It’s a good thing Dennis Eckersley’s appeal crosses all party lines. Because his new partner on TBS’s postseason baseball broadcasts is about as polarizing as it gets.
Turner Sports announced Wednesday it has hired Keith Olbermann to anchor its postseason baseball coverage on TBS. He will be paired with Eckersley, the Hall of Famer and current NESN salvation who has been part of TBS’s postseason coverage since 2008.
Olbermann has a lengthy and decorated background in sports, which includes a brief time in the mid 1980s at Channel 5. But the former “SportsCenter’’ anchor went on to build an even higher profile on MSNBC’s “Countdown,’’ where for eight years he was positioned prominently as a cable news commentator a sizable distance to the left of Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly.
The gifted, mercurial Olbermann most recently served as the primary face of Current TV, where he lasted a year before there was an acrimonious parting — a scene that is not unfamiliar to him.
“If you go through the 37 pages of my résumé, you’ll notice that every one of my jobs has lasted at least one month,’’ he said in noting the length of TBS’s postseason coverage, which includes American and National League wild-card games, coverage of all four Division Series, and the exclusive broadcast of the National League Championship Series. “So I’m covered no matter what the eventuality is.”
Olbermann acknowledged that there’s room on his schedule should other opportunities arrive outside the sports broadcasting realm.
“Open to pursuing things? Of course,’’ he said. “Planning on it? No. Do I need to? Fortunately not. Whatever else might be out there couldn’t be as compelling as this.
“This is perfect for me on several different levels. Baseball is my passion. Last season, I did this at home to the TV by myself. Now, there will be people watching, I’ll get paid for it, and I get to wear a tie rather than sitting around in my uniform pretending to be a player.’’
The in-game interviews with NBA coaches rarely rise above the banal and clichéd despite the efforts of capable sideline reporters such as ESPN’s Doris Burke. It’s access without reward.
The vast majority of coaches aren’t going to share any information of any relevance, particularly during the postseason. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be entertaining.
Longtime Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, whose team opened the NBA Finals against the Heat Thursday night, has gained notoriety over the years for his abrupt and frequently sarcastic responses to sideline reporters’ questions.
They are delivered with just enough of an I’m-in-on-the-joke undertone that they leave the viewer amused rather than feeling sympathy for the reporter stuck in a thankless spot.
“It’s almost become funny how short Gregg is,’’ said Jeff Van Gundy, the former Knicks and Rockets coach and current ESPN/ABC NBA analyst. “I think he thinks he’s [not] getting paid by the word, because really, some of his stuff is very, very funny; short, and to the point.”
Van Gundy said he doesn’t necessarily think of the coach interview as a gimmick. But he does believe there are more informative ways to use the time.
“I think what would be as good is interviewing the head official — what does he see, what’s happening in the first quarter,’’ he said. “You know, what are they looking for, what is the scouting report on these two teams.”
McHugh a keeper
Liam McHugh, who does fine work centering analysts Mike Milbury and Keith Jones as the studio host of NBC and NBC Sports Network’s pregame and postgame NHL coverage, nearly ended up at NESN a few years ago before he had built his national profile. McHugh, then a relative unknown nationally, was a serious candidate to co-host “NESN Daily’’ alongside Jade McCarthy (now at ESPN) when it launched in August 2010. NESN’s offer, believed to be in the $50,000-a-year range, wasn’t enough. McHugh’s first prominent role was as host of Versus’s “Daily Line’’ that same year, where his cohosts included Deadspin favorite Jenn Sterger. It was canceled in November 2010, but McHugh made enough of an impression that NBC kept him on and enhanced his profile through Versus’s transition to becoming NBCSN.
Green for summer
The Celtics, having come to an apparent crossroads in what radio voice Sean Grande calls the New Big Three era, are certain to have an eventful summer. And given that they are probably the most undercovered of the big four Boston sports teams on the local radio airwaves, WEEI deserves kudos for adding what should be a very high-quality, team-specific program during the offseason. The station announced this week that Grande and analyst Cedric Maxwell will host a new program, “Celtics Summer Cooler,’’ that will run Saturdays from 1-3 p.m., June 8 through Sept. 28. The show will feature interviews with players, front office personnel, and local and national media personalities . . . Game 1 of the Bruins-Penguins series aired last Saturday in prime time on NBC, opposite Fox’s broadcast of a Red Sox-Yankees matchup. Both games earned a 2.5 rating nationally, but locally, the Bruins, who defeated the Penguins, 3-0, reigned in the ratings, earning a 19.6 overnight to the respectable 7.6 Fox got for the Red Sox’ 11-1 victory . . . Jerry Remy has been absent from the Red Sox broadcast booth since last Tuesday, when he was sidelined with what he and NESN said were allergies. “Have no fear — that’s all it is,’’ tweeted Remy, who was treated for a recurrence of lung cancer during spring training. But Wednesday, he confirmed on Twitter that what is currently ailing him is more than allergies: “I’ve caught a little pneumonia and it has to run its course. It’s not due to anything else, hope to be back soon.” Remy, who missed a couple of weeks in May 2011 with pneumonia, will not return until next week at the earliest.