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MLB is forbidding boozy playoff celebrations

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Teams control the alcohol. So that is one area MLB will not worry about as it insists on clinching celebrations that are more restrained, distant and outdoors.

The league was still finalizing a memorandum it expects to deliver to clubs and players this week in which it will urge — against history and human nature — that all involved remember that a pandemic still ensnares the country and to limit contact after clinching a division, a playoff spot or a postseason series.

It is another miserable element from 2020. Players dream about the dog-pile moments, the eye-burning joy of a champagne celebration, the collaborative exultation in commemorating a great team achievement. And all the prodding and fining could mean little against history, spontaneity and euphoria. When Alec Mills threw a no-hitter Sunday he was swarmed by Cubs teammates.

Still, MLB recognizes it can remove one vital element from any stadium celebration — alcohol. The teams supply it in celebratory moments and MLB is going to forbid its presence. MLB also can, to a large extent through the teams, control the clubhouse. To that end, the league is going to ask players to celebrate on the field and to mask up as soon as it’s possible to do so. Commemorative shirts and caps are likely to be distributed in a way to limit contact with as many people as possible.

The restrictions come at a time when there is the potential for more celebrations than ever, since the playoff field is swelling from 10 to 16 this year. But that also leaves the awkward question of when to celebrate. The Dodgers, for example, have won seven straight NL West titles and likely will clinch a playoff spot first among all teams some time this week. Do they celebrate that? Wait for a division clinch, when that is not assured?

MLB is banning alcohol to limit celebrations
The Yankees douse Gianrcarlo Stanton in beer after the ALDS last season.Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Also, all six second-place finishers are guaranteed a playoff spot. Do you celebrate clinching second if, say, the Yankees do that? Do you celebrate being a seventh- or eighth-seed? It should get trickier to enforce restraint when actual playoff rounds are won and it will push players to find creative ways to express their glee — sanitized confetti, anybody?

No matter what the players decide, they are going to be asked that any partying be dry — when it comes to alcohol and enthusiasm.

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