The visual prompted retired third baseman and “Talkin’ Baseball” co-host Trevor Plouffe, a former teammate of Dozier’s with the Minnesota Twins, to remark that Dozier’s improvisation was the “most Mississippi thing” he had ever heard.
“I wish I had video,” Dozier replied. “I had my shirt off, my dad bod going, everything.”
Dozier with his shirt off, huh? You don’t say.
Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Dozier’s role as the shirtless, booze-soaked leader of the Nationals’ postgame clubhouse celebrations en route to last year’s World Series title seems like eons ago. The ritual, Dozier explained, began long before the playoffs, when the Nationals had one of the worst records in baseball two months into the season.
“What made us so unique was we were the oldest team in baseball, by far — a bunch of veterans, guys that’d been in the trenches, guys that’d done well,” Dozier said. “Nothing ever fazed us. The whole month of April and May, every interview was like, ‘Why are you guys still dancing in the clubhouse and having fun?’ And we’re like, ‘Nothing really fazes us. It’ll turn around.’ In late May, I started doing this thing after every win that involved my shirt off. (A lot more than my shirt, but it involved my shirt off.) I was doing it for the boys. It became a thing after every win, and we started running off a bunch of wins in a row, so I had to keep doing it, right? It became a thing where I kept adding more things to it.”
Dozier didn’t reveal what those “things” were, but after the Nationals clinched a playoff spot in late September, he did his shirtless routine in the clubhouse before the media arrived.
“When they came in, I still had my shirt off,” Dozier said. “Everything else had been put back on, per se. I was about to put my shirt back on, and all the guys, I remember [Max] Scherzer, was like: ‘Leave it off! Let’s go!’ I was like, all right. I left it off, and sure enough, after we kept winning in the playoffs, I had to keep the shirt off, so it became a thing.”
Dozier took his shirt off again toward the end of the Nationals’ World Series parade despite his wife Renee’s protestations.
“The parade started at noon, and we started drinking at 8, so only good things would happen,” Dozier said. “… When we get on the stage, all the wives are in the front. [My wife said], ‘Whatever you do onstage, do not take [your shirt] off.’ We get up there, and freakin’ Aníbal Sánchez, in front of everybody, is like: ‘Take it off. Now!' I look at my wife, and she gives me the stare, and I said, ‘I got to give the boys what they want, babe.’ ”
Reflecting on all of the various antics that went on in the Nationals’ dugout and clubhouse last season, from home run dance parties and “Baby Shark” to group hugs for Stephen Strasburg and lucky sunglasses, Dozier said, “Everyone kind of had their own thing, but it was everybody’s thing."
Dozier also raved about Juan Soto, including the 21-year-old’s power to all fields, saying Soto has “the most oppo juice” of anyone he has seen in his big league career. He reminisced about his first major league pitching appearance, in mop-up duty of the Nationals’ 18-7 loss to the Diamondbacks in August. Dozier said he wants to frame a photo of his pitch to Arizona’s Eduardo Escobar, one of his best friends in baseball, which resulted in a mammoth home run.
“I’m laughing, and he’s got a smile on his face as the ball’s coming, and Kurt Suzuki, who was our teammate in Minnesota, is laughing through his mask,” Dozier said. “And he hits a freakin’ 400-foot homer off me. … [Escobar’s wife] was cooking for me, arepas that night. We go over to his house, and every five minutes, he was like: ‘Thank you, my brother, I needed a home run right there. Thank you.’ ”
Dozier, who has since procured a pair of dumbbells for his lifting sessions, is preparing for the 2020 season as if it’s going to resume soon, but he admits “it’s not looking good.”
“A part of me says we don’t play baseball this year, and the other part says there’s going to be just something at the very end, with like a month of baseball, three doubleheaders a week, expanded rosters, trying to get in as much as possible, and then have a shortened playoff or a longer playoff, something condensed within a month, if it even happens,” Dozier said.
If it does, it will be reason to take his shirt off.
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