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Tigers revel in ALDS celebration

Tigers revel in ALDS celebration

DETROIT -- The Tigers and their fans had waited 19 years for the celebration, but perhaps the longest stretch of that wait was the past week alone.

When an American League Central title was up for grabs in Comerica Park last weekend and the champagne was chilling in the clubhouse, the party was spoiled by a sweep at the hands of the Royals.

So when the corks finally popped on Saturday night after an ALDS win over the Yankees, merely relegating the party to the clubhouse -- as so many teams do -- just didn't seem to be enough.

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No, this hullabaloo had to go out into the Detroit night.

"We had 2 1/2 million people show up this year," closer Todd Jones said. "We just wanted to celebrate with them."

And quite a celebration it was.

Sprinting out of the home dugout with the bubbly in hand, the Tigers players ran down the field lines and jumped on top of the dugout, spraying the adoring and accepting crowd all the while.

Sean Casey was particularly philanthropic when it came to dousing the masses, as the spray from his bottle resembled something one might see out of the massive fountains located in center field.

"It was awesome, man," said Casey, his every square inch sufficiently soaked. "I wish I had more bottles. I only had one bottle. I wish I had like 40 more bottles in my pocket."

Back in the clubhouse, no fewer than 400 bottles were emptied, creating a river of rotgut on the plastic-covered floor.

Reliever Jason Grilli might have been the only one capable of correctly surveying the scene, as his eyes were protected from the free-flowing booze by a pair of novelty sunglasses equipped with windshield wipers.

Grilli had bought the glasses in preparation for the previous weekend, but they got their use, nonetheless.

"This room was supposed to be wet before," Grilli said. "When something's taken away from you and you get it back, it's that much sweeter."

Sweet moments abound for the Tigers on this October night. Infielder Ramon Santiago, puffing away at a fat stogie, led a dance circle in the center of the clubhouse in which all were urged to participate. Manager Jim Leyland joined in on the fun. The 61-year-old might not bust a move quite as well as he pencils in a lineup, but he got an A for effort.

Off to the side, team president and general manager Dave Dombrowski proved that he came prepared. He had eschewed his more-standard suit and tie for a pair of jogging pants and a Tigers pullover, which aided his comfort after being drowned in a deluge of champagne and Bud Light.

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Dombrowski had been through plenty of champagne celebrations in 1997, when his Marlins went all the way. It seemed difficult to imagine that any of those parties could have been quite as joyous as this raucous one, but Dombrowski claimed that's not the case.

"It gets better," he said matter-of-factly. "Don't worry. This was great, but we can notch it up a couple more times."

To take this party up a notch might have been hazardous to one's health.

"I didn't know Detroit can party like this," an impressed Magglio Ordonez said.

Hey, the fans had endured nearly two decades of playoff absences. They'd been saving up some energy, and it was that energy that Jones wanted to feed off when he led the charge back out onto the field.

"It's about a team embracing a city," Jones said. "I was kind of hoping we would go out there as a team and just show everybody how appreciative we are. I mean, moments in your life are greater if they're shared. Tonight, we shared a great Tigers moment with 40,000 people in the stands, and I don't think they'll ever forget it."

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

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