The Screwball: Celebrate good times, come on!by Azure Texan
October 31, 2013
A lot of talk this season has centered on serial reveler Yasiel Puig and his spontaneous displays of exuberance. But while the wardens of baseball decorum sit on their Kenesaw Mountain Landis thrones and issue stern tsk-tsks, and while the defenders of just-be-your-selfness dance on their Carnival floats and issue self-affirming hip grinds, the players themselves, supremely competitive, are plotting the next celebrations in their swaggery game of one-upmanship.
I kid you not.
Robinson Cano: In response to his walk-off grand slam to clinch the division, Cano will celebrate as he always does, by being the coolest cat this side of Billy Dee Williams—and not just any Billy Dee Williams but Billy Dee Williams on Xanax at a Copenhagen jazz club at three in the morning. (Later, in the privacy of the locker room, Cano will continue the celebration by squealing like a 12-year-old girl who just got front-row Bieber tickets.)
Carlos Gomez: After a first-inning home run off a veteran lefty, Gomez will celebrate by taking an exceedingly slow trot around the bases while screaming at several opponents and then spitting on the dirt near third base. He will continue the celebration by stopping just short of home plate to engage in a screaming match with catcher Brian McCann, with Gomez arguing that loogies are always acceptable during spitefully celebratory home-run trots and with McCann countering that when it comes to spittle varieties, loogies should always be reserved for red-faced managers who have just lost another un-winnable argument with the home plate umpire.
Revelry incomplete, Gomez will then flick a booger at the batboy.
Grant Balfour: Moments after striking out Victor Martinez to end a key game, the excitable closer will celebrate by screaming at himself—at himself, mind you, and not at the Venezuelan from Ciudad Bolivar—something to the effect of “Ciudad Bolivar is the worst capital city in all of Venezuela’s 23 states! No wonder the House of Angostura, maker of the famous angostura bitters, left Angostura (now Ciudad Bolivar) in favor of Trinidad and Tobago in 1876!”
Hunter Pence: Upon stroking a run-scoring triple to right-center field, Pence will punctuate his achievement by winding up in the manner of Champions Tour golfer and delivering a halting, misdirected, open-palmed high five into third-base coach Tim Flannery’s fist bump, capping off that bit of awkwardness by delivering a fist bump into Flannery’s high five.
The Most Awkward Man On The Face Of The Earth, known otherwise by the not-at-all-awkward acronym TMAMOTFOTE, will then launch into a painfully embarrassing rendition of the Dougie before transitioning to an equally uncomfortable Running Man, thus reminding onlookers of their drunk Uncle Stan at their sister Kim’s second wedding. Full of adrenaline, Pence will then turn to a random fan and articulate his views on politics and religion while the people around that fan really just want to eat their nachos.
Jose Uribe: After pounding a 400-foot tater down the left-field line, Uribe will celebrate with his traditional bat flip, sending the Louisville Slugger twirling to the turf in quick and dramatic fashion. Before circling the bases, he will continue the celebration by retrieving his bat and launching it into a perfectly executed double backflip, then into a reverse inward twist, and finally and most amazing of all, an armstand back double somersault tuck.
Edwin Encarnacion: Upon launching a three-run dinger to deep left field, Encarnacion will celebrate with his trademark trot, holding his right arm at a stiff right angle at shoulder level as he circles the bases. Feeling especially creative, he will continue the celebration by striking a variety of poses with his arm at the same angle, including that of Apollo Creed in the closing scene of Rocky III. Not yet satisfied, Encarnacion will then lift his right arm straight up in efforts to mirror Lady Liberty, and then hold it stiffly to the side in the fashion of Richard Kiel clotheslining the guard in The Longest Yard, ignoring the fact that Kiel actually used his left arm in the scene.
Next, Encarnacion will hold his right arm straight in front of his body with his fingers up and palm facing outward, like Diana Ross singing Stop in the Name of Love. At this point, in addition to celebrating his three-run dinger, Edwin will also celebrate his nomination to the Semaphore Hall of Fame.
Luke Scott: Upon stroking a two-run fourth-inning homer—and this after ignoring the mandatory bunt sign in favor of the autonomy, nay, the sovereignty of swinging away—the notorious Libertarian will circle the bases while hoisting aloft the familiar Don’t Tread On Me flag and humming a few sprightly bars of Born Free. As he touches home plate, Scott will display his long-form birth certificate to home plate umpire John Hirschbeck and then slay a pigeon with his bare hands, just because he can.
Ryan Dempster: After securing the final out of a six-run inning by coaxing a bases-loaded lineout, the veteran pitcher will launch into an imitation of Harry Caray celebrating St. Paddy’s Day by singing an upbeat if somewhat slurred rendition of Kelly The Boy From Killarne before squeezing Dustin Pedroia as if the Red Sox second baseman were a set of Uilleann bagpipes.
Dempster will continue the celebration by attempting (without success) to pronounce Pedroia’s name backward and then by opening a steak restaurant.
Kendrys Morales: Upon launching a walk-off grand slam, Morales will embody the maxim that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it by leaping jubilantly onto home plate and breaking his left leg. Determined to continue the celebration, Morales will then rise to his feet—rather, his foot—and begin leaping up and down for as long as he possibly can, ultimately breaking the world record of six minutes 13.11 seconds and unwittingly arousing a local man who harbors a secret Whac-a-Mole fetish.
Later, while celebrating his new world record with teammates, Morales will break three fingers and a pair of metacarpals during an enthusiastic high five. Still later, after nearly strangling himself on the strings of get-well-soon balloons, he will celebrate his uncanny run of survival by accepting the lead role in a local production of Wile E. Coyote Can’t Possibly Get Injured!
Hanley Ramirez: After stroking a three-run bomb to win the 2014 World Series for L.A., the shortstop will celebrate by high-fiving thousands of diehard Dodgers fans, pouring beer and champagne all over his beloved Dodgers teammates and then signing a five-year contract with the Yankees.
Chase Utley: Upon gliding into second base on a stand-up double, Utley will celebrate by removing his helmet and running his fingers through his dreamy, award-winning hair, careful to stop just short of “seductive” in favor of “boy next door, possibly a stallion.” Next, in the talent portion of the show, he will perform Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on flute in C minor.
Bartolo Colon: Following a strikeout to end the sixth, Colon, to the surprise of everyone, will celebrate with an intense hour-long Zumba session, followed by 30 minutes of Tai Bo and an hour of hot yoga. Later he’ll go to lunch with the girls, ordering a half-soup/half-sandwich combo but not quite finishing the soup because it was really more of a bisque, with all that heavy cream. Then it’s off for some shopping—but not before solving a difficult dessert decision by choosing both desserts, though of course with five forks.
Aroldis Chapman: Upon securing a game-ending strikeout on a 100 mph heater, the Reds closer will execute a pair of flawless forward somersaults en route to the conventional pitcher-catcher handshake. Upon realizing he’s already performed that routine, and to very poor marks from the informal panel of judges, Chapman will debut his new floor exercise. First, he will combine an exciting array of dance elements (set to an up-tempo version of Celia Cruz’s La Vida Es Un Carnaval) with a bold acro line of forward and backward saltos. Then, upon completion of the balance element, he will transition to a static strength move and then glide into a seamless series of jumps, circles and flairs before finishing with a powerful flipping salto. He will then run to the dugout and collapse tearfully into the arms of his coach.
Brian Wilson: Upon securing a Dodgers victory with a full-count punchout of Pablo Sandoval, Wilson will remove from his beard a 30-foot string of party lights, a miniature disco ball and a Super Value Pack of TNT-brand fireworks. After hanging the lights and the disco ball on the netting behind home plate, Wilson will fire a Hot Shot at Giants CEO Larry Baer, careful to scare the man without actually injuring him, and then consume a Taco Bell XL Chalupa that fell from his beard with the disco ball, acknowledging like any good reveler that he needs sustenance for the next phase of the party.
Energized, Wilson will then bring The Machine out of retirement, encouraging the mysterious Gimp-like creature to parade about the field in his BDSM leather-fetish apparel while being careful to not pull a groin. Finally, in a figurative nod to his unpredictable behavior, Wilson will invite The Machine to join him on the mound for a quiet game of Scrabble.
Rafael Soriano: Upon finishing a one-run victory at Nationals Park, the Washington closer will celebrate as he always has—by demonstrably untucking his jersey. Aware that other closers have upped the celebratory ante, however, Soriano will then take his act a tad further, peeling away his uniform piece by piece until, in the seductive manner of Mata Hari, he is wearing nothing but a flesh-toned bodystocking and a bejeweled jock strap.
Afraid that Chapman, Wilson and other closers are still one-upping his act, Soriano will then cop the burlesque routines of Sally Rand and Lili St. Cyr, first by performing a provocative fan dance (using a pair of old Dmitri Young jerseys as fans) and then by standing perfectly, coquettishly still for The Flying J, in which a hidden fishing line yanks away his jock strap.
Still insecure, he will then provide the witty on-stage banter of Gypsy Rose Lee, remarking, “I’m not naked, I’m completely covered by television,” before re-channeling Mata Hari and standing before a mock firing squad.
David Ortiz: Upon launching a game-tying tater to right, the Boston DH will celebrate first by watching the entirety of the ball’s flight and then by jotting some observations about its trajectory and terminus, including a detailed analysis of its velocity and azimuth and a thorough description of the man who dropped his own son in efforts to catch it. In continuing the celebration, Ortiz will then render a surprisingly evocative painting—some would call it expressionist in the fashion of Der Blaue Reiter group, others abstract expressionist in the manner of the Tachisme school—of pitcher Chris Tillman’s anguished reaction, taking special care to capture and indeed embellish Tillman’s rising anger regarding the production of Ortizian art.
Ortiz will continue the one-man party by taking his own sweet time to circle the bases, emphasizing the sweetness by eating a handful of Skittles and then by calling his grandmother, not for any reason other than just to say hello.
Alex Rodriguez: After blasting a go-ahead dinger off Ryan Dempster, who had not only plunked Rodriguez in the previous at-bat but had also squeezed Dustin Pedroia like a set of Uilleann bagpipes, A-Rod will begin his celebration by screaming at Dempster, something to the effect of “Bleepity bleep bleep bleep, you motherbleeping bleep, I just bleeping hit a bleeping bomb off your sorry bleep,” and continue it by pulling out a hand-held mirror and staring at himself, Narcissus-like, as he rounds second and third.
Not yet finished, A-Rod will then paraphrase a classic Frampton song by singing, “Ooh, baby, I love my way, every day/I wanna tell me I love my way, every way/I wanna be with me night and day, ooh yeah” before kissing his fingers, hands, forearms, biceps and deltoids just as he touches home plate, whereupon he will defy all the doubters by kissing his own ass.
Ryan Braun: Upon hitting a solo homer to left—a homer, mind you, that in previous seasons would have landed not in the first row but in the ninth—Braun will celebrate by humbly circling the bases and modestly touching the plate, whereupon he will look to the stands (and the press box) and announce that he hit the home run not for himself but for his teammates, his manager, his coaches, his medical staff, his strength-and-conditioning coach, his traveling secretary and his clubhouse manager, and that if he forgot to mention anyone in the Brewers organization, well, he “hit it for you, too,” and that “you do a fabulous job, you really do.” More than that, he will announce that he hit it for the city of Milwaukee, the state of Wisconsin, the nation of America and the hemispheres both North and West. He hit it, too, for the member countries of the United Nations and OPEC, Doctors Without Borders, The United Way, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the SPCA, the University of Miami—“Let’s go, ’Canes!"—and, finally, Megan Fox.
Adam Rosales: Upon stroking a pinch-hit solo homer to left field, Rosales will celebrate by qualifying for the U.S. Olympic 4x100-meter relay team.
Derek Jeter: Following a clutch three-run homer to put the Yankees up 6-5 in the seventh game of the ALCS, Jeter will celebrate by being Derek Jeter.
Michael Young: Upon hitting into anything other than a GIDP or rally-killing quail to right field, the veteran infielder and longtime absorber of fawning admiration will hew to the contours of his reputation by modestly changing postures, moving from the standard bearing of the follow-through to the conventional comportment of one who runs down the first-base line.
And make no mistake, he will run down the first-base line in the manner of a man with his nose to the grindstone, and with grease practically oozing from his hard-working, alternately pumping elbows. In furtherance of his celebration, Young will continue running down the first-base line “the right way,” which is to say he will not take an abrupt left turn and continue running until he reaches Shreveport. Upon getting to first base safely, Young will issue the modest fist-pump of the professional hitter and then point to the name on the front of his jersey and not the name on the back. Next, while going hard into second base to break up a double play, he will continue the celebration by thinking of helpful things to say later in the clubhouse.
C.J. Wilson: Upon snapping off a back-foot slider for an inning-ending K, the famously polymathic pitcher will scream the standard “yyyeeeeaaahhh” or perhaps the equally standard “f**k yyyeeeeeahhh” before launching into a traditional Gregorian chant, making sure that the scale patterns are organized against a background formed of conjunct and disjunct tetrachords and that the lyrics are intoned not only in the original Latin but with the proper measure of humility. After rising from a triple genuflection in the manner of the Pope, the versatile lefty will write a one-act play, not unlike Arthur Miller’s A Memory of Two Mondays, on the dirt of the mound just prior to performing a celebratory flamenco en route to the dugout, careful to maintain the proud bearing of the traditional bailé but to omit the more contemporary castanets, which really serve to demean the proud history of Andalusia, or so Wilson said in his recent documentary, El Flamenco y Yo.
Safely down the steps, he will continue the celebration in a way that only Christopher John Wilson can, by patching the dugout phone into NASA communications and guiding Mission Specialist Biff Banner through a delicate experiment on weightlessness as it relates to dandruff control.
Adrian Gonzalez: Upon motoring into second with a game-tying double, Gonzalez will give himself Mickey Mouse ears in efforts to mock the St. Louis censure of Dodger enthusiasm and to enthuse over that same enthusiasm. Buoyed by his teammates, most of whom will perform a spot-on imitation of Steamboat Willie, Gonzalez will then imitate a litany of Disney characters, including the famous, like Donald Duck, and the not-so-famous, like Nutsy the Vulture, before moving on to an array of Looney Tunes characters such as Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck and Yosemite Sam, going so far as to tell Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma, “Ya better say yer prayers, ya flea-bitten varmint. I’m a-gonna blow ya to smithereenies!”
Encouraged by the crowd, the lumbering first baseman will then go a bit too far, getting nailed on a steal attempt of third while trying to imitate Speedy Gonzalez (no relation). Ever the optimist, he’ll celebrate this example of life (poorly) imitating (animated) art by imitating it once more: During a one-man production of Aladdin, he’ll give fans three wishes, which will turn out to be please, please, please stop this unwritten-rules crap. Alas, life will poorly imitate animated art once more, as evidenced by the fact that neither the unwritten rules nor the equally annoying Robin Williams have vanished.
Matt Holliday: Upon walloping a playoff-clinching homer to left field, Holliday will put his head down and circle the bases, just as God intended.
Azure Texan is a writer living in Austin.