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Popping those corks
September 27, 2013 - John Mehno
Speaking of champagne celebrations (as I was in Wednesday's column)...
I've been on hand for about a dozen of them. I was there when the Pirates clinched the division in 1974, '75, '79, '91 and '92. There was also the post-playoff celebration in '79. I was present for a bunch in the visitors' clubhouse, too: I can remember being there when the Reds wrapped up the 1975 playoffs, when the Phillies clinched the division in 1978, the Cubs in 1984, the Braves in the '91 playoffs and one time with the Cardinals (can't remember the year).
A few observations about those parties:
1. You don't want to get sprayed. Champagne stinks, for one thing. It smells worse after it's had a chance to go flat. It's fun for the players who have access to showers and fresh clothing. It's not so good if you're wearing soggy clothes home after you've been writing for an hour or two. When the stuff is flying, you can almost choke on the foul air. Really.
So you stay out of the line of fire. You're not going to be able to do interviews until things settle down anyway, so stay on the fringes.
2. Always stay near a door. If you have to make a quick getaway, the best path is right out the door. Champagne stings if it gets in your eyes.
3. Watch your step. After the champagne spills, it forms puddles on the floor and becomes slippery. It's easy to take a tumble.
4. Frank Cashen's rule is true. Cashen was the grumpy GM of the Mets who was being interviewed on TV when a marginal relief pitcher named Randy Niemann hit him with a blast of champagne. "The guys who do the least are the ones who celebrate the most," Cashen grumbled on national TV. He was right, though. So avoid the utility infielders, who tend to overdo things.
The best celebration? Had to be the '91 Braves. Jane Fonda was married to Ted Turner then, and she was in the clubhouse. Got to stand thisclose to her and ask her a pointless question.
It was way better than talking to the bullpen coach.