NEW YORK — This is the fourth time I’ve covered an Orioles clinching celebration.
Each has had a different feel.
The first, in Texas in 2012, can only be described as guttural. After 14 losing seasons and not being able to celebrate when they made it into the postseason that year because they were on a plane, the Orioles unleashed in the visiting clubhouse after beating the Texas Rangers in the AL Wild Card.
The players sprayed champagne with a grunting vengeance. It was almost animalistic.
My lasting image from that one was Adam Jones rushing around, screaming and pouring beer on anyone he could find.
The second one, after winning the AL division in 2014, was like a frat party. So much laughter and goodwill. Tons of unforgettable images from that one – whether it was Adam Jones running around the stadium and smashing pies in fans’ faces or Tommy Hunter spraying beer on fans while Baltimore police officers smiled and looked the other way or Nick Markakis holding his youngest son in his arms while taking it all in.
The celebration in Detroit later that year was more subdued. I barely remember it. The players’ families were there and it was as calm and polite as alcohol spraying can be.
And Sunday night at Yankee Stadium, after winning 5-2 to clinch the second Wild Card spot on the final day of the regular season?
It was sort of in the middle as celebrations go.
There were lots of double-fisted beer pouring – Darren O’Day unloaded on Zach Britton as he was being interviewed on camera. And a bunch of the players converged in a circle and doused manager Buck Showalter with beer and champagne.
But what I’ll most remember is a group of Orioles watching TV as the rival Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox played. Hoping the Red Sox would win so that they could host the wild card game at Camden Yards, they were hanging on every pitch like fans, cheering for Dustin Pedroia to come up big when he hit a long fly that went foul. All the while, The Humpty Dance by Digital Underground blared overhead.
Yeah, each celebration is different.
This one was short, sweet and messy.
And now the Orioles go to Toronto for Tuesday’s game. And the hope that more champagne and beer can be on ice.