An Illustrated Guide to the Postseason Celebrations: National League

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The playoffs start on Tuesday, 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 American League counterpart, which will run tomorrow, will 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.

Los Angeles Dodgers
This isn’t exactly what I meant when I said that Freddie Freeman was a metronome. Here, the team is affectionately mocking Freeman’s dance moves from the Dodgers Foundation’s Blue Diamond Gala back in June. This celebration has already has been covered extensively, so I’ll just note a few things. First, the Dodgers absolutely adore it. They use it in just about every situation imaginable:

They’ve also started playing “Do the Freddie,” by Freddie and the Dreamers, over the PA between innings. The song is insidiously catchy, and I cannot tell you how much I wish I had not picked the Dodgers to write about first, because it has been stuck in my head since Thursday:

The only time the Dodgers don’t use the Freddie is on singles. After a single, they pantomime pulling the whistle on a steam locomotive, which had been their catch-all celebration prior to the implementation of the Freddie. Per the LA Times, David Peralta brought the move from his time with the Diamondbacks:

“We talked about it before the season started,” outfielder David Peralta said. “Like, hey, what’s gonna be our sign for when we get hits?”

Peralta, one of several veterans the club signed this winter as part of its roster makeover, offered an idea.

“I said, ‘If you want to get on the freight train, get on board,’” Peralta recalled with a laugh, referring to the nickname — and accompanying choo-choo hand signal — he’s had since the start of his major league career. “And everyone was like, ‘We’re gonna do the freight train. Let’s do the choo-choo.’”

Lastly, here’s the origin of the Freddie in Freeman’s own words: “The boys have been wanting to do this for a while. And it took an off day, and us all at Muncy’s last night having a good time for his daughter’s birthday party, that we decided to implement it into the game.” To be clear, Freeman is saying that all of the Dodgers — or at least enough of them to make a quorum — chose to spend their only day off over a 13-day stretch at Max Muncy’s daughter’s second birthday party. Second, and even harder to believe, the Dodgers had a good time at the party. This is highly suspect. Have you ever been to a kid’s second birthday party? If not, let me hit you with a quick Venn diagram:

A circle labeled "Adults at a kid's birthday party" and a circle labeled "People having a good time." The intersection of the is labeled "Literally no one."

Despite Miguel Rojas’s protestation that the implementation of the celebration “happened so pure,” it seems more likely that the entire team showed up to the party and pretended to have a good time for the sole purpose of convincing Freeman to implement the dance. I doubt anybody in Los Angeles minds. From July 21 (the day of implementation) onwards, the Dodgers went 45-22, the best record in baseball.

Atlanta Braves
The Braves also boast the best record in baseball since the day they implemented their celebration. The difference is that they implemented it on day one. Since the very beginning of the season, Atlanta players have been celebrating doubles by making the “too small” gesture more often associated with NBA trash talk. They hold their right hands perpendicular to the ground, then lower them all the way down to their shins:

I wasn’t able to find any concrete information on why the Braves chose this particular move. I like to imagine that it’s a reference to the The Smurfs. “Sometimes you forget what size the Smurfs are,” the Braves seem to be saying, “but then the perspective changes when Gargamel shows up, and you remember Papa Smurf is only this tall!”

Ronald Acuña Jr. has made the move something of a trademark. He’s done it while rounding the bases after a home run. During the red carpet show at the All-Star Game, both Acuña and his son wore chains that featured him doing the move:

However, there’s one player who does it a little bit differently than the rest of the team. Everybody else on the Braves just kind of puts their hand out low, but Michael Harris II flat out gets down:

This is one of the most salacious celebrations you’ll ever see on a baseball diamond. I can only assume that Harris really likes The Smurfs.

The Braves don’t have anything in the way of a team-wide victory celebration. However, you might catch thier corner outfielders doing an elaborate high five, or center fielder and Georgia native Harris doing the dirty bird, a dance usually associated with the Falcons:

Milwaukee Brewers
At first glance, it may look like the Brewers are copying Baltimore’s sprinkler move, but they’re actually pretending to be DJs:

I don’t know why they’ve chosen to scratch the record all the way up at head height. Maybe they’re pretending to be a DJ who injured his back and now has to mount the turntables on some sort of ergonomic standing desk. The move started around the trade deadline, when William Contreras bought a speaker display for Freddy Peralta. Peralta started playing more music in the clubhouse, and Contreras implemented the DJ Freddy celebration. Also, Peralta went on a tear, going 5-0 with a 2.10 ERA and 2.05 in August en route to the NL Pitcher of the Month Award.

The Brewers don’t have an established move for singles, but that hasn’t stopped some players from trying unsuccessfully to do the DJ Freddy from the dugout:

Carlos Santana reportedly implemented Milwaukee’s victory celebration when he arrived from Pittsburgh at the deadline. It’s a circle dance that falls somewhere between the hokey pokey and the hora. I sincerely hope the Brewers win it all so that we can see them hoist Santana up in a chair.

Philadelphia Phillies
Well this one has really got me stumped. What are those crazy Phillies doing? It could be anything, really:

Are they balancing the scales of justice? Maybe they’re just saying, “Well, on the one hand… but on the other hand.” They’re a notoriously contemplative group. Someone on the internet said they’re pretending to confirm the results of some sort of marble inventory, but that strikes me a little bit far-fetched. Whatever it is the Phillies are doing with their hands, they are really having a ball with it.

Bryce Harper tends to lead into his juggling pantomime with a charming slit-your-throat gesture, which is fun in its own way. More relevant to Philadelphians, the team has confirmed that after soundtracking last fall’s run to the World Series, “Dancing on My Own” will make a repeat performance this postseason. “You have to,” Harper told reporters as the team celebrated on Tuesday. “You play for the Phillies, that song is going to be here.”

You know what? Maybe one more, just to be safe:

Miami Marlins
Not everything has to be clever. When they reach base, the Marlins pantomime the tail of a fish cutting through the water. They are fish, and they celebrate by being fish.

This fish-squared celebration could come in handy should the Marlins defeat the Phillies in the Wild Card round and advance to face the Braves in the Division Series. Ozzie Albies, who loves his pet fish so much that he checks in on them via a Ring camera during road trips, might find it too painful to beat up on a team of meta-fish. But the Marlins probably shouldn’t count on it. Albies batted .386 with a big league-best seven homers against the Marlins this year:

Although the team went so far as to introduce the fish celebration with a hype video back in April, it’s usually a pretty laid back move. However, what the Marlins lack in enthusiasm, they make up for with buy-in. Absolutely everybody does it every time, even bench players and deadline acquisitions. Josh Bell is in, and Jake Burger takes it to another level entirely. When he’s particularly excited, Burger looks like he’s either pantomiming the righteous thrashing of the Marlin from The Old Man and the Sea or pretending to give someone a pretty aggressive spanking.

Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks celebrate both singles and doubles by flashing double hang loose signs back at the dugout. I couldn’t find the backstory for this celebration. The simplest explanation is that it’s a nod to the vibrant surfing culture prevalent in downtown Phoenix. Who doesn’t love to grab their board and catch a gnarly wave in the middle of the desert?

The celebration is very new. Up until the first of September, the team just flashed a double thumbs-up into the dugout. When the team wins, the Arizona outfielders do something, um, interesting? I’m going to go with interesting, and then I’m going to pretend this never happened:

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

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5 months ago

Acuna is something of a Celebration Kirby. He does Lebron’s “Silencer” and Trae Young’s “Ice Tray/Brrr”. The “Too Small” is a basketball move as well, and the Dodgers did that a lot in 2021 (started by Gavin Lux and Mookie) along with the head pat “Dunk On Him”. They did this on homers and big hits. Re: the Dodgers they also sometimes still do the “Barrels Are Overrated” shaking hands out pantomiming a stinger from 2017 that Chris Taylor and Justin Turner popularized