Thursday, August 28, 2008

Don’t wait for the game to start before you start heckling. The other team will make more errors during pregame warm-ups than you can imagine. If the third baseman short hops a ball over to first base say, “Hey, buddy, this is baseball not bowling.” If the centerfielder drops a popup say, “Hey, Center, you couldn’t catch a cold.” Act like that was an original comment and look to high-five a fellow fan.

Once the game starts, plant yourself behind home plate. The closer you are to the umpire, the better. Don’t forget to research the ump before the game. Is he divorced? Hopefully. Is he a Republican? If you’re lucky.

Getting thrown out isn’t a sprint; it’s a persistent, meticulous process.

Don’t do anything crazy in the first or second inning; you’re just trying to gauge the ump’s reactions. Getting thrown out isn’t a sprint; it’s a persistent, meticulous process. The first inning is just the tip of the iceberg. You know that feeling you get in the shower when you turn the water just a little too hot, or that first sip of a stiff drink that burns a little going down? That’s how you want to start. Make your presence known but make sure he stays in the shower. Make sure he’ll finish the drink. Any of these following comments are innocent enough for the first two innings. Make sure to use at least six.

— Hey, Blue, maybe you should dust off that plate a little better.
— He’s swinging a baseball bat, not an eight iron.
— Nice call, Stevie Wonder.
— Time to renew your prescription, huh?
— Just here for the paycheck, Blue?
— You’re missing a good game, ump.
— Knick knack, paddy whack, what a horrible call!
— Hey umpire, umpire, hey umpire, umpire.

I can’t stress this next point enough: Avoid making it obvious who your kid is. If you’re only vocal when it concerns your son, then the ump will pass you off as just some guy who’s clinging to the slim hope that his son’s success in sports might somehow redeem his own failures as a child. You’re not trying to be the crazy dad. You’re trying to be the crazy fan.

You’re not trying to be the crazy dad. You’re trying to be the crazy fan.

By the third inning you will be a bad mosquito bite the ump can’t ignore. You’ll be walking on thin ice with him from here on out, so take a moment to broaden your focus. That inside pitch that almost hit Shawn—the other coach called for it. Let him know there will be retaliation. The kid who’s crying because a groundball bounced up and hit him in the shin—let him know he’s a mama’s boy. The old man in the stands who just dropped the foul ball—let him know he’s washed up. Your son’s coaches aren’t immune, either. Wonder aloud why Jason isn’t stealing with two outs or why they didn’t call for the sacrifice bunt with runners on first and second.

At this stage in Little League baseball, coaches only give their players a few signs. These will not be hard to steal. Watch the third base coach for one inning and you’ll be able to call out whenever a runner from the other team is about to steal.

In the fourth inning, mock a supportive fan of the other team. Preferably the mother of one of the less talented kids. When her son strikes out and she says, “It’s O.K., Eddie, you’ll get ’em next time,” you should yell back, “Yeah, it’s O.K., Eddie; at least you know your state capitals.” If her son makes an error and she says, “It’s O.K., Eddie, don’t worry about it. Just have fun out there,” say, “Yeah, Eddie, don’t worry that you won’t kiss a girl until you’re twenty-two, just have fun.” Speaking of girls, if there happens to be one on the other team, a simple “There’s no cheerleaders in baseball,” will suffice.

Keep in mind, none of these kids know what a balk is yet. That doesn’t mean you don’t and it doesn’t make it any less illegal.

They only play 6 INNINGS, so any point after the bottom of the fourth is a good time to go.

They only play six innings, so at any point after the bottom of the fourth is a good time to go. Wait until there is a close play at home plate where the call goes against your team, then stand up and say, “Are you (profanity optional) kidding me?” The ump will turn around, and walk toward you. Get up quickly and say, “Oh no, buddy, I’m coming to you.” Run around the fence, past the dugout, down the third base line, and slide into home plate. Ask if you were safe or out. Pick up the ball and explain to the ump that when someone touches you with it before you touch the base, then you’re out, but if you touch the base before they touch you with the ball, then you’re safe. Ask him if that was too much for him to comprehend. Again, at any point in all of this profanity is optional, but not necessary. To top everything off, take out a piece of paper from your pocket and wave it around your head. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it looks like something official. Say, “See this everyone? This is an official protest form. I’m going to do you all a favor and request that this game be played over, with a competent umpire.” He will throw you out. Kick dirt as you slowly walk toward second base. Remove the base and carry it to your car.

T.J. Szafranski was born in Illinois at a very young age. He loves his mother and father, and he always makes sure his waffles have syrup in every nook.

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