Sunday, July 15, 2007

Dr. Heckle amidst Rawhide

"Dear. Mr. Dork, Here's your ball, now please tell me what gas station you work at so I can come and yell at you when you're working. Please sit down, shut up and enjoy the game. From your favorite centre fielder, Vernon Wells."

I don't go to sporting events to heckle players. Heck, at these prices, I rarely go anymore. But heckling and bench jockeying has a long and viable tradition in sports. Somehow I know that thousands of years ago, prehistoric man shouted, "you can't hit the broad side of a bison with that."

Literally, the last time I went to a Red Sox game, some drunken fool next to me yelled, "hit 'im in the head", for three consecutive hours (crack Sox security removed him in the eighth inning). It was annoying, almost as annoying as people getting into and out of the row to buy beer every three minutes. Maybe if somebody around us yelled, "hit that drunk in the head" that would have been funnier. I dunno.

Heckling comes in different forms. The 'Aint's' fans took it to another level with the Bagheads. Elegant, sophisticated, subtle. Red Sox fans had blonde 'masks' to lampoon A-Rod after his night on the town with Boom-boom LaRue or whomever she was. Fans bringing brooms to the games to signify 'sweeping' a series just isn't original at this point.

Racial or ethnic slurs go way over the line. Intolerable, grounds for dismissal. Immediately.

Rhythmic chanting? The 'Da-ryl' chants directed at Daryl Strawberry always seemed lame to me.

Good heckling has an impact. A high school girl (star opposition player) came up to one of my twin daughters (whose teams lost six games in four years) before a game a few years ago and said, "this year we're getting the W's." One of the twins' teammates replied, "I didn't know that this was a coed league", which sent the girl wobbly and crying back to her bench. She later put up a zero-zero-zero night. That was effective trash talk.

In Seeing Red, the mean-spirited one himself, Dan Shaughnessy discusses Red Auerbach's techniques for working his players, officials, and opponents. Nobody would confuse the Redhead with a wallflower.

Peyton Manning's hopping around behind the line of scrimmage probably induces some comments from opposing front sevens. Maybe Manning finds that distracts them...or maybe that explains the Super Bowl winner's quick release, trying to avoid getting 'distracted' by them.

Hockey and soccer probably don't need trash-talking. Hockey players can just decide to drop the gloves or rarely take cheap shots with body or stick. Nothing like a good head butt to liven up a World Cup soccer game.

If you have to heckle, then try to be more creative than Yankee fans, notorious for throwing batteries. First, batteries can cause permanent injury. Second, throwing objects reveals YOU to be the idiot.

Let's have some sample some imagination.

"Hey, Jason, I've got a great discount growth hormone dealer."

"A-Rod, you got a corked bat in your pants or you happy to be in Toronto?"

Or maybe Mickey Mantle's advice to Roger Maris, "hit 'em with your wallet."

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