I absolutely despise internet comments.
That’s, of course, no “hot take.” You’ve seen them. You know what we’re dealing with. You might be guilty of making things worse for everyone. Like so much of social media these days, they’re cesspools. When someone posts a link, you can typically assume commenters haven’t bothered to take even the minimal time to click though to the link and are merely going to dramatically react to a headline or callout, OR they’re hoping to prove how much they know about a topic whilst being unaware that the information was readily available via that single click.
And again, those are typically the BEST-case scenarios in comments. Far more frequently, things get decidedly worse.
Which is why you could have won more money than Chris Davis gets paid per home run at this point if you had bet me that the best idea I’d hear in 2020 would come from an internet comment section.
None of the ideas I’ve heard regarding how we as a city might more permanently honor the late Mo Gaba have been bad, per se. There have been suggestions that we rename streets or plazas near the ballpark, that we put up a statue of the heroic young man, that we name awards or honors after him. Those are all fine ideas. But none have moved me the way an idea I found in the comment section of a post about Mo on the Orioles’ Facebook page did.
It was extraordinarily simple and yet absolutely perfect. This comes from a man in Baltimore named Mack Fowler:
“We should all yell Mo! instead of O during the National Anthem.”
I had to do a double take. What did I just read? This was a valuable, thoughtful, reasonable, totally legitimate suggestion and it was IN AN INTERNET COMMENT SECTION. Has the world gone completely mad? What’s next, we make baseball games seven innings long or put a free runner in scoring position to start an inning??? This is crazy.
But I digress. Allow me to channel my inner Mark Morrison and Return (to) the Mack. Mack Fowler says, “We should all yell Mo! instead of O during the National Anthem.” How simple and how wonderfully fitting is this? What a perfect way it would be to eternally remember and celebrate the most remarkable human we’ve ever come across in this city and to do it at places (baseball and football games) that meant so much to him.
THIS IS THE ONE, YOU GUYS.
I understand that there are those who are uncomfortable with even emphasizing the “Oh!” in the national anthem. I get that. “The Star-Spangled Banner” means different things to different people, and I have never judged anyone’s personal response to the song in any way. (I would hope others would be willing to not judge anthem reactions either, but, well, you know, here we are.) So there will certainly be some who won’t be willing to yell “Mo” either. That’s their prerogative. I wouldn’t even attempt to win them over.
However, I would pass along the opinion of my friend and United States Marine Dario DiBattista, the director of the Military and Veterans Center at Towson University.
“You know, I never yell ‘O’ because, for real — and all other commentary aside — the National Anthem is a sacred experience for ME. However, I would reconsider my stance to yell ‘Mo.'”
That’s an absolutely overwhelming statement about what this young man has meant to all of us. The “O!” has connected us for years. When I’ve attended sporting events in other cities that didn’t involve Baltimore teams, I’ve listened closely during the anthem to hear if there might be anyone else from my hometown in the crowd for any reason. (I actually once found a few at a Browns-Cardinals game in Phoenix, of all the random places.) But this goes a step beyond that. It still unites us as Baltimoreans no matter where we are on the planet, and it gives us an opportunity to share the story of a young man whose presence truly changed the world.
It does not prevent us from considering any other potential honor in the process. But Mack Fowler is so right. This is perfect.
But if we REALLY wanted to make this perfect, here’s one more suggestion. We do this for the first “Oh.”
“MO!, say can you see …”
He couldn’t for 14 years. But as Scott Garceau so beautifully reminded us on Glenn Clark Radio after Mo’s death, he can now. And he helped all of us see life more beautifully while he was here.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Glenn Clark