On Sunday, Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise protested the long-standing Baltimore Oriole fan habit of yelling “Oh!” for Orioles at the end of the National Anthem (at “OH say does that star-spangled banner yet wave....).
Wise is not a fan. He argued persuasively that the anthem is meant to unite Americans, not divide them among sports teams. But the ending was a bit harsh, with Wise suggesting he’d like to set the offending Oriole fans...on fire?
Now, I would not go as far the person who tweeted, “idiots who yell ‘O’ during the National Anthem should be beat about the head & neck with a crab cake.”
No, I would like to set them all afire and then put the flames out with golf shoes. At least then they would have a bona fide reason to yell, “OH!”
The mockery had a lighter tone earlier in the piece, when wishing "famine and pestilence" on them seemed tongue in cheek. But the ending lost the humor and just seemed drowned in ill will. Here's the meaty part that came before the ending:
Orioles fans are not alone in their desecration of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” of course. Many of their tainted gene pool have migrated to Verizon Center for Capitals games. Some of these louts actually yell “OH!” and “RED!” at different intervals — twice ruining the anthem. Their spawn can be found in Houston, too, where a small group called “The Red Rowdies” holler “ROCK-ETS RED GLARE!” during Rockets NBA games. And they wonder why Tracy McGrady never won a playoff series.
Here’s wishing famine and pestilence comes to all their tailgates.
Allow me one serious, high-horse moment: Look, you’re not unpatriotic if you yell “OH!” It doesn’t make you an awful American. But by claiming the lyrics, if only for a moment, you fundamentally undermine the idea that the song was written to unite instead of divide. A national anthemis a national anthem, not a convenient vehicle for one’s immense pride in his or her team.
On a communal level, it’s as annoying as Carl Lewis and Roseanne Barr botching the anthem badly or someone who gesticulates for effect and carries several notes of the song into the top of the eighth, like one of those apple-cheeked, irritating “Glee” kids. It’s making the song about you, not for who it’s supposed to be about: us.
Every time I hear “OH!” it makes me want to finagle my way into Camden Yards and pull a karaoke moment, in which every other word of the banner I yell, “SAY!” “SEE!” “DAWN’S!” “STAR!” “LIGHT!” — until [legendary Orioles pictcher] Jim Palmer comes down from the broadcast booth and beans me.
That's funny, and Wise should have ended right there.