By Mitch Chortkoff
When the Dodgers clinched the Western Division championship in Arizona recently they celebrated by scaling a wall and jumping into the DiamondBacks’ pool at Chase Field.
They had excelled on the ballfield, then lost respect throughout baseball by embarrassing an opponent.
Among those who were infuriated by their action was Arizona senator and former presidential candidate John McCain.
“No class by a bunch of overpaid, immature, arrogant spoiled brats,” McCain posted on his twitter account.
Arizona columnist Dan Bickley called the Dodgers stupid, classless and ignorant.
That may be a bit strong but the point is well taken. You just don’t do what the Dodgers did. Dousing each other with champagne in the locker room is an accepted practice. Rubbing in a victory by jumping in the opponent’s pool is crossing the line.
You should want to exhibit class. You’re the Dodgers, an elite franchise. The great Dodger players of the past never acted similarly as juveniles to celebrate a victory.
“It was classless,” said DiamondBacks infielder Willie Bloomquist. “I’m surprised because they have a lot of veterans on that team.”
Where was Don Mattingly? Where was a pre-game talk by the manager pointing out the Dodgers’ tradition? Win with class, don’t tarnish what you accomplish on the field.
And, come to think of it, where was veteran leadership? Adrian Gonzalez, for instance, a level-headed player. Where was Stan Kasten, a highly respected baseball front office man?
What the Dodger players should have realized was clinching the division is just the first step in accomplishing what they want this season. The playoffs haven’t even begun. The World Series is a month away.
All they have to do is look at the way fans react to teams who fail in the playoffs. Lose in the first round and you live with that the entire off-season.
The Dodgers have had a great season but if they fail in the playoffs the swimming pool debacle will be viewed as the beginning of their downfall.
Elite franchises like the Dodgers and Yankees don’t gloat over winning a division. Savvy players know that’s just the first step.
The Pittsburgh Pirates celebrated with champagne when they clinched a playoff berth a few days after the Dodgers’ pool party. The Pirates had a good reason to celebrate in grand fashion. They hadn’t made the playoffs in 20 years.
The Dodgers had won a division championship in 2009.
The Dodgers have good reason to regret what they did on clinching day in Arizona. I hope the outcry about what they did sinks in.