Celebration Analysis: BOS 10-30-13

We here at NotGraphs concern ourselves with everything baseball, as long as it’s not actually relevant to the game. Now that the game is over, and the offseason is upon us, and jubilation reigns in Greater New England, the thankless job of sober analytical reflection falls to us. Last night, we all witnessed a display of skill and fortitude worthy of a champion. And yet there are things that could have been done better. I speak not of the game, of course. The Sox won and that is that. I speak of something that will haunt us far longer: the postgame celebration. Best that we examine it now, with it fresh in our minds, so that we may fully appreciate its strengths and learn from its missteps.

Students of the postgame celebration will agree that there are certain critical components that must be correctly implemented in order to make any such work successful. Let’s step through them systematically, and look at how the Red Sox performed on each count.

1. The Comic Relief

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Veteran celebrant David Ortiz made sure this was covered right out of the gate, comically donning a protective helmet in preparation for his Field Rush. A savvy touch by the old slugger. However, a purist like myself could (and would) argue that the preemptive move showed a certain lack of respect, as well as detracting from the emotional climax of the victory. To maximize cathartic effect, we must remember, the possibility of failure, and the tension it engenders, should be maintained until the last possible moment. Grade: B-

2. The Winning Play

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The winning play came on a swinging strikeout, by Koji Uehara, of Matt Carpenter. A swinging strikeout is as effective a Winning Play as any, assuming the winning team is in the field; it facilitates the Battery Embrace (see below), and symbolically reflects the undeservingness of the losing team. The circumstances of the play, with the bases empty and Boston’s win probability essentially at 100%, removed much of the suspense. And needless to say, a walkoff victory would have been preferable. Still, this was well done. Grade: B+

3. The Gesture of Triumph

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The responsibility for the Gesture of Triumph fell to Uehara, having struck the victorious blow. Rather surprisingly, given his skillful handling of celebrations previously in this postseason (Uehara has proven himself a master of the Emotional Floodgates Technique), his Gesture last night seemed a bit flaccid and hesitant. Though the Raised Fist is a reasonable and traditional choice, Uehara’s delivery was not as smooth as it could have been, and it took nearly a full second after the pitch was received for him to reach full extension — an unacceptable delay. The Two-Fisted Kneel, among others, might have been a better move for him.

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Fortunately, Ross salvaged the situation, contributing a Gesture that nicely complemented his battery-mate’s while significantly adding to its emotional resonance. Ross’s face was visibly contorted into a tearful grimace, and his two-handed address to his Creator, while mumbling unintelligible words of gratitude, provided a truly memorable image. Grade: C+

4. The Battery Embrace

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Uehara’s slight physique helped the pair negotiate this move gracefully, and the pitcher partially redeemed his subpar Raised Fist by extending it into a flawlessly executed Number One. Ross, continuing to excel, delicately complemented the Number One with his own Raised Mitt. All in all, one of the most iconic images of the night. Unfortunately, Fox gets low marks for presentation, cutting Uehara off at the forearm and failing to adequately capture either man’s face. Grade: A

5. The Managerial Flourish

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I had expected a solid performance from John Farrell, given that this was his first championship as a manager, and that he’d successfully led a team back from the divisional cellar while under the intense scrutiny of a major market: a triumph like this would surely be accompanied by conspicuous joy and relief. Perhaps that was asking too much of the son of a lobsterman. Farrell reacted with genuine enthusiasm, but his version of a Hearty Clap seemed more suited to cheering on a Little Leaguer than celebrating a major league title. He will no doubt have more chances in the future. Grade: C

6. The Field Rush

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A rather lackadaisical effort from a group with a good deal of practice in this department. Several players were more trotting than sprinting, and the overall approach to the dogpile seemed somewhat tentative. Were it not for the endearing exuberance of Quintin Berry, plus Ortiz’s dramatically belated entrance (performing a textbook version of the challenging “Big Fella On Top” move), this would have gotten low marks indeed. Grade: C+

7. The Synchronized Bounce

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All in all, an impressive display of cohesion and coordination. The group maintained a solid rhythm throughout, while allowing effective individual flourishes like Fist Wheel and Rock ‘n Roll Horns. Pedroia and Ellsbury temporarily formed their own splinter group — a risky move, but one that the veteran teammates handled brilliantly, reentering the fray without losing a beat. The unidentified coach on the right had no idea what he was doing and nearly torpedoed the whole effort, but those in a forgiving frame of mind might chalk this up to Comic Relief. Grade: B+

8. The Interlude of Quiet Intimacy

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The Sox turned to Ortiz and Victorino, partners in the postseason grand-slam club, for this key step of the celebration. It was a good choice, the size contrast between the two allowing Papi to showcase his paternal instincts, while Victorino’s normally-brash personality made the tender moment all the more poignant. There are nits to pick here: the pair was too mobile, and the Interlude too fleeting, to fully accentuate the dynamic contrast; and of course tears would have been ideal. Still, I count this a qualified success. Grade: B

9. The Awkward Post-Bounce Milling

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Gomes’ reflective amble around the infield provided a welcome counterpoint to the noise of the dissipating crowd. But the awkwardness set in quickly, with Ellsbury in particular trying a little too hard to maintain the exhilaration. Were it not for Uehara’s zany energy and his well-timed Shoulder Lift courtesy of Ortiz, this could have been a disaster in the making. Grade: C+

10. The Non-Uniformed Accomplice

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In this case, technically, the Accomplice was uniformed: for it was already-viral Steve Horgan, Bullpen Cop. Horgan’s display was not exactly one of unbridled euphoria, although he suffers, perhaps unfairly, from comparisons to his performance in the ALCS. Grade: B

11. The Soar

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Even had he not come through with his clutch home run in Game Four, Jonny Gomes’ inclusion in the Sox lineup would have been justified by this alone. This is a truly first-class Soar, executed at high speed with full aerodynamic effects, and punctuated by a masterful Glove Toss. Though many spectators may have missed this in their focus on the Field Rush, it deserves repeated viewing. Grade: A+

12. The Iwo Jima

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This performance cemented Ortiz’s claim, in my opinion, to being the MVP of this celebration. Never one to shy away from responsibility, Papi stepped up and seized the moment, waving the championship flag to a horde of cheering fans. It’s an underused move, made extra-meaningful by the special bond forged by this team and its city. Quibble: Removing the helmet would have been a classy touch. Grade: A-

13. The Trophy Kiss

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So Doubront was probably not the guy for this job. Entrusted with what is perhaps the most solemn moment of any celebration, he treated it far too casually, failing even to remove his chewing gum. Poorly done. Grade: D

14. The Champagne Duel

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That’s more like it. It’s Ortiz taking the lead again here, with an unrestrained display of near-carnal physicality. The tender Full-Body Press at the end puts the perfect cap on this season of Boston bromance. Grade: A+

Summary: Boston has been here before, and it showed — all too clearly, perhaps. While the Sox ticked off all the important steps, they ran through many of them in a fairly uninspired fashion. Still, it was a complete celebration, highlighted by several iconic moments, and most viewers will have gone home satisfied. Overall Grade: B




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6 Responses to “Celebration Analysis: BOS 10-30-13”

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  1. yosoyfiesta says:

    It’s an overall A+, hater, I don’t trust your arbitrary grading system, A is for awesome, the only B’s should be on the hats and in the outfield, A+ override!

    -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • MustBunique says:

      Yah, wait fah the duckboats, kid. Naver, Pedroier, Lestah, its gonna be wicked pissah guy. Maybe A+ is yowa grade, but A++ is mayan.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Grohman says:

    This here is funny!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Shauntell says:

    Well done Sir!!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Ginsburg, Basketball Coach of that Prestigous College that Everyone Knows says:

    I respectfully disagree with the D for the trophy kiss. Clearly, this wasn’t the trophy kiss that mattered. Mr. Bogaerts would get the next one, and he was already performing his lip warm-ups when Doubront was sucking (no pun, I swear). Bogaerts’ kiss was worthy of at least an A-, or higher, depending on whether you are living in France.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. triple-A city says:

    I realize that as Synchronized Bouncing goes, the Sox executed relatively well and that we must allot them due recognition, but boy do I hate the Synchronized Bounce. It looks so foolish and undignified. I very much prefer the Chaotic Bounce

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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