There is no champagne in the locker room.
At least there will not be this year, according to Major League Baseball’s commissioner Bud Selig.
In a move that went virtually unnoticed by the media, Bud Selig sent a memo to all playoff teams asking that they do not use champagne in celebration after winning a playoff series. According to Selig, he made the request out of respect for the Sept. 11 tragedy.
In response to Selig’s request, the Atlanta Braves toasted beer instead of the traditional champagne after sweeping the Houston Astros out of the playoffs last Friday.
Braves’ reliever Mike Remlinger was highly critical of Selig’s request. Remlinger is the team’s most active player in raising money for victims of the terrorist attacks.
“We understand this is a game, and we understand the gravity of what happened,” he said, but “We work eight months and some guys work 10-20 years to get to this point . . . I don’t think its right to take that away.”
Not only is it not right, it is nonsensical on the part of the commissioner’s office to do so.
No one would argue that the attacks on the World Trade Center were not a national calamity, or that they should be belittled. But at the same time, things have to be put into perspective.
This country was urged by its president to try to move on with its lives. Baseball took a week off after Sept. 11 and still wears American flags on its uniforms. Ballparks even sing “America the Beautiful” during the seventh inning stretch, instead of the traditional “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” We know sports pale in comparison with other things in life, such as our health and freedom; but these are not being compromised by champagne in the locker room.
Not letting a team fully celebrate after winning the World Series is embarrassing, and Selig should be ashamed. Players spend their whole lives chasing a dream of one day winning the World Series. Most people never get to fulfill their childhood dreams, and this is an achievement that should not be spoiled by a stupid request by the commissioner.
To say teams should not celebrate as much after winning in the playoffs is the equivalent of saying all newlyweds should not have a party after their wedding ceremonies. Imagine if President Bush issued an order telling all people who are going to get married in the next month that they cannot go on a honeymoon. Instead they should just let one of the biggest events of their lives be no big deal because of what happened on Sept. 11.
Of course, the above example is hyperbole, but the point remains the same. If baseball were so worried about overzealous celebration, simply eliminating champagne is not going to do anything. Does Selig really think that beer makes it that much less of a festive party? Last time I checked, they both contain alcohol and when consumed in large enough quantities can cause a person to become inebriated.
In his interview, Remlinger continued his diatribe,
“If you feel this adamantly, why not do this before we clinched the East?” he said. “It’s just another example of Bud Selig not knowing what he is talking about.”
Up until this point, teams have been celebrating divisional titles with champagne; and these celebrations occurred much closer to the events of Sept. 11.
If there is so much concern for over-celebration, why not just leave the TV camera crews out of teams’ locker rooms and let players enjoy the moment on their own, Remlinger questioned.
The events and tragedy that occurred affects everyone differently. No two people have the same reaction or feelings to what happened in New York on that fateful day. It has been a month now, and time has not yet been able to fully heal wounds by any means. But baseball has to get back to normal and provide the public with what it has been doing for the past hundred years: being America’s pastime that people can enjoy and use as a temporary escape from reality.