The New York Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillys to win their 27th World Series last week. But when they clinched their trip to the Series with a victory in the playoffs in October, the casual TV viewer might have wondered if they were about to go swim the 200-meter butterfly with Michael Phelps instead.
Call it a fashion statement for the very rich and very happy: There they were, stars like CC 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 when they defeated to L.A. Angels in October to win the American League pennant.
It's become a more familiar sight in the past few years in the locker rooms of 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 importantly, it suggests a broader problem, these fans say: Post-game celebrations have become too predictable, with all that unspontaneous champagne-pouring.
"I guess it was funny when they first poured champagne on somebody, but it's just too prepared, too scripted now," said Matt O'Donnell, a high school history teacher and baseball fan in Sebastopol, Calif. "The way they have the plastic tarps all laid out in the locker room, and they have the goggles already set up there."
O'Donnell, 39, is an ardent Boston Red Sox fan (his 4-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."
Patrick Stimson agrees. "Why can't they all just go into the clubhouse and celebrate naturally?" asked the 28-year-old Oakland A's fan. "What I like is spontaneous moments."
And while the goggles don't lessen any of his respect for the top players, he does see them as a sign that today's athletes may be getting a little softer.
"It just seems like something the older, more hardened players of yesterday wouldn't wear - not something you'd have seen on Babe Ruth or Pete Rose," said Stimson, who lives in Los Angeles and works in online marketing. "There's a notion that today's players are coddled, multi-gazillionaire athletes, and maybe this is an outgrowth of that."
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 said.
Talk to an eye doctor, though, and you'll be converted to the pro-goggle side with the speed of one of Sabathia's fastballs.
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. (For those medically inclined, the lining is called the epithelium.)
"A corneal abrasion like that usually heals within two to three days, but it can be extremely painful while it's healing," Gardiner said.
In other words, you don't want your ace pitcher or hitter nursing a corneal abrasion while taking on the next team.
For Jane Heller, the well-being of her treasured Yankees is the key concern - much more important than how silly they may or may not look in goggles.
What bothers Heller more is what the goggles might represent: "These quote-unquote celebrations have become so calculated and neat and tidy now," said Heller, a lifelong Yankee fan in Santa Barbara, Calif., who blogs about the Yankees on "Confessions of a She-Fan" and has written a book of the same name. "It used to be a spontaneous burst of enthusiasm. There was no plastic tarp covering everything."
Heller noted that the goggles are a relatively new phenomenon, something she first noticed in 2007.
"I noticed that one player, Doug Mientkiewicz, was wearing them during a celebration," she said.
At the National Baseball Hall of Fame's library, researcher Gabriel Schechter can't pinpoint when the first champagne goggles were donned, but he said it's only in recent years. (Champagne celebrations, on the other hand, have been around since the 1950s, when they took the place of beer.)
One important baseball fan doesn't know anything of the goggle tradition.
"Really?" asked W.P. Kinsella, whose novel, "Shoeless Joe," became the movie "Field of Dreams."
"It sounds so calculated," he said.