Today, God help me, I'm writing about baseball.
My esteemed colleague Dan Rodricks has forwarded an email complaint about a reference to the Orioles in a front-page headline as the "O's."
Under the heading "Not a possessive," the complaint: "I have always disliked the notion of the 'Os.' To me, raised on Chuck Thompson, the team is known as the Birds. I know the team perpetrates this and also uses the unnecessary apostrophe. I wish the Sun would set it straight. "
You may have seen my video on the apostrophe, posted earlier this year, but I will recap.
You can use the apostrophe to omit letters in a contraction: can't, won't.
You can use an apostrophe to indicate possession: McIntyre's, The Sun's.
You can use the apostrophe to make individual letters plural: minding your p's and q's. Some stylebooks allow it for making numerals plural. And there are a few conventional expressions: do's and don'ts. But that's it.
You may not use an apostrophe to make nouns plural. Mail something to "the McIntyre's," and you will immediately be placed on the "B" Christmas card list.
Now as to that headline: The writer is correct; "O's" is not a possessive.
It is a contraction, for "Orioles." It is, moreover, how the team styles itself. And it is our house style, since Christy Mathewson was a rookie.
Pitchers and catchers already reported a week ago. (God above, how do I know this?) The O's are beginning another interminable season. It's the O's. Get used to seeing it.