As of last Thursday, the Dodgers are in the playoffs for the first time since 2009, but not without a little bit of controversy, or what’s being called “Poolgate.”
First, some context: Heading into the final game of a four-game set, the Dodgers had a magic number of two, meaning with a win over the second-place Arizona Diamondbacks, the Dodgers would clinch the NL West crown.
Despite a rocky start by Ricky Nolasco in front of a Chase Field crowd that desperately did not want to see the Dodgers clinch at their home stadium, the Dodgers clawed their way back in the sixth and seventh innings. An eighth-inning home run by A.J. Ellis and a lights-out performance by the Dodgers bullpen, which didn’t allow a single hit during the final three frames, sealed the deal. The Dodgers won their 88th game Thursday, putting the Diamondbacks and all division opponents out of reach for good.
Before the game, Diamondbacks officials apparently told the Dodgers to keep their champagne celebration confined to the clubhouse and not to return to the field in the event of a victory.
Being the team full of characters they are, however, the Dodgers did not follow these directions, and instead celebrated their 7-6 victory with a few beers and bottles of champagne in the clubhouse before taking the party to the field and making a beeline for the pool beyond Chase Field’s right centerfield wall.
The Dodgers played around in the pool and its adjoining hot tub, but their actions made an even bigger splash with the national media. Soon, it seemed everyone and their grandma had formed an opinion on “Poolgate,” U.S. Senator John McCain being no exception. The senior senator from Arizona didn’t mince his words in a tweet about the boys in blue, calling them “overpaid, immature, arrogant spoiled brats”—no, I know, I was likewise shocked to learn he wasn’t talking about Congress.
McCain and other self-titled baseball purists have been up in arms all week about the Dodgers’ antics. They’ve apparently forgotten the wisdom of President Andrew Jackson: “To the victors belong the spoils.”
If the Diamondbacks wanted to complain about the classlessness of their NL West counterparts, they should have won Thursday’s game—they shouldn’t have allowed their opponents to clinch on their home turf, and they definitely shouldn’t fault the Dodgers for exploring the space surrounding Chase Field and taking advantage of the lone in-stadium swimming pool in Major League Baseball.
But while the Diamondbacks are angry now, they’ll have the whole offseason to think about how much the Dodgers set them off. They’ll tape pictures of the Dodgers in Chase Field’s swimming pool to treadmills, weight racks, batting cages or just about anything that will motivate them for next season.
Before then, the Dodgers have a playoff series to prepare for.