Fans Make the Game
If you’ve been in the stands at a game, you may have noticed that softball benches often chant during at bats and baseball teams tend to chatter. Both are a lot of fun. There are ways the fans could, and should, get involved as well. There are two ways that fans can help any batting cycle during an offensive half inning.
The two types of cheers when your team is at bat are: (1) encouragement for the batter. Chatter is always directed at your own team in a positive way. (2) Strategy to throw off the opposing pitcher. As we’ve previously discussed, it is never appropriate to negatively comment on the opposition so clapping and stomping in unison are most often used for this purpose.
There are some boundaries and specific ways fans are expected to either cheer or abstain from cheering. The first rule is simple: It is up to the players to encourage their teammates with personalized chatter because they know them personally.
Very important to sportsmanship is the unwritten rule that says once your team has a comfortable lead, three or more runs, it’s just bad form to continue to cheer at a high level. It’s fine to encourage each player as they step up to the plate but there is no need for more than that.
The only time chants to throw their pitcher off should be encouraged is when the game is on the line.
When to Cheer
The point is to be consistent and encouraging but not distracting unless the team needs a rally. When the team is being beaten by a margin larger than 4 with less than 3 innings left, it’s fine to say, let’s get something started and encourage the players to do well at the start of the inning but, until they catch fire, keep it limited to nice swing, here we go, small stuff.
If a rally starts up and the players get excited, it’s helpful to build up the intensity to throw off the pitcher. It’s also important to keep the energy high but watch your batters. If guys start swinging away, trying too hard, bring the energy back down and encourage them to sit back and wait for their pitch.
Standard Cheers and Appropriate Use
Always cheer the sacrifice bunt or fly. Why? Because, intentional or not, the player is giving up their stats for the greater good, for the team. They lose their chance at bat to advance the runners into scoring position. Team first, that’s worth a nod.
Wait for yours is called out when you’ve got a batter in the box who comes out swinging at anything. This happens a lot when the pressure is on. The game is close and they want to swing for the fences, be the hero. These words remind them to sit back and wait for the right pitch.
Little hit is similar to wait for yours. When someone is swinging big, this is a reminder that any hit keeps the team in the game. There is no need to swing for extra bases.
Small ball means play the game one move at a time. Work to get on base then take each play moment by moment. It reminds the players to play like a team and together they’ll accomplish the overall goal.
Walk’s as good as a run is meant for the player ahead in the count who starts swinging at balls. It’s a reminder that how they get to first isn’t nearly as important as getting there.
Joey’s ready to come home is something you say when you have a player in scoring position and the batter is sitting on every pitch, not swinging. You can shout out that player’s name saying, “Come on Sue, Tina’s ready to come home. Help her out.” This means, take a swing for the RBI. It can also be used when the batter is in a position to walk in a run, for example bases are loaded and the batter starts swinging at pitches that are balls.
Your pitch now is a reminder to the batter that they’ve got room to sit back and wait for a good pitch. You say it when the batter is ahead in the count, 3-0 for example, and they have time to take a few strikes before they have to worry. After all, one more ball and they get the walk.
Good eye is yelled when the batter does not swing at a pitch and the umpire calls it a ball. It doesn’t matter if the pitch barely missed the strike zone or hits the backstop 10 feet above her head. The point is she didn’t swing and the call went in her favor.
Good cut is what you yell when a player makes a good swing – meaning swings at an appropriate pitch - but misses the ball.
Way to battle/Way to stay alive are hollered at a player who is tipping off fouls and has two strikes against them in the count. They are battling the pitcher and every time they make contact with the pitch, they get to stay in the batter’s box. This can go on a long time and it is exhausting, for both sides. They may not get a run in the end but anything that increases the oppositions pitch count is a win for your side.
Straighten it out can be yelled when someone has a solid swing and the ball goes long but just the tiniest bit foul.
Let her rip simply means take a swing. Relax and give it your best shot.
One chant to avoid
Hey batter, batter is meant as a distraction to the batter.
Here we go (player name) can be yelled as a player steps up to the plate when you’re team is already in rally mode.
Let’s get something started can be yelled out as the inning is switching over in a close matchup where your team is about to take their at bat and you are behind by two runs or less. It’s meant as a way to get the team in rally mode.
Speaking of rallies, much like a no/no, the rally is never to be discussed. You can start a cheer… Here we go ____, here we go. Or, Let’s go ___, let’s go ____. You can also do a clap sequence that starts slow and speeds up. All three of these are meant for the pitcher to be thrown off. It is the fan’s way of helping out the team. Don’t go quiet during a rally. The point is to make noise to distract the pitcher. There should be lots of chatter between pitches until the ball is released.
Three calls to the batter turned runner
Good hussle is called out when a player tries to run out a throw to first and it’s tight. The yell is meant to encourage them to get back in there and keep digging next time they have a tight play.
Get down is most often called from the bench but you may wonder why. If the ball is coming in from behind the runner, it’s helpful to yell “get down” so they know to go low into the bag to avoid the tag.
It’s dropping helps the runners know when a ball hit into the air is going to land between players for the hit. This allows them to speed up their pace to the next base. When a ball is in the air, runners will go, if necessary, but they’ll go slowly because they don’t want to be caught too far down the line if they need to get back for a quick tag. Telling them the ball has dropped lets them know the path is clear to turn up the speed and get to the next base.
In the end it doesn’t matter what you holler. All that matters is if you can get the rest of the stands cheering right along with you.