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    Olbermann Watch, "persecuting" Keith since 2004

    May 8, 2007
    OlbyObsession: Long before Bill O'Reilly there was Roger Clemens

    Long before he had even heard of Bill O'Reilly, Keith Olbermann had developed an unhealthy obsession with Roger Clemens. While he's never disclosed the source of his animus towards Clemens, his hatred of Roger Clemens is so intense that he abandoned bashing George W. Bush and Bill O'Reilly for almost 10 minutes to disparage Roger Clemens almost seven years after leaving the world of video-taped sports highlights as the co-host of ESPN's SportsCenter.

    On Countdown last night, Olbermann repeatedly questions Clemens integrity and competitiveness, he derided Clemens as the supposed finest pitcher of our time, a 44 year old - soon to be 45 - pitcher who won only seven games last year, a pitcher who "surrendered" leads his teammates gave him, effectively a "500 pitcher" in the post-season who creates "wreckage of the fans" in cities he has played all while a graphic displayed the words "The Rocket Racket" implying Clemens is somehow a fraud.

    To put this in context for those who do not follow baseball, Roger Clemens has won the award for best pitcher (Cy Young Award) in his league SEVEN times which is two more than anyone else in the history of the game. He is one a handful of players to win over 300 games (he now has 348 wins), and TWICE achieved the rare pitching "triple crown" (lowest ERA, most wins and most strikeouts). He is one of just four pitchers with over 4,000 strikeouts and is currently second on the all-time strikeout list. He has pitched in six World Series, played in 11 All-Star games and was named to the Sports Illustrated "all-time" team. He is universally acknowledged as lock for the Hall of Fame.

    Yet according to Keith "for every success in Clemens career there is a parallel controversy".


    There is NO controversy at all except in the mind of Olbermann so there is no "parallel". In a logic reminiscent of his warped mindset when it comes to all things O'Reilly, where others see greatness Olbermann sees "evil". As he done before, Olbermann put forward the absurd argument that Clemens is not really the great pitcher he has been made out to be because he has "made 33 starts and his team has lost 17 of those games and in 8 of those starts he has surrendered the leads his teammates have given him". In reality, Clemens has a very impressive 12-8 record in the play-offs for a .600 winning percentage.

    Viewers listening to Olbermann would be perplexed why any team would want to sign Clemens because he is so old, last season he was "only" had a 7-6 record and he's effectively been a "500 pitcher" in the post-season. The only thing Keith got right is Clemens' age. Keith's guest points out a few facts worth noting, that "Roger Clemens had the best ERA in baseball last year, the last two years he's had the best ERA in baseball, and if you take the last three years he's had the best ERA in baseball...he is an amazing competitor...[teammates have] all kinds of respect...he has an incredible pitching aptitude...he knows how to win..." He might also of added that during those three years since he left the Yankees he won another Cy Young Award and led the Houston Astros to their first-ever World Series appearance.

    In some bizarre attempt to make a case against Clemens, Olbermann recounts what he imagines is a blistering indictment of the Rocket.

    - "1990 things aren't going himself thrown out of a play-off game for the Red Sox against the A's"

    - "came out on the second inning of play-off game where he was just getting rocked in Boston for the Yankees in 1999, there's some murky explanation of a bad back"

    - "the unclear bat throwing incident with Mike Piazza in the World Series in 2000"

    - "comes out a play-off game when he's losing in 2001 suddenly he's got this hamstring pull out of nowhere"

    - "first game of the world series in 2005 he's got nothing...walking problem...suddenly as he reaches the dugout he starts to limp he's got another hamstring pull"

    One can only wonder what type of OlbyLogic is required to include the Mike Piazza incident on this list as most people felt it exemplified Clemens' overwrought level of competitiveness, quite the opposite of Keith's supposed point. What we have left is that once in the first 15 years of his career Clemens "got himself" thrown out of a play-off game and that three times later in his career since he was taken out of game due to injury. That's a total of 1 play-off game out of 33 where Clemens was ejected for arguing with the umpire (something Clemens does quite frequently) and 3 play-off games out of 33 where Clemens left a game due to injury (all when he was well past the age of 35 by which time many professional baseball players are no longer even active).

    As usual, Keith's "smoking gun" turns out to be a water pistol.

    Long-time Olbermann Watch readers will recall it was back in February 2005, that we demonstrated Keith's embarrassing ignorance on a subject in which he supposes himself to be an expert - sports. At the time, the topic was college football and the faux-controversy Olbermann sought to generate over Bill O'Reilly's impressive college career as a football player at Marist College (O'Reilly was a scholarship athlete at Marist in basketball but played on the schools club-level football team where he excelled as a punter). More recently, Keith's has been made to look the fool again, this time in the one area of sports many thought he really was an expert - baseball.

    How much does Olbermann despise Clemens? Back in the early days of Countdown, Keith compared Roger Clemens to Rush Limbaugh. Clemens' offense? He decided to come out of retirement to pitch for the Houston Astros after leaving the New York Yankees at the end of the 2003 season. In 2005, Keith sought to link Clemens to the burgeoning steroids scandal in baseball by attempting to tie together threads so tenuous as to be invisible - striking even by Olbermann's already low standards. Keith highlighted details from Jose Canseco's infamous tell-all book by quoting Canseco stating that he had NOT seen Clemens do steriods and that Clemens had NOT told Canseco he had ever used steroids but that Canseco knew pitchers used steroids and Clemens was a pitcher. During the baseball playoffs of 2006, Keith reported a false story from the L.A. Times that an ex-teammate, Jason Grimsley, had implicated Roger Clemens (per usual, Keith never ran a correction even after San Francisco U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan, the man running the Balco/Barry Bonds investigation, took the unusual step of denouncing the story).

    On September 11, 2006, Olbermann released a book that few read, "Worst Person in the World and 202 other contenders" which contained material lifted straight from MSNBC transcripts - apparently without even taking the trouble to fix glaring errors in the original transcripts. One section of the book, lifted directly from an Olbermann blog entry from Oct. 2, 2006, dealt with the future first ballot hall-of-famer. The entry entitled, The Case against Roger Clemens.

    Obviously, Keith is enough of an expert on baseball to know that Aaron Boone (not his older brother Bret) hit one of the most famous home runs every by a player in pinstripes. So, exhibit 5 on his list is either an example of KO's usual sloppy "journalism" or how little effort went into his "book".

    Olbermann writes:

    "2003 ALCS Game Seven at New York. Clemens is battered by the Red Sox for six hits and four runs in three innings, leaves the most important game of the season down 4-0. The crash will be obscured by the unlikely relief pitching of Mike Mussina and the even more-unlikely pennant-winning home run of Bret Boone."

    Ironically, Bret Boone was in the stadium that day, doing color commentary for Fox Sports, one of the many broadcasting organizations that has fired Keith over the years.

    Last night when I heard Keith launch into yet another anti-Clemens spiel, I recalled a Link Roundup post from last month where I had linked a great AOL Journal entry from December 2006 I Renew Correspondence With My Good Friend, Keith Olbermann. In it the blogger, who goes under the name "bads85", absolutely destroyed Keith's absurd argument that Roger Clemens is not really a great pitcher because he has supposedly been mediocre in post-season play. The dissection of Olbermann's argument is so devastating that I am taking the liberty of publishing it here:

    Your opening salvo against Clemens is that his team have lost seventeen of the thirty-post season games he has started, even though Clemens is 12-8 in the post season. Perhaps you didn't learn this in your time at ESPN, but if the starter is not the pitcher of record, chances are his teammates are responsible for the loss. However, you imply that the reason Clemens' teams lost seventeen times is because Clemens had to leave the games early or because he blew leads.

    Let's take a look at Clemens' no decisions that resulted in a team loss:

    Game 4, 1986 ALCS -- Bullpen blows a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth, loses the game 4-3 in the eleventh.

    Game 6, 1986 WS -- The Buckner game.

    Game 2, 1988 ALCS -- Clemens gives up 2-0 lead in the seventh; Sox tie the game in the bottom of the frame, then Lee Smith loses it in the ninth

    Game 1, 1990 ALCS -- Clemens leaves game with lead after 6 IP, bullpen gives up nine runs.

    Game 1, 1995 ALDS -- Red Sox lose 5-4 in the 13th inning. Yes, Clemens gave up a 3-0 lead in the sixth, but the Red Sox also blew a save in the eleventh, plus they squandered scoring opportunities in extra innings.

    Game 7, 2001 WS -- Rivera blows save

    Game 4, 2003 WS -- bullpen loses game in 12th inning, 4-3.

    Game 4, 2004 NLDS -- Clemens leaves with a 3 runs lead after 5 IP, bullpen gives up 4 runs. Astrosdon't score after the second inning.

    Game 1, 2005 WS -- Clemens leaves after 2 IP with injury, giving up 3 ERs. Astros tie game in top of the third, but do not score the rest of the game and pen coughs up two runs to lose 5-3.

    In most of those games, it is obvious that Clemens was hardly the reason for his team's defeat. To parade idea that Clemens was responsible for all of his team's seventeen losses is disingenuous. However, from there, you embark into complete stupidity, faulting Clemens for blowing 8 leads over the course of a game in 34 post season appearances (two of which were 1-0 first inning leads; the other six were 2-0 leads at various courses in the game). This shows a complete lack of any sort of baseball context. Clemens post season appearances are very equitable to what a starter would throw in a regular season in this modern era. Would you chastise a pitcher for blowing eight leads, including two 1-0 first inning leads, over the course of the season?

    You then said Clemens was no Christy Mathewson or Bob Gibson. Mathewson's team was .500 in the post season when he pitched, just like Clemens. Let's see how these guys did with your dumb stat of "Blown" Leads:

    Mathewson 11 Games 5 Games w/ "Blown: Leads - 45%
    Gibson 9 Games 3 Games w/ "Blown" Leads - 33%
    Clemens 34 Games 8 Games w/ "Blown" Leads - 24%

    I don' think we need to spend anymore time on this silly stat rooted in ignorance. You thought you could build a case by counting, but evaluating performance is much more than counting, something they obviously don't teach at ESPN. You also said that "[Clemens] is a guy with a post season record slightly less than that of his journeyman teammate Russ Springer," an obvious attempt at hyperbole. Here is a tip, Keith, hyperbole only works in snark if it is grounded in some sort of fact. Russ Springer hasn't even started a post season game.

    Your slam on Clemens was baseball analysis at its worst, riddled with factual inaccuracies and absurdly erroneous evaluations of performance. In other words, your piece was what passes for sports journalism these days in media throughout the country, which is quickly dismissed. However, since you sit behind your anchor desk with an air of snarky moral superiority, kind of like a grumpy Stan Laurel devoid of humor, you should be smacked around when you behave like Coulter or Limbaugh. The fact that you read a teleprompter at ESPN when you weren't occasionally being thrown in a dugout doesn't mean you learned much about sports, especially baseball. Sure, you are capable of belittling the dimwitted O' Reilly, but if you are going to talk baseball, you need to bring better stuff. The last thing baseball needs is an aging tall, skinny Coulter/Limbaugh offspring offering baseball commentary on lower tier cable.

    Well said, bads85, well said.

    Posted by Robert Cox | Permalink | Comments (25) | | View blog reactions


    Wow... two impressive takedowns of bathtub boy for the price of one topic post.

    and the bath tub boy still won't go after Levin that takes him to the wood shed everytime. Guess Roger needs to get on Levin's show and they can have keithy hiding in the tub for years. Or invite him into the bullpen for a "friendly" one on one chat. Bet olberjackhimselfoff would really shine.

    Is there a show that goes by where Olbyonesidedkanobie doesn't wish death on someone? Truly pathetic. Knowing Olby was fuming the whole time during Clemons announcement, priceless.

    BTW, Clemens was a big reason the Astros made their first World Series appearance. Thank you for posting bads85 writing as well.

    I think Olbermann knows more about collecting baseball cards than baseball itself. Just remember what Bill Maher says: "New Rule: If you need to shave and you still collect baseball cards, you're gay. If you're a kid, the cards are keepsakes of your idols. If you're a grown man, they're pictures of men." (4-8-05)

    Clemens has been known to be something of a jerk and stand-offish in the past, and there have been others alleging he has to be using some sort of artificial chemical treatments to continue to pitch the way he has into his mid-40s. But that doesn't excuse Keith's attempts to downgrade his career stats in such a petulant manner (Olbermann often takes shots at Barry Bonds for his myriad of steroid use allegations, and while Bonds' home run record can be called into question, it doesn't take away from his position as one of the best players in baseball over the past two decades).

    My guess is, given Keith's personality and given Roger's, there's probably something personal going on here, dating back to either Olbermann's ESPN or Fox Sports days, that would explain his over-the-top efforts to convince viewers that Clemens is nothing more than a slightly-above-average pitcher.


    I agree that there is something personal going on - probably Roger refused to sign one of Keith's baseball cards or something. You have hit the nail on the head as to why I wrote about this today - the story is really about how Keith uses Countdown to settle scores with his "enemies" - real or imagined. If you don't think his tirades against Fox have just a little to do with Fox Sports humiliating him by keeping him under contract but keeping him off the air for 8 months your not the brilliant Olbermann Watch reader I know you to be.

    The disgruntled sniffer of jock
    Is the hack that colleagues will mock
    Uberloon has no game
    So Roger he'll blame
    While crap overflows from his crock

    Does anyone know if KO had any snarky snarling attacks when Pete Rose left the Reds?

    I know lots of young players and fans were really hurt by that and many sports writers and broadcasters criticized him. Today's climate though is so different. Roger Clemens is only doing what almost all pro sports players do today.

    But on the bright side, KO is always willing to stand in the breech and protect us from everyone except genuine terrorists and Mark Levin.


    Newsman Code of Ethics: Pay attention, Keef!

    1. Adhere to the journalistic values of honesty, courage, fairness, balance, independence, credibility and diversity, giving no priority to commercial or political considerations over professional ones.

    2. Endeavour to get to the truth and declare it in our dispatches, programmes and news bulletins unequivocally in a manner which leaves no doubt about its validity and accuracy.

    3. Treat our audiences with due respect and address every issue or story with due attention to present a clear, factual and accurate picture while giving full consideration to the feelings of victims of crime, war, persecution and disaster, their relatives and our viewers, and to individual privacy and public decorum.

    4. Welcome fair and honest media competition without allowing it to affect adversely our standards of performance so that getting a "scoop" will not become an end in itself.

    5. Present diverse points of view and opinions without bias or partiality.

    6. Recognise diversity in human societies with all their races, cultures and beliefs and their values and intrinsic individualities in order to present unbiased and faithful reflection of them.

    7. Acknowledge a mistake when it occurs, promptly correct it and ensure it does not recur.

    8. Observe transparency in dealing with news and news sources while adhering to internationally established practices concerning the rights of these sources.

    9. Distinguish between news material, opinion and analysis to avoid the pitfalls of speculation and propaganda.

    ...MSNBC putting forth new dictates? Is this the influence of the many voices of concern? Nope, it's from the "Code Of Ethics" from .
    Dan Abrams should study it.

    Robert - your email isn't working - how do I contact you via email?

    Shane Borgess

    No one blasphemes "The Rocket". This is war!!! Hook 'em Horns.

    Like a good liberal. Those who can't do, lie, slander, libel. Maybe its the fact that "The Rocket" will be making more in one month than Olberdouche will make all year.

    It's interesting to observe that if you substitute the word "Bush" or "Rumsfeld" or "Giuliani" for Clemens, you can see that KO employs many of the same rhetorical devices to them that he uses against Clemens.

    In many ways, it seems to me, this is Olbermann's major mistake. He (apparently) believes that the approach that one uses in judging athletes or athletics events can be applied to covering hard news and news figures.

    But sports coverage is an entirely different enterprise. There, one can be more opinionated and offer analysis and interpretation to the events taking place on the field or arena. Standards of objectivity are looser and permit a reporter to inject more of his or her own views into the enterprise.

    Olbermann has acknowledged this fact. That is, he views his "news anchoring" or "reporting" of hard news as being analogous to sports coverage. At one time he argued that covering politics is like covering sports. One just reports on the race or competition but isn't concerned, he argued, about which team wins.

    If only that were so. Who believes that KO doesn't care which "team" wins?

    Just as with his views on Clemens, KO certainly favors some players over others.

    Agreed Crash. This is war.

    Rocket is plenty surly and has been since I watched him in the CWS over twenty years ago (back when we were both young men). Befitting his nature as a Texan, I am sure he is perfectly willing to stomp weenie-man into a greasy spot.

    Of course Olby is bound to be aware of the fact that entering Roger's space could lead to serious implications for his health, thus he will avoid him like the plague. He may be a coward, but he's not completely stupid. He knows that wide child-bearing hips, delicate lady-like hands, and physical grace that would embarrass a palsy patient are no match for a fifteen year old healthy boy, let alone a raging bull like Clemens.

    Hmmm, I wonder which NFL player will get this type of treatment on Super Sports Night of Football in America for the US?

    My guess - Joe Montana or Troy Aikman. I first thought of LT but with Tiki in studio he wouldn't have the balls.

    Clemens is truly a rare talent, and KO is wrong on so many levels with his critiques that it bears reexamining his "sports" as well as journalistic credentials. (I believe that KO's claim to baseball expertise comes from a book he "wrote" naming all the first and third base coaches. That has nothing to do with understanding the game.)


    This BS where Rocket decides in May who he'll pitch for is getting absurd. If you want to pitch, sign a contract, go to spring training, get in shape, and pitch a full season for a team. Don't take 2 months off and decide which teams are contending enough that you'd be interested. Its old.

    My hat's off to you guys. Please keep em coming.

    This is definitely a best handled by the guys case.


    Clemens is a very good individual player, but he folds in the clutch.

    From 1986 to 1992, he racked up 3 Cy Youngs and 136 wins. But the Red Sox only made the playoffs 3 times during that span (1986, 1988, 1990). Clemens started 8 games during those three playoffs, and managed just 1 victory (against a shell-shocked Angels team in 1986).

    When Clemens won his second Cy Young in 1987, he did so despite the fact that the Red Sox were long out of playoff contention. In fact, many of his individual accomplishments (such his 20 K performance against the Mariners) happened when there was nothing at stake.

    From 1993 to 1996, when Clemens had signed a fat $20 million contract, he suffered his only 2 losing seasons (11-14 in 1993 and 10-13 in 1996). In 1996 he only became a "live arm" after the Red Sox were out of contention, going 6-2 over his last 10 starts and racking up his second 20 K performance in what were effectively meaningless games.

    In 1997, he jumped to Toronto for $28 million over 4 years claiming that he wanted to win a championship. Over his two seasons in Toronto, he went 41-13 and won 2 more Cy Young awards. But the Blue Jays finished 5th in 1997 and 3rd in 1998, a combined 24 games under .500. So Clemens demanded a trade, and the Jays sent him to New York.

    In New York, surrounded by a lineup that could have made any scrub a star, Clemens won another Cy Young and his 2 World Series rings. But in those crucial postseason games from 1999-2001, he went 5-4 and got absolutely waxed by Boston in 1999 (0-1, 22.50 ERA) and Oakland in both 2000 (0-2, 8.18 ERA) and 2001 (0-1, 5.40 ERA). In 2002 and 2003 (his last two years in pinstripes) he had decent seasons, but again was largely ineffective against Anaheim in the 2002 ALDS and Florida in the 2003 World Series.

    In 2004, he won his seventh Cy Young with Houston but he turned in another average postseason performance. Same in 2005.

    Here's the point - good players play well. Great players elevate the play of those around them and find that extra gear when the games matter the most. But when it was crunch time, Clemens became average-to-terrible. And many of the years where he was dominant, he did so when it didn't affect the outcome of the season.

    ...He knows that wide child-bearing hips, delicate lady-like hands, and physical grace that would embarrass a palsy patient are no match for a fifteen year old healthy boy, let alone a raging bull like Clemens.


    Keith is an ass of epic proportions. His show last night Tuesday May 9th was patently unwatchable programming. Period. Going after Roger Clemens is weak, he hates Clemens because hes from texas and you know who is also from Texas in the White House. I used to come here because Keith riled me up, alas, he bores me now

    It was because Uberloon isn't a Yankmees fan

    What a small, spiteful little man Olbermann is. Olbermann is always comparing Bush to Nixon, I can't think of anything more Nixonian than having an enemies list and using your post to try and destroy them. Why does NBC let Olbermann use his show to settle his own personal grudges? Love reading about Olbermann trying to attack O'Reilly's football career.
    1. Why would he even care what O'Reilly's football stats are?
    2. Why would he not check the facts of his slander when they are so easy to check?

    Anon 2:12.

    I am hardly a Clemens apologist. I am a Yankee fan. For many years I hated Clemens. I witnessed first hand games where Clemens would get himself so wound up before a play-off game that he would be ineffective in the first inning or two on some occasions - sometimes he settled down and sometimes he left the game. So I am hardly saying Clemens is some kind of saints - give me Andy Petite any day in that regard.

    Two things...

    1) I've never heard ANYONE say that Clemens is not "competitive" but I have heard many people say, out of spite, that Clemens is "insanely competitive" - too much for his own good. That was the line on the Piazza bat throwing incident - that Clemens was in his zone and just freaked out. So, KO's notion that Clemens is some kind of wimp is absurd.

    2) Baseball is perhaps the most stat-crazy sport in the world. There are very specific rules about being the pitcher of record in games. The idea that even though Clemens actual record is 12-8 in the post-season that he is actually a "500 pitcher" because of the 33 games he started his team lost 17 of them is plain idiotic. By that logic we would throw out every stat ever kept, making comparisons utterly meaningless.

    All that you wrote may be true - and it sounds right - but those things do not make Keith right on the facts. KO is just plain wrong. If he (or you) want to knock Clemens be my guest. In your case you are providing real data. In Keith's case he is just making up a statistic because the actual stats do not support his case.


    Come on now, give KO a little credit. Clemens actual playoff winning percentage is .600....KO said .500, so he's only 10% off.

    That's much closer to the truth than KO's norm.


    Actually...that would off by TWENTY percent not 10%.

    Sorry Robert, I should have clarified....I was talking more about the difference between 60% and 50% than the literal percentage difference. Either way, it was in jest.

    And still closer to the truth than the average statement on CD:)

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