We almost made it without him

Ever work in retail? I worked at the office supply counter at the Ohio State Bookstore for a couple of years when I was in college. The worst thing ever was when it was five minutes from closing, you were all set to bust out of there and go throw back beers at Larry’s (RIP), and then some departmental secretary came in with a purchase order for six of everything, ruining the whole deal. It kind of felt like this:

With mere hours remaining before the ball drops, so to speak, for the new MLB Network, veteran sportscaster Bob Costas has joined the party.

The Network announced on Wednesday that Costas, an eight-time sportscaster of the year, would host a conversation with Don Larsen and Hall of Famer Yogi Berra to be interspersed during a New Year’s Day airing of Game 5 of the 1956 World Series, when Larsen threw the only no-hitter and perfect game in postseason history.

Costas isn’t the devil or anything, and his role on opening day, as it were, isn’t terribly big, but I certainly felt like the MLB Network was saying something important by not including the Shadow Commissioner before now. Like it could go its own way and forge its own path instead of relying on Costas to give it his perceived gravitas. Including him now is like the Oscars going back to Billy Crystal all the time because they don’t have any other ideas. Sure, he’s fine. He does a professional job and everything. But hiring him isn’t exactly a profile in creativity or vision.

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  1. Grant said...

    Costas stinks. He’s not quite as bad as Mitch Albom and people like that, but he’s still a smug, pretentious, falsely-gravitas-ed treacle-master. The whole Bissinger/Leitch episode was just icing on the cake of his crappiness.

  2. TC said...

    That’s disappointing.  When I was young, I really liked Costas’ play-by-play baseball broadcasts, but I have never liked him as any kind of host.  Not for the Olympics, not for Costas Now, not for anything.  He seems like a smart guy, but I’d rather have him telling me about the count than the issues.  So to speak.  As long as Costas doesn’t become a fixture on the Network, I’ll remain cautiously optimistic.

  3. The Common Man said...

    I agree entirely with TC.  Costas was a terrific baseball broadcaster, who seemed to be having fun more than anything else while working on the World Series.  But his affiliation with NBC left him without an opportunity to broadcast once Fox came in and ruined sports.  Instead, he became kind of a roving generalist who took to “analysis” because he had nothing better to do.  I want my old Costas back.

  4. themarksmith said...

    Maybe NBC shouldn’t have had Dick Clark on last night either. Yeesh. I love the man, but he didn’t need to be there last night.

  5. RoyceTheBaseballHack said...

    Man – tough crowd. It’s possible the MLB Network brass have either been trying to sign Costas for months and it all just now jelled, or the sight of some gaping holes in a 24x7x365 programming schedule scared the hell out of them, and they called his agent. In my opinion, Costas is a pretty insightful dude. He seems to have a combination of industry cred and intellectual horsepower to handle topics others either don’t have the stones to do, or can’t, for one reason or another. He’s done some damned good programs on HBO. Further, he still seems to genuinely love baseball.  There are better people they could have gotten – lots of them, but I can live with seeing him on there.  Geez…next you guys are all gonna start baggin’ on Joe Morgan.

  6. basepoint said...

    Read the article about Larry’s and I know the feeling but it looks like greed(or stupidity) also played a hand:(From the article)
    Jimmy Barouxis, manager of nearby Buckeye Donuts and a longtime neighbor of Larry’s, said he offered the Paolettis $1.3 million last summer to purchase the bar. He planned to keep the original name and aesthetics, he said, but add a food menu and make minor cosmetic improvements.

    The couple accepted, Barouxis said, but several weeks later refused to sign legal papers. When they asked for $1.75 million, the deal fell through, he said.”

  7. basepoint said...

    The media has raised the position of Costas and his ilk far beyond what they actually are;
    simply reporters and/or commentators of an athletic event.
    Costas himself now acts as if he is intertwined into the fabric of baseball itself.

  8. Pete Toms said...

    The mention of Kubek is timely.  He was recently getting press because he was awarded something by a broadcasting group…whatever…anyway, in the sports coverage that accompanied it it was often mentioned that he walked away from baseball.  He’s barely watched it for decades….I thought he was a great broadcaster back in the day when he did Jays…

  9. Bob Rittner said...

    I have become disenchanted with Costas in recent years, but I think he did a good job interviewing Larsen and Berra and narrating between innings. In that kind of role he can be good.

    Unfortunately, the rest of what I have seen on the new network has been less satisfactory appealing again to the lowest common denominator rather than using its platform to raise the level of discussion. The “in the moments” pieces are typical fluff, more hagiography than history and with no real effort at analysis.

    And the “hot stove” segment is aping similar football shows with lots of sophomoric humor and cliched analyses. I think Leiter is an excellent color man and Larkin seems articulate, but Reynolds is just another ESPN personality and the conversation seems to break down into sound bites and people yelling over each other.

    I don’t so much object to the lack of creativity in the programming or the typically lightweight features, but given that it is a 24/7 baseball network, couldn’t there be some room for more serious and more progressive analysts to stimulate thinking in new ways? Even if they put them on at 3:00 am, just to appease those who are looking for something more than blazers and blonds.

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