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Colin Barnicle Headshot

Wearing Goggles at the End Is Good

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So, this is how it will probably go...

Oh man, don't forget the damn goggles. That's key to the attendants working in the San Francisco clubhouse in Arlington. A player can take a cork to the chest, beer poured in the jock, but champagne in the eyes can end a night. It burns the eyes red, dries them out and once soaked into the pours smells like a newborn baby's puke. So, don't forget the goggles. It's easy enough to let them slip when you're sprinting through the concrete interior corridors of the stadium toward the kitchen storage room to grab a dozen cases of Korbel and Dom topped off with another dozen or so packs of beer. Then, sprinting back with it all. But, you can't jump the gun. You can't wheel in the champagne until the last out has been recorded. Never let a player see the celebration before the celebration, that's one of the unwritten etiquette rules of baseball and God help you if broken. You have to hide the cornucopia of booze in a closet near enough to the main action of the clubhouse, possibly the player's lounge or near the bat rack or maybe, and yes this should be it, the trainer's room.

There you are, listening to the hum of the ice machine beside you and the rumble of the crowd like hard rain on a corrugated roof above you as they stamp their feet and chant for the Rangers. You sit on stools in a sterile white room surrounded by oils, lotions, knives and folded white towels, the kind handed out in high school gym class, as Michael Young grounds out to Juan Uribe ending the eighth inning. It's near now and it will be over soon.

You hurriedly roll sheets of plastic onto the clubhouse floor as if a mobster were about to be whacked and you fold up the chairs and stuff them into the lockers. You grab the plastic sheets and tack them against the lockers like cheap wallpaper and start to carry the autographed bats, hats and balls emblazoned with World Series logos you have been getting signed for the past few days into a room no one will enter. You find the plastic bins in storage and the scooper is plunged into the small cubes inside the training room ice machine. The cases of beer are ripped open and the cylindrical red aluminum bottles are poured into the bucket and layered with ice, bin after bin until it is time for the champagne.

You strip the champagne of the golden foil covering the neck and head and place them delicately into the ice bins and the bins, heavy by this point, are loaded onto carts with wheels and you don't have much time left and -- wait -- what about the goggles? Oh. Lord. The goggles. Where are those damn things? You walk into a room where the MLB gophers are stripping packages with box cutters. They stop to look up at the television and the ad break is over and the last frame is about to start. You look beneath and beside the stacks of San Francisco World Champion hats and shirts being taken from the boxes to find the goggles and you are worried you won't have enough. But, they are there and you're safe.

The Giants go quietly in the top of the ninth. But, in a few moments they will roar wild-eyed through the tunnel from the dugout to the clubhouse and you must be ready. Brian Wilson comes to the set and you wheel the booze carts into the locker room and wait. The room is filled with front office executives and other attendants brought from San Francisco and they see the champagne and beer and their eyes alight.

Wilson throws a slider outside to Nelson Cruz and the room sucks in a collective breath and it is called a ball and everyone sighs deeply and shifts their weight from side to side. The MLB gophers come out of the room with their folded bounty of goods and jog down to the dugout. A high fastball and a swing and miss and it's over and the crown jewel of the West Coast has a championship. The unruly Giant players in disheveled jerseys and beards scream into the clubhouse after hugging and cheering on the field and you hand out a pair of goggles and maybe you will have a beer after it calms down a bit.

And if you're in the Texas Rangers clubhouse, you don't say a word and you don't make eye contact with the players as they drag red clay across the blue clubhouse carpet with bats over their shoulders, gloves in their hands, heads down, sweat soaked hats flipped up on their foreheads. You walk away and maybe you hear something thrown against a wall in frustration or maybe you don't, but you walk away. You have no more pin tar rags to soak or rosin to crush into socks or game balls to rub with mud anymore. The season has ended prematurely and you sit in a dark room off the clubhouse and you don't say anything. After the players have showered and after the press has asked them about their season and left, you emerge. Most of the players have dressed and are leaving but a few sit at their lockers with ice packs on their knees or shoulders and pack away some items, a bible or a necklace bought on a road trip months ago, into a small bag and some of these men will never be in this locker room again and some of these men may never be in the Major Leagues again and after they are gone you clean up after them the same way you did for the previous nine months the Texas Rangers played and you go home until next spring when it will start again.

... so this is how it probably was.

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