Thu, Nov 05, 2009 - Page 19 News List

‘Champagne goggles’ fad makes baseball fans groan

AP , NEW YORK

When the New York Yankees clinched their spot in the World Series last week, the casual TV viewer might have wondered if they were about to go swim the 200m butterfly with Michael Phelps.

Call it a fashion statement for the very rich and very happy: There they were, stars like C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Johnny Damon, sporting swim goggles to protect their eyes from the victory champagne being poured, squirted and sprayed amid the post-game revelry.

Champagne celebrations have been around since the 1950s, when they took the place of beer, but goggles have become a familiar sight only in recent years in the locker rooms of Major League Baseball’s top teams. And some die-hard fans aren’t too happy.

Sure, they say, it’s important to preserve those valuable eyes. But the eyewear sure looks a little goofy, doesn’t it? And more important, it suggests a broader problem, these fans say: Post-game celebrations have become too predictable.

“I guess it was funny when they first poured champagne on somebody, but it’s just too prepared, too scripted now,” says Matt O’Donnell, a high school history teacher from Sebastopol, California.

O’Donnell, 39, is an ardent Boston Red Sox fan (his four-year-old son’s middle name is Fenway, after Fenway Park). “Please, No More Champagne Goggles!” he pleaded on his baseball blog in September, when his team was about to clinch a playoff spot.

After every big victory, he complained, the plastic sheets go up, “and then a few players will put on the readily available ridiculous looking champagne goggles and begin spraying their teammates. A manager or coach will inevitably be sprayed with bubbly ... and the perpetrator will think it is the funniest thing ever. Yawn.”

While the goggles don’t lessen any respect for the top players, Oakland A’s fan Patrick Stimson does see them as a sign that today’s athletes may be getting a little softer.

“There’s a notion that today’s players are coddled, multi-­gazillionaire athletes, and maybe this is an outgrowth of that,” he says.

On his own baseball blog, ­Stimson recently posted the question of whether champagne goggles were ever acceptable, or whether it made the players seem, well, wimpy.

“Most people thought it took away some of their manly nature,” he says.

Talk to an eye doctor, though, and you might be converted to the pro-goggle side.

Champagne has a high alcohol content, high enough to damage the surface lining of the cornea, said Dr Matthew Gardiner, director of emergency ophthalmology services at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.

“A corneal abrasion like that usually heals within two to three days, but it can be extremely painful while it’s healing,” Gardiner said.

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