NEW YORK -- New York Yankees third baseman Eric Chavez criticized the Oakland Athletics for excessive celebration after they hit three home runs in the top of the 13th inning of Saturday's game, but the A's felt that they were well within their rights to do so.
"Listen, we've got 17 rookies in here, you know?" said A's outfielder/designated hitter Jonny Gomes, who belted one of the three 13th-inning homers in Oakland's 10-9, 14-inning loss at Yankee Stadium. "I mean, these guys are playing the game to have fun, you know? These guys aren't playing the game to go to arbitration. These guys aren't playing the game for free agency. They're playing the game for fun, you know? And when you take fun out of the game, you're going to have 17 rookies crumble."
Chavez told the New York Post that Oakland's "orchestrated clapping, cheering celebration" was "high schoolish" and "pretty unprofessional."
"That's his business if he wants to come out and say things like that," A's catcher Derek Norris told ESPNNewYork.com. "We're going to play our game, and if nobody likes it, it just gives everybody another reason to hate us. It seems to be a common theme with us."
A's manager Bob Melvin also defended his young team (85-66), which entered Sunday's game against the Yankees right behind the Baltimore Orioles (87-66) in the American League wild-card standings and would be in the playoffs if the season ended Sunday.
"We play the game hard and respect it out on the field," Melvin said. "We play the game the right way on the field, definitely. If you try to keep things loose in the dugout, there's nothing wrong with that."
According to ESPN.com, the Yankees have the highest payroll in the majors (nearly $196 million), while the A's have the lowest ($49.1 million). Chavez, 34, played with Oakland from 1998-2010.
"We're just a bunch of dirtbag players and we just go out and play hard and it's not flashy by any means," Norris said. "Our team isn't flashy, we don't have guys that have 100 RBIs. We don't have guys that have 20 wins. We don't have guys that are batting .300 with 30 homers.
"There's nothing special about our team other than the fact that we play hard and we just grind it out. And maybe that's why people don't like us because we don't have anything special. And when we do do things special, I think it pisses people off. It's good to have a chip on our shoulder, too."
Gomes said the A's aren't the only team that likes to celebrate after they hit homers.
"I mean you see what the Cardinals do when they hit a home run?" Gomes said. "When a Cardinal hits a home run, the whole team stands in a single-file line, and whoever hits it goes like this (slaps fives) all the way down. It's the Cardinals. That's one of the oldest organizations in baseball, ran by one of the most professional guys in baseball."
Mike Mazzeo is a frequent contributor for ESPNNewYork.com.