A Heckler's Guide to the Universe

by Alex Hodes | 5/1/08 12:32am

As Dartmouth baseball prepares to face Columbia this weekend with an Ivy League championship on the line, the excitement is palpable. Yet for some of us, there is work to be done. Yogi Berra once said, "Baseball is 90 percent mental, and the other half is physical." Despite his troubling arithmetic, Yogi's right. Baseball is mental, and that's where we come in.

Allow me to introduce you to the Loudmouth Brigade, Dartmouth baseball's "official" heckle squad. This group of gregarious young men and women roots on the baseball team with a passion. And then we ride the other team out of town. You see, a heckler has the ability to impact the mental capacity of opposing players, to enter their domes and make his presence known.

Every individual has a weak spot, it's just a matter of finding it. Girlfriend calls you bunny: so will we. You were cut after freshman year: thanks for coming. You're in the real estate club: we'll buy a timeshare ... that's right, you guessed it ... in your DOME. The list goes on, and on, and then some -- this is a PG-13 column, after all. To the brigade, nothing is sacred. Sure, we play by the rules. We don't swear or make bigoted remarks. That's bush and we'd be the first to tell you that.

Heckling is an art -- why, we barely ever even use names. Girlfriends' names, sure, but a player's number is all we need. At this point, you probably have one question. Here's the answer: Thank you, Facebook. But don't think we need internet enhancement to perform.

The opposition usually makes our job easy. Make an error: we'll let the pitcher know his infield hates him. Catchers takes off his mask: we'll kindly ask him to put it back on as there are kids in the stands. Coach makes the long trip to the mound: the infamous grass, grass, grass, grass, dirt, dirt, dirt, conference, conference, make out. You'd be surprised by how easy it is to get under someone's skin. Fact is, people are inherently insecure.

Okay, I know what you're thinking, but don't worry. We're not evil -- we just want to help the team win in any way we can. And as much as we heckle, we don't forget to cheer. We even create quasi-intimidating nicknames that tend not to stick. That's right, Lindsay, you're the only one pushing "Home Run" Jack Monahan '09, though Jeff "The Onslaught" Onstott '11 really is deserving of some love. Then again, I'm not one to criticize. I thought "The Human Vacuum" would catch for Damon Wright '08 based on his play in center. I suppose the catcalls of "Deezy" will have to suffice.

So now you want to heckle, don't you? Okay, well maybe you just want to watch me make a fool of myself while you watch Columbia get sent back to New York on a very long and miserable bus ride. Either way, there are a few basic rules you'll need to follow:

Rule One: Cheer first, heckle later. I don't think this one needs much explanation. Simple truth is that supporting the team is always more important than jeering the other guys.

Rule Two: Nothing is off-limits. If you have information, then someone was dumb enough to make it public. All's fair in love, war and heckling.

Rule Three: Don't heckle "Blue." Nothing is ever gained from heckling the umpires, so let's not tempt fate.

Rule Four: Keep the coach in his box. You'll see.

Rule Five: Don't get discouraged -- heckle like a champion. Never doubt the effectiveness of your heckling. Sure, you might annoy a few people in your general vicinity. You might even irk the opposing team's parents. But there's no such thing as too much heckling. Sooner or later, you'll break through. Then again, I believe that was Germany's strategy in World War I, and we know how that worked out.

Rule Six: When a fellow heckler makes a fool of himself, heckle him. I can't stress this enough. This keeps a heckler on his game.

Rule Seven: Follow the guidelines set forth by the sign in the stands. Dartmouth hates fun and has S&S primed and ready to remove an unruly heckler. Don't let that somone be you.

Rule Eight: When the pitcher flips you off, heckle harder. There's no place for mercy in heckling, not until the game's been won. When you smell blood, go for the kill.

Rule Nine: Be loud. You might not have anything useful to say, but if you're loud and annoying, that's all you need.

Rule Ten: Never leave a fellow heckler behind. From time to time, you're bound to upset the wrong people, but stick together and nothing bad can happen.

See you on Saturday, Columbia. I hope your team mom brought orange slices and tissues.