Raucous Sox celebrate ALDS sweep
Players take time to revel in beating AL West champ Angels
ANAHEIM -- The night before Game 3 of the American League Division Series at Angel Stadium, a veteran Boston-based scribe, asked how the Red Sox might celebrate should they close out a sweep of the Halos, suggested that it would be a tame affair.
And immediately after J.D. Drew squeezed the fly ball to right field that put Boston's 9-1 victory in the books Sunday afternoon, the pundit looked prophetic. Instead of a dog pile in the middle of the diamond, the Red Sox formed the standard postgame processional line and exchanged handshakes and smiles.
But as soon as the clubhouse doors opened to the media minutes later, it was clear that the subdued professionalism displayed on the home field of the vanquished had been submerged -- quite literally, in some cases -- by the kind of raucous raging that typically follows any series victory in October.
First came the unmistakable stench of champagne and beer, wafting out into the hallway as reporters filed into the room. Then came the sound of said suds spraying about. And finally, the sight of Kevin Youkilis wearing a pair of royal blue swim goggles amid a gaggle of teammates determined to douse anyone and everything associated with the team.
"Hey, we just played one of the best teams in baseball and beat them three times in a row; that's an accomplishment," explained rookie second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "This is the big stage. You have to appreciate it every step of the way."
Not more than 10 feet away from Pedroia stood lefty reliever Javier Lopez, camcorder in hand, "interviewing" fellow pitchers Kyle Snyder and Manny Delcarmen, both of them dripping wet.
"How's it feel?" Lopez asked.
Before they could answer, a burst of bubbly hit Snyder and Delcarmen from behind, breaking up the impromptu Q&A. Not surprisingly, the burst came from a bottle held by shortstop Julio Lugo, who canvassed the clubhouse at warp speed, wetting down all things dry.
One of Lugo's early victims was Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, who proved a favorite target among the players. Seconds after being tagged by Lugo, Epstein's head was doused by a bucket of ice water. After turning to discover that the culprit was Manny Ramirez, Epstein turned back -- only to find himself blasted in the chest with champagne by David Ortiz.
After wiping his stinging eyes, Epstein didn't miss a beat, delivering the line of the day.
"I don't know what we're going to do for a [No.] 3 and 4 hitter in the next round," he said, "because obviously those guys aren't going to be on the roster."
Elsewhere, reserve outfielder Bobby Kielty, who was signed as a free agent after being released by the A's in August, floated around the perimeter of the crowing crowd in the center of the room, bottle in hand.
"I'm just along for the ride," said Kielty, his words betrayed by a mischievous grin.
Like so many others who popped one cork after another, Kielty was on a stealth mission looking for victims.
Outside, in the stands behind the visitors' dugout, the Southern California chapter of Red Sox Nation was looking for someone, anyone, in a Boston uniform to join their own little bash.
As Ortiz was being interviewed on the field immediately after the game, they broke into a chant of "Pa-pi! Pa-pi! Pa-pi!" When winning pitcher Curt Schilling took his TV turn, the chant became "Let's go Red Sox!"
They were still there, still noisy, some 30 minutes later. Only after unsuccessfully trying to lure manager Terry Francona back into the dugout -- "Ti-to! Ti-to! Ti-to!" -- did they heed stadium security's request to take the party into the parking lot.
"That's OK," said Daniel Winter, a UMass grad now living in nearby Costa Mesa, Calif. "They obviously can't hear us. And there will be more of these, I guarantee."
The next such celebration would come after the AL Championship Series, a subject that one of the few dry people in the winning clubhouse addressed.
It was pointed out to principal owner John Henry -- wisely, nobody doused the boss -- that Boston's sweep was a repeat of the team's sweep of the Halos in the 2004 ALDS, which was followed by the historic comeback win over the Yankees in the ALCS and, ultimately, the first Red Sox World Series title in 86 years.
"Let's just hope we don't repeat the next round," Henry said, alluding to the 0-3 hole out of which the Sox had to dig to beat New York.
"I'd like to see us make it a little easier on ourselves this time around."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.