One of the things we love about Mr. Irrelevant and his gang at AOL Sports Bloggers Live is that they're fun enough to pounce on the real sports stories yet clean and well-shaven (and AOL-affiliated) enough to bring in big-name guests that we don't have (or, more accurately, have little desire to have) access to. We get to be the crazy uncle who plants them questions for their big-name guests without those guests having to, you know, sully themselves with us. It's a nice exchange.
This week's example: An interview with ESPN's Buster Olney about those ridiculous mock press conferences his network was having last week, forcing him and other "real" journalists to ask fake questions of pretend GM Steve Phillips. Olney acknowledged the criticisms of both the ESPN feature and his role in it, but defended the rather obvious point that it hurt his credibility as a journalist.
Yeah, we got a lot of negative feedback. ... The one thing I find kind of laughable is people who say there s some sort of journalism credibility problem here. ... But people are taking it way too seriously when they question the integrity of it, because it wasn t meant to be anything but a schticky way of looking at the offseason.
Olney even responded to our specific observation about the clearly demoralized Olney's face: "you can see thousands of operas and greek tragedies in his eyes."
Actually, those are my grandmother s. She has bags under her eyes, and I got doomed with them. Always look like I got about two hours sleep.
In an alternate universe, Olney answered the question by saying, "Honestly? The whole thing was horseshit and the low point of my career. I had to drink all morning just to get ready for one of those segments. Signing with ESPN makes me feel like my soul is rotting. You know what? Screw it. No amount of money is worth this." He was then carried off-set and became an underground hero in the world of sports journalism. He became the pied piper of 21st Century sportswriting, and his book, Who Knew? Fear And Loathing In Bristol changed the sports world as we knew it.
We don't live in that world. Yet.
Full text of his interview after the jump.
"Yeah, we got a lot of negative feedback. The people who were filling in were producers at ESPN, some of the people in various departments, and they asked me if this was like a regular baseball press conference. I said, No, it s more like watching West Wing. I didn t take it very seriously. Basically what it was was this: Trying to come up with a way that the typical What is this team gonna do in the offseason could be done in a different way. They put a lot of bells and whistles on it. Whether or not you like the bells and whistles, that s up to you. If you thought it stunk, fine. The one thing I find kind of laughable is people who say there s some sort of journalism credibility problem here. That s silly. It s really nothing more than any of us writing a column saying, this is what I would do if I were the Red Sox. This is what I would do if I were the Yankees. This is what Steve Phillips was doing. No one was actually saying this was really Steve Phillips, GM of the Red Sox. They ran the streamer across the bottom. People thought it looked stupid? Well, that s up to them. But people are taking it way too seriously when they question the integrity of it, because it wasn t meant to be anything but a schticky way of looking at the offseason.
Actually, those are my grandmother s. She has bags under her eyes, and I got doomed with them. Always look like I got about two hours sleep."