OLBERMANN, redux, Open Thread

he wondered, posting to the Cloud

that floats on high o’er vales and hills

were bile and venom still allowed

not just a bunch of daffodils?                                                                      another W.W.

Keith Olbermann is back, for which much thanks. If you are one of the many who’s enjoyment of our game is never wholly complete without smart, provocative, witty commentary coming from outside of Bravesworld your pie is once again complete.  Or tasteless, according to where you’re at.

His genesis, nationally, is well known. In 1992/97 he and Dan Patrick took Sports Center to a level that was the making of ESPN (These Guys have all the Fun, a good read). He got out when he saw the beginnings of Disneyfication emerge, had an unsatisfying few years with Fox, quit – he’s very good at quitting – and then came the transformation to national political guru with MSNBC, ’03 through January ’11..then a bizarre deal with Al Gore which did little for him apart from a huge paycheck(currently in court trying to collect) but helped make Al uber rich with sell out to Al Jazeera.

It’s fascinating he chose then to go back whence he came- everyone had wondered what he would  do.  That parting had been rancorous and well documented. There must have been some interesting to and froing with the awful powers that be in Bristol on the question of editorial freedom but judging by what’s come ‘out’ so far he pretty much won.  For now, at least.  With Olbermann you just have to accept nothing is going to last sine die – it’s always just a matter of time…sooner or later he will say/do something that scares them stiff and he will be gone. We must hope that will be years away not months.

For now then, enjoy. You will not find this level of acerbic erudition  on the sheer fun and nonsense  of  the modern sporting scene elsewhere…opinionated? you bet…the whole point…self deprecating, yes, which helps(one short feature each evening is ESPN  goes back thirty years and shows clips from the old Sports Centers, mustaches and all-very funny..they get to choose apparently, he gets no preview/veto)…baseball at the moment is his obvious priority content on the show- he does an excellent hi-lights review of most games whose irreverence is a huge relief from the norm but the other night there was a marvelous, acid, lengthy piece attacking the NFL concussion settlement…

No one else would/could do that…not with that degree of anger, written and enunciated in that never Socratic way he has.

One last reason to watch – baseball…he is a lifelong addict and a purist with an obvious deep love of the game and its history. Fanatic baseball card collector all his life with an encyclopedic knowledge of that passion. His baseball blog , Baseball Nerd, is still up and even before this new job was liable to go weeks without any postings from him…but it’s still there and if you take a look you will find writing about our game today and what preceded it that is passionate, funny and strident – his style.



but where’s it gone

that facial hair?

would Marcus know?

here’s one official ESPN rationale for his return…NYC reaction incl scheduling details

118 thoughts on “OLBERMANN, redux, Open Thread”

  1. Chacun a son gout.
    I greatly prefer the fictional version, ie Sports Night, to the original show and it’s not self-deprecating if it’s smug. It’s faux-deprecating. None of this troubles me because because it’s so easy to ignore.
    De gustibus non est disputandem.
    Plus, talented as Olbermann undoubtedly is, the license that his shtick gave to the untalented will haunt us for the rest of my life, unfortunately. That’s not Keith’s fault, of course, but…
    To each his own.

  2. Olbermann has got to be my least favorite news anchor of all time. Not because of his political views (which I don’t agree with), but because of his smugness and self-righteousness. I don’t know much about him as a sports analyst (I was out of the country during his heyday), but it will be a struggle to watch him.

  3. Smug, self-righteous, and a misogynist pig. And a narcissist without peer in a business full of them. Whatever his talents may be, he’s so deeply unappealing that I can’t watch him anymore.

  4. Sorry, but I’m with Blazon. In its day, Sportscenter with Keith and Dan Patrick was the most outrageously entertaining show on television, all the more so because it was ostensibly just a sports highlights show. From what I can tell so far, Olbermann’s new ESPN show is much the same, except sans Patrick (more’s the pity). If you can’t help but let political differences get in the way of enjoying that level of intellectual firepower and wit directed at the sacred cows of the sports world — or if, God forbid, you simply don’t appreciate what makes it worth watching — all I can say is I feel sorry for you. Personally I feel like I fell asleep and woke up in the early 90s, in the best sense. (And, for a Braves fan, is there any other?)

  5. I feel sorry for people who feel sorry for people that don’t appreciate seeing awful human beings on TV. We can play this pretend pity game all day.

  6. Count me as a fan. I grew up on SportsCenter in the 90s. The day he left was the beginning of the end for that show, as far as I’m concerned.

    I even watched his political show a fair amount. It was a little shrill for my taste, regardless of whether or not I agreed with the particular argument that day. But I still frequently found myself unable to take my eyes off of it.

    I could not be more overjoyed that he’s back doing sports, and his show has thus far been fantastic. If the rest of the sports media weren’t so inundated with mindless prattle, I could see complaints about his utter pomposity and so forth, but Olbermann is instantaneously so much better than any other daily sports show on television that it’s not even funny.

    In my opinion, the two most talented TV sports personalities of the last 25 years are Bob Costas and Keith Olbermann in whichever order you like. It’s not even worth trying to figure out who No. 3 is.

  7. @9 Yes.

    And as far as @8, I’m getting a little tired of the tone of the discourse here lately. “Awful human beings”?

  8. I agree with Keith’s politics but, like others, find him unwatchable. A terrible, insufferable man.

  9. I enjoy him, while he’s talking sports, but JonathanF’s point that Stuart Scott never would have happened if Olbermann didn’t is one I haven’t considered.

  10. the right, the left and the center?
    it’s sports! the consummate venter
    where content is king
    opinion’s his thing
    dissent, don’t shoot the presenter.

  11. @9

    Costas and Olbermann, yes – special, top of the tree. Both adept in various arenas but equally it’s clear that baseball is their passion.

    Did you know there’s an ongoing, gentlemanly ‘thing’ between a thin skinned Costas and Robert Lipsyte, the retired sports guru of the NYT sports desk? Lipsyte’s point was/is Costas can’t have it both ways – he can’t be a shill for NBC(Olympics etc) and still expect to be taken seriously as an independent journalist.

    It’s a fair if somewhat strict point and Costas was hurt by it. This first surfaced about a decade ago and very occasionally resurfaces in one genteel forum or another.

  12. I’m a fan of bringing Olberman back. What would you rather have, more Skip Bayless?

    Now if we could only get Roger Mudd back on the History Channel.

  13. I should have linked to this in the original post. This is the 7 minute polemic KO delivered on one of his first nights back on the NFL Concussion settlement.

    an awful human being? please

    in his lengthy absence from the sports scene there was no one to say things like this..no one who didn’t give a damn whose feathers he ruffled saying it and, brother, there’s a few fat ones in this instance..the lesser points would be the quality of the writing and delivery are beyond his contemporaries.

  14. Count me as a nonfan, for reasons already described; the guy’s simply not as smart as he thinks he is and strikes me (like all his previous employers) as a grade-A asshole. I think ESPN made a big mistake bringing him back, but reading their columnists, it’s not much of a surprise. They seem to be moving in his political direction, audience be damned. Some people don’t take firing hundreds of staffers as a hint.

  15. @11 Over the course of his career, Kimbrel has pitched 218 innings – roughly 1 season’s worth of innings for a durable starting pitcher. In those innings, Kimbrel has allowed 116(!) hits and 78 walks while striking out 366 batters. Think about that… more than 3 times as many strikeouts as hits allowed.

    Also, I’m not sure why, but Fangraphs has bumped up the Braves playoff win odds dramatically in recent days – last I checked they had Atlanta with about a 7% chance to win the WS, and now it’s up to 10.1% . Maybe they’re now assuming that JHey will be back for the playoffs?

  16. @7

    I’m with you. I’m glad he’s back.

    And who cares if he’s an awful person? I doubt that the world of anchors of television “news” shows is replete with humanitarians.

  17. To put things in perspective, my reaction to Olbermann on Sports Center is similar to the reaction many of you had to Rush Limbaugh doing commentary for NFL games. I get it that Olbermann has a track record from Sports Center and that many of you enjoyed him many years ago, but given his track record on MSNBC, it will be very difficult to watch him (not as much for his political views but his arrogance).

    I’m not trying to start a political debate, just hoping you will understand why the guy makes many of us sick to our stomachs. I really enjoy the fact that we have a lot of different ages and political views on this blog and I don’t think I’m being intolerant – I just don’t like arrogance – especially from people I totally disagree with. I know many of you are in the same boat (on either side of the political spectrum).

  18. ad hominem, we switch our sights
    the man and not his authored bytes
    the content, that’s fair game
    but if we cull the name
    we atrophy his basic rights.

  19. I find Costas far less tolerable and considerably more overrated (most glaringly by himself) than Olbermann. And I can take or leave Olbermann.

  20. I will say, when I saw a thread on Braves Journal dedicated to Olbermann, my first thought was, “This is a bad idea. Too many won’t be able to help themselves in breaking The Rule…” It’s gone a bit better than I expected!

    I’m with you, spike @29.

  21. @29

    Generally, people like Costas personality-wise but think Olbermann is a jerk, which leads to the swooning over Costas and the sneering over Olbermann. That and Costas has never hosted a highly-polarizing political talk show. In fact, he’s never done much that one could term “highly polarizing” at all. He occasionally dabbles, like with his gun essay last year, and then spends the next week charmingly explaining himself on the talk show circuit and everybody forgets about it.

    Anyway, my comment about Costas and Olbermann was meant to be based on talent alone, not to render a judgment on how they’ve used it. One could certainly argue (and I would probably agree) that neither has used it as well as they could have. Costas has more or less become a corporate shill and Olbermann wasted over 10 years and half his fanbase becoming a politcal talking head. But when they are on top of their game, those two are capable of putting together work the quality of which absolutely dwarfs what anybody else in the TV sports field is even remotely capable of doing.

  22. I agree with Fangraphs WAR and think Simmons is our team MVP. He’ll never be seen as such by the mainstream, though.

  23. @31, The theme of the piece was “Please, consider the greatness of Keith Olbermann, and how happy you should be that he’s back.” It’s inevitable that the audience for which that message was intended will want to have their opinion given a fair hearing. I’m sure it wasn’t intended by you, Stu, but to suggest that many of us “might not be able to help ourselves” in breaking “The Rule” is a bit condescending. If there’s concern about political rule breaking, then the fault lies with the content provided us to discuss.

    That said, it doesn’t bother me at all that blazon chose this as his theme. As much as I can’t stand Olbermann, I find it of interest why people might like him. As for me, it’s a bit of goalpost moving to suggest we focus solely on the man’s “authored bytes” when media personalities rely as much on their media persona as anything. And Olbermann’s media persona to so many is founded on his insufferable personality that has drive him from job to job, and his undeniable issues with the female sex, which cannot help but emerge from time to time in his writing, his commentary, and his Twitter feed. His media persona is like nails on a chalkboard to many, and now without reason, and thus I cannot invest any time in watching him.

    It’s sort of beside the point to me, anyway. I don’t watch sports shows at all. All I do is watch the Braves on TV and listen to them on the radio. Outside of team coverage on the AJC, and the opinion of folks on this forum, I don’t really follow the world of sports. I don’t have any need for Olbermann, in other words.

  24. Changing gears a little here:

    Let’s say you have a fantasy football team and you are going against a team that has Peyton Manning. You are a little behind at the moment and you need to make something big happen.

    Who do you start at QB? Stafford or Vick?

  25. @10, Why take personal offense to someone who is described as an “awful human being” whose bread and butter included running a daily segment called “The Worst People In The World”? Tone is as tone does.

  26. In fact, he’s never done much that one could term “highly polarizing” at all

    Costas is in fact, a mass purveyor of conventional wisdom, and self styled moral compass. Helen Lovejoy in a different slack size, if you will.

  27. Back in the old ESPN days Olbermann was funny as hell. It was good TV. I was entertained.

    @9 – I don’t know if a ‘little shrill’ is an accurate description of Olbermann on MSNBC. I wasn’t entertained.

    Dang, it seems like a week since the Braves last played.

  28. @10 Yes, people who treat everyone around them like shit are awful human beings. And that’s not even getting into the cancer he put into the body politic with his “worst person in the world” crap. Get over it.

  29. 35—Well, call it what you want, but I said exactly what I meant. I think the thread was a bad idea, and I think we’re all in total control of how we respond to it. One’s responding by talking politics, when he could respond by ignoring politics, is proof of his being unable to help himself.

    40—I was just thinking the same thing. I blame Kameron Loe.

  30. Smitty,

    Depends on how far behind you will be but I’d start Stafford- he has the best chance to get you 30 points.

    If you are way behind though, Vick is the only one who could get you 50 plus.

  31. Bob Costas is my mom’s favorite sports anchor. Probably your mom’s too.

    As for Olbermann, I just can’t handle “hey guys here is my opinions about things I have opinions wanna hear em?” TV. In any form.

  32. @47

    please explain, what was done? why? an Uggla type thing? or cosmetic only?

    does it in any way make him look taller? he wishes…

  33. I have mixed feelings on Olbermann. I loved him as far back as his CNN days, when I thought Sports Night with Nick Charles and Fred Hickman was vastly superior to SportsCenter. His move to ESPN, and his ballyhooed days with (the very popular, but I think tiresome) Dan Patrick was at first great theater, but then quickly became boring. His movement to politics really just left me uninterested, and being surrounded on Sunday Night Football with Costas, and Patrick was a snoozer—-hey, bring on Al and Chris and the game. However, I have very very much enjoyed his baseball blog (although it isn’t updated very often). I’ve caught his new show twice now, and really enjoyed the first one, the second one not so much. He’s not for everyone, but I’m glad I have a choice to watch him or skip him—–it sure beats poker reruns.

  34. my eyelids are starting to droop
    they often land me in the soup
    i cannot go blinking
    so here’s what i’m thinking
    to hide it or call it a scoop.


  35. @45

    Then I’d go with Stafford- he’ll be playing in a dome with an actual running game to back him up. Even in a lost, I’d expect two touchdown passes and over 200 yard. If Vick stumbles, that’s a huge whiff.

  36. I do love the fact that after his famous call in Game 5, Costas had to watch and announce Game 6 of the ’99 NLCS and describe one of his pet teams yakking up leads in the 8th and 10th and walking home the game winner in the 11th. Most enjoyable.

  37. Here’s something non-Braves/Olbermann related I just stumbled upon. It’s a website dedicated to Tom Wilson, a music producer whose name is never talked about among the greats despite his being behind the boards of a diverse array of musicians in their seminal years.

    In the ’50s, his Transition Records label was the first to put out Sun Ra, and Donald Byrd, and he’d later produce other jazz greats like Booker Little and Cecil Taylor, among others. In the ’60s, his production roster included all the Dylan albums from Freewheelin’ to Highway 61 Revisted, Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence”, and early Zappa, Soft Machine, and Velvet Underground records. He’s not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which seems crazy to me.

    Unfortunately, though the website just debuted a few years ago, it looks like it belongs in 1999, not 2013.


  38. Also, I really wish all Olbermann talk here would leave out the politics. I agree with Olbermann about a lot, but I don’t really want to read about it on Braves Journal, and I don’t think Mac would want it here.

  39. I think I agree with Sam @30 that this discussion has been tenuously close to politics without actually being politics. I’m impressed, like Stu @31, that no one went full-bore over the line. Just the tip, if you will.

  40. 58 — Fair enough, but I don’t really care for this discussion, and I don’t think Mac would want it here with the toeing of the line. But, I guess I can PgDn.

  41. @40

    Well, if you discount Wednesday’s game (which I personally do) then the Braves haven’t played since Tuesday evening…..

  42. I’ll be happy to change the subject to what a shitty announcer Costas is and never mention a word about his or my politics.

  43. Here’s Costas, Morgan and Uecker calling Game 6 of the ’95 World Series. The Braves win, natch, so it’s tolerable.

    There’s also some Uecker in the 9th wondering why Wohlers would use a crappy breaking ball as a first pitch. “Stick with the fastball” he and Morgan said. Wish he’d have listened…

  44. @62, I think Costas is a perfectly pleasant announcer in-game. He’s just trite when someone gives him a soapbox before the game, which is more and more of his work these days.

  45. @60

    Soon, there will finally mercifully be another game and this silly off-day discussion will end.

    To wit, let’s get started. Here’s today’s lineup: B.J. Upton 8, J. Upton 9, Freeman 3, Gattis 7, McCann 2, C. Johnson 5, Uggla 4, Simmons 6, Minor 1

    EDIT: @64, Boy is that ever a piece of foreshadowing to a year later.

  46. I think discussion of Olbermann as a sports anchor is totally fine and does not violate the No-Politics Line. Like a lot of other people in sports, he also has a wide variety of political opinions, none of which are worth discussing here.

  47. When Costas did PBP I thought it was pretty bland and generic (which is just fine), except when he tried to put “poetry,” so to speak, in his announcing descriptions which was a bit annoying to me.

  48. Tonight’s lineup at PHI (7:05, FSS/680AM/BRN): BUpton 8 JUpton 9 Freeman 3 Gattis 7 McCann 2 CJohnson 5 Uggla 4 Simmons 6 Minor 1

  49. @60, 66

    for the record…

    as the person who originated the thread and wrote the post there is absolutely nothing political in it, not a word…by design…what comes after of course is literally out of anyone’s control but having said that I think overall it’s been a good and lively discussion all round – certainly not ‘silly’.

    but thanks for tonight’s line up!

  50. Interesting that Regression is 6th while the Bear is back to cleanup. Guess Fredi figures that he is fixed.

  51. Greetings from Aruba…

    Hmmm, a discussion about TV sports announcers—a much-flogged subject. Maybe I should head back to the bar. I’m well on my way to becoming a girl-drink drunk today.

    (BTW, Papiamento is one of the weirdest languages I’ve ever heard… or maybe it’s the rum punch.)

    Go Barves…

  52. @65- I’m still bitter over Costas (and Joe Morgan, always a treat) not shutting the hell up about Mike Piazza starting the “Laaaarry” schtick during the ’99 NLCS.

    The Mets had personnel they called Mookie, Cookie, Fonzie, Oly, and freaking Rey Rey, but “Chipper” was apparently a bridge too far. Screw the Mets, and screw Bob Costas for giddily making that a Thing.

  53. @75- Screw the Mets for better reasons than “Laaaarry.” They cost us Tim Hudson and Jason Heyward this year. I’m pretty sure the Mets should endure another half century of irrelevance as a baseball team. If not worse…

  54. When we first signed BJ, I remember getting on this site and immediately seeing Rob Cope really complain about the move. He warned about BJ’s boneheaded defense, and predicted that there would be times this year when we would all wonder what in the heck BJ was doing out there. Well, Rob, you were right. That has happened far more often this season than I had hoped it would.

  55. @81, Yep. He had that one pegged.

    Perhaps he suffers from Len Barker’s disease, a total lack of focus when he’s on the field. It was said about Barker that the catcher and pitching coach would come out to the mound and get him focused on what was coming up next, but all it took was something like a plane flying over the stadium and that’s what he’d be training his mind on.

  56. 87 — Joe told a story on the air about how Terry Pendleton calls Simmons “The Reason,” as in he’s the reason the Braves are having such a good year.

  57. Gary Matthews on the Phillies crew is demolishing BJ for complaining about strikes that he takes right down the middle and reacts as if they’re balls. “No wonder he’s hitting a buck 98.”

  58. Not on you, Mike. It’s on a lineup curling into the fetal position at the sight of Cliff Lee.

  59. @115, and in our hitters defense, we were robbed a couple of times by some great Phillies defense. I suppose if we have to lose, I’d much rather it be in a game like that. In fact, I’d take that game to Wednesday’s game any day!

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