A Completely Unnecessary Defense Of Keith Olbermann

Read carefully: Is he really off-base here?

Unsurprisingly, a Keith Olbermann tweet decidedly not intended to heap praise upon Harrison Bader nearly triggered a full-fledged virtual riot of the thin-skinned BFiB with poor critical reading skills.  Olbermann came across as an opportunistic bully selectively picking on someone he almost certainly knows is a defensive standout.  After all, we can be reasonably sure that he’s seen a highlight or two of Bader.

On the merits of the tweet alone, Olbermann deserved nothing more than a dismissive wanking motion and nothing less than quiet disdain.  Nothing to see here but a grumpy old ESPN personality with some spare time on his hands.  Move along in an orderly fashion, please.

Bader/Cardinal fans could not move along (or at least chose not to), and the predictably insipid, unnecessary responses to a genuinely insipid and unnecessary tweet began rolling in.  This was arguing with an idiot, suddenly finding yourself on their level, and losing due to their greater experience.

Standing up to the random troll or bully?  Commendable.  Defending the helpless or weak from such people?  Sure, but Bader is neither helpless nor weak, and instead of leaving the low-hanging fruit alone, fans and then Bader himself chose to engage.  While apropos for a defensive star to get defensive, the attempt to clap back fell flat and gave Olbermann some ammunition for a battle that need not be fought.

The collective effort of fans to fight Bader’s battle looked just as bad.  If you are going to attempt to pick up a gauntlet that never existed in the first place, then know that you will look foolish in doing so no matter how noble your cause.

Carefully consider the source here as well as the wording of the tweet and the context for it.  Begin with Olbermann.  He’s extremely knowledgeable, quick-witted, and adept at taking the temperature of a room.  He’s educated and funny in a “bar banter fart joke” kind of way.  He can talk politics and sports intelligently, and he’s all-too-comfortable with the former.  Make no mistake here.  There is no shallow end to that particular pool, and he displayed some talent doing political commentary.

Now focus on the tweet.  He’s indicating that he’s purposely limited the sample size to what he’s seen so far in one game.  He then goes on to pass judgment based on that small sample size.  That’s a lot like assessing someone who works 40 hours per week on 15 minutes of a single shift, and a quick glance at the tweet could easily leave that impression.

Except it’s not, because Olbermann does not go on to say that Bader does not look like a major leaguer or a superior outfielder or a heady player.  This is where context comes into play.  Olbermann’s tweet hit the interwebz around the end of the 6th inning.  To that point Bader had reached on a single and also been picked off of 1st base.  He had not made even an above average play in center, and no opportunity for such had yet availed itself.

So, through six innings, do you really think Bader had distinguished himself?

Keep in mind that this isn’t about what Bader had done all season up until this particular game.  The discussion was arbitrarily and conveniently narrowed to exclude his entire body of work with the exception of 6 measly innings.  Olbermann either unwittingly or knowingly baited the trap depending on how much credit you want to give the guy.

Regardless, fans and Bader took the bait, cloaked themselves in the ignorance which Olbermann had feigned, and ran headlong into a breach that did not exist.  Olbermann was trolling, and he did a masterful job of inviting ridicule with an imminently defensible position.  Just imagine if someone had tweeted this yesterday:

“So far nothing in this Cubs-Cards game suggests the Cardinals are a good baseball team, never mind a playoff contender.”

If you’ve managed to set aside bias, I think you’d be hard-pressed to argue the counterpoint here.  The Cardinals are a good team, and they were definitely a playoff contender, but nothing about the way they played yesterday stood out as highly indicative of either.

If you want to hate on Olbermann for being Olbermann, then I’m here for it.  If you want to pick at insufficient punctuation in his original tweet, then I’m here for that as well.  However, if you want to trade shots with the guy, you may want to make sure he’s actually throwing a punch before exchanging indignation for virtual, figurative pugilism.



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