Sunday, January 4, 2009

Andruw Jones for the HOF???

I have always regarded ESPN's Buster Olney as a Peter Gammons wannabe.  Sometimes I can't exactly put my finger on just why I feel this way, but more often than not it's simply because when I watch him on SportsCenter or Baseball Tonight, I feel that he is trying too hard to make us take him seriously.  

In other words, if he were more confident in what he was saying, he wouldn't feel the need to try so hard.  It's his body language, basically.  It's the excessive seriousness in his eyes, and from the lines on his face, rather than the relaxed manner in which Gammons invariably communicates his love of baseball as much as what's detailed in his reports.  When I watch Gammons, I feel as though he would be wonderful to hang out with over a beer, just talking baseball.  When I watch Olney, I feel no such attraction.  Rather, I feel his insecurity, and his need to be validated.  

Occasionally, Olney breaks stories, which one would expect of any chief baseball correspondent on ESPN.  That's what ESPN does, more than any other sports network, hands down:  ESPN breaks stories.  But Olney is wrong far too often because, again, he tries too hard to be right. As a result, he jumps the gun more than Gammons ever did, and sometimes lays an egg.  Case in point:  The Mark Teixeira free-agent signing.   Olney had Teixeria going to the Red Sox or the Nationals right up until the end, when Teixeira signed with the Yankees.  OK, I'll cut him some slack.  We all make mistakes, breaking stories.  Sometimes our sources turn out to be less reliable than we thought.

But, again, ESPN had near-constant Olney updates on the inevitable Teixeira signing, and it turns out he was wrong from the beginning.  It wasn't just one incorrect article.  He had Teixeira going to the Red Sox, Nationals, Orioles or Angels.  Then it was the Red Sox, Nationals or Orioles.  Then it was the Red Sox or Nationals.  Then he had the Red Sox clearly the favorites.  Then Teixeira signed with the Yankees.  Then, ESPN had Olney explain why Teixeira chose the Yankees.  Hey!  At that point, I think anyone else at ESPN should have taken that assignment.  Anyone other than Buster Olney, who had lost all credibility on the Mark Teixeira story.

Finally, we have Buster Olney's latest column for, which came out today (1/4).  He actually suggests that if Andruw Jones' major league career is finished, at age 31, after hitting .158 with the Dodgers last season in 209 at-bats (and a lost glove in center field), he deserves serious consideration for the Hall of Fame.  Folks, I'm not making this up.    

Read for yourself:

Olney's suggestion that a guy who let his career disintegrate after getting fat at an age when he should be entering his prime, may then--in five years--get serious consideration for the Hall of Fame is beyond laughable.  He compares the career statistics of Misters Sosa, Kaline, Bench, Santo and Murphy at age 31 with Jones, and notes they are comparable.  But those guys weren't forced out of the game at age 31, which reduces Olney's argument to pure nonsense.  Again, he's trying way too hard.  Does he actually believe this crap?  

Olney concedes that his original column the day before, suggesting Andruw Jones as a borderline HOF candidate, generated a considerable reader response, most of which suggested that Buster Olney is an idiot.  In Olney's column today (referenced above), he admits he may be an idiot.  

I rest my case.


Marc from Alameda said...

Mr. Bitker,

There is absolutely no way that Jones makes the baseball HOF. Look at the struggles of much better ball players to even get a look by the baseball writers. Case in point is Jim Rice. Statistical analysis shows that Rice was standard deviations higher than the average hitter of his time and it still has taken years for the baseball writers to give him any respect. Also, as you so eloquently state, the ESPN baseball coverage has been poor. I don't take anything that they say as fact or even likely and they are inaccurate 50% of the time. ESPN coverage is no better than reading the morning paper. I expect more inside knowledge and timely announcements from our sports leader.

Marc from Alameda

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