LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is enjoying himself.
It's about time.
He's typically one of those so-called "blue collar" types.
He shows up at the ballpark every day, focuses on that day's routine, and rarely, at least in public view, shows emotion -- happy or sad.
Now look at him.
In the postseason for the second time in his career, he's letting his emotions flow.
It's bugging the St. Louis Cardinals, but Gonzalez doesn't seem concerned.
After the Dodgers pulled out a 3-0 victory in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Monday night, Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright complained of Gonzalez's "Mickey Mouse" actions when he went into second base on a fourth-inning double, having driven in the game's first run, and moments before he was to score the second run on a Yasiel Puig triple.
"We are in L.A., so Mickey Mouse stuff does go," Gonzalez said. "Mickey Mouse is only an hour away. So you know, it fits us. I did what I always do."
And he did some more on Wednesday, helping the Dodgers avoid elimination with a 6-4 victory in Game 5 that sent the NLCS back to St. Louis for its conclusion this weekend. He didn't merely single to ignite a two-run second, deliver a go-ahead home run with two out in the third after the Cardinals had tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the inning, and add an eighth-inning home run, just the 10th multihomer postseason game ever for a Dodgers player.
He tweaked the Cardinals a bit, too. As he crossed home plate following that third-inning home run, and neared the Dodgers' dugout, he put his hands up on each side of his head and wiggled his fingers in a Mickey Mouse ears-type action.
"I was just having fun with the comment that was made earlier," said Gonzalez. "Nothing against them or anything."
|Adrian Gonzalez||Cardinals||10/15/2013||NLCS 5||2|
|Carl Crawford||Braves||10/7/2013||NLDS 4||2|
|Shawn Green||Cardinals||10/9/2004||NLDS 3||2|
|Eric Karros||Reds||10/4/1995||NLDS 2||2|
|Davey Lopes||Yankees||10/10/1978||WS 1||2|
|Steve Garvey||Phillies||10/4/1978||NLCS 1||2|
|Steve Garvey||Pirates||10/9/1974||NLCS 4||2|
|Charlie Neal||White Sox||10/2/1959||WS 2||2|
|Duke Snider||Yankees||10/2/1955||WS 5||2|
|Duke Snider||Yankees||10/6/1952||WS 6||2|
He certainly has done his best to make the Cardinals squirm. After St. Louis won the first two games of the NLCS, Gonzalez was the offensive catalyst for the Dodgers, making sure there wasn't going to be a sweep with that win on Monday. And then, with the Cardinals looking for a win that would give them an NL pennant, Gonzalez was back out there making their life miserable with his efforts on Wednesday.
And he is enjoying every bit of it.
"You're in the playoffs," he said. "You've got to have fun. ... I mean, if you can't have fun out there in these situations, then you shouldn't be out there."
Gonzalez is a key reason the Dodgers are where they are. While manager Don Mattingly has been piecing together an injury-riddled lineup since the regular season started. Gonzalez has been the one constant. He led the team by playing in 157 games. Andre Ethier (142) is the only other Dodger who even played in 135 games. He led the Dodgers with 641 plate appearances.
Gonzalez led the Dodgers with 22 home runs and 100 RBIs, and his .293 batting average was the only average above .280 among Dodgers who qualified for the NL batting title.
He, however, did it mainly without fanfare and visible emotion.
"Adrian's been doing what he is doing all year long," said Mattingly. "He's always been that guy. He does it a lot differently than most guys. He doesn't play-around that much. He's more serious."
Then the calendar turned to October.
"It's seem he has kind of stepped up [personality-wise]," said Mattingly. "Maybe the fact that Hanley [Ramirez] has not been able to do what he's been going in the past, Adrian maybe feels that responsibility.
"I think maybe it's the time of the year. He's getting more attention for it."
And rest assured, Gonzalez has a better appreciation or October this time than he did in 2006.
That's the only other time he was part of the postseason. Gonzalez and the San Diego Padres were eliminated by St. Louis in the NL Division Series. It was Gonzalez's first full big league season. Little did he know he wouldn't be back until his eighth full year in the Majors.
"We're in the League Championship Series -- just trying to have fun, enjoy it and not force anything," he said. "When I'm at the plate, obviously I'm serious. I'm trying to execute my game plan, but other than that, I'm just having fun."
Too much fun for the Cardinals, which Gonzalez is aware of.
He's not apologizing for anything.
His goal is to help the Dodgers beat St. Louis.
But if the Cardinals find the fun and games about Mickey Mouse to be a bit too much, Gonzalez is willing to hang them up.
"I'm going to retire them so they're not talk about once again," he said. "I don't need it to get out of hand because it shouldn't be. It was just for fun."
Just like the whole postseason has been fun for Gonzalez this time around.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.