Sitting at a bar in Bel Air, Md., I watched the Orioles face the Toronto Blue Jays with friends April 21. The Birds rallied back from down 2-1 to win the game, 3-2, and at some point in the late innings (my fault for not jotting down exactly when), the strains of the song "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes could be heard over the MASN broadcast from Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
It wasn't a particularly deafening version of the chant, as the announced crowd that night was only 17,644. But it was familiar nonetheless and admittedly got this particular columnist to sing along under his breath. While no one in my group actually heard me singing along, I did hear this comment from a friend:
"Ugh. I hate it when the Orioles do this. It's a Ravens thing."
As you'd imagine, that quickly led back to a debate as to who exactly it was that started the whole "Seven Nation Army" stadium anthem trend and ultimately to more members of my party coming out as anti-"Seven Nation Army." Some were opposed to the song being used at Camden Yards, while others were opposed to the song being used anywhere. (I really want to make the term "White Stripe-ist" work here, but I just don't know that I can. I'll keep swinging, though. You all deserve that much.)
The Stripe-ists weren't contained to my group of friends that night. In fact, a simple Twitter search of "Seven Nation Army Orioles" led to some of the following comments.
From @mschainsaw: "Why are Orioles fans chanting "Seven Nation Army"? Idiots."
@disastromatic: "Orioles fans bust out Seven Nation Army because they are the worst, in fact."
@7Baltimore went directly to the team with his complaint: "@Orioles just stop the Seven Nation Army song and chant. It's embarrassing to our ball club."
@bradydoty: "Good citizens of #OPACY, can we decide here and now to stop pretending "Seven Nation Army" is an #Orioles thing?"
And @AGremlinStorm: "Dear all sports stadiums: Stop using Seven Nation Army for anything. The Orioles already ruined it."
(If you're not familiar with "Seven Nation Army," it's the song played at M&T Bank Stadium during Ravens games and Oriole Park during Orioles games that starts with a swell baseline and then evolves into a repetitive "OH, OH, OH, OH, OH, OH" chant. You know it.)
Instead of throwing my voice into the debate that night, I immediately decided I'd save it for a column. Had I responded in the moment, it probably would have gone something along these lines.
"ARE YOU ALL CRAZY?!?!?!?"
"Seven Nation Army" is wonderful, and not just because of the memory of 50,000 people belting it at the top of their lungs after Delmon Young cleared the bases. It is a memory I fall back on any time my kid is screaming at the top of his lungs and I need to go to my happy place.
This is the entire list of decent stadium anthems regularly used in sports.
1. "Seven Nation Army."
2. AC/DC's "Thunderstruck."
3. Absolutely nothing else.
What in the world are you looking for from your friendly stadium DJ? Do you need a little more practice spelling out "Y-M-C-A" to make sure you have it exactly right? Maybe you haven't moved past Y2K and you desperately need more chances to bark along to "Who Let The Dogs Out?"
(Seriously, though, did we ever figure out who actually released those hounds? FX could really use a quality follow-up to the O.J. Simpson season of "American Crime Story.")
"Seven Nation Army" is a truly great song from one of the better acts of the 21st century. It may well have been played at Ravens games, and elsewhere around the world, before being added into the rotation at O's games. But here's the crazy thing. A lot of Orioles fans … are also Ravens fans, too. WILD!
Hot-takery aside, the strains of the "Seven Nation Army" chant have provided the soundtrack for some of the most electric moments in the histories of either of Baltimore's downtown sports palaces. The tune works.
Of all of the things to be bothered by, a chant that genuinely rallies fans together at stadiums performed to the tune of one of the best rock and roll songs of the last 20 years? Really?
Perhaps those "Seven Nation Army" dissenters should consider a trip to Wichita, Kan. You know, get far from this opera for evermore. I'll just be here working the straw. You know, making the sweat drip out of every pore.