Lefty Keith Olbermann, after losing his jobs on MSNBC and Current TV, has turned up on ESPN, still indignant and angry. The host on Tuesday night railed against the Washington Nationals for what he took to be a botched effort at honoring the victims of the Navy Yard shooting. Olbermann's remarks prompted the team's manager to fire back at the liberal host.
The Nats on Tuesday wore Navy hats during batting practice, but took them off for the games. Olbermann fumed, "And then just as they had been symbolically telling the victims and the Navy and the nation that they were with them all the way, now the Nationals and Major League Baseball were symbolically declaring that the grief was over, the mourning was over, the regular caps were back on and available online and at souvenir stands." According to MLB rules, teams may only wear their official hats during games (although exceptions have been made). Olbermann bashed the Washington team and MLB as greedy and selfish, railing, "Shame on the Nationals. More shame on MLB." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Olbermann concluded, "And today, with the opportunity at their fingertips to truly memorialize the victims of the Navy Yard shooting literally at their doorstep, the Washington Nationals were too worn down by MLB's profiteering mentality to even ask."
According to the Washington Times, Nats manager Davey Johnson dismissed the ESPN anchor: "I read Olbermann’s critique of it. He’s not high on my list."
In a statement, MLB explained, "The request the Nationals made was for the players to be allowed to wear the Navy hats pregame and it was granted."
"There was no issue with MLB. We received the hats as gifts from the Vice Chairman (of the Navy) and just wore them during batting practice, but never intended to wear them during the game. We didn't know the hats were coming as a gift and then wore them during BP but never attempted to attain clearance for wearing them during the game."
Olbermann's rant went on for 11 minutes, the average length of his past commentaries about George W. Bush, Iraq and other political topics.
A partial transcript of Olbermann's September 17 monologue is below:
KEITH OLBERMANN: The subway stop on the Washington Metro's green line is called Navy Yard hyphen ballpark. When the Washington Nationals were still in Montreal as the Expos and baseball's return to D.C. Was still an annually disappointing pipe dream, the plans for a new stadium in the capital were centered around the Navy Yard. The Washington Nationals and the Washington Navy Yard are literally neighbors. They are five blocks apart. And yesterday when a Navy reservist whose family claims he was a first responder at the 9/11 attacks in New York entered that Navy Yard, pulled out a weapon or weapons and killed at least 12 people, the Washington Nationals behaved as neighbors should. They put grief ahead of business and empathy ahead of plans and safety ahead of logistics and respect ahead of everything. They canceled their scheduled game. And today they simultaneously mourned and paid tribute in that odd, but inexplicably comforting with a that sports teams often do.
They wore not their regular clothes, they wore some of the clothes worn by their grieving neighbors. "Be sure to wear your blue and gold to the game today. #Navy," tweeted their star player Bryce Harper this morning. And Harper and his teammates were as good as that word before the first game of the double-header today, necessitated by the cancellation yesterday, the Washington Nationals assumed a corner of the grief and horror that had befallen their neighbors at the Washington Navy Yard. They did all they could symbolically to honor the fallen, the service to which they belong, bot the literal ones and naval family that will have to carry on. They wore the blue and gold, they wore United States Navy baseball caps, they wore them even as the National Anthem played. And then came game time. The Nationals took the Navy caps off and put their regular ones back on. I'm told by a reliable Washington source that at least some of the players did not want to take the Navy caps off, but still they did. And then just as they had been symbolically telling the victims and the Navy and the nation that they were with them all the way, now the Nationals and Major League Baseball were symbolically declaring that the grief was over, the mourning was over, the regular caps were back on and available online and at souvenir stands.
OLBERMANN: And today, with the opportunity at their fingertips to truly memorialize the victims of the navy yard shooting literally at their doorstep, the Washington Nationals were too worn down by mlb's profiteering mentality to even ask. Shame on the Nationals. More shame on MLB.