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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sports Tribune: Bob Costas’ big-league career touches all the sports bases

(prints out Leitch’s “Projectile Spittle” bit…forms firm paper funnel…deposits mega Lamictal tablets…swallows)

“I was reluctant to leave HBO, but I thought it would be my only chance to do baseball again,” Costas said. “Some things have come along at a later stage that have surprised me.

“I still enjoy doing all the things I’m doing. It’s not going to go on forever, but it’s not going to end tomorrow, either.”

The return to play-by-play is a blast from the past for Costas, who hadn’t done it for more than a decade.

“His calls always have that rare blend of crisp play-by-play, storytelling and sharp opinions,” said Dick Ebersol, former chairman of NBC Sports. “Bob is a unique person in the world of play-by-play and one of the best ever to call baseball.”

Costas’ competence in the smorgasbord of the sportscasting realm is unparalleled, now and perhaps in history. Nobody has handled such a variety of duties with his level of expertise.

“His incredibly diverse body of work makes him the most complete broadcaster in sports history,” Ebersol said while presenting Costas for induction into the NSSA Hall of Fame. “He touches the bases in ways no broadcast talent ever has.”

...Costas would beg off from being called an expert in many of the areas he covers, other than baseball.

Repoz Posted: June 14, 2012 at 07:01 AM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: announcers, media

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   1. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:08 AM (#4156499)
Costas can be self-righteous with the best of them but I like him a lot. The thing that strikes me about Costas with respect to baseball is that I think he is a true fan who is genuine in his beliefs. He gets a bit "back in the good ol' days" sometimes but I think when he complains about things I think the complaints come from a genuine place, not from a desire to get TV viewers or readers or whatever the medium requires.

I also think he is just a good play by play guy. He calls the action with an appropriate level of enthusiasm and humor while not overwhelming the broadcast.
   2. AROM, Instagram Gangsta Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:15 AM (#4156509)
I like Bob's announcing. But he frightens me because of his obvious undead status. When I was a little kid, Costas was announcing games. Now I'm old, he's still doing it, and he looks almost exactly the same.
   3. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:27 AM (#4156515)
If you're really old, you're probably older than Costas, who just turned 60. He just had the advantage of starting his career when he was still in college.
   4. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:29 AM (#4156517)
When I was a kid, I remember listening to a static-filled (KMOX was some 400 miles north of my hometown) broadcast of the ABA Spirits of St. Louis' first game. Must've been in 11/74. Apparently, I was listening to a very young Bob Costas describe the events on the court.
   5. UCCF Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:32 AM (#4156522)
I like Costas, but my strongest memories of him are from about 1983-1995. His post-Letterman show on NBC was terrific, and his old radio program Costas Coast to Coast (2 hours, once a week I believe on Sunday nights) was also excellent. He and Tony Kubek were a good team back when NBC's Game of the Week was about the only baseball I ever got to see (plus, he called the Sandberg Game in 1984).

He always did seem to take a lot of pleasure in whatever he was doing. During his interview with Mel Brooks (would have been around 1989 or 1990 - I remember watching it from my freshman dorm), which ran for 4 nights on NBC because he got so much material, Costas actually fell out of his chair he was laughing so hard. And I think with baseball, he's as genuine a fan of the game as any broadcaster going (particularly any working on a national level).
   6. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 14, 2012 at 09:38 AM (#4156528)
When I was a kid, I remember listening to a static-filled (KMOX was some 400 miles north of my hometown) broadcast of the ABA Spirits of St. Louis' first game. Must've been in 11/74.

That's funny, because that's the month that Marvin Barnes of the Spirits jumped the team and showed up in a pool tournament in Dayton. I was at that tournament, but I didn't have the slightest idea who he was until I read the story in the newspaper.
   7. Worrierking Posted: June 14, 2012 at 01:50 PM (#4156865)
When I was a kid, I remember listening to a static-filled (KMOX was some 400 miles north of my hometown) broadcast of the ABA Spirits of St. Louis' first game. Must've been in 11/74. Apparently, I was listening to a very young Bob Costas describe the events on the court.


I was 12 and listened to Spirits games with Bobby Costas. I thought he was great. Terry Pluto's Loose Balls is a very good book on the ABA and the Spirits and Costas are substantial parts of it with some absolutely hilarious Barnes stories.
   8. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 14, 2012 at 01:57 PM (#4156872)
Terry Pluto's Loose Balls is a very good book on the ABA


It certainly is. Over the years, I must've read it at least 5 times. Probably my all-time favorite sports book, which is saying something.
   9. JE (Jason) Posted: June 14, 2012 at 02:19 PM (#4156899)
Costas does occasionally annoy, particularly when he engages in revisionist history, but I can't think of another multi-sport play-by-play announcer who is remotely as good. (No, most definitely not Dick Stockton!)
   10. Kurt Posted: June 14, 2012 at 02:24 PM (#4156903)
I can't think of another multi-sport play-by-play announcer who is remotely as good

Marv Albert.
   11. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: June 14, 2012 at 02:31 PM (#4156910)
Marv one, Costas two. Scully in his prime right there with them.

So, yeah, NBC had arguably the three best all-around American announcer in the history of American announcing covering the 1986 World Series. Marv and Costas couldn't even make the booth -- both did pre-game. The drop to the aughts' featured trio of Buck-McCarver-Zelasko ... wow just wow.
   12. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 14, 2012 at 02:33 PM (#4156912)
Probably my all-time favorite sports book, which is saying something.


This. It's an amazingly good book, and I'm not even much of a basketball fan.
   13. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 14, 2012 at 02:37 PM (#4156920)
Scully in his prime right there with them.


Scully did the NFL for several years for CBS in the late 1970s, and was terrific. You never would have guessed that football wasn't his primary sport.

He was supposedly in consideration to be teamed with John Madden to become CBS's lead NFL crew, and when he lost that gig to Pat Summerall, just left the network altogether.
   14. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: June 14, 2012 at 03:34 PM (#4156979)
Costas does occasionally annoy, particularly when he engages in revisionist history, but I can't think of another multi-sport play-by-play announcer who is remotely as good.

I miss Bill King.
Very good on baseball and football, but probably the best basketball radio guy ever.
   15. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 14, 2012 at 03:36 PM (#4156980)

This. It's an amazingly good book, and I'm not even much of a basketball fan.


I know Pluto has written other sports books, & I gather that most -- maybe all -- are also oral histories, but I can't imagine that the story or characters are anywhere near as compelling. (I'd chalk that up to my oft-proclaimed love for the ABA, except that I've seen any number of others without that particular bias sing the book's praises as well, as Tom just did.)

I'll have to check one or more of 'em out one day, just to see.
   16. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 14, 2012 at 03:45 PM (#4156989)
(I'd chalk that up to my oft-proclaimed love for the ABA, except that I've seen any number of others without that particular bias sing the book's praises as well, as Tom just did.)


I didn't used to love the ABA, but I do now, after reading that book.

I read Pluto's book on the Indians, "The Curse of Rocky Colavito," which I don't recall as being an oral history. It also wasn't nearly as much fun as "Loose Balls."
   17. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:39 PM (#4157058)
Loose Balls is one of my favorite books as well, probably top five. Tall Tales is an oral history he did of the old NBA days - and it's also quite good (though not as loose and freewheelin' as Loose Balls - but the ABA was another animal after all). If you really want to dig into his back catalogue, he also wrote a book in the late 70s about Jim Bouton's comeback. Unfortunately, he was a young lad in his early 20s at the time and it's rather poorly written (which Pluto freely admits).
   18. Everybody Loves Tyrus Raymond Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:40 PM (#4157059)
Vin Scully and George Allen were a very good NFL broadcasting team. They also did some three-man booth stuff with Jim Brown. I've got a handful of Vinny's old NFL games, and he's just as enjoyable working football.

Marv Albert is also very good on football in my opinion - and, of course, remains the gold standard for NBA play-by-play.
   19. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: June 14, 2012 at 04:54 PM (#4157084)
Al Michaels is another strong multi-sport announcer.
   20. Tom Nawrocki Posted: June 14, 2012 at 05:36 PM (#4157116)

Vin Scully and George Allen were a very good NFL broadcasting team. They also did some three-man booth stuff with Jim Brown.


Brown wasn't exactly a good announcer, but he was highly opinionated, which made for some entertaining moments. He basically considered anyone who wasn't as tough as Jim Brown to be an insufferable wimp.
   21. AndrewJ Posted: June 14, 2012 at 05:50 PM (#4157129)
I finally got the MLB network and am watching Costas regularly do baseball play-by-play again, and he is fantastic behind the mike. NBC losing Game of the Week broadcasts in the 1990s was very bad for baseball.
   22. Tippecanoe Posted: June 14, 2012 at 06:18 PM (#4157139)
I'm another one who listened to a lot of Costas' Spirits of St. Louis broadcasts. He was outstanding, but in a much different way than he is now. It was all enthusiasm and energy then.

Loose Balls was executed perfectly. The book's overall tone of bemused astonishment was just right. I can't think of a funnier sports book.
   23. Kurt Posted: June 14, 2012 at 06:42 PM (#4157150)
Al Michaels is another strong multi-sport announcer

I like Al Michaels, but I'd put him a tier below Costas and Marv, with the other solid guys - Jim Nantz, Dan Hicks, Tom Hammond...
   24. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 14, 2012 at 07:10 PM (#4157172)
Marv Albert is also very good on football in my opinion - and, of course, remains the gold standard for NBA play-by-play.

Albert's informative and all that, but his habit of making every play of the game sound equally dramatic drives me nuts. It's not nearly as bad as Dick Vitale's enTHOOOZiasm for his beloved DOOOKies, but after a while it's still pretty hard to take.
   25. Leroy Kincaid Posted: June 14, 2012 at 08:40 PM (#4157224)
#5: I liked the Later show as well. Dennis Hopper and Don Rickles are two interviews that jump to mind.
   26. Srul Itza Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:49 PM (#4157291)
Albert's informative and all that, but his habit of making every play of the game sound equally dramatic drives me nuts. It's not nearly as bad as Dick Vitale's enTHOOOZiasm for his beloved DOOOKies, but after a while it's still pretty hard to take.


I remember Marv Albert calling Rangers games and Knicks games on the Radio in the late 60's or early 70's. He was incredibly good at following and describing the action. YESSS.
   27. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: June 14, 2012 at 10:59 PM (#4157299)
Albert wasn't that bad back then, but there was never a better basketball announcer than Marty Glickman. He was more than Albert's equal in basketball knowledge and his calling was much less frenetic. Albert just wears me out with his one-size-fits-all situations style. He's like the play-by-play counterpart of that old Metrodome PA announcer, only Albert does it without an amplifier.
   28. PreservedFish Posted: June 15, 2012 at 12:24 AM (#4157376)
He just had the advantage of starting his career when he was still in college.


And the invention of Just for Men Touch of Gray.
   29. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 15, 2012 at 01:22 PM (#4157837)
Tall Tales is an oral history he did of the old NBA days - and it's also quite good (though not as loose and freewheelin' as Loose Balls - but the ABA was another animal after all).


Been meaning to look this one up for years now. Thanks for jogging my memory!
   30. TerpNats Posted: June 15, 2012 at 02:09 PM (#4157896)
Harry Kalas was a solid NFL announcer on Westwood One radio, as well as succeeding fellow Philly legend John Facenda on NFL Films.

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