It's loud, it's contagious and the culprit is usually a soon-to-be middle-aged man who gets too drunk off far too few beers. The Ric Flair-inspired "WOO" has infected Busch Stadium.
Complaints about fans' WOO-ing erupted on Twitter during the Cardinals' April 9 game against the Milwaukee Brewers, with some stating that the noise forced them to mute their TVs or turn off the radio all together. Reds fan Patrick Gray tweeted to Post-Dispatch sportswriter Derrick Goold, "I get annoyed hearing it to the point where I mute the TV... I watch baseball to watch not to hear that."
Others attempted public-service announcements that did not mince words:
At Friday night's game against the Reds, the WOO-ing continued to make the ears of fans near and far bleed. At that point, complaints turned into a call for an outright ban of the chant by the Cardinal organization.
It's not just Busch Stadium: The trend has been infecting sports stadiums across the country all the way back to 2012.
The first documented case comes from a Pittsburgh Pirates game on September 5, 2012. The sound was reported to have begun in the 4th inning and carried on through the end of the game
, as Deadspin reported. The Pirates' announcer, Bob Walk, secured the night's place in history by dubbing it "Night of the Woo."
A quick scroll through the comments section shows that isolated instances had allegedly been cropping up at PPG Paints Arena, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, for several years before the "Night of the Woo." And numerous other cities and stadiums have since reported similar instances predating that night in 2012. However, few were properly documented in real time, suggesting that these previous incidents may simply have been the result of WWE fans who accidentally wandered into a real sports complex and, in a state of confusion, sent out a distress call.
More recently, Cincinnati Reds fans claimed that the WOO has been plaguing Great American Ballpark for the better part of five years. In 2013, Fox Sports spoke with a man who claims to be the originator and calls himself the "Red's WOO guy
A flare-up in 2016 at a Philadelphia Flyers game left many sports fans with the false assumption that the trend was contained to northeastern parts of the country. But in 2017, the great state of Texas fell victim when Houston Astros fans began WOO-ing during outfielder Josh Reddick's at-bats.
Upon hearing of the chant making its way to Busch, many Astros fans, still apparently suffering from early-stage delirium, argued that we stole the WOO from them. (As if!)
Even as fans fight over who can lay claim to patient zero, it's important not to forget the lasting presence of Flair himself. The retired WWE legend, now 69, became famous in the 1970s for his outlandish behavior and, of course, the WOO. Although he may not be in the ring anymore, he is still in the spotlight.
Recently, Flair and his WOO teamed up with rapper Offset to produce the single "Ric Flair Drip
," which has more than 85 million views on YouTube. Many organizations use his famous call in hype videos during time-outs or lagging periods of games.
Such was the case when the trend swept through Scottrade during the Blues' final push for a playoff spot back in March. We can only surmise that after the city exited hockey season brokenhearted, the WOO took advantage of the trodden spirits and moved east on Clark Avenue, where it found renewed momentum with the start of baseball season.
With well over 100 games left in the regular season, it's as hard to predict the staying power of the WOO as it is to predict Matheny's starting lineup. However, even with "The Cardinal Way" reminding ballpark patrons that, yes, you do have to be nice to Cub fans and yes, booing is unconstitutional within the walls of Busch Stadium, remaining composed is not always easy for nine straight innings.
So, when that soon-t0-be middle-aged man orders another beer and has already WOOO-ed a handful of times and it's not even the third inning yet, we recommend you politely dump a little nacho cheese on his head — and maybe, politely suggest he try the wave instead.
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