Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.

01 June 2006

The Art of Heckling

With summer getting into full swing, baseball takes over as a top priority in my life. Sure I'm getting married to a wonderful woman in a few weeks, but its all about baseball now. My beloved NY Mets (or scumbags depending on how the game is going) are in first place despite having more injuries that Steve Howe had trips to the Betty Ford Clinic. The local Triple AAA team is contending for first place and going to the yard is always a pleasure. I've hit up about 7 games or so this year if not a couple more. Good friends, good times, expensive beer. Nothing beats the ballpark!

A staple of any sporting event (especially in baseball) are the handful of Hecklers that you can usually find in the yard. I am proud to consider myself one of them. Nothing fires me up more than raring back and firing off a fulminating attack on an unsuspecting player (or team mascot) while my fiancée slumps in her seat or attempts to stifle my boisterous creativity.
Believe it or not, there is an art to heckling. If you are going to heckle, you have to do it in an manner that doesn't annoy those sitting in your area. You cannot fire off round after round of the same ole weak smack that was being said by your great grand-pappy around the turn of the century…the 20th century that is. You have to bring a uniqueness too it. You have to be able to make those around you laugh and get into the heckling as well. Maybe even getting them to partake in hurling comments right along side you (this works in your favor should you strike a nerve with a player as you can casually point out your new heckling brethren as the one who crossed the line).

My personal approach to heckling is to attack the home town players that pretty much suck…or always seem to do shitty when I'm at the game. This tradition started a couple years ago with a former Rochester Red Wing named Michael Restovich. Back then he was a fairly decent slugger for the Wings. Lead the team in round trippers, but every time I saw him play, he struck out, grounded out, or popped out. I saw him hit just one home run, but the bases were empty. Because of his futility, I dubbed him Rally Killer Restovich. Here is a picture of the Rally Killer getting props from a teammate for grounding out instead of yet another whiff.

The Rally Killer is no longer with the Red Wings, however last year his replacement developed. Wings third basemen Terry Tiffee. Like the last name isn't enough to make you want to pile on him, but his ability to come up big and strikeout or end the inning in the middle of any Red Wing rally quickly positioned him a top my list of players to pile on. Add to this his shoddy defense and we have a complete player…to heckle. I mean hell, management should issue flak jackets and police riot shields to all fans sitting behind First Base when Tiffee is playing Third. I've seen a Russian Rocket with a busted guidance system be more accurate than Tif-man's throws to first. Earlier this year I was all over Tiffee while he was having a particularly rough game. I was in the first row behind home plate and he was hearing me. To his credit, he was seen laughing a few times. Unfortunately the next game I attended, Tiffee busted out like a bad case of Herpes. Dude had 3 hits including a homer. A few R.B.I.s and actually played good defense. A sad night indeed. However, when one player goes down, another player always steps in. In this case, it was Wings First Base-windmill Garrett Jones! He is the Wings preeminent power hitter. I mean he did lead the Twins Farm System last year with a whopping 22 home runs. 22? Are you serious? Mix in a trip to Balco. Throw on some cream and clear then claim you had no idea what it was and get us a few extra bombs. Maybe Tiffee can slam your ass with an injection of beefriods to help you out. I would never advocate the use of steroids and I hate what they have done to the greatest game on earth, but something has to help the big K here. Maybe I'm going about it in the wrong way. Maybe he needs some lasic surgery. Perhaps a pair of Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn glasses would help out his cause. Either way this guy sucks more than a Llyle ave prostitute…so I've heard anyway. Enjoy the grills of Tiffee and G-Jones so the next time you hit up a Red Wings Game, you will know who to heckle…



My favorite home town target is the Mascot - Spikes. I mean take a look at this guy...

While I admit it’s a fairly cool looking Mascot costume…look hard and tell me this guy isn't being put on he field for the sole purpose to entertain the little kids…and to get cracked on. A couple years ago during a double header with the Norfolk Tides, I'd been swilling beers with my good friends Scott "Kurt Warner" Norris and Mark "Doesn't get Laid" Tichneor when during the second games 7th inning stretch I started cracking on Spikes as he did some shit on top of the dugout right in front of us. Through glazed over eyes, he comes up to me and puts out his hand. I go to give him 5 and the bastard pulls his had away. First off, did he just diss me like that? What is this, 4th grade playground disses? And 2.) I can’t believe I fell for it. At that point, I proceeded to call him a "mother fu". That’s right sports fans, I checked my swing. According to Mark I didn't and I indeed called him a "mother fucker". One of the greatest moments I've had at a ballpark. From that night on, Spikes is always in my crosshairs. Earlier this year during a Norfolk Tides Series, I endeared myself to him by telling him that the Norfolk Mascot was a lot better than he was. Spikes now remembers me no matter what game I'm at. Credit to the clown in the costume though, he rolls with it nicely.

I called this guy a "Mother Fucker" … allegedly.

You might ask yourself why do I make fun of the Hometown players? Well, because I like too. And a lot more times than not, fellow spectators respond favorably to my heckling. Why? Because its based on truth. If Garrett Jones sucks, and I call him out, its true. If I do it creatively, then it gets a good reaction that usually leads to others piling on him as well. I never heckle the players that are doing well. Like I said, even when Tiffee stopped sucking for a game, I laid off of him.

I do jump on opposing teams and players as well. For no apparent reason I spent the better part of a game or two lambasting the Norfolk Tides 3rd base coach a couple years back. His crime? Standing there I guess. Perhaps my favorite target is Eli Whiteside of the Ottawa Lynx. Last year was the first year me and my buddy Mark saw him play. What makes him a target you might ask? Well, it’s the grey curly mud flap he had hanging out of his helmet that did it for us. Dude makes a 1986 Gary Carter look like a bald Michael Jordan. Dude would give Mike Brady (R.I.P.) wet dreams with the perm hanging out on the back of his neck. Hell, even Barry Melrose admired this guy's Tennessee Top Hat. That was all we needed to be locked into this guy. Mark, Brenna and I saw him play this year and it was even better. Sitting close again, Mark and I were sure to let him know what we thought of that Mullet! Again Brenna tried to stifle my commentary but I cannot be held down!

Here is my boy Eli signing autographs. His top hat is relatively tame here, but imagine this badboy in the heat and humidity of summer after playing a few innings! Hey Now!

My Heckling experiences are not relegated to just minor league parks. However, when taking your game to the big show, you have to be very careful on how you go about things. You're in the Major's now, so you have to step it up. Even the best Minor League Smack might not be passable at Yankee Stadium, PNC Park, Dodger Stadium, Busch Stadium or Shea Stadium. If you're gonna bring it to one of these parks, then you have to dust off your blue-ribbon smack.

I have gotten loose at a MLB game only 3 times. One in Detroit, and twice in Philadelphia - Home of some of the most notorious fans around. A few years back, I made the roadie to Philly where I met up with a fellow Mets Fan who made the roadie from Long Island. We had tickets for the Mets V. Phils game that night and the next day. After throwing down a 6 pack of Corona, we headed off to the Vet. Now, to set this up, this was around 2002 or 2003 (I forget), August and it was hot. It was also the time when the NY Mets "revamped" their World Series lineup with high priced veterans and proceeded to go in the toilet. Such winners and Mo Vaughn and Jeremy Burnitz polluted the roster and the field with their "talent". Me and my buddy don the Mets gear and head off to the park. Philly fan is already on us, wishing us dead and other cheerful backhanded compliments. Having a few beers in us already, and the 24 ouncers going down extremely fast we soon turned our attention to how bad the Mets were sucking. A well placed error and futility at the plate (and copious amounts of beer) had us turning on our favorite team. The first target was Mo Vaughn. Me and my buddy were all over this guy and we erupted when Big Mo got a single and made the turn to second base and promptly wiped out. I know the U.S. Geological Survey was startled as their machines started going haywire registering his fat ass leaving an impact crater in the baseline a quarter of the way to second. This smack talk endeared us to Philly Fan. The same fans who have booed Mike Schmidt, Santa Clause, and cheered when Michael Ervin lied motionless on the field after a neck injury. One Philly fan expressed concern about the quantity of beer we were consuming and if we were driving. Luckily the hotel was only a half mile away or so, so we walked there. As the game dragged on, Lee and I moved from our close seats near first base to some empty seats along the right field like where we proceeded to ruin Jeremy "The Human Windmill" Burnitz's night. As it was late in the game, there were not too many fans left, so this heckling was for our pure amusement. After the game, we walked back to the hotel where Lee proceeded to ask Apu behind the desk where "all the sluts were". The guy gave us a street name and we hailed a cab and were off. Met some cool people, ended up in a black club chillin…until it was raided and we had to sneak errrrrr stagger out. We were both in bad shape, especially me, but that’s another story.

The following day, Lee had to head back to L.I. but I was going to stay and check out that days game. After something to eat, he dropped me off at the Vet and was on his way. I'm hung over like Billy Martin after an extra inning game, its in the high 90's and humid, and I'm sporting my heavy "authentic" Roberto Alomar Jersey. I scalp an extra ticket for more beer money and enter the stadium. I'm sitting in the very first row, dead center field. Its fucking hot. The sun is beating down on my drunk ass, and I can't even enjoy the game, much less the beers I am trying to throw down. It was so bad that I even went and dropped 8 bones for 2 20 oz. bottles of Dasani Water. Once I got a little hydrated it was on. The Mets were sucking as usual, and I was starting to feel it. Mo Vaughn is out of ear shot, and the Center Fielder who was right there was playing fairly well and was very fan friendly to the punk ass Philly kids, so I gave him a pass. However over in right field was Jeremy Burnitz. Dude was working on the Golden Sombrero for strikeouts and I just couldn't take it. When the Mets took the field in the 4th inning or so, I headed over to right field where I proceeded to lambaste The Windmill. There were plenty of seats available, so I wasn't putting anyone out. Every inning I did this. By about the 7th or 8th, one Philly Fan finally got pissed and started yelling "Why the fuck is he coming over here?" Other Philly Fan told him to shut up and watch. Once again I lit Burnitz up and the best reactions had were when he would turn around and see that a Mets Fan was killing him. I had earned Philly Fan's respect. One bought me a beer and they told me to stay in their area. I brought my a-game that day and made a few new friends in the heckling process.

My other big league experience in heckling happened in Detroit's beautiful new Comerica Park. My buddy Scott and I made the roadie to D-Town for a Jim Rome Tour Stop, but the night before, we met up with another guy and took in a Tigers V. Royals Game. This was the year that the Tigers were pushing to break the '62 Mets record for fewest wins in a season. Being a Mets fan, I was all for getting the Mets off the snide. I threw on the Mets Jersey and off to Comerica we go. I do have to say, that this was my most enjoyable MLB game ever. Sitting very close to the field in-between Home and First. For the first few innings (and once again, the 32 oz. beers were flowing like Niagara Falls), I was all over the Tigers cheering for the Royals and rooting for the Tigers to continue to lose all season long to get my beloved Mets off the snide as having the worst single season record in baseball. The more I heckled, the more the people around us started laughing. They started giving me crap back and it turned into the best time I've ever had at a ball park. There were probably 30 people over 3 rows all interacting with each other, buying beers, laughing, having a great time. Detroit will always get props from me just based on this one time.

Remember, if you're going to heckle, the key is not to be an asshole in doing so. That’s usually a challenge for most people. Especially when its college night/day at the ballpark. Pick your moments/victims. Get your friends involved and if you're good, you'll get other people involved as well. And always remember….the easiest target is the mascot. It’s a good place to start and hone your heckle delivery. And even if you suck, you're still at the ballpark. Grab a dog, a beer and enjoy!

Brenna playing grabass with Spikes.


  • At 5:58 PM, Blogger Mark said…

    This needs to go on A.net. I envision a thread titled 'The art of heckling'


Post a Comment

<< Home