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BRAD LOCKE: Heckling: Be clever, be right or just shut up

4/20/2006 9:24:47 AM
Daily Journal

I'm going to don my prep editor hat for a moment, because there is an issue that must be addressed immediately.


Yes, you, the high school sports fan. Well, not every one of you, just the ones who won't shut up for two seconds about the officiating. I usually sit among the paying customers at baseball and basketball games, and here is a sampling of the lame commentary I've heard directed toward umpires and referees:

- "You're missing a good game, blue!"

- "We can't win playing five on seven!"

- "Go back to Foot Locker, ref!"

- "Call it both ways!"

Listening to these worn-out taunts over and over makes the experience of covering a high school game much less enjoyable. The one that really gets me is the "Call it both ways!" I heard someone yell that at a recent basketball game; I glanced at the scoreboard and saw the teams were dead even on fouls.

I understand that fans, many of whom are parents of the athletes, find it hard to be objective about officiating. But it's not hard to be fair and be honest with oneself about the accuracy of an official's call.

I know refs and umps aren't perfect, but most of them are a whole lot better than you.

When you do have a legitimate complaint, I have no problem with ragging the officials. It's part of the game. But at least be creative.

I came across a Web site,, that urges more creative heckling. Some samples:

- "Hey, ump, is this your cell phone? Because it has three missed calls!"

- "Flip over the plate and read the directions!"

- "Whatever they're paying you, I can match it!"

One of the best I've heard about was directed at late major league ump Bill McKinley: "They shot the wrong McKinley!"

Here are some of my personal favorites (I expect royalties if you use them):

- "He was traveling! Didn't you see his luggage?"

- "Hey, ump, I've seen better eyes on a potato!"

- "Hey, ref, can I borrow your whistle, since you're not using it!"

OK, they're not great, but at least they're original. And if you can't be original, then be quiet.

- What they're saying: "Musial was the man; Pujols es El Hombre." - Bernie Miklasz, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, after Albert Pujols' three-homer game Sunday.

- Driven to the cross: A church in Bradenton, Fla., revved up its Easter service by making one of Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s old race cars available for viewing and photographs.

According to the Tampa Tribune, Bayside Community Church pastor Randy Bezet titled his sermon "Finishing the race of life." I just hope he didn't give some cheesy metaphor, like, "Let Jesus be your HANS device!"

Quick hitters

- Nobody seems to know where Vince Young will go in the NFL Draft. Not surprising, considering even USC's defense couldn't figure out which direction he was headed.

- I haven't seen that "Bonds on Bonds" show on ESPN, but I'm guessing it's like giving a politician his own program. You know you're getting half-truths at best.

- The NBA playoffs have snuck up on me. Hopefully, they'll sneak right on past me.

Brad Locke ( welcomes creative heckling of his column.


Appeared originally in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, 4/20/2006 8:00:00 AM, section C , page 2

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