The Smart Man Cometh: ESPN Hires New York Times Boy Genius Nate Silver, Pairs Him With Olbermann

  • Jake O'Donnell

nate silver espnNate Silver, who is known for accurately predicting the outcomes of every relevant thing people predict (Senate races, Presidental elections, NCAA Tourney) is packing his bags and heading over to ESPN to join Keith Olbermann for his late-night (11PM) ESPN 2 talk show (that will NOT feature political discourse). Silver, 35, made his mark as a sabremetrician for Baseball Prospectus (where he was a managing partner) and has recently expressed interested in going back into sports, after becoming a relative deity for predicting outcomes of serious stuff.

When asked about the move, Silver had this to say:

Ok, so maybe he hasn’t commented yet, but it’s a story worth following because that’s a huge blow to the NYTimes who became the go to source for all things prophetic (a pretty awesome thing to be known for in the media biz), as well as an interesting “intellectual” turn for ESPN–the company that employs Joe Morgan, Dick Vitale, Mike Ditka, and various other guys who push on doors that say pull.

Moreover, the acquisition of Silver (damn, this is beginning to sound like actual sports) looks to be a power move in the recently ramped up competition between ESPN and Fox, who has been poaching talent from the worldwide leader for a year now, building an arsenal of broadcasters to go head to head with the 30-year-old sports news monolith. Fox Sports 1 (which debuts August 17th) will look to contrast ESPN’s high school-esque “jockularity” contest with a more reasonable, adult approach to sports (so less Tebow-mania). Which is precisely why Silver coming on board is such a power move by ESPN. Nothing says elevated discourse like hiring the New York Times’ modern day Nostradamus computer.