CITIZENS BANK PARK -- The Phillies clubhouse was a naturally chaotic place after they clinched their fifth straight NL East crown on Saturday night.
Michael Martinez was running around spraying everyone in sight. Beat writers were dodging champagne as best they could while trying to get that one great quote. Jimmy Rollins was sneak-attacking Ben Francisco who was minding his own business quietly away from the action. Photographers were jumping into the thick of it to get the perfect shot. Clubhouse attendants were asking Cliff Lee to pose for a photo. New guy Justin De Fratus was saying "I just got here today," seemingly in awe of his first day with the big league club.
Amid the madness there seems to be a routine that develops among the players. Guys spray the hell out of each other, wincing every time at the ice-cold liquid covering their heads and soaking their brand new NL East Champions t-shirts.
But once the two players get each other real good and they're both dripping wet, they hug it out and congratulate each other on the big accomplishment that they both worked incredibly hard to achieve.
There are some real genuine moments amongst the mayhem.
My favorite of the night was after Ryan Howard finished explaining to reporters that he's done this celebration thing once or twice so he knows the regular swimming goggles won't cut it. The Big Piece "came correct" last night and was donning ski goggles that provide much more coverage, he says.
Howard finished his brief chat with reporters and shouted to nobody in particular, "Let's go celebrate with the people!"
He repeated it multiple times until he got the attention of catcher Brian Schneider and closer Ryan Madson who followed him down the tunnel, leading the way towards the field. But not before Howard stockpiled some ammo by fitting a couple of Bud Light Pounders in his pockets for the trip back out to the diamond. Big Piece has big pockets.
I followed him and his teammates out of the clubhouse and onto the field, where they were greeted with great applause from the fans who stayed long after the game was over just to share in the moment.
As you can hear in the video, Schneider says to Madson, "Hey, should we shoot the fans?" before unloading the bubbly on those above the Phillies dugout. And as you can see, my camera took a direct hit.
It was worth it, of course, and seeing Howard want to share the achievement with the people that pack Citizens Bank Park every night was a nice touch.
Ryan Howard photo by pompomflipflop