MLB: The Tampa Bay Heckler

I don’t know if you’ve had the misfortune to watch a game in Tampa Bay to see this guy’s act. There’s a guy that sits behind home plate at Tropicana, picks out one player from the opposing team, and heckles him non-stop during each of his at-bats. This goes beyond your simple heckling - for one you can hear a pin drop in that place, and for two he’s got an extremely loud auctioneer’s-type voice. I’m not kidding - you can hear him on the TV broadcasts as plain as day - it sounds like someone has a megaphone. I can’t imagine what it would be like sitting near this guy, (and I’m a little amazed that the Oakland broadcast gave him so much airtime rather than ignored him like guys running onto the field, but I digress).

The Devil Rays certainly allow him to behave this way - they even encourage it. My question is: can one fan being extemely noisy be considered fan interference? The thing about this guy is that he doesn’t swear and his comments display a certain knowledge of the game, but still…

Can I sit behind home plate with an airhorn and blow it constantly throughout an AB? Can I have a megaphone and shout things through it to the batter’s box? Can I play loud distracting music on a giant jambox?

Baseball hecklers are part of the game really, they always have been. I guess it’s just a matter of how extreme you can be. I would think if the guy had more than one person sitting near him complain to security, they would probably toss him out of the stadium (after a verbal warning). If the guy uses profane language, that’s probably another ticket to the gate. If he appears to be drunk, he’s outta there.

I remember going to hockey games in Chicago where the whole stadium would chant obscene language directed at either an opposing player or referee. So, it probably all just depends on your local customs. If you stand up during play at a hockey game in Calgary, you’re history.

While the game is going on, the umpire can direct security to remove any spectator for the game just about any reason he sees fit.

You can be heaved out of the stadium for basically ANY reason. The distinction between the Tampa Bay Heckler (who says the things about Eric Hinske that all Blue Jay fans think anyway) and a megaphone is that, well, you can’t really kick people out for heckling because that’s an impossible line to clearly draw. (That and it would be terrible PR.) No MLB team would ever let you use a megaphone. Security would be on you in a second.

Heckling has always traditionally been considered a hands-off issue, assuming fans aren’t overly profane or threatening or something.

Going from first hand experience, this man speaks the truth.

Stupid rain delay, stupid abundance of beer… :o

Where would that Real Men of Genius comercial for Bud Light on “Sports Heckler Guy” be with out them? Gotta love those spots.

I remember Jose Canseco once convinced the umpires to have a heckler removed from the stadium. He was much ridiculed for it at the time, though. (The heckler was yelling “where’s Madonna?”.)

Different sport, but same heckling theory, you will find the great (well, not so much great as well known) Robin Ficker, long time fan and heckler located at Washington Bullets/Wizards games.

ESPN article mentioning some of his and others techniques.

This article mentions how the NBA created a special rule in response to his heckling. Prior to this there was no official rule or guideline so fans coule get away with a bit more than they can now.

Crikey, yes – I know of whom you speak. He usually chooses to attack Johnny Damon when the Red Sox play there. Last match I saw, he said that he was planning to attend a Fenway match when Tampa Bay play Boston this season, and bring his ‘show on the road’ as it were, and, yes, heckle some chosen Boston player. He seemed to think that he would be found rather endearing by the Boston crowd. Out of curiosity, did he make good on this?

The Red Sox’ tv crew actually interviewed him, and also gave him a lot of screentime; he looks a heck of a lot like Kevin Spacey.

Nothing wrong with heckling as long as it stays in bounds of what others have already posted. I think heckling can weed out the chaff as it can show which athlete can stay focused.

I think heckling should be brought into other sports like golf and tennis too. I watched the men’s tennis finals at the olympics and the ump was constantly asking for the crowd to be quiet :rolleyes:

They are at a sporting event and the athlete should be able to maintain his focus while someone is cheering or having their cell ring (Tiger Woods LOL).

Cricket has “Sledging” - it’s not the crowd but the other players doing the heckling tho’ (comes of letting those damn’ colonials play the game :slight_smile: )

Bwhaa, that guy listened tooo much. I once caused him (As vs Rangers) to turn around, drop his jaw in astonishment and start laughing. He was an easy mark because of all his laughable off the field behavior.

In that case I’m surprised they haven’t intervened. Aren’t the umpires supposed to be neutral? I don’t understand why they’d allow him to continue. Again, if you haven’t seen / heard this guy it’s difficult to understand just how loud he is. He’s louder than any heckler I’ve ever seen.

I think the Devil Rays are glad just to be able to sell this guy a ticket every game. I can’t say I see a lot of Tampa games on TV so I’ve never heard him. The guy I really thought would be a pain to sit near was the Cleveland Indians’ drum beater. Boom-boom-boom would drive me batty after the first inning.

The umpires usually won’t ask for a fan to be removed unless s/he is heckling the umpires.

If the man was using a lot of profanity, he would probably ejected, but the Devil Rays people would do it first.

There’s a story I heard about a heckler at Blue Jays games who decided to ride Kelly Gruber (why he would heckle someone on his home team, I don’t know). He had seats right near 3rd base, and his heckling consisted solely of “Hey Gruber, you suck!”. Inning after inning, game after game, he would shout this out. Eventually his heckling began to take effect, and Gruber’s performance began to suffer. One day, he decided to confront the guy and asked him “why do you yell that all the time, what have you got against me?” The guy replied “I don’t have anything against you… I just think you suck.” :smiley:

I say we weed out airhorns and Thunderstix before we go after a guy who can holler.

That said, heckling has its place, but once in a while, you have some putz who just won’t shut up. We came hear to see the game, not to hear your essay on the right fielder’s suckitude.

Fan contorl is different in every park. I’m ashamed to say that Oakland’s left field bleacher bums (with drums, choreographed flag-waving, and other fun stuff) would not be welcome across the Bay. I was an usher out there a few times, and was under strict orders to make sure they didn’t get out of hand (code word for “have any fun or make any noise whatsoever”). :rolleyes: TB’s guy would be shitcanned if were here.

No way… It just wouldn’t be a Tribe game without John Addams. And he doesn’t do it all the time (typically not at all in the first few innings), just when the game is at a particularly emotional height.

I actually met Ficker once at the HFStival (a big festival concert). Ficker was running for the nomination for Senator, I think and he was pressing the flesh. I actually had a nice chat with him. Very personable for a complete whack-job.

Did you tell him one of your poop stories, lieu?