(Jim Davis / Globe Staff)
Fittingly, amid the champagne showers and pilsner mist, the most uninhibited of the Red Sox was prepared to take them to new extremes.
"We're going streaking," said Dustin Pedroia.
Of course, in a manner of speaking, they already have.
In the event you're keeping score at home, that's now two straight playoff appearances and five in the last six years for the defending world champion Red Sox, who secured their place in the postseason with a 5-4 win over the Cleveland Indians tonight in the 157th game of their 2008 season. Eight of the nine Boston starters had hits in this game. Five scored a run and three knocked at least one in. Manager Terry Francona used six pitchers as the Sox assured once again that there will be fall baseball in New England.
Manny Ramirez is gone, but the Red Sox keep moving forward.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
"It's probably a little different every time, different emotions, but it certainly doesn't become less enjoyable or less satisfying and it's nice to know that we have more baseball to play," said Sox manager Terry Francona. "We'll see how this week unfolds and keep everybody healthy, feeling good, winning, and we'll see what happens."
Indeed, we will.
One thing about clubhouse celebrations: They're very much a part of baseball culture. Last year, one member of the Patriots organization thought it foolish that the Sox acted like a cast of drunken sailors upon making the playoffs. The suggestion was that the Sox were happy to merely be there, which couldn't be further from the truth. The Sox subsequently went on and won the world title by going 11-3 in the postseason.
In baseball, after all, the season lasts 162 games over six months of the regular season and another six weeks of spring training. The playoffs make the year even longer. Consequently, maybe it should come as no surprise that Jonathan Papelbon raided an office water cooler and dumped a 5-gallon jug over the head of clubhouse attendant Edward "Pookie" Jackson ... or that Mark Kotsay was handing out cigars as he if were celebrating a (playoff?) birth ... or that three Sox clubhouse attendants walked into the celebration carrying two suitcases each -- three of them 30-packs of Budweiser, three of them 30-packs of Bud Light.
Obviously, we'll have a lot more on tonight's victory in Wednesday's online and print editions; over the next several days, the Sox will be making playoff plans and roster decisions (and we'll have those developments, too). But for now, let the Sox have their fun and give them their due, whether they enter the playoffs as division winners or as the American League wild card team.
Tonight is a night to celebrate the success of the regular season.
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