Adrian Gonzalez Clowns Cardinals: Dodgers Are All Ears

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la_g_adrian-gonzalez5_mb_600It’s Mickey Mouse time.

Adrian Gonzalez wants to wear a Mickey Mouse ear hat, and take a trip to Disneyland. His dream could come true if he can help carry the Los Angeles Dodgers to victory as he did on Wednesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium in front of a sellout crowd. He’s not the leader of the Mickey Mouse Club, but he’s clearly the inspirational ballplayer of the Think Blue Club.

G-O-N-Z-A-L-E-Z!

It appears to me that Gonzalez is a Disney freak and thriving to lead the Dodgers to the 2013 World Series. He’s the animated, eccentric character of an outgoing, fun-loving California dude — an All-Star first baseman beloved by Dodger fans in Southern California. I’d like to think he’s just a fan of the mouse, a man having a good time, a playful major leaguer with no bitterness intended. He is, by nature, a humorous man with a sense of fun.

So it shouldn’t surprise us that Gonzalez was mousing around, accused by the St. Louis Cardinals of “Mickey Mouse” antics. In today’s world, people are too sensitive and take things way too seriously. The Cardinals tried their damnedest to provoke drama all week, insulted by Gonzalez’s Mickey Mouse ears. The Cardinals didn’t take his taunts and reactions too kindly, and their ace Adam Wainwright had accused him of being childish and a clown. For once, in this series, Gonzalez took a pitcher deep into the right-field bleachers.

He stepped into the batter’s box, swung his bat and swatted a home run that soared high into the sky and landed in the seats. He crossed home plate in the third inning, and with his teammates waiting at the dugout to congratulate him, Gonzalez put his hands on the side of his head, reacting to a whiny Wainwright who earlier in the series complained about Gonzalez’s actions at third base.

The celebratory gestures of him flashing the ears clearly provoked Wainwright and the Cardinals to respond to the silliness. On an afternoon when the Dodgers had to win to stave off elimination, they defeated the Cardinals 6-4 at Dodger Stadium. Gonzalez is such a good guy to the Dodgers organization, for helping his team force a Game 6 in St. Louis and keeping their postseason hopes alive for another night.

The crowd at the ballpark was in pandemonium and his teammates were screaming at him, then congratulated and exchanged high fives with him when he made it back to the dugout. He genuinely knows he’s the hero in Game 5 of the NLCS, and he’s having a blast in the postseason, still capable of hitting the ball a very long distance. Gonzalez plays the game with passion and high emotions. The effort to get into the Cardinals’ heads and use a mental approach that could be crucial for winning a series can largely have an effect on the trajectory of a team’s ability to function with competence.

It was certainly a middle finger and a taunt of the Cardinals, who had previously said that Gonzalez “Mickey Moused” them.

You’ve got Mickey Moused!

It’s as simple as that.

It’s not what he’s done to upset the Cardinals. It’s what he’s done at this point on the field to help the Dodgers stay alive. This is, however, the silliest thing you’ve likely ever seen from a player when there’s been heated exchanges in dugouts, benches-clearing brawls, fights in clubhouses, post game tirades and managers arguing calls and getting tossed for their temper tantrums.

More importantly, Gonzalez has energized his teammates and been the emotional team leader. He’s been out of character of late, but it doesn’t matter as long as he can deliver game-changing hits on one swing of the bat in the crucial moments of a postseason game. It’s not just that he’s shown the mojo to emerge as the premier offensive player in the Dodgers lineup. It’s that he’s behaving like a Disney character, and it has turned goofy here in Los Angeles, mainly because of Gonzalez’s mimicking and gestures to opponents.

On Wednesday afternoon, Gonzalez knew he had ruffled the Cardinals feathers with his clowning that was explicitly aimed at Wainwright and St. Louis. This is a punch in the gut to the Cardinals, the moment when Gonzalez had the finest game of his postseason career. He flashed the ears for fun, and backed it up with a pair of home runs and a key defensive play of the game from first base. This postseason, his voice has been the loudest in the clubhouse, filled with readiness and emotion. It shows how Gonzalez has stepped up as the clubhouse leader, as he is the Dodgers inspiration.

The game ended as it should have ended. The Dodgers won with a chance to stun the world and possibly capture a pennant, but the odds are against them as they have never recovered after trailing 3-1 six times in a game-seven series. They were, well, fortunate that Gonzalez, who is now the Dodgers NLCS leading hitter, finished 3-for-4 with two solo blasts this afternoon. It was, by all means, Gonzalez’s best performance of the postseason, and that comes at a time when the Dodgers had to avoid elimination.

Shortly after Zack Greinke escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, Gonzalez delivered a leadoff single in a two-run second inning. If all of that wasn’t good enough, he broke a 2-2 tie with his third-inning home run. The solo shot was launched into the right-field pavilion, and he had shown no desire to stop crushing balls deep over the fence at the stadium, belting a second home run of the afternoon.

It’s looking more and more like the Dodgers are putting together some good at-bats. In addition to the damage done by Gonzalez, Carl Crawford connected for a towering home run — his fourth of the postseason. On a warm day in Los Angeles, A.J. Ellis drove one over the fence as well, giving the Dodgers more than enough runs for the bullpen to work with in the late innings as closer Kenley Jansen was rocked a bit in the ninth inning and nearly blew the save.

After homering again in the eighth, Gonzalez wasn’t rubbing it in and simply rounded the bases without celebrating and making a scene. When he walked back to the dugout, calmly and nonchalantly, he wasn’t giving anyone the Mickey Mouse ears. Look more closely, however, and you will see that Gonzalez has a .311 career postseason average. What’s more impressive is that he’s producing, so it doesn’t really matter if he’s taunting the Cardinals, as long as he’s getting it done.

It’s been a long time since he’s last played in the postseason. In 2006, Gonzalez batted .357 but his San Diego Padres lost to the Cardinals 3-1 in the series. This is the deepest he’s ever gone in the postseason, and he’s enjoying every second. He truly is having a lot of fun, and for at least one more night, he can have a good time before all the fun comes to an end.

Gonzalez is the happiest guy on earth.

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