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Bob Ryan Calls Portland Timbers’ Fan Anthem “Big Civic Joke” On Around The Horn

Earlier today, we wrote about the entire home crowd at the Portland Timbers’ MLS home opener joining together for an exceptional performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” It was passionate, it was heartfelt, it was just plain fun – in other words, the kind of atmosphere it’s impossible to dislike.

Unless you’re Bob Ryan, it seems. The sometimes-Around the Horn guest appeared on the program today, and the Timbers Army’s performance came up as a topic for debate. But there was nothing to debate, was there? Host Tony Reali said of the anthem, “Gotta love that.” Panelists Kevin Blackistone, J.A. Adande, and a literally flag-waving Woody Paige offered up their endorsements as well. Ryan? Ugh:

“I don’t see it as any better – what they did – than the stupid Boston crowd singing “Sweet Caroline” every night. There’s certainly no respect [shown] whatsoever; it’s a big civic joke.”

OK, first off, the sneering contempt with which Ryan delivered that “stupid Boston crowd” line had to be seen, and heard, to be believed (below, you’ll do both). As far as the rest of it, he was either being contrarian for the sake of being contrarian, or simply betraying a hatred for…pretty much everything, and certainly for anything containing the slightest bit of fun. Witness his particular dislike for the fans raising their arms between lines, because clearly that was a grave affront to our great land.

It’s also instructive to look at what Reali tweeted after the show:

Wow. Did not see the Timbers Anthem going there. I was so gobsmacked by Bob’s response there I didn’t even mute him.

The skeptic in us thinks, “But if he’d muted him, the most provocative opinion on the program today wouldn’t have gotten much airtime. Was he really that shocked?” But then we go back and look at the clip, and we’ll be damned if Reali doesn’t sound just a tad, well, gobsmacked when he asks, “What are you talking about, Bob?” before Ryan starts yelling again.

Punctuating his crotchety, terrible argument, Ryan shot back at Reali’s reference to Oilers fans putting on a similar performance for “O Canada” by saying, “That is not what’s going on here.” Well…yes, it is. Fans joined together for a genuine, electrifying display, and there was simply no reason to tear it down except for the purposes of feeling falsely high and mighty.

In the immediate aftermath of the segment, I said to a colleague, out of sheer frustration at what I’d just seen, “God, Bob Ryan is awful.” That wasn’t fair. Ryan’s had a long career, during which (while he’s certainly had some low moments) he’s contributed much. For these couple minutes, though? God, Bob Ryan was awful. Video, via ESPN, below.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • nick price

    That was one of my favorite sports moments

  • Ron

    I thought Ryan died a few years ago. Dude probably hates his own grandmother.

  • http://twitter.com/shades846 shades846

    I don’t get the whole thing that he does not like the singing at fenway really is he not a new englander and writies for the boston globe? really he must really have high view of him self or really hate his local sports fans that much ( i guess being a sports jounalist for that long will do that to you)

  • Timmbr

    I was at the match. The Timbers Army rendition of the anthem was badly off-key and a bit muted at times when they awed at the fireworks…but at the same time was really cool. It did remind me of Edmonton and the crowd joining on Oh Canada. Timbers coach John Spencer (a Scot with experience who had played in in FA Cup matches) went on record calling the Army and the entire stadium atmosphere “The best soccer atmosphere in North America…ever.” Kudos to the Army…and get a clue Bob Ryan.

  • eastside

    My sense is that Bob Ryan does not like soccer. He is clearly threatened by this. Look at his demeanor and anger …. that oh, my god, there could be an AMERICAN stadium, packed with AMERICAN fans, watching AMERICAN soccer with the same enthusiasm and fervor you might see elsewhere in the world … and frankly a “per fan” (it was a small crowd admittedly, less than 20k) organized enthusiasm that would make NBA, NFL, and MLB blush.

    Guys like Ryan have been nervous for a couple decades that soccer might one day become important enough to warrant significant coverage because then they’d be forced to cover something they don’t understand and don’t care to take the time to learn. They have spent significant time bad mouthing soccer at every turn. It is important in the NWest (and has been for a long time). I only wish the rest of MLS would step up like this. Yes some teams have a good crowd … Portland’s was BEYOND anything (sorry Seattle) I have ever seen in MLS by a good margin. Boston, Dallas , New York and other “mega sports cities” … time to step up your game with regard to MLS.

  • goobernoodles

    Bob Ryan is out of his f*$&%@# mind. That was awesome, and extremely I’m impressed by the passion of the crowd overall

  • goobernoodles

    With that said, I agree with this small portion of his quote:

    “the stupid Boston crowd”

    Fuck the Red Sox. And the Yankees.

    That is all.

  • UsaFutbal

    old man, old ideas, old sport mentality….Needs to retire and rock back and forth in a rocking chair and mumble , “bambino, bambino what happened to our pastime, take me out to the barnyard, barnyard”…..
    Timber Army you rockkkkkkkkkkkkk!!!!!!!!

  • Bob Ryan

    bob ryan is a civic joke

  • Twdietz

    I was proud the Timbers Admin trusted the Timbers Army enough to sing our nations anthem. It was beautiful, awe enspiring, and enforced the pride of the PDX community. If you weren’t there, don’t slam it. Bob, get rid of the thong and get back to a simple brief…less irritating!

  • sylc

    “MLS will be out of business in 3 years.” -Bob Ryan, 1995

  • henry

    Bob Ryan is a crotchety old douche. Timbers fans are amazing. I’m on the other side of the country, but want to try to get to a game.

  • Neil Parkar

    Well, “Sweet Caroline” was a song with a catchy chorus from 1969 about
    President John F. Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline. It was a song that
    someone, namely Amy Tobey, really liked, and fans at Fenway really liked
    it too. So it stuck.


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