Thursday, July 07, 2005

Buster Olney is the man

Sunday is my five-year anniversary at Gannett. In my time here, I've been fortunate enough to interview some pretty amazing people and befriend some of the feature-oriented subjects in the process. Some of the recent story subjects to become friends of mine include sketch comedian Chris Principe and graphic designer Todd Radom, whom I mentioned earlier this week.

But one of my former story subjects, Buster Olney, has become a mentor and friend. Buster Olney is a senior writer for ESPN: The Magazine and makes regular contributions to "SportsCenter" and "Baseball Tonight." Not only is he a brilliant writer, but also he treated me with incomparable respect when I profiled his book and his career for my newspaper.

Anyway, without getting too dramatic, I thought this segment of his must-read daily Blog was particularly fun. (It's part of a pay service called ESPN Insider, but his writing was enough to get me to pay the $3 a month.) Here he's talking about the "Oh Shoot" meter -- the level of fear among baseball players when an opposing team's reliever is coming in to close the game:

There are no numbers to quantify this particular measurement, but we know, from conversations with many players and managers, that Dennis Eckersley did very well on The Oh Shoot Meter. So did Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter. Trevor Hoffman has done very well. And at some point down the road, this category could be renamed the Mariano Rivera Meter, because it's possible that no reliever has been as feared by opponents as Rivera.

Gossage gave the best description of this phenomenon that I've heard, while speaking of Rivera. The opposing players are "sitting in the dugout thinking, 'We've got no [expletive] chance,'" Gossage said, his voice rising and his eyes widening. "It's [expletive] over. This guy walks in and they are [expletive] done."

Just classic. And he writes great anecdotal stuff like this on a daily basis.