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McAllister: This site takes offense, and gives it right back


Michael Tolley wasn’t surprised that Alex Rodriguez was showered with boos and fake money two months ago in his return to Safeco Field. And he fully expects Seattle fans to continue giving A-Rod the same treatment at next month’s All-Star Game.

“I think Texas will win the prize this year for most heckled team,” Tolley said.

Consider that an expert opinion. As creator of the Baseball Heckle Depot (www.heckledepot.com ), Tolley greatly appreciates the razzing hometown fans give visiting teams. In fact, when Tolley, a Canadian, attends a ballgame with friends, he likes nothing more than sitting behind the visitors’ bullpen and scatter-bombing the opposing players with barbs.

Such was the case in a 1996 game at Toronto’s SkyDome. The Minnesota Twins were in town, and Michael began throwing verbal jabs at catcher Matt Walbeck and pitcher Greg Hansell. At one point, a friend yelled, “Hey, Hansell, where’s Gretel?”

Walbeck couldn’t leave that groaner alone. So he shot back that Tolley and his friends were the worst hecklers he had ever heard.

Tolley took Walbeck’s criticism to heart. Lacking a good resource for heckles, however, Tolley soon produced and launched his own reference Internet guide. His site now offers more than 850 different heckles, and site visitors still submit a dozen or so each day. But “there are not too many original ones out there we haven’t already catalogued,” Tolley said. “‘Hey, ump, if you had another eye, you’d be a Cyclops!’ has been submitted hundreds of times.”

A recent top-10 list included: “You couldn’t hit sand if you fell off a camel,” “Swing the bat yourself, batteries aren’t included” and “I’ve seen snakes with better hands.”

But the site isn’t simply a list of heckles. The home page includes a Patsy of the Day that is updated every time the page is loaded. A Heckling Hall of Fame showcases the most ardent hecklers. Directions on how to build an air horn are available. And users can send in their own heckling stories.

In addition, there are links to other heckling-related sites, including two college baseball sites: www.techhecklers.com (created by rowdy Texas Tech fans) and www.sectionb.com (a site that celebrates Florida State’s “Animals of Section B.”).

The Heckle Depot doesn’t receive a lot of traffic (about 500 visitors a day), but Tolley isn’t doing it for the money. He just wants to celebrate the art of heckling and give users a chance to share their new barbs.

Unfortunately, Tolley’s own heckling voice has been silenced. He relocated from Toronto to Ireland six months ago, which pretty much limits his opportunities to attend a baseball game. And even if he were back home, his zinger days are over – at least when he and his wife are in the stands.

“It embarrasses her to no end,” Tolley said, “and the truth is, unless I have some moral support, I’m not too loud.”

Just browsing …

NBA.com is offering a live cybercast of Wednesday’s NBA draft starting at 6 p.m. Meanwhile, NBCSports.com is offering visitors a chance to vote in a mock draft. …Wimbledon started this week, and the tournament’s official site, Wimbledon.org, is again offering plenty of real-time coverage. The site is updating every point as it happens, and a link to Radio Wimbledon is also available. … PGATour.com is offering live streaming video of the 15th hole Thursday and Friday at the Canon Greater Hartford Open. The hole is a 296-yard par-4 that should entice players to try driving the green. … Want to follow baseball’s return to Brooklyn? The Brooklyn Cyclones’ official Web site, BrooklynCyclones.com, offers live Webcasts of games. … ESPN.com‘s new outdoors section is offering fantasy fishing leagues. No word on if game players are having trouble deciding whether bass or catfish will put up better numbers this season. … The last vestiges of the defunct XFL are disappearing on the Web. After having a blowout sale on merchandise a couple of weeks ago, XFL.com is now forwarding visitors to the WWF e-shop link.
Mike McAllister, DallasNews.com assistant sports editor, writes about sports on the Internet for The News.