I read with great amusement the column by my friend Mike Wise this weekend in the Washington Post -- the one where he takes Orioles fans to task for shouting "O!" during the National Anthem.
Of course, I was amused because there were so many ironies layered throughout his outrage that you sad louts who root for the Orioles might use the sacred Star-Spangled Banner as a vehicle to promote your team. Never mind that one of the reasons you do that is because the anthem was penned over near Fort McHenry and you're pretty proud of that.
Irony No. 1: It's just strange to hear a Washington type blasting Orioles fans for coming into Nationals Park and -- along with the O's taking the interleague series this weekend and keeping the Nats out of first place in the National League East -- trying to out-shout the local fans like Red Sox and Yankees fans do when they come into Camden Yards. The stuff the Red Sox rowdies yell isn't unpatriotic either, Mike, but I think you'll agree that "O!" is a lot more respectful.
Irony No. 2: There's something funny about somebody from the nation's capital saying that the people in Baltimore are making a mockery of the National Anthem and being "divisive" by co-opting the song when the political types who live and work in DC (on both sides of the aisle) make a mockery of our sacred democracy every day and have turned divisiveness into an art form.
(Oh, there I go again, getting all self-righteous, which could be Irony No. 3, but this is not about me. Everything else is, but not this).
Irony No. 3: The Nationals, meanwhile, dress up four employees like giant cartoonish mascots of our greatest presidents and make them participate in a "sausage race" during every home game. Where's the patriotic outrage?
Irony No. 4: I posted a link to Mike's column, which is basically sending you to patronize a competitor, but that was deliciously ironic in itself since -- when you get there -- he's going to patronize you.
Okay, here's my take on the subject. When I didn't live here, I kind of wondered about the whole "Oh" thing, too, but came to embrace it as a combined expression of love for the Orioles, Baltimore and the city's great history. If you don't get that and think it's divisive and borderline unpatriotic, you probably ought to lighten up and worry about something important, like why the Caps are already out of the playoffs again.
Wise jokingly proposed a penalty for each fan shouting "Oh" during the Anthem. He said he'd like to light you on fire and then put the fire out with a golf shoe. I think that's a bit extreme, but wouldn't worry too much about it. I'm pretty sure he wears soft spikes.
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