Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 1.28.54 PM

Wisconsin Media Series: Drew Olson

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 4.29.30 PMThis week’s guest is Drew Olson from ESPN Milwaukee. After serving as the Milwaukee Brewers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and as a senior editor and sportswriter for, Olson has been with Good Karma Broadcasting (ESPN Milwaukee) since 2005 and full-time since 2010. He hosts “The D-List” with Dan Needles from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM every weekday on ESPN’s radio station WAUK AM 540 in Milwaukee. Olson was also President of the Baseball Writers Association of America in 2004, and actively holds a Baseball Hall of Fame vote. Follow him on Twitter @DrewOlsonMKE.

Below are the highlights of the podcast including Olson’s experience in working his way up in sports media, his steroid era Hall of Fame vote, his tenure as the President of the Baseball Writers, his new book with Bill Schroeder about stories from the Brewers, and much, much more. 

The Beginning: 
Olson started off talking about the beginning of his journalism career during his time at UW-Milwaukee. His first job was at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, where he was a copy boy and eventually worked his way up by saying ‘yes’ repeatedly to new job opportunities, covering for others on weekends, working funky hours, etc. One of Olson’s best stories and sports networking stories came in about Jon Greenberg, President of the Milwaukee Admirals, who were in a class together on sports writing during their time at UW-Milwaukee. (1:00-7:30)

“He [Greenberg] was the Brewers’ media relations director; I was the beat guy for the paper. And, we were standing on the field at Yankee Stadium, just laughing.”

1994: Olson’s first year in the paper: Olson’s first year as the Brewers’ beat writer was in 1994, when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Milwaukee Journal merged and the MLB season was actually cancelled due to the strike. (7:30-9:00)

Sports network: He next talked about the importance of the sports media network, and how he says it’s important never to burn a bridge in sports. (9:00-10:30)

2004: President of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America: In terms of Olson’s tenure as the President of the Baseball Writers’ in 2004, he actually said Tom Haudricourt, the current Brewers’ beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, would have been the Vice President the year before and President then in 2004 if his wife did not get a great job offer in New York. His best story during his tenure was about a controversy with a Baseball Writers’ member watching pornography in the press box. In terms of his legacy, Olson feels good about the fact that he helped lead the push to let guys from Baseball Prospectus and other saber-metric writers that did not work for newspapers be able to apply to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The coolest part of it was being able to give a speech at the Baseball Hall of Fame and meeting all of the living Hall of Famers at the time. (10:30-17:30)

“That [being President of the Baseball Writers] will be in my obituary.”

Steroid Era: I asked Olson about whether or not the writers were aware of the steroid era. He talked about how writers definitely noticed changes in players’ bodies and power statistics skyrocketing, but it was all speculation at the time (there was no proof nor subpoena power). (17:30-19:45)

“Did we not notice that Sosa and McGwire were huge and hitting home runs at a historic distances never before seen? Everybody saw it.”

Hall of Fame vote for Steroid Era players: With his Hall of Fame vote, Olson said he would vote for the guys that cheated in a cheating era because of their performance when almost everyone was cheating. He claimed that you have to vote for everybody because we don’t know who all cheated still, which is a big discussion he’s had with Buster Olney. In terms of Pete Rose, he says he would vote for him if he was on the ballot (19:45-22:30)

“When it comes to my Hall of Fame vote, I vote for everybody.”

Ryan Braun: Olson believes Braun will not be in the Hall of Fame because of his statistics and thumb injury in the end, not only because of the way he is portrayed after his steroid issues. He thinks Milwaukee fans will probably forgive Braun, but opposing fans never will because he not only cheated, but lied about it. (22:30-24:50)

“Andy Pettitte owned up [to steroid use] and no one ever says anything about him.”

Brewers’ future and GM search: The Brewers want to re-model, not re-build, Olson affirmed. They want to build around Jonathan Lucroy and Braun (due to his contract), and not do a total rebuild like the Cubs or Astros. In terms of the General Manager search, Olson thinks they have a list of 12 guys that started in spring training and it will be a young, analytics guy. Olson believes that owner Mark Attanasio sticking with manager Craig Counsell will not impact the GM search since there are only 30 of those jobs, and people will take the opportunity. (24:50)

“Doug [Melvin] just looked tired [at the trade deadline].”

New book with Bill Schroeder: Olson is working on a book called “If These Walls Could Talk” with Brewers broadcaster and former player Bill Schroeder that highlights the history of the Brewers in Milwaukee with stories from players and more.

General advice for potential sports professionals: Lastly, Olson said his advice for young guys is to be able to do multiple things such as writing, radio, and digital work.

Thanks again to Drew Olson for sitting down with me. Lance Allan from Today’s TMJ4  in Milwaukee will be our guest next week.

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