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ALCS-bound Tribe celebrates victory

ALCS-bound Tribe celebrates victory

NEW YORK -- The Indians have this celebration business down to a science.

A quick scan of the visiting clubhouse at Yankee Stadium revealed plenty of beer and even more champagne, though first baseman Ryan Garko was quick to note that a common element was missing. He eyed the room with a sort of frat-boy pride, and smiled. There were no goggles here, no ponchos -- and certainly no dry Indians.

"All the other teams you see, they have goggles on," Garko said. "Take it like a man. There aren't too many opportunities to get sprayed with alcohol in the face, so you might as well just wear it in the eye once or twice and have fun with it."

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That much wasn't a problem. It's not often that an opposing team can celebrate in Yankee Stadium, as the Indians did Monday following their defeat of the Yankees in the American League Division Series. It had been a while, in fact, since the Indians had reason to celebrate anywhere. This club hadn't made the postseason since 2001, and hadn't advanced beyond the first round since 1998.

So naturally, the Indians decided to seize this opportunity for all it was worth.

That's why closer Joe Borowski gave most of his postgame interviews with eyes clamped shut, and champagne sprayed into them every time he dared a peek. That's why Kenny Lofton strutted through the center of the visitors' clubhouse, waving two bottles of bubbly at anyone who dared to cross his path. And that's why Trot Nixon danced to a blaring stream of Latin music, transforming Yankee Stadium's sacred walls into his own personal mosh pit.

There was a group celebration as every Indian gathered close, enjoying the fruits of a collective accomplishment. And there were plenty of individual showers, with three Indians needed to spray the top of C.C. Sabathia's head.

"It's exciting," center fielder Grady Sizemore said, shaking a bottle of champagne and darting his eyes in search of a new victim. "It's a good feeling."

And while Travis Hafner gushed that this moment "never gets old," there's always some element of surprise. Just ask Borowski, who quickly discovered one of the inherent qualities of champagne on ice.

"That is so cold," Borowski laughed as he was showered for the umpteenth time. "But I'll take it."

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And so will the rest of the Indians. They're now four wins away from the World Series, a stage they haven't seen in a decade. And they're relishing every minute of it.

So when Lofton began yelling at his teammates to pack their bags -- next stop: Boston -- not an Indian was ready. They wanted to savor this party a bit longer.

They also hope it won't be their last, and they've given themselves every reason to believe just that. The Indians may be on the crest of their greatest challenge yet, but with champagne flying everywhere, losing becomes a concept that's difficult to fathom. So instead, these Indians are looking at the future through rose-colored goggles -- the only kind that Garko will allow -- and there's no telling how far that optimism might take them.

"Eight more wins, and two more celebrations would be awesome," Garko said. "And that's just the start of things."

Anthony DiComo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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