I am calling for fans of the Baltimore Orioles to take back Oriole Park.
No, I'm not talking about taking back Oriole Park from the Yankee and Red Sox fans that overrun our stadium for three games at a time during the summer months. A winning record for the O's will take care of those infestations.
I am talking about taking back the stadium from an onslaught of overplayed, scoreboard-directed cheers. "Everybody clap yo' hands!" and Harry Belafonte's Banana Boat Song "Day-O" cheer are becoming ubiquitous throughout MLB ballparks. I hear them in more and more parks every year. I heard them played during a college game at the University of Arkansas a few weeks ago. Baltimore is home to a beautiful and unique baseball stadium, of which some aspect has been used as a model for essentially every MLB ballpark built after it. So, why are we adopting the fads of other stadiums as far as our cheers go?
Maybe I'm a purist. Maybe I'm just old. I'd like to hear The Beatles' "Help!" played when the opposing team is bringing in a reliever, which was done at some point in the Orioles' past (somehow, this was replaced with The Cranberries' "Zombie". I can't fathom replacing The Beatles with The Cranberries and thinking "Hey, that's a good idea."). I love that, for reasons nobody can really explain, we play John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" during the seventh-inning stretch, and have done so since somewhere around 1975. I love that we yell "O!" during the National Anthem, although I understand some people's opposition to it. These are Baltimore traditions.
The physical characteristics of Oriole Park at Camden Yards echo with tradition. I think the sounds of the stadium should, as well. So, I plead to the decision makers at the Orioles, who decide which in-game cheers to play: Stop following the trends of other ballparks with regard to these cheers. We need more O-R-I-O-L-E-S! and less "Day-O".
I'm talking about keeping our own traditions in Baltimore, and not just following the crowd. The O's are off to a great start in 2012, and the fans are starting to come back to the stadium. Let's keep our stadium experience unique to Baltimore.
Footnote: "Day-O" originated as a Yankee Stadium cheer, and it makes me want to puke on my shoes.