To wooooo or not to wooooo,
That is the question.

Whether it is nobler of the fan,
To suffer the slings are arrows of outrageous dodgers,
Or to take bullpen arms against a sea of troubles,
And by vocally opposing, crush them
Into the cold, September infield dirt.

In other words, without my pathetic and questionable iambic pentameter …

Release the hounds?

 

I’m clueless about this new phenomenon.  Out of touch. The night it came into my consciousness, I sat confused on my couch, swearing to drink better bourbon next time, before realizing it was surely Bark-in-the-Park-related.  Dogs. Howling.  What else could it be?  Case closed, yeah?  A night’s diversion and nothing more.  Thom and The Creeper fingered a red-headed mustachioed Danny Bonaduce-looking guy as the culprit. Then, I heard it was Ric Flair-related.  Didn’t know who he was, either. Google fixed that sad omission from my life. He’s the Limousine-ridin’, jet-flyin’, kiss-stealin’, wheelin’-dealin’, son-of-a-gun.  So says his obnoxious and loud website.

Got it. I’m up-to-speed, now.  YeahBuddy.

Not so fast.  Now it turns out it actually started in Pittsburgh with Penguin hockey fans.  Or Washington Capital fans. But, they’re doing it in Chicago the other day.  Trending right now?  A fifth grade local boy named Max Collett, who swears he started it all.

Still with me?

Whatever its origin, I tend to side with Steve.  Shouldn’t the roar of the crowd reflect what’s happening on the field?  The guttural utterances from the seats have always been sort of a metaphorical umbilical cord between player and fan, right? It’s about encouragement and solidarity.  By contrast, the wave, beach balls in the moon deck, intermittent howling—that all breaks the cord, does it not?

The sad, but real fact of life these days is that this isn’t your dad’s ball park anymore.  In every town, gimmicks are a major part of the ballpark experience these days.  A night at the old ball yard is not about just the game anymore.  It’s an EXPERIENCE.  It’s ENTERTAINMENT.  It’s the giant slide and the stupid mascot that goes down it in Milwaukee when a Brewer hits the hypo—I mean, hits a home run.  It’s that ugly metal sculpture in Miami that goes off when Ozzie Guillen goes off.  (Side note:  I was so hoping Jay Bruce would launch one off the beak of one of those rotating marlin fish and break the thing entirely.)

My field guide for everything baseball, Joe Posnanski, had an interesting and somewhat related take on cheering and booing at the ballpark back in July:

I’ve never really understood baseball cheering. Let’s say your hometown pitcher is one strike away from getting the third out of an inning. What’s the sound? You will hear people screaming and stomping and cheering. OK. Now, let’s say your hitter is one hit away from driving in the game-winning run. What’s the sound? Exactly the same thing. You will hear people screaming and stomping and cheering.

So, apparently that same exact sound of screaming, stomping and cheering is supposed to 1) rattle the hitter; 2) inspire the hitter; 3) rattle the pitcher; 4) inspire the pitcher. And it’s supposed to know which ones to inspire and which ones to rattle and vice versa, kind of the way aspirin is supposed to course through your body and find what hurts. All in the same sound. It’s like the players are supposed to interpret those cheers and screams, determine whether they are with you or against you, for you or for the other guy.

So, what to do with all this woooooing?  Embrace it?  Ignore it?  Here’s my worst nightmare:  Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and the rest of the national sports media remember the 2012 Reds for the “Wooooo” instead of the “Bruuuuuuce.”  Let’s not allow that to happen.  Let’s have fun.  And keep it all in its proper prospective.

For me, getting vocal at the ballpark or my favorite sports bar is primarily a way of managing stress at crucial moments–like when that one ball, two strike change up was about to come out of Dave Giusti’s hand to Johnny Bench in the bottom of the 9th of Game 5 in 1972.  When Pete rose up out of the dirt at second base at Shea and opened up a big can of whoopass on Buddy Harrelson.  Good time for a primal scream.  Or a wooooo, if you must.

Whatever you choose to do, keep calm and clinch.