everybody

This attitude is almost out of control. And I’m part of the problem. The Detroit fanbase can be salty but it comes from a place of love. It just doesn’t always shine through. The vs. Everybody campaign has its merits, I like the galvanizing quality but it can get pushed into hostile territory that will leave us Michigan sports fans without any sympathy from anyone outside the state. NOTE, not really an issue in the Red Wing world. People hate us but that’s because we are awesome at hockey.

 

Russ vs. KD

It’s Batman trying to kill Robin. Kevin Durant and the Warriors are the favs in the west but don’t tell that to Russell Westbrook. This dude is looking to drop a triple-double in every game until he meets KD and company in the playoffs. Everyone wants to see that.

 

Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor

mayweather mcgregor

 

They have never fought. Probably never will. But they are rivals. No doubt about that. Since we may never get a pay-per-view, our only hope is that these two both meet in a Vegas nightclub and they fight on the dance floor. Video provided by iPhone.

 

Penguins vs. Capitals

This is more than just Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby. These two crews have been battling it out for the last few seasons and it’s been some of the finest hockey you can watch. Not a huge fan of either team but the product they put forward is top shelf. But please, someone just put Crosby into the boards already.

 

Cavs vs Warriors

The best and most epic of the new school rivalries. They have met in back-to-back NBA Finals and a third meeting is inevitable. That win will end the argument until they met for a forth of fifth time. Right now, this is the greatest show on floor. Damn, that saying doesn’t really work in basketball.

 

All it takes for a new rivalry to be created is one great game. You can’t tell me the players don’t feed off that kind of stuff. Drop your favorite rivalries in the comments and let’s keep this conversation going.

 

Heated.

 

 


SBS Remembers: Big League Chew

Written by :
Published on : August 15, 2016

 

 

Everyone likes candy. When you are a kid, candy is religion. The fat-cats at candy companies know this. They make tons of weird creations all trying to hook your rotten sweet tooth. And they’ll try anything. Perfect example is Big League Chew. This product is a gum that is shredded and comes in a pouch to act like a kiddie version of chewing tobacco. Why would children want to dip, you ask? Well, because pro-ballplayers do it. And that’s enough of a reason. Let’s cruise the aisles for some throwback snacks in this chapter of SBS Remembers.

 

Big League Chew first arrived in stores back in May of 1980 with the classic pink colored gum. This was Outta’ Here Original. Later, other flavors were added like Ground Ball Grape, Swingin’ Sour Apple, Slammin’ Strawberry, Curveball Cotton Candy and Wild Pitch Watermelon. The packages also featured some great comic illustrations which was a big selling point. And generally, one of the few sports themed items in the candy section, so it stood out.

 

big eague chew flavors

 

The story behind the chew is pretty interesting. The idea came from baseball player Rob Nelson of the Portland Mavericks. His Portland teammate and New York Yankee All Star, Jim Bouton, helped pitch the product to the Wrigley Company as an option instead of chewing tobacco. Which was super popular in the MLB at the time. The rest is history. And let’s be honest, dip is really gross and no one wants to see their favorite ballplayers spit all over the field.

 

It’s hard to overlook that it’s just tobacco for kids. That’s pretty messed up. I remember having candy cigarettes way before Big League Chew. And I never smoked, but that’s still shady. The origin seems like it came from good intentions, trying to give players a dip substitute but the makers of the machine gun also thought they would end war with a weapon that fires so fast that no one would be crazy enough to face it.

 

Big-League-Chew CU

 

Marketing poison to kids aside, I loved Big League Chew. It was unlike any other gum and it really was a solid rebrand of the grown-up tobacco variety. You could get a big wad of it and keep it in your lip and you’d look just like your baseball hero. All the flavors came in super bright colors and just seeing the package and the lettering transports me back to the days of my youth. Anyone want to play home run derby right now?

 

Big League Chew tastes just like any other gum. Hell, it may even loose its flavor faster than most, but it was about the image. You got to play make believe. Wear your dad’s shoes and pretend you’re bigger than you were. That’s what a pack got you. And that’s magic.

 

Bubble.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode XIX: The Damn Yankees)

Written by :
Published on : July 22, 2016

 

 

Heard any good rumors lately? I don’t know about you, but this trade deadline can’t come soon enough for me. And it still won’t be here by the time I post next week. So I’m gonna have to be patient, even though it’s only so much fun to keep hearing, “The Indians need a catcher… something, something, Jonathan Lucroy.” The only fun part about the wait is that the Yankees have gone from an also-ran in the American League East to The Most Interesting Team in the World. Joe Girardi said their game on Sunday with the Red Sox was must-win. And not only did they win that game, they also took three in a row from the Orioles. So the “Will They?/Won’t They?” scenario for Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman and whoever else they’d be unloading became even cloudier.

 

Sure, there’s a logjam of three teams (the Red Sox, Orioles and Blue Jays) ahead of them in their own division. But on Wednesday, the Yankees were two games over .500 for the first time since they were 4-2 on April 12th. And they’re still only 6.5 back in the division, and 5.5 in the Wild Card. If I’m being completely honest, as a Cubs fan, part of me hopes they do absolutely nothing. Just sit there and go down with the ship. I’d love it if the Cubs found a reasonable way to get either of those guys, but I also know how un-fun it’s going to be when I wake up some morning next week and see that Chapman was sent to the Nationals and Miller went to the Giants. So yeah, I kinda want Brian Cashman to be an idiot here. Pride of the Yankees, baby!

 

 Miller

 

If I’m being completely objective, the Yankees totally need to sell. They’re only projected at 11% to make the postseason anyway, according to FanGraphs. And their upcoming schedule isn’t making it any easier on them. Plus, the amount of quality prospects that so many other teams would be willing to give up for Miller and/or Chapman and his 105.1-mph fastball should have them salivating. But this is the Yankees we’re talking about. They’re having a hard enough time admitting that a roid-free, 40-year-old A-Rod probably shouldn’t be their DH of the future.

 

To paraphrase Marsellus Wallace from Pulp Fiction, “The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That’s pride fucking with you. Fuck pride. Pride only hurts. It never helps. You fight through that shit. Cause a year from now, when you kicking it in the Caribbean, you’re gonna say to yourself, ‘Mike Bridenstine was right.'”

 

Okay, lets go around the league…

 

The AL East

 

The verdict still isn’t in on the Drew Pomeranz trade. Some people think his acquisition means the Red Sox are World Series-bound. Other people think they gave up too much in Anderson Espinoza just to get a back of the rotation guy who will probably suck in the division. If his first start in Boston is any indication, it’s actually a little bit of both. Pomeranz got chased in the 4th on Wednesday against the Giants, after allowing five runs. But then Hanley Ramirez hit three home runs and the Red Sox won the eighth game in their last nine chances. But hey, the Blue Jays are surging, the Orioles will get over their stomach bugs at some point and the Red Sox are just one more bad start from David Price away from thinking the sky is falling once again.

 

The AL Central

The Twins fired their GM this week and yeah, they’re probably going to be the first team in the American League to be mathematically eliminated. It’s only July, but that elimination number is 48 in the division and 51 in the Wild Card. Meanwhile, the Indians are running away with the Central. We know they’re gonna be buyers (they actually need relief pitching, a catcher and a bat), but I’m just as interested to see what the Tigers (4.5 out in the Wild Card) and White Sox (7 back) decide to do. Also, I’m probably going to have to say the same thing next week because this stretch of games between the All-Star break and the trade deadline is really just a bullshit holding pattern. Oh, but I guess Ned Yost has met five Presidents. So that’s cool. No word on if he’s met Trump yet.

 

The AL West

The Rangers are banged up, they have a 4-14 record since June 28th and they actually have lower playoff projections than the Astros do now. And the Astros just picked up Yulieski Gurriel from Cuba, even though they also have Alex Bregman and might not have anywhere to put him. And the Angels haven’t lost since the break, which is a terrible time to finally get hot. But at least Rich Hill and his blisters probably saved a lot of teams from dumping hotshot prospects to the A’s just to get a 36-year-old journeyman with a 4.23 career ERA.

 

The NL East

 

Well, Stephen Strasburg finally lost. Not that pitcher wins and losses matter to me. But at this point, it’s almost settled business that the Nationals are going to win the division. And the projection gods aren’t in love with the Marlins or Mets the rest of the way. Even though Giancarlo Stanton has to get better at some point (right?). And even though Jacob deGrom is quietly becoming a Cy Young candidate in New York once again. But mostly everyone wants to speculate on where Jeremy Hellickson of the Phillies is going to wind up. Like I keep saying, August 1st can’t come fast enough.

 

The NL Central

The Cubs finally have their swagger back. As well as the best record in baseball (thanks Giants!). And everybody seems to love this Mike Montgomery trade. And with Clayton Kershaw out for the foreseeable future, it frees up Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to win co-MVPs and Jake Arrieta to get hot and win his second Cy Young. Now we just have to wait for Dexter Fowler to come back, Jason Hammel to eat more potato chips, Kyle Hendricks to keep things up and the Cubs to land one of those Yankees closers without giving up the farm. Then we got it made! See, I can play best-case-scenario make believe too. I just don’t know what to make of the Cardinals, who the projections gods do love. I just have to hope that their hacker karma gets the best of them.

 

The NL West

The Giants haven’t won since the All-Star break, which has to be frustrating. The last team to go in to the break with the best record in baseball and then lose five in a row after were the ’91 Dodgers, who didn’t end up making the playoffs that year. Uh oh. The Giants’ starters haven’t been good. They almost got no-hit by Drew Pomeranz’ replacement in San Diego. They had that balk-off the night before. And don’t forget Yangervis Solarte’s nacho cheese ball during the three-game sweep. By a team that’s aggressively selling, mind you. It has to be equally frustrating for them that the Dodgers are somehow 13-7 since Kershaw went down with his back injury. They were seven games under .500 without him, prior to actually losing him. So I guess that means the Dodgers’ offense has to keep them afloat until they decide whether or not Kershaw needs season-ending surgery. And remember: Kershaw can’t blow it for them in the playoffs if he’s not there. Watch them win the whole thing now.

 

 

Okay. That does it for this week. If you need more baseball, you can listen to me on Comedians Talking Baseball with Joe Kilgallon, available on iTunes. Until then, Ichiro needs 6 hits and the Cubs’ magic number is 62.

 

 


Angelino in the Outfield (Episode IV, Part II: Which Number Should Every AL Team Retire Next?)

Written by :
Published on : March 27, 2016

 

During the upcoming 2016 season, Ken Griffey Jr., Pete Rose, Mike Piazza and Wade Boggs will have their numbers retired by the Mariners, Reds, Mets and Red Sox, respectively. And that got me thinking about which players should be next in line for those honors. We already did the National League. Now, lets do the Junior Circuit.

 

Angels

Finley

 

 

Retired Numbers: Gene Autry, Rod Carew, Nolan Ryan, Jimmie Reese, Jim Fregosi.
The Angels are in kind of an odd predicament since their most obvious choice of position players is 24-years old and their current center fielder. They could go with Darin Erstad or Tim Salmon from the 2002 team. Or that goddamn Rally Monkey. But my choice would be Chuck Finley. He’s their all-time leader in wins and innings pitched and pitchers WAR. Plus, he’s local to Newport Beach. Oh, and after a very messy divorce with 80’s Babe, Tawny Kitaen, where she accused him of steroid use, marijuana and alcohol abuse, Finley responded, “I can’t believe she left out the cross-dressing.” Like a drifter, he was born to walk alone.

 

Astros

Oswalt

 

Retired Numbers: Jim Umbricht, Don Wilson, Jose Cruz, Mike Scott, Nolan Ryan, Larry Dierker, Jimmy Wynn, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio.
I’d say Lance Berkman, if he wasn’t a giant homophobe. Not that Houston is some kind of progressive place. And my second choice would be Cesar Cedeno, if he didn’t also murder his girlfriend in a Dominican hotel room in 1973. And, I’m not kidding, he was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and fined $100. That’s not a typo. ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS. Anyway, I guess that leaves us with Roy Oswalt. I think he only kills deer. And he’s the all-time Astros pitching leader in WAR. Plus, he might have some sort of superpower. I say that because while he was in the minors he suffered from a shoulder injury until he was electrocuted while fixing his pickup. After the incident he exclaimed to his wife in his Mississippi accent, “My truck done shocked the fire out of me and my arm don’t hurt no more.” Case closed.

 

Athletics

Henderson

 

Retired Numbers: Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, Reggie Jackson, Dennis Eckersley, Rickey Henderson.
The Athletics have played in Oakland since 1968, but their history goes back to 1901 in Philadelphia. So all-time greats like Jimmie Foxx, Eddie Collins, Al Simmons, Eddie Plank and Lefty Grove haven’t been recognized by he organization. Or any organization for that matter. And I think they should be. Those guys all won multiple World Series championships for a team that was named the Athletics and it’s not like the team changed its name or its logo to generate a new identity since they moved. All they have to do is slap an old Philadelphia logo on a banner with their names on it like their bay area brethren Giants do with the New York Giants and call it a day. Of course, you might want to include Connie Mack and Home Run Baker and Chief Bender and Herb Pennock and Mickey Cochrane. My point is that the A’s existed before your older brother bought his Bash Brothers poster. They should recognize their heritage or change their name. It’s not like ‘Athletics’ makes much sense 115 years later. Hey, Rickey Henderson was raised in Oakland. Name them after him. The Oakland Rickeys. Either that or do what I said earlier.

 

Blue Jays

Halladay

 

 

Retired Number: Roberto Alomar.
As much as I want to give it to Joe Carter for his epic walk-off in 1993 or Jose Bautista for his epic bat flip in 2015, the best Toronto Blue Jays player of all-time (in terms of WAR) is actually Roy Halladay. He might have gotten more publicity on the Phillies. He might not have been as flashy as Roger Clemens in his two seasons with Toronto, but Halladay is the closest to great there is for a franchise without any great players. Phil Niekro played there in 1987. Roberto Alomar only played there for five seasons. Dave Winfield was there for one. Rickey Henderson was there for one. Paul Molitor was there for three. Frank Thomas was there for two. And good luck convincing me it’s Tony Fernandez or Carlos Delgado. Unless Bautista sticks around and surpasses everybody, they should retire #32.

 

Indians

Lofton

 

 

Retired Numbers: Bob Feller, Lou Boudreau, Earl Averill, Mel Harder, Larry Doby, Bob Lemon, the Indians Fans.
Okay, Tris Speaker was in the Klan. But somebody needs to explain to me why the Indians never honored Nap Lajoie. Because he had a falling out with the team manager in 1914? That’s stupid. And while we’re at it, the Indians could also honor Cy Young of the defunct Cleveland Spiders. But it looks like the best choices for now would be Jim Thome and Kenny Lofton. They were fun, right? And I can think about them while I attempt to block Tris Speaker out of my mind forever.

 

Mariners

Ichiro

 

 

Retired Number: Ken Griffey Jr.
Griffey had to be first. They did the right thing. But the Mariners also haven’t reissued the numbers of Edgar Martinez, Lou Piniella, Jay Buhner, Randy Johnson or Ichiro Suzuki, so all those guys are definitely on the horizon. Which is awesome. Because I don’t have do do anything. I could say, “What about Felix Hernandez?” but it seems like the Mariners are already on it.

 

Orioles

Mussina

 

 

Retired Numbers: Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken Jr.
Uh, it’s Mike Mussina. What are you guys doing? Unless they’re waiting for Mussina to get into the Hall of Fame, I don’t see the reason for waiting. We could discuss George Sisler and Bobby Wallace of the St. Louis Browns. Or even Boog Powell. But Baltimore should quit with the whole not retiring Mike Mussina’s number thing.

 

Rangers

Rodriguez

 

 

Retired Numbers: Johnny Oates, Nolan Ryan.
They should just rename the American League West, ‘The Nolan Ryan Division’ since 3 out of the 5 teams in the division have retired his number. Anyway, the Rangers’ relatively short history is riddled with Jose Canseco’s steroids. So this all depends on how we feel about Ivan Rodriguez. Then realize that the next best choice is Rafael Palmeiro. I guess we’ll see what Hall of Fame voters do next year with Pudge. So unless somebody wants to honor Adrian Beltre or Kevin Brown or somebody else from those Ron Washington-led 2010 and 2011 teams that came oh-so-close (Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, CJ Wilson, Neftali Perez, Washington himself), the Rangers will probably be stuck with someone Canseco injected in the butt cheeks.

 

Rays

Longoria

 

 

Retired Numbers: Wade Boggs, Don Zimmer.
The obvious choice is Evan Longoria and also probably the only choice. The team has only been around for like, five minutes and all of their other good players (Carl Crawford, Ben Zobrist, James Shields, David Price) are currently on other rosters. Longo or nobody at all.

 

Red Sox

Evans

 

 

Retired Numbers: Joe Cronin, Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk, Johnny Pesky, Jim Rice, Pedro Martinez, Wade Boggs.
The Red Sox have not reissued the jerseys of Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield or Skinny Roger Clemens. So I’d guess all three numbers will get retired at some point. Well, maybe not Skinny Roger Clemens. But if they did, that could leave an opening for Skinny Barry Bonds in Pittsburgh. But my main question is, what do the Red Sox have against Dwight Evans? Other than Skinny Clemens, he’s their best choice. Sure, this is another team that could honor Cy Young (and there’s a statue of him at the site of old Huntington Avenue Grounds in Boston). Or they could continue to go the 2004-2013 rout with Dustin Pedroia, Stephen Drew, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Jon Lester and Curt Schilling. But we’ve already established that everybody must hate Curt Schilling, bloody sock and all. And it probably shouldn’t be Manny. So Big Papi and Dustin Pedroia are next. If, and only if, they can explain to me why they hate Dwight Evans.

 

Royals

Paige

 

 

Retired Numbers: Dick Howser, George Brett, Frank White.
Okay, what about Leroy “Satchel” Paige? He played on the Kansas City Monarchs. And it’s not like they’re going to give it to Amos Otis or Willie Wilson any time soon. You could make a pretty decent argument for some of their pitchers from the eighties and nineties like Kevin Appier, Mark Gubicza and Bret Saberhagen. But Paige is clearly a better choice. And he even played for the Kansas City Athletics in 1965. Sure he was 59-years-old and only pitched in four innings of one game. But that’s more amazing than anything most people I’ve already named have ever done. I’m sure this current group of players (Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Greg Holland, Wade Davis and manager, Ned Yost) will have a say in the end. But for now, give it to Satchel.

 

Tigers

Trammell and Whitaker

 

 

Retired Numbers: Al Kaline, Charlie Gehringer, Hank Greenberg, Hal Newhouser, Willie Horton, Sparky Anderson, Ty Cobb, Mickey Cochrane, Sam Crawford, Harry Heilmann, Hughie Jennings, George Kell, Heinie Manush.
Okay, stop everything. The Tigers still haven’t retired the numbers of Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell? Who’s in charge of this shit, Rick Snyder? The racist ghost of Ty Cobb? Get it together! You rip #1 off of Jose Iglesias and #3 off of Ian Kinsler right now, Detroit. I don’t want to see anybody in that shit ever again, you got me?

 

Twins

Mauer

 

 

Retired Numbers: Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett, Bert Blyleven, Tom Kelly.
We’ve already established that none of the old Senators are going to get a fair shake in Minneapolis. So it’s gonna have to be Jim Kaat or Joe Mauer. Kaat has 16 Gold Gloves as a pitcher, for Chrissakes. I could throw in World Series MVPs, Frank Viola or Jack Morris, just for funzies. But I think everybody knows it’s going to be Mauer.

 

White Sox

Faber

 

 

Retired Numbers: Luke Appling, Nellie Fox, Minnie Minoso, Luis Aparicio, Ted Lyons, Billy Pierce, Harold Baines, Carlton Fisk, Frank Thomas, Paul Konerko.
Red Faber is the best pitcher in White Sox history, played his entire career for the White Sox and is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. And he was the last legal spitballer in the American League. I don’t know what gives. Hall of Famer, Eddie Collins, also played on the South Side for 12 years. And Ed Walsh, who has the lowest ERA in baseball history at 1.82, also played on the Sox for most of his career. So yeah, they’ll probably give it to Mark Buehrle or Robin Ventura. Because who in Bridgeport would look up lame shit like history?

 

Yankees

Jeter

 

 

Retired Numbers: Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Casey Stengel, Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey, Whitey Ford, Thurman Munson, Roger Maris, Elston Howard, Phil Rizzuto, Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, Ron Guidry, Mariano Rivera, Joe Torre, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte.
We end where it all began. When Lou Gehrig gave his famous, “luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech it was the 4th of July, 1939 and the Yankees were making Gehrig’s #4 the first retired number in Major League history. Which is kind of appropriate since the 1929 Yankees were also the first team to permanently adopt numbers, anyway. All that being said, it’s Derek Jeter. I mean, it might be Paul O’Neill. But it should be Jeter.

 

 


Dogpiles and Champagne Spray: A Brief History of Baseball Celebrations

Written by :
Published on : October 24, 2015

 

 

With the World Series upon us once again, it’s only a matter of time before we see that last out recorded or that final walk-off hit that leads into the ultimate dogpile celebration and champagne-spraying bash in the tarp-covered locker room. It’s the way it’s supposed to be. Billionaire team owners with beers poured over their heads. Dominican lefties wearing Oakley ski goggles and holding joke-sized bottles of bubbly. I just assumed it was a tradition as old as the World Series, itself.

 

Don’t get any in your eyes

 

But as I recently discovered while re-watching Ken Burns’ Baseball, that isn’t the case. I watched in horror as the Babe Ruth-led New York Yankees were shown in grainy footage winning the World Series and then promptly jogging off the field like nobody gave a shit. And I don’t know if it was 1923, 1927, 1928 or 1932. I just know that in all the years Babe Ruth won the World Series with the Yankees, the country was also in the midst of Prohibition. The New York Times even reported that after the ’27 Series, ”The players of both teams hurried into their street clothes after the game. …Vacation time has come for the players and their immediate aim is to enjoy it.”

 

So when did this all start? Weren’t these ballplayers just as excited to win it all in the 1920’s as they are today? I decided to look in to it. And what I found was that the not-so-spontaneous ritual we have now is probably as much a product of television as anything else. And the World Series wasn’t even televised until 1947. That year, the Yankees beat the Dodgers in seven games. The Yankee fans rushed onto the field. The Yankees jogged into the dugout. And then they proceeded to DRINK their champagne in the locker room. Or at least they drank it after they won the pennant. I can’t find anything about the ’47 Series celebration except a photo of one guy holding a fucking soda. But how were they supposed to know they were doing it wrong? Nobody had really ever seen it done right before.

 

Look at these party animals

 

Enter the 1960’s. From Nixon sweating all over the the first televised presidential debate to a man walking on the moon, the revolution would be televised. And athletes knew they were being watched. While there’s evidence of Dodger celebrations with beer in the mid-to-late Fifties, it was the Sixties when the evolution of the dogpile and champagne bash began. The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates poured champagne on Bill Mazeroski’s head after his walk-off in Game 7. The Los Angeles Dodgers did a little bit of jumping around on the field after the final out of the ’63 Series. But, oddly enough, the real tipping point for baseball celebrations would come from another sport, entirely.

 

In 1967, the all-American team of Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt won the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans, upsetting Ferrari and shocking everyone in the process. And they were handed bottles of Moet & Chandon directly after. Gurney, who didn’t drink alcohol, shook up his bottle, placed his thumb over the top and began spraying everyone in sight. That included the press, who had predicted disaster for the team, as well as the president of Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford II. Four months later, the St. Louis Cardinals celebrated their World Series victory over the Boston Red Sox by jumping around on the field as a group. And then they doused each other with champagne in the Fenway visitor’s locker room. There would be no going back from there. What used to be seen as a waste of booze, would be considered the norm by the end of the decade. It just wasn’t quite what we have today.

 

Pass the bubbly

 

The first truly modern World Series celebration came from the ’86 Mets. Just in case you didn’t think that series had enough going for it already. Jesse Orosco struck out Marty Barrett for the final out and then immediately tossed his glove into the air, dropped to his knees and was mobbed in a toppling human pile of his teammates. In fairness, the ’82 Cardinals fell to the ground while they were celebrating. So they were technically first. But the Cardinals’ celebration paled in comparison to the coke-fueled villains in Queens. That was the celebration shown on the end credits of This Week in Baseball every week for 5 years. That’s the one that became the standard-bearer for all baseball celebrations to follow. And they topped it all off with champagne spray in the clubhouse. Probably with an ungodly amount of narcotics to boot. Compare that to 1954, when the Giants won the Series and Dusty Rhodes asked the team president where the champagne was. When he was told it was on the plane, Rhodes responded, “Okay. Just so it’s around some place.”

 

That’s a big bottle

 

So blame the Mets, blame Dan Gurney or blame the advent of television. But the dogpile and champagne spraying celebrations are now an expected part of our sports culture. I’m not even old enough to remember the 1986 World Series, so it’s the only thing I’ve known my entire life. And with five teams from each league heading to the playoffs, we do it up to 19 times a season. Maybe it’s a tad bit excessive. But it sure as hell beats jogging off the field and heading straight to your vacation. Because that, my friends, is for the losers.

 


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