An Illustrated Guide to the Playoff Celebrations: American League

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The playoffs start today, and we are going to cover every single game, from the Wild Card round to the World Series. But those games are played by humans, and those humans have to find a way to avoid murdering each other over the course of a very long season. Inventing goofy celebrations is a good way to inject some fun into the proceedings. This article and its National League counterpart break down how each playoff team celebrates when a player reaches base or the team notches a victory. (I’m going to skip the home run celebrations because they’ve already been covered very thoroughly, and because they’re sure to get plenty of camera time as October unfolds.) The point of this article is to help you enjoy the smaller celebrations that might otherwise go unnoticed.

One important note: This is necessarily an incomplete list. I spent a lot of time looking, but I wasn’t able to track down the origin of every single celebration. When you search for information about a team’s celebration, you have to wade through an ocean of articles about the night they clinched a playoff berth. The declining functionality of Twitter (now known as X) also made it harder to find relevant information by searching for old tweets (now known as florps). When I couldn’t find the truth about a celebration’s backstory, I either gave it my best guess or invented the most entertaining backstory I could think of. If you happen to know the real story behind a particular celebration, or if you’d like to share your own absurd conjectures, please post them in the comments.

Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore’s celebration has been covered pretty extensively, so here are the bullet points, courtesy of Kyle Gibson: “So we’ve got a turn the water faucet on celebration when you hit a single. We’ve got a sprinkler when you hit an extra-base hit, and then it’s a homer hose when you hit a homer, just so we know that we get that straight.”

Gibson wants us to keep it straight because when the celebration was unveiled, fans instantly came up with a better name for the Homer Hose: the Dong Bong. There’s also the Bird Bath section in left field, where fans get sprayed with water after big plays, usually by someone known as Mr. Splash, but sometimes by the governor of Maryland. The dance move the sprinkler was invented in Australia all the way back in the 1980s. That is to say, it’s older than every single player on Baltimore’s roster.

While the hygiene of this practice is dubious, Baltimore’s commitment to the bit is admirable. Back in May, James McCann hit a double, and Kyle Gibson and Kyle Bradish dutifully waited with their mouths full of water for the entirety of a replay challenge, ready to spit whenever McCann flashed the sprinkler at the dugout. Despite frantic pleas from his teammates, however, McCann forgot to do it. It took minutes before the Kyles could relieve themselves of their burden. There’s a clip below, but you can watch the whole video here. It is thrilling television:

The Baltimore outfielders also have a victory celebration wherein they seem to be doing some form of group tai chi.

Tampa Bay Rays
Tampa Bay’s celebration is flat-out adorable. Each player has an individual move where they use their body to make one of their initials (except for Randy Arozarena; Randy Arozarena just does the Randy).

It’s a spelling celebration! It’s a spellebration! It has to be one of the dorkiest celebrations in the history of baseball and I love it with my whole heart. Prepare to be charmed:

There also seems to be a size component to the move. The slender Brandon Lowe makes an L with his fingers, while beefier players like Yandy Díaz, Isaac Paredes, and Luke Raley use their entire bodies. Josh Lowe actually does his L backwards, an understandable mistake.

For the record, I wasn’t being glib when I said that Arozarena just does the Randy. At the beginning of the season, Tampa’s outfielders were trying come up with a new victory celebration. Lacking any ideas, Manuel Margot suggested that they “do the Randy thing.” That’s a direct quote. They’re still doing the Randy thing:

Minnesota Twins
Like the Dodgers, the Twins do a shimmy. Well, some of the Twins do a shimmy. Donovan Solano, Jorge Polanco, and Royce Lewis are the most frequent shimmiers. And it’s not much of a shimmy. It’s very subdued:

Also, the Twins might shelve the shimmy. As Do-Hyoung Park reported at MLB.com, during the playoffs, the team might trade their shimmy for the griddy, the touchdown celebration of Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings:

After the game, Lewis said he, Vázquez and Nick Gordon had been thinking ahead about what they could use as a more unique celebration into the postseason — and he previewed it a bit early.

“Vázquez was giving me a joke about, ‘Hey, man, maybe you should griddy instead of the shimmy, because the Dodgers are shimmying. We need a playoff celebration,’” Lewis said. “I said, ‘OK. What should I do?’ He’s like, ‘Gimme a griddy.’ Him and Nick and I were having fun in the cages today.”

Lewis did the griddy after doubling on September 8, but it’s unclear whether his strained hamstring will heal in time for him to play in the postseason. Will Lewis return, and will the griddy come with him?

Toronto Blue Jays
In terms of pure enthusiasm, Toronto’s celebrations are unparalleled. The Blue Jays showed off a new one at the beginning of the second half of the season. Indeed, it appears they spent the entirety of the All-Star break in the lab, Frankenstein-style, stitching together the fist pump Tiger Woods might do at Augusta and the uppercut fatality from Mortal Kombat:

It’s entertaining enough when they hit a single or a double, but watch what happened the first time they hit a homer with the new celebration:

Look at George Springer’s face. Any celebration that can bring that much joy into the world is a keeper. And speaking of joy, look how much the Jays outfielders like their victory celebration. These are the biggest smiles you will ever see in your life. They’re just three Labrador retrievers out there:

Also, Matt Chapman and Cavan Biggio have some sort of moustache-themed celebration that we don’t need to delve into.

Texas Rangers
If you’re sick of all these hyper-choreographed celebrations, the Rangers are your team. At least, that’s one way of putting it. The other way to frame it is that the Rangers are a total mess. It’s a free-for-all. Everyone has their own go-to move, and there are no organizing principles whatsoever.

Mitch Garver looks like he’s calling someone for a double dribble. Robbie Grossman makes a diamond with his hands. Josh Jung does jungle cat claws. Jonah Heim does finger guns. Marcus Semien makes his own finger guns and chops the right one into the left. Adolis García does his own thing that would take too many words to describe. Leody Taveras spreads his hands apart as if to say “It’s over.” Corey Seager does nothing. Every once in a while, there’s some crossover – García and Ezequiel Duran might both wiggle their fingers toward the dugout, and Grossman might borrow the jungle cat claws – but for the most part, it’s chaos.

Are the Rangers even a team, or just a collection of personalities? Why do the players even bother turning and flashing their signs toward the dugout when nobody’s on the same page?

Still, it’s nice that there appears to be room for everyone to be themselves, even if that means being a little harder to GIF.

Houston Astros
I don’t know what’s wrong with Texas. The Astros do even less than the Rangers. In fact, the Astros don’t do anything. I will spare you a GIF of 15 different Astros cruising into second base for a double and then bending over to remove their shin guards, but please know that I could have made one. That’s all they do when they hit a double: They get to second base. They remove their elbow guard. Maybe they point back at their buddies back in the dugout who look all teeny-tiny now that they’re so far away, or maybe they don’t bother to turn around at all and just remove their shin guard. When the Astros win, their outfielders touch gloves cordially. When they hit a single? You guessed it: more nothing.

Here’s something Jeff Sullivan wrote nearly 13 years ago: “When a team is good, all anyone cares about is winning more games, winning the most important games. You start to take shit too seriously. When the team sucks, and management sucks, that’s when you get to be creative.” On Saturday, the Astros clinched their seventh consecutive playoff berth, the fourth-longest streak in major league history. I don’t know if it’s because they’ve been there before, or if it’s because they’re trying to act like they’ve been there before, but it doesn’t seem like it’s as much fun to hit a double for the reigning World Series champions.





Davy Andrews is a Brooklyn-based musician and a contributing writer for FanGraphs. He can be found on Twitter @davyandrewsdavy.

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limozeen
7 months ago

oh my goodness the rays celebration is perfect