The New Way of Celebrating in Baseball

I read a fantastic piece yesterday on how Miguel Cabrera spent Friday evening’s celebration sipping on water and speaking with reporters. For a player that had previously spent his time in a Tigers uniform not caring about how he was perceived to both fans and media, this was a moment that was as much about Cabrera as it was about the Tigers. This was a moment where we were seeing the evolution and the continuing maturation of an athlete that was just as responsible about that moment as any other player in that locker room. His ability to recuse himself  in the midst of the celebration was just as a poignant moment as the one he had shared moments earlier in an embrace with Jim Leyland on the field.

Celebrations in baseball have really taken on a new light over the past two seasons, initially sparked by the Angels dousing of beer on the jersey of Nick Adenhart. Sadly, Adenhart was not there at the time as he had been killed in an alcohol-related crash earlier in the season. Seeing his jersey soaked in beer from his teammates, created an outcry that divided a city and its supporters on whether that was the right way in celebrating. The Angels took notice and spent their next time celebrating in front of the Adenhart memorial in the outfield, tapping his name on the wall.

A similar situation to Cabrera’s took place last year in Texas, where CJ Wilson and Josh Hamilton spent the celebration together drinking ginger ale. Wilson’s straight-edged lifestyle meant that alcohol and drugs had never been in the cards, a perfect match to Hamilton who is just a few years removed from these vices almost completely destroying his career.

In cases like the ones that took place in the Tigers and the Rangers locker rooms, these were professional baseball players taking time in the middle of a wild celebration to recognize the vices that have had an impact on their careers. While winning in baseball tends to elicit celebrations filled with alcohol and revelry (see Joel Zumaya at Comerica Park), these players recognized that life continues to move on long after the celebration ends.