Keith Olbermann on his Countdown show on March 16, 2023. Keith Olbermann on his Countdown show on March 16, 2023. (Keith Olbermann on Twitter.)

Former ESPN (three times!) figure Keith Olbermann has dropped a lot of fiery takes over the years on everything from sports to politics, but his Twitter rant against the World Baseball Classic Wednesday night is one of the most notable in a while. After New York Mets’ pitcher Edwin Díaz suffered a knee injury during celebrations following his Puerto Rican team’s win over the Dominican Republic, many on Twitter started complaining about the WBC. And Olbermann chimed in with a nuclear-level take on the whole concept of international sports:

While the WBC is far from “a meaningless exhibition series” to many players and fans, no one has to like it, and it’s certainly not beyond criticism. And injury risks can be brought up there; yes, there are plenty of spring training injuries and non-baseball injuries in MLB, and nothing in this life is safe, but the competition level in the WBC does mean there are possibly some elevated risks (which has led to a number of pitching restrictions for the tournament, and to some players choosing not to go altogether). It’s also possible to have a discussion about if it’s best to have the WBC before or after the MLB season. And if Olbermann had stuck to those lines, his criticisms here would have fit in with many others.

But Olbermann (whose main media role these days is a daily Countdown sports and news podcast with iHeartMedia) took this take to a whole new level with his shot at the entire concept of international sports events, and how they “split up teammates based on where their grandmothers got laid.” Yes, there is an element of truth there on some levels; there are sometimes citizenship exemptions involved in who represents a country at any international sporting event, and there’s definitely personal choice (and team choice) for those with options, but a lot of an athlete’s options for countries to represent do often come from where they were born and where their family members were born. But all means of assigning people to teams have challenges, and a choice based on family connection feels more logical in some ways than, say, MLB’s draft process. And Olbermann’s particular language there drew a lot of negative comment:

As of just after noon Eastern Thursday, almost 12 hours after it was posted, Olbermann’s tweet here had 1,106 quote retweets, 39 straight retweets, and 348 likes. The ratio to slash line conversion has changed since Twitter removed pure reply numbers and broke retweets into straight retweets and quote retweets, but quote retweets are the closest remaining thing to replies. So Olbermann’s putting up an extremely high average/low home run/low slugging season. And he’s napalming a few more bridges along the way.

The reaction here didn’t get Olbermann to delete or backtrack from his tweet on players’ grandmothers in relation to Díaz’s injury, though. Instead, he doubled down, and told Mets’ owner Steve Cohen to “buy the WBC and shut it down”:

That’s probably not going to happen. But if it does, we will of course provide full credit to Keith Olbermann.

Update: Olbermann did eventually provide an apology, sort of, to Lindsey Adler of The Wall Street Journal:

He then threaded in his latest Countdown episode:

[Keith Olbermann on Twitter; image from an Olbermann Twitter video]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.