BOSTON — Jonny Gomes celebrates. When the Red Sox have won playoff series this season, he's worn an army helmet, a robe and he's chugged beers. Heck, he's punted beers. Gomes has loved the ride as much as anybody on this Boston Red Sox team.
He's fiery on the field and off, an 11-year veteran who is on his fifth team and now will play in his first World Series. He's the guy who grabbed at Mike Napoli's beard when he homered in the ALCS, who jumped emphatically on home plate after Shane Victorino's grand slam.
So if Gomes gets excited on the field during the World Series and he celebrates, don't get surprised. And, St. Louis Cardinals fans, don't say we didn't warn you.
"I learned from my first rodeo, if you will, in the playoffs," says Gomes. "With [Rays coaches] Don Zimmer on board and George Hendrick, they told us right: Celebrate as hard as fast as long as you can, because it's so hard to do this."
Celebrations have become quite a conversation/controversy-starter this postseason. It began when the Los Angeles Dodgers jumped into a pool. Celebrations shifted the chatter in a hard-fought Dodgers-St. Louis Cardinals NLCS when "Mickey Mouse" was annointed L.A.'s 26th man.
The conversation became — exaggeratedly so — the tradition-oriented Cardinals against the boisterous Dodgers. Adam Wainwright, even here in Boston, about to pitch Game 1 of the World Series, was still asked a question Tuesday about his "Mickey Mouse" comments. (For the record, He insisted it was a joke). But the whole thing tumbled out of control, joke or not. And now, here are the Cardinals once again playing a team with personality in the postseason.
Asked whether he was worried about offending the Cardinals, Gomes answers flatly: "No."
He pauses for a second then continues.
"I don't think anybody needs to look into our celebration any more than it is," Gomes says "Look at their right fielder [Carlos Beltran], he's logged 2,000 games in the big leagues and this is his first go-around. You think he's not going to celebrate? Yeah, absolutely. George Hendrick went to the World Series his rookie year and didn't go back until the end. He played a long time.
"You look at a guy we just said our farewell to, Todd Helton. You think he'd limit his celebration if he was ever able to go?"
Don't take this to mean that Gomes is going to doing cartwheels around the bases if he hits a home run and pull a beer out of his beard and shotgun it the moment he hits home plate.
"Obviously, you have to do it with some class. Not disrespecting the other side," Gomes says. "Man, this is a life-long dream and a celebration of things you're going to remember for the rest of your life. You better go all out."
If the Red Sox win the World Series, all bets are off about Gomes pulling a beer out of his beard during the clubhouse celebration.
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