Is there such thing as Heckler Etiquette?
Dear Mr. Dork,
Here is your ball! Can you 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.
The above baseball will forever remain as one of the funniest stories in heckling history. For once, the hecklee became the heckler when Vernon Wells turned the tables on a fan a couple years ago in Cleveland.
It made for a great story, but often times players are not as good-natured and willing to take a ribbing as Vernon Wells was.
The Grill Room tweeted yesterday asking to hear about stories from fans who have had experiences at the Rogers Centre where they felt they might have been censored by Rogers Centre staff.
It’s a topic that’s been gaining momentum in recent weeks especially with the dip in attendance this year, and I recall hearing someone on Jays Talk last Monday mentioning how one of the ushers asked him to be quiet after heckling Daniel Bard in the Red Sox bullpen.
It begs the question – is there such thing as heckler etiquette?
Heckling has existed as long as fans have been in the stands, so what is deemed appropriate to yell at the ballpark, and what isn’t? Aside from the obvious no-no’s, what is deemed fair game?
In the situation of the Jays Talk caller above, I can see why the staff at the Rogers Centre would ask him to be quiet. The players in the bullpen are trying to get their head in the game, and it’s hard to get focused with somebody standing a few rows away bellowing your last name over and over again.
On that same token, I’m also sure the hitters in the batter’s box are expecting that same respect from the fans before they step up to the plate.
Take the video below as an example. Would you consider this fan’s actions out of line?
It’s one thing to be belligerent and have total disregard for the players and fellow fans around you. There are certain things that are intolerable at the ballpark, and I think we can all agree on what is and isn’t appropriate.
Personally, if this guy was sitting in my section, it would get old after about five minutes – but I wouldn’t have his ass hauled away just because he was yelling “focus” to Evan Longoria. After all, this heckler is trying to help the home team win, so he has the Blue Jays best interests at heart.
If in fact fans are in fact being removed from games for spouting off some good natured ribbing to opposing players, it seems like overkill to me. I don’t see why it’s an issue for them to speak their mind.
It’s the fans that are the ones who are contributing to the salaries of the players (albeit not the opposition’s salaries), but I think they have every right to be there and voice their opinion.
If the shoe were on the other foot though , I don’t think I’d take very well to Vernon Wells showing up to my place of work and heckling me while I tried to focus at work on Minesweeper and Brick Breaker.
And I think we just inadvertently created next year’s Blue Jays television commercials …