If you’d asked me 24 hours ago, I would have said that the Orioles probably shouldn’t spend any time celebrating whenever they clinch a wild card spot because that’s not the end goal. Winning the division has to be what matters. That’s what I thought, and I was wrong, because the Orioles reacted with unbridled exuberance upon reaching the postseason (plus getting a walkoff win that for today’s clinching purposes wasn’t even necessary) and that was awesome.
As clubhouse veteran Kyle Gibson said on MASN’s post-game show, you celebrate because you don’t know when you’ll get to do it again. Adam Frazier, speaking to reporters amidst the celebration, added, “You take it all in. ... Any time you get a chance to pop some bottles, you don’t take it for granted.” Younger Orioles players who have made it to the far side of the grim rebuilding years, along with even younger players whose arrivals helped make things as great as they are now, certainly didn’t reject that advice.
Let’s start with what got the party started, a Cedric Mullins walkoff sacrifice fly, as called by MASN’s Kevin Brown:
You just can't escape him. pic.twitter.com/li1zfiY15f— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) September 17, 2023
My absolute favorite part of this video is actually Austin Hays, who’s single-handedly hauling the cooler from the dugout into the pile. After he gets there, he drenches Mullins, raises the empty cooler with a triumphant shout, then drops it like it was a mic drop.
Orange shirts bearing a “Take October” slogan were ready to be donned as soon as the game ended with the clinch official. The Orioles posed for a team photo in these shirts before getting into the real mayhem:
Did anyone in the world have more fun than these guys on Sunday afternoon? I think you would be hard-pressed to find anyone. The on-field stuff was all preamble, because while the O’s were donning these shirts, clubhouse attendants were covering up the clubhouse with plastic and tarp and hauling out the champagne and beer that is the hallmark of these celebrations.
Before the party really got under way, manager Brandon Hyde gathered his squad and reminded everyone that this is only the first step, that it would be the first of many celebrations.
Ladies and gentleman, your playoff-bound Baltimore Orioles pic.twitter.com/FK5W4aDyfl— Orioles on MASN (@masnOrioles) September 17, 2023
From the photos, videos, and comments from reporters who were trying to get pictures and interviews in the middle of all of this, it seems that reliever Shintaro Fujinami was the most naturally primed to celebrate the champagne spraying. He was all over the place, as in the top left above, spraying Félix Bautista (who must have had a hard time with that cigar) and in the background of the lower right photo that features Austin Hays, Dean Kremer, and Adley Rutschman.
Fujinami was on the prowl getting selfies to commemorate the occasion:
Fuji just wants selfies with everyone. pic.twitter.com/77XaTd6rew— Baltimore Banner Sports (@AllBannerSports) September 17, 2023
That’s a lot of beer bottles waiting in reserve. Or maybe those were the ones that already got emptied. But seriously, just look at this guy:
Fujinami’s 2023 season began with four disastrous starts in the rotation of the Oakland Athletics, currently the team with the worst record in all of MLB, and in September he is here. doing this. I think we can safely say he is appreciative of the change in circumstances.
It’s tough to top general manager Mike Elias taking a rip from the homer hose:
Admittedly, I don’t watch other teams clubhouse celebrations, so maybe it’s normal for the GM to really get in the mix like this, but I don’t think you’re going to find many GMs mixing it up quite like this.
Elias was not the only non-player to get to participate in this, as MASN’s Kevin Brown, egged on by his colleague Ben McDonald and it seems the players too, took his turn drinking from the hose as well:
Kevin Brown is free. 10/10. pic.twitter.com/EMeWM3YNaI— Orioles Fan Ryan (@OriolesFanRyan) September 18, 2023
A whole lot of bad baseball players came and went through the 2019-2021 seasons while the team was building up the infrastructure and making the draft picks and trades that would eventually allow them to have a season like this. Players who made it through all of that without getting released or traded have done something special, and it certainly seems like Hays, Mullins, and Santander know it as they share a hug in this video:
These moments. These guys. pic.twitter.com/6ZBiRSVjF8— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) September 17, 2023
Translator Brandon Quinones was among the non-players who were gleefully invited into the celebration, with Santander dragging “Q” in to his post-game interview even though he’s moved past needing the translator this season:
FIRE ME UP— Brandon Lee Quinones (@BigB_fame) September 18, 2023
So blessed to be a part of this team! Words fail to describe it all! October can’t come soon enough! pic.twitter.com/44Fmbcas9k
Television and radio broadcasters who were on duty on Sunday afternoon were also roaming the clubhouse, and they all posed for a nice photo together as well:
Like this team a lot… but missing some key people in the picture - @Jim22Palmer ScottyG @masnRoch @masnSteve and everyone who contributes to O’s broadcasts on or off mic and in front or behind the camera. pic.twitter.com/mDG6bRsjYN— Brett Hollander (@BrettHollander) September 17, 2023
Jorge Mateo is a player who seems like he exudes continuous joy and his celebration in the clubhouse certainly matched that:
There was only the one homer hose to go around and a lot of beer to be poured, so sometimes that meant players, like Rutschman, just got a pour directly from the bottle:
Heston Kjerstad has been a big leaguer for all of three days and he was hitting the homer hose too:
They also made Kjerstad get dowsed with some, uh, other liquids, for reasons that are not immediately clear but surely make sense if you’ve been in Orioles clubhouse all year:
bad time to be the new guy pic.twitter.com/iOERaayvFx— Orioles on MASN (@masnOrioles) September 17, 2023
Have you ever thought about what Times Square in New York City looks like at 2 o’clock in the morning on January 1? This is the Orioles clubhouse version of that:
I do hope they’re all ready to take on Justin Verlander on Monday night. But if they’re not all the way ready, you know what, I won’t hold that against them too much. Like Frazier said, any time you get a chance to pop some bottles, you don’t take that for granted. Let’s hope they get another one of these during the next homestand for clinching the AL East.