(Warning: The following article is written without any attempt at objectivity. The author is a Dodger fan. He will gladly apologize to Diamondback fans if he ever meets one.)
On September 19, 2013, the Los Angeles Dodgers took on the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix. Coming into the game, the first-place Dodgers had a 9.5-game lead on the second-place Diamondbacks and were looking to clinch the National League West. The Dodgers had been scuffling coming in, losing six of their past eight games including three of four to the arch-rival San Francisco Giants and two of the first three in Arizona.
Earlier that season, in an April game, some Dodger fans sitting behind home plate at Chase Field had been required to cover their Dodger gear with D-Backs apparel, with Arizona owner Ken Kendrick presumably under the impression that television viewers would then magically forget that the Dodgers existed, or at least that Chase Field was full of Dodger fans (presumably from the decades when Arizona had no team and Southern California was the closest MLB market).
Tensions between the Dodgers and D-Backs boiled over in a June 11 game at Dodger Stadium that saw five batters hit by pitches, six ejections, and an intensity contest between Mark McGwire on the Dodgers’ side and Kirk Gibson and Matt Williams on the Arizona side.
As it became more likely that the Dodgers would clinch the division in Arizona, the Diamondbacks made the unorthodox request that the Dodgers not celebrate on the field, instead taking their celebration to the clubhouse. This was notable because of the large number of Phoenix-based Dodger fans, so it was reasonable to assume that the Dodgers might want to celebrate with (or at least in front of) their road fans.
On September 19, it looked like it might it might be a moot point. In the final game of the four-game series, after the Dodgers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning on a three-run homer by Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers’ starter Ricky Nolasco allowed three singles, three doubles, and a triple as the Diamondbacks roared back to take a 6-3 lead. A double by Scott Van Slyke and a sacrifice fly by Michael Young in the sixth inning brought the Dodgers within one, and then Ramirez hit another homer leading off the seventh to tie the game.
In the eighth inning, catcher A.J. Ellis led off for the Dodgers. Ellis is known for seeing a lot of pitches and has never shown much power in the big leagues. So, of course, he hit the first pitch he saw from Josh Collmenter into the seats in left field, one of four home runs Collmenter allowed to the Dodgers in six games that season. Brian Wilson pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, and when Kenley Jansen followed up with a perfect ninth for the save, the Dodgers had clinched the NL West for the first time since 2009.
At first, it looked like the Dodgers would comply with Arizona’s request that they keep their celebration in the clubhouse. After the standard celebration on the field, they moved into the locker room and popped the champagne. After a while, though, once the crowd had dispersed, someone had an idea. Most of the team headed back to the field, out to right field, over the fence, and into the swimming pool, where they continued the celebration of their first division title in four years.
The Diamondbacks, not surprisingly, did not appreciate that. Willie Bloomquist, in his 12th season as a mediocre utility player, appeared to be stumping for a job as a self-righteous newspaper columnist when he invoked the sacred name of the New York Yankees:
“It’s surprising because they have a lot of veteran guys on that team that I thought were classier than that,” Bloomquist said. “I just think they have enough guys on that team that it’s surprising that they would allow that to happen. You have to give credit where credit is due. They won the division; congratulations to them, but I would expect them to act with a little more class than they did. I doubt the New York Yankees would do something like that.”
D-Backs CEO Derrick Hall, a former Dodgers employee, showed a clear understanding of what makes a baseball stadium wonderful when he said in an email, “I could call it disrespectful and classless, but they don’t have a beautiful pool at their old ballpark and probably wanted to see what one was like.”
D-Backs pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who had defeated the Dodgers the previous day to temporarily delay the pool party, showed a remarkable lack of The Diamondback Mentality when he tweeted, quite sensibly:
Celebrating is fun. I don’t care how and where you do it. Only thing to care about is what we need to do to celebrate in our pool next year.
— Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) September 19, 2013
Obviously, this kind of common sense can’t be allowed to stand in Arizona, and by the time the 2014 Diamondbacks completed their last-place, 64-98 season in 2014, McCarthy had been ordered to stop throwing one of the pitches in his repertoire and then shipped off to the Yankees in a trade. Anyway, at 6’7″, McCarthy was about ten inches taller than the D-Backs’ preferred brand of scrappy gamers.
About a week after the pool party, former Dodgers reporter Anthony Jackson reported that several Dodgers players had urinated in the pool, including one who boasted loudly about doing so. We won’t talk too much about that here. If they did, that’s bad. If they didn’t but they just said they did, it’s a little childish. Either way, we’re all about the “D-Backs are big whiny babies” narrative here, so let’s stick with what fits.
A week or so from now, the Dodgers will clinch their third consecutive National League West title. Since the pool party, they have a 183-134 record. The Diamondbacks, despite playing in a stadium with a beautiful swimming pool, are 138-181 since the incident.