Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Art of Bench-Jockeying

When I wasn’t pitching in High School and College, I loved to rag. ‘Ragging’ or bench jockeying is baseball jargon for verbally abusing another player, coach, umpire, or spectator. Part of why I did it was because I wanted to annoy, harass, and get into the other player or umps head. There are other ways to annoy a player or batter and I will also discuss those in the following paragraphs. The main reason I ragged was because I really enjoyed being hated by the other team. I was the guy who you wanted to punch in the face when you played against, but loved when I was on your team (Ok…maybe not loved, because I ragged the shit out of my own players too sometimes).

I believe ragging is all trial and error. There is a true scientific element to it. I do agree that there are some fool-proof methods of annoying other players or umpires. As much as I loved harassing players, umpires were my true favorite target. There are two things I loved saying to the umps that was guaranteed to get a rise out of them: Say a call was ‘brutal’ or use the work cocksucker when referring to them or a call they made.

The umpire CB Bucknor would be a prime target. He makes at least 10 cock-sucking calls a game. I would bait him for a bit and then pull out a “Get off you knees Blue! You are blowing the game!” This arouses contempt in the umpire. I can recall doing something similar in a game in college. The umpire came over to the bench and said he was going to start tossing players one by one just like a parade. So as he was walking back to the plate someone (me) said “Everybody loves a parade!” In my final college game, I was ragging on the ump the whole game. He had an idea it was me, but I didn’t cross the line…yet. I didn’t expect to pitch that day, but was called on to warm up in the 8th. I came trotting in with a couple runners aboard from the bullpen and asked the ump to dust off he corners because he hasn’t been calling them all game. He tossed me before I threw a pitch. My retort was short, sweet, and classic. “That was the best fucking call you made all game.” It really was the best call.

Another target was the battery of the pitcher and catcher. I will just break it down by position of my favorite rags.
- Fight at the bat rack!
- I’ve seen better arms on snakes!
- Leave him in! (when the manager is coming out to make the change)
- Put some helmets on them worms. (when the pitcher was in the dirt all game)
- You have two pitches. A ball and a strike.
- Get him a bucket. He’s throwing up!
- A compass couldn’t help this kid find the plate.
- Get back in the library Morton. (when the pitcher wore glasses)

- Flintstone Mitt! (when the ball pops in and out of the glove)
- I could time your throw to second with a sundial (when 2nd or 3rd was stolen easily)
- Great call Catch!!! (when the pitcher just game up a homer)

Now let me get one last point across. Nothing is off limits. Height, weight, age, skill level……. This is something that sets baseball apart….the intimacy of the game between the players, fans, spectators, and coaches. There are no guys ‘up in the booth’ calling plays or stealing formations (well maybe the Phils have a mole on the ivy stealing the opposition’s signs). Our game. America’s game. Now get the hell outta here and if you are a guy…have another doughnut. If you are a woman…go do the laundry and don’t starch my shirts too much!!


  1. So what are some of your favorite lines to say?

  2. This is awesome. I think that '92 Roman team had some classic ball-busters. We harassed our way thru the Catholic League. I remember the home plate ump coming over to our side after someone said "You fucking suck, blue." He was irate, but, having no idea who said it, he just went back to calling a terrible game.
    Back in the Vet Stadium days, a bunch of my friends and I were watching the Phils play the Dodgers, whose outfield consisted of Darryl Strawberry, Brett Butler and Kal Daniels. Well, the stadiums was practically empty and we were yelling to Daniels to throw us a ball after warm-ups. He refused, so I shouted, "that's why Cincinnati cut you!" He turned, looked right at us and replied, "they didn't cut me, I got traded." We just laughed at him. Why on earth would he engage a bunch of teenage jerkoffs from East Falls? That's a fight not many could win.

  3. One of my favorites was actually directed at me. I was pitching for Frankford in a semifinal game against Central. AS I got the sign, half their bench would yell "JACK!" As I went into my delivery, the other half would yell "SHIT!" I thought that was pretty good. We ended up winning the game, so as we shook hands afterwards, I made a point to invite all their guys to the championship game

  4. Once, I was playing in a PAL game. My team was predominantly white, and the team we were playing against was entirely black. We won by a run, and a couple close calls late in the game went our way. The home plate umpire happened to also be black, and each time a call went our way, the guys on the other team let him know about it. The breaking point came when one of their guys called the ump "Uncle Tom" The kid who said it was ejected and I believe kicked off the team

    Another time I was playing in a Devlin League game for Juniata against Mayfair. Our guys booted a couple balls during pregame infield. I was at third base, their pitcher and catcher were warming up near me, and I noticed they were laughing at us. I took exception and some words were exchanged. We were the home team, and the top of the first ended with yours truly making a diving catch at third to start a double play. The third base coach gave me a grudging "Nice play, son." And I responded, "Yeah, it was pretty funny." It just so happened I was leading off that day, and after getting reacquainted with the catcher, I started us off with a triple. As soon as I got to third, I yelled out to the pitcher and started laughing hysterically. This continued for the rest of the game at third base. After each out, I would just laugh nonstop. To be honest, I'm not sure how I didn't get drilled each time I came to the plate, but I guess that said a lot about them. We ended up winning the game 19-4 after the mercy rule was called

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