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bob costas

Bob Costas

One of television's most accomplished broadcasters, Bob Costas joined HBO Sports in February 2001 with the debut of the critically acclaimed "On The Record With Bob Costas." With a compelling mix of interviews, commentary and debate, "On The Record" quickly established itself as one of network television's most respected programs. In April of 2003, Costas was presented with the Sports Emmy® for Outstanding Studio Host, marking the second straight year that the On The Record program host received that honor. The second season of the "On The Record With Bob Costas" series ran from March to June 2002 and once again delivered some of the most provocative and engaging interviews on television. Season three of "ON THE RECORD" saw the program move into a late-night Friday timeslot and the series, whose featured guests included Jerry Seinfeld, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jay Leno, Annika Sorenstam and Lebron James among others, ran from May 2 through July 18, 2003. Ratings increased by 37% with the move to late-night Friday. In September 2002, Costas and all-time NFL great Cris Carter joined Cris Collinsworth and Dan Marino as co-hosts of HBO's award-winning football program "INSIDE THE NFL," cable's longest-running series. With the addition of Costas and Carter, ratings for the series rose 30% in 2002 and the program received the Sports Emmy® Award this past April for Outstanding Studio Show - Weekly. Costas also serves as host of various HBO Pay-Per-View boxing specials and has reported for HBO's sports magazine program "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel."

Costas, a 23-year veteran of NBC Sports, joined the network's sports division in 1980. Since then, he has hosted five Olympics and been prominently involved in virtually every major sports event, including numerous World Series, Super Bowl and NBA Finals broadcasts. His next Olympics assignment is serving as prime time host for the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.

From August 1988 through January 1994, he hosted his own late-night interview show, "Later with Bob Costas," on NBC; the program won the 1993 Emmy Award® for Outstanding Informational Series. He has also received 12 Sports Emmys® as a broadcaster and two Sports Emmys® for writing. His book "Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball," published in the spring of 2000 spent several weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, garnering excellent reviews. He also was the narrator for the books and audio package "And the Crowd Goes Wild" and "The Fans Roared," both of which made The New York Times bestseller list. Costas has been honored as Sportscaster of the year by the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association a record eight times, including the 2000 award. He won his first in 1985 at age 33, the youngest to win the award.
Bob Costas,52, ( born March 22, 1952) a native New Yorker, now lives in St. Louis with his wife Randy, their son, Keith, and daughter, Taylor.

 

Bob Costas enjoys baseball and hosting Olympics

The interview with NBC sportscaster and ASA Advisory Board member Bob Costas ,while Costas was in New York for an autograph signing at the NBC experience store.

Lou Schwartz: "When did you first decide that you wanted to become a sportscaster?"

Bob Costas: "I think the notion first entered my mind when I was nine or 10 years old because the announcers at the time - Mel Allen, Red Barber, Marty Glickman, Lindsey Nelson, Vin Scully - were as much a part of the game to me as the players. They were the soundtrack of the game. All of them had very pleasing styles and I wanted to be like them."

LS: "How did you start and when did you get your first break?"

BC: "I went to Syracuse University because I knew they had a strong program in journalism and broadcasting. I worked at the campus radio station. That was my first on-air experience."

LS: " I'm sure there were hundreds of students who wanted to get on the air. Why do you think they chose you?"

BC: "I guess I had some aptitude for it at the beginning. Certainly I was raw but the way campus radio stations are set up, they're designed to give as many students as possible an opportunity. They were not tremendously selective, so I had a reasonable shot at it. I gained a little on-air experience that way and then I did some minor league hockey in my senior year at Syracuse. My big break came about a year after I was out of school, going to KMOX in St. Louis, one of the greatest radio stations in the country to broadcast pro basketball, the old ABA Spirits of St. Louis. That break put me in the orbit of respected KMOX broadcasters like Jack Buck, Dan Kelly, Harry Caray and Joe Garagiola. The list is long. It's a premiere station so that got me some notice. From there I got some network assignments and one thing led to another."

LS: "You are one of the few sportscasters today that broadcasts such a wide variety of sporting events. What do you enjoy doing the most?"

BC: "I enjoy baseball play-by-play and hosting the Olympics."

LS: "Do you find they generate the most excitement?"

BC: "I think those are the ones that are most suited to my style. I have an anecdotal and observational style and those assignments give me more room for that."

LS: "Is there a particular sports event that you covered during your career that you enjoyed the most?

BC: "Hosting the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992 was the favorite assignment I've ever had."

LS: "You will soon be broadcasting the baseball playoffs and the World Series. How do you prepare for such major events that will be seen by millions of people?"

BC: "I think you try to prepare all season long by following the story lines and the pennant races. In the days preceding the first broadcast, you get a barrage of materials from your researchers and statisticians and you kind of try to pull it all together and edit it in your own mind in terms of what's pertinent and interesting and what's not. There is such an overload of information now that its important not just to have information but to be discerning about what's appropriate and how much of it to use and when to use it. So that's part of what I do."

LS: "Before you start, do you have an outline of the things you would like to say or certain areas that you want to cover?"

BC: "No. I go through the information that I have and, in addition to the conversations that I have with the managers before the games, I just pull out whatever seems interesting. Sometimes when you've done that you can find a pattern in a series of notes and observations that tie together. But I don't go in with any preconceived notions."

LS: "There are so many youngsters that write to us who want to be sportscasters. What advice would you give them?"

BC: "I would say that you need to get as well rounded an education as possible for two reasons. One, the greater your frame of reference, the more interesting you'll be as a sports broadcaster. But secondly, not all those sportscasting dreams come true. People's interests change or they find they don't get a break or they find they don't have the particular aptitude required to become a broadcaster. If they put all their eggs in one basket, they're going to be disappointed. I would say get as broad an education as possible so you have some options. In terms of pursuing a broadcasting career, you want to get as much hands-on experience as you possibly can. You can't learn to be a broadcaster in a classroom. You can only learn it by going on the air or by sitting with a tape recorder and learning from your own mistakes."

LS: "It's very difficult to start. As you know, I used to own a small radio station in Geneva, New York, and we used to have 10 to 20 individuals that would work for $25 a play-by-play assignment. How does someone even get to that point and what do you suggest a person should do to get the hands-on opportunity?"

BC: "That's one of the things about a sportscasting career, unless you're extremely lucky and get a big break early, you have to be prepared to go to almost any market in the country for relatively little pay and build a resume. You have to send out your tapes and your applications to dozens and dozens of stations. If you want to be a sportscaster, I think you're better off taking a job doing high school basketball in Decatur, Illinois, than you are taking a job as a weather man in Boston. The only way to learn to do it, is to do it."

LS: "I understand that you were a great fan of Mickey Mantle's and that you carry around his baseball card. What is your fascination with Mickey?"

BC: "I think it's just whoever your favorite baseball player is. It might be Willie Mays or Stan Musial. For somebody today it might be Ken Griffey Jr., Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa or Cal Ripken. It's just whoever you're first favorite baseball player is when you were a kid, it kind of sticks with you."

LS: "What do you want people to know about Bob Costas?"

BC: "My notion of sports broadcasting is that it's a combination of enhancing and enjoying the drama and excitement of sports, but at the same time there should also be a place for journalism and commentary. I don't think that they are incompatible. I think that you can be a fan as a broadcaster, not rooting for one team or the other, but a fan of the sport and try to capture the enjoyment and emotion of it, but at the same time take a clear-eyed view of some of the issues involved. I think that good broadcasting should be a combination of those two."

LS: "You are one of the few sportscasters that has had so many diversified assignments at NBC. Are there any assignments that you really didn't enjoy?

BC: "I have enjoyed everything I've done. There are some you enjoy more than others but there hasn't been an assignment that I didn't enjoy."

Bob Costas' First Time Up


About the only field the veteran radio and television broadcaster hasn't proven himself in yet is writing. He connects with Fair Ball.

"I don't see myself churning out a lot of books," says broadcaster and first-time author Bob Costas. Still, his first foray into the publishing world, Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball (Broadway Books), might just be a grand slam. Not a reminiscence—baseball isn't exactly lacking in the nostalgia department—Costas' book is more like a position paper: one man's concise suggestions for some considerable improvements for the American pastime.

The core rules of baseball—three strikes, three outs, nine innings—have been undisputed truths of American culture for a hundred years. In Fair Ball, Costas presents some new numbers for the game. They are figures designed to solve a few of baseball's nagging problems: how to improve the playoff system, how to make interleague play work, how to insure parity between small- and large-market teams through revenue-sharing.

For fans, those controversies have dominated the game in the '90s almost as thoroughly as Bunyanesque home-run hitters Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa have in the past few years. Costas' arguments carry the weight of such common sense, they deserve to become the new century's first contributions to baseball's beloved numbers game.

"So many baseball books have been written," Costas says. "A lot of ground has already been covered—the appeal, the history of the game." His book, he says, "comes from a different direction."

A native New Yorker, Costas, forty-eight, is a perennial Emmy Award-winning broadcaster who has covered the World Series, the Super Bowl, the National Basketball Association Finals and the Olympics. Baseball being his true love, he is often called a "purist." It's not always a compliment. In fact, he contends, he's much more realistic than that "group of adults who are almost literally enchanted with the game." He writes, "I'm a Bull Durham guy, not a Field of Dreams guy."

Multitalented Bob Costas

Mention the name, Bob Costas, and there are few in America, let alone the sports world, that don’t know him. But, it’s after the acknowledgment of the man that the view shifts. Some may see him as a broadcaster. Some see him and think of the Olympics. Some see him as a personality that transcends sports into the world of one-on-one interviews from his show on MSNBC, “Internight”, or the “Bob Costas Interview” on “Dateline NBC” and “Today”, or his show "On the Record" on HBO and yes, some see him as a baseball luminary and scholar.

His book, “Fair Ball - a Fan’s Case for Baseball” has been a best seller, and he has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the position of Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

What was discovered in conversation with the man, is that his knack for reaching people through the one-way medium of television or print, is not limited to the media, but rather something natural and unscripted.

Growing up in New York as a diehard Mantle fan, he has become a statesman for what the game of baseball means historically (Ken Burns “Baseball”) and in his knowledge of the game from a business perspective (key interview subject for a recent “Outside The Lines” on ESPN, and the aforementioned “Fair Ball”).

In this extensive interview with OSC, Costas touches on the relocation of the Expos, ballpark development, marketing MLB, the power structure between MLB and the Players’ Union, whether he’s interested in being Commissioner of Major League Baseball, the effect of an MLB team in DC on the Orioles, and how MLB in Portland could possibly realign the League for the better.

Team Payroll and the Wildcard System

OSC: We just witnessed a young Marlins team beat a vaunted Yankees team in the World Series. Given the fact that the Marlins payroll was 1/3 the size of the Yankees, is there too much emphasis placed on team payroll as a barometer for winning?

Costas: No, there isn't too much emphasis placed on it.

With the Wildcard and three divisions and always the possibility of catching lightning in a bottle, it doesn't follow that the teams with the highest payrolls will always be in the World Series, or the teams with the relatively low payrolls can't upset the apple cart, but over time that's the way it plays out.

If you have poor management and a high payroll, you might get nothing. If you have a relatively low payroll and good management, and a lot of luck, you might do well for a period of time. But, all things being even close to equal, high payrolls make a huge difference.

If Billy Beane, the GM of the Oakland A's, had an identical twin brother, and you made one of them the GM of the Braves; or the Dodgers; or the Yankees; or the Mets; or the Red Sox, and you left the other Billy Beane in Oakland, over a 5-year spread the other Billy Beane would have more to play with.

OSC: Since we're talking about Billy Beane, will his stock be diluted if he moves to a franchise with a higher payroll structure?

Costas: Yeah, because then he could never exceed expectations. He can only meet expectations.

OSC: Given the fact that we've had two Wildcard teams win the World Series back-to-back, do you see the Wildcard system as a way for teams that performed marginally in the regular season to capture lightning in a bottle and make the regular season less dramatic?

Costas: Yeah, there's no question about it.

The Wildcard can sometimes yield good story lines. There's no question that the Florida Marlins were a good story line. And sometimes a team that's a Wildcard is playing as well as anybody, or better, come August or September.

So, the objection of the Wildcard was never that a Wildcard team wasn't good enough to be in the post-season tournament or couldn't win it.

The objection, for thoughtful fans was, that it destroyed the concept of a pennant race. As long as you have a Wildcard you can't have a true pennant race, because there's not an "all or nothing" aspect to finishing first in your Division, unless the pace of the Division is so slow that first place team would have lesser record than the Wildcard.

Otherwise, the Wildcard undermines the excitement of a close divisional race that goes to the wire. And, it actually penalizes teams that win their divisions in a blow-out, like the Braves or the Giants, because they get no significant advantage once the playoffs start over a mediocre division winners or the Wildcard. That's the real objection.

The contrast between that, and let's say, football - could Wildcard team go to the Super Bowl? Yeah, and God bless them if they do, because they have to go a tougher road - they have to play an extra game - they're on the road all the time. Whereas teams that do better during the regular season get a first-round bye, perhaps, which is a huge advantage. Then they have homefield throughout the Playoffs, and since Playoff round in football is only one game, that homefield is 100%. It's not one extra game out of 5, or 1 extra game out of 7.
Now, they're (MLB) never going to change this playoff format, at least not in the next couple of years. Because, by luck, this playoff format this year, coughed up the Red Sox, the Cubs, the Yankees, and a great story line with the Marlins; and all the Series went the limit; and they all had compelling story lines. And so, if they fiddled with the format, the superficial reaction would be, "Hey, why are you messing up a good thing?" But, it's exactly the same format that produced relatively uninteresting post-seasons in the past, and relatively low ratings on television in the past.

What they (MLB) really should do, is seed the playoffs in a way that makes sense. Not eliminate the Wildcard necessarily, but create a distinction between being the Wildcard and being a team that wins its Division.


Bob Costas speaks about the relocation of the Expos

OSC: If indeed MLB relocates the Montreal Expos, as MLB is currently looking to do, the Expos appear to be going into either a brand new market, or a market that hasn't seen MLB in 30 years. Sports economists, like Andrew Zimbalist, believe that stadiums in existing markets are not economic drivers.

Since the placement of a team in one of these new markets is essentially a different paradigm, is it possible that those views may not be correct in this situation?

Costas: I think that there are not enough test cases to measure this second circumstance that you outline. I respect Zimbalist, but if that is actually his view, I disagree with it to this extent.

I think that new stadiums in existing markets, of late, are less of an economic driver than they have been. You don't get the same proportionate jump that Baltimore got with Camden Yards or that Cleveland got with Jacobs Field, but certainly Pittsburgh is in a better position than they were. Is it a panacea? No.

But Pittsburgh is in a better position than they were. Milwaukee is in a better position than they were. I just don't think that it's going to be as much of a leg up as it was in the past, especially because the novelty of these new stadiums wears off quicker.

When Baltimore got it; when Jacobs Field got it; when Colorado got their new stadium, they stood out on the landscape. Now they are becoming more and more common place. Plus, when Baltimore and Cleveland got their stadiums, it was before the huge explosion of cable revenue negated some of that advantage. So, when Baltimore got the stadium and Cleveland got theirs, they made up a huge amount of the gulf between them and the Yankees. Then, the gulf exploded again when the Yankees tapped into the additional cable revenues that Cleveland and Baltimore and almost every market have available to them. So would Kansas City be better off with a new stadium? Yeah, they'd be better off. Would they be in the same league as the Yankees? No.

OSC: The Expos played 22 games in Puerto Rico last season, and in conjunction with those games, the team played Interleague in the AL West setting up a marathon travel arrangement. There seems to be a good chance that another 22 games will be played in Puerto Rico again this season.

If done correctly, is the extra payroll incentive enough to keep the team competitive without draining the team due to travel?

Costas: Well, you almost have to. It's a trade off.

In order to maintain some level of interest, as you say, you come up with the revenues that could drive their payrolls up a little bit, you have to make that sacrifice. Otherwise, to go through another dreary season in Montreal, and if playing those games in Puerto Rico means you have a chance to keep Vladimir Guerrero, I think they're better off with Vladimir Guerrero and some jet lag, than without Guerrero and no jet lag.

Obviously, the whole thing is a temporary situation that has gone on way too long. They have to solve this thing, and it is very clear they are treading water because they don't want to make a rash move, and for the long run, settle for something that isn't their best possible deal. They'd rather take another hit for a year, or even two, in Montreal until the perfect situation develops someplace else.

OSC: How does Portland factor into this situation?

Costas: One thing, I think, is an ideal scenario -- and I am not in a position to evaluate the merits of all the pitches that will be made to baseball for the Expos -- but, let's say economically that the Portland bid makes sense. If the Portland bid makes sense, it fits in a more logical way, in terms of baseball alignments, with the Expos moving into the American League West, which has only 4 teams, and becoming a Portland entry into the American League West. So, now you balance that Division, in that they are all geographically approximate to Seattle, and Oakland - and it just makes sense. And at the same time, you would take a team out of the National League Central, and move them into the National League East. So, that six team Division (the NL Central) would again be five, and that team would replace the Expos and you'd have three geographically sensible, five team Divisions in each League.
OSC: While we're touching on this subject, do you feel that there's any merit to the argument that Peter Angelos makes that a team in the DC area dilutes both markets?

Costas: I do. But obviously there's a self-interest argument there. But, it's also valid. When they're that close together, and especially if one or both of those teams isn't very good, then one or both will suffer.

OSC: If a city comes up with most of the public funding for a stadium, would you consider that a decisive consideration for the relocation of the Expos?

Costas: I don't know if alone it's decisive, but I think it's primary.


Bob Costas' ideas about Marketing MLB, and the health of baseball

OSC: MLB used a new marketing campaign this past season that said, "I live for this". This seems somewhat online with the NBA's use of the catch phrase, "I love this game".

What can MLB do to foster marketing growth in small to mid-markets, while retaining its individuality?

Costas: I used to think that, because of my regard for the idea of a pennant race, or the integrity of the regular season -- I used to think that the way they had scrambled things in the mid 90's and tossed in the Wildcard was an entirely negative thing.

Now, I am not sure it is an entirely negative thing because you have to leave in the reality of modern baseball. And to hold up the Marlins; to hold up Kansas City or Minnesota, who happen to be luckily situated in a division that wouldn't exist without three divisions. So, you can say they had a chance and they were in the race for a while. Whereas if you stuck them in a division that had Oakland or Seattle or the Yankees or Boston they had no chance.
One of the things they can sell, to these smaller markets, is that the Wildcard, and at least certain divisional line-ups, give most teams a shot. I don't know what you tell Tampa Bay in the same division as the Yankees, or what you tell Toronto, but you can sell it on that basis and they can sell baseball over all on the basis of what happened in this postseason.

[MLB needs] to seize upon the momentum of this postseason and how great it was. And if they are smart, they will try to sell it with a combination of how this year was "modern baseball" meeting "traditional baseball". The histories of the Red Sox and the Cubs; the tradition of the Yankees, but yet the excitement of multiple rounds of playoffs -- and the Marlins in, and new blood in -- it was sort of old meets new, with the best of both worlds. That should be their approach.
OSC: There was a point in the League's history when the pendulum was swung all the way in favor of ownership, with the players having very little power. Then in 1975, Messersmith and McNally, along with Marvin Miller changed the face of baseball, and the pendulum has been moving in favor of the players' union ever since.

Recently there has been the appearance of fiscal restraint on the part of ownership, and the union in concert with the League, agreed to expanded revenue sharing on both the local level and within the Central fund.

Is this good will something that can be sustained for more than the length of this CBA?

Costas: I think it depends, quite a bit, on the personalities involved.
I think that Don Fehr and Gene Orza have been brilliant and they've always operated with honesty -- they can't be accused of some of the dishonest or contradictory stances that have been taken by ownership in the past.

But, there's a difference in being "capable" and being "honest" and being "reasonable". And as great as they have been over time with their membership basically they are connected to the whole mentality and the whole paradigm that was set forth by Marvin Miller back in the days that you mentioned when the players really were taken advantage of.

I think even the little bit they conceded this time around -- that gave ownership a small victory. They conceded it very, very reluctantly. And they knew two things, that most of the membership did not have the stomach for another strike. And, that even if they won in the strike and got favorable terms when the strike eventually ended, the damage that would be done to baseball in the public mind would so depress baseball's revenues that it would diminish the amount of those revenues that would flow to the membership.

I think that's the reason they did not go on strike.
Not because they thought the owners had a legitimate point, or they really cared about reforming the game in a reasonable way; just because they didn't have a stronger hand to play as in the past.

That's why I've always said, even though Commissioner Selig has to be credited with a lot of things -- he's been an active commissioner -- some people take shots at him but he has a lot of accomplishments behind him. But I still think the game will be better off when you have entirely different faces representing both the owners and the players, who don't carry the baggage of all the past battles and some of the grudges and some of the premises that are no longer valid. You need people who can look at it with a fresh eye, and still represent their constituencies, but at the same time not feel like it's a capitulation to say, "Hey, this is what's good for the game overall."

OSC: Beyond the ratings, and the overall popularity of the sport, Baseball was once viewed as microcosm for our Nation in terms of temperament and its dynamic. Things have obviously changed in the 100+ years that game has existed.

Has the NFL and the NBA supplanted MLB in terms of the pace in which the games are played, and in some ways mirrored American society?

Costas: Well, there is no doubt about that, we're a "short attention span" culture, and regular season baseball, at least, doesn't have the immediate tension of the playoffs.

Regular season baseball can't hold the attention of as many people as it once did, especially because you have "Baseball Tonight" and "Sports Center" on ESPN and all kinds of highlights, and the Internet; so you can tap into the highlights of the game at almost anytime. So there's no doubt that baseball has been hurt a little bit by that.

On the other hand, I think people are too quick to say that the NBA has surpassed baseball. If baseball had anything like the ratings of the last NBA finals the sky would be falling. I've always been an NBA fan. I like the NBA. I'm going to the Suns game tonight, but I don't think the basic core support for the NBA runs as deep as that of baseball. And when Jordan and Bird and Magic went and if you have the Spurs and the Nets in the Finals you see that a lot of that interest falls off.

I think it is clear that football is the most popular sport. It has a lot of advantages that no matter what baseball does, marketing wise, it can never match. They play one game a week and it is a game ideally suited to television. Their playoffs are all Game 7's, because there is only one game. The seventh game, or the fifth game of the Divisional Series in baseball always will have a higher rating than the other games. Well, with football every game is a deciding game in the playoffs. And they are all played at the time of the year; in January in the winter; Sundays, Saturday nights when people watch television. You have the gambling aspect - football just has advantages as a television sport that baseball and other sports don't.

At the same time, people talk about the golden age of baseball.

I grew up in New York. In 1961, with a pennant winning team; and the tradition of the Yankees; and the Dodgers and Giants gone; and the Mets not yet in existence; and Maris and Mantle chasing Babe Ruth's record; and a box seat costing $3.50 in Yankee Stadium, the Yankees did not draw 2 million fans. They drew like 1.7 or 1.8 [million fans]. Now, even teams that are thought to be struggling draw 2 million fans. Some draw upwards of 3 million fans. The overall attendance, in baseball, is so much greater than it was, even a generation ago.

And, the overall revenues of the game have more than doubled since the early 1990s. The problem isn't that the game has insufficient popularity or revenues, the problem is that the game has an imperfect economic system, which often renders any amount of revenue, in the long run, inadequate. You know, they get another source of revenue and they flush it right down the drain.

Look what happened when NBC lost baseball in the late 1980s. CBS comes in with this enormous deal for baseball, so the revenues are exponentially increased, but they frittered it all away immediately when the salary structure just immediately exploded right after that. At that time the top paid player made about $2 million a year. Within a couple of years you had dozens and dozens of players making $5 million a year.


The future of Bob Costas


OSC: There has been a lot of talk about you possibly becoming a candidate for Commissioner of MLB once Bud Selig steps down. Has the thought crossed your mind?

Costas: I have never been coy about it. Never led anyone to believe it. Never have said anything like, "Well, maybe", or "Gee, they will never ask me," so it is a mute point. I have always flatly said I am not interested. I am not qualified. And I use the example that if someone's a good political columnist that doesn't mean you think he or she should be Senator or President. It's just that you think they have something to say about the affairs of the day. I am a commentator about baseball and if people think anything I say about baseball is of interest, then fine, toss it into the debate on the subject. But, I am not and never will be someone that should be considered for commissioner.

OSC: This World Series marked the end of Roger Clemens career. How does he rate in the pantheon of other great pitchers?

Costas: He's probably one of the five or six greatest starting pitchers of all time, by any measure.

OSC: Finally, do you miss calling the games, and if so, when will we see you return to the booth?

Costas: Well, the earliest that NBC could reacquire baseball would be the 2007 season, because it is all on Fox 2006 and luckily I think the number one team on Fox does a very good job. And I miss it a little bit but not a lot. I am very philosophical about this stuff. I have had wonderful opportunities in my career and no one wants to hear me complain about anything.

Bob Costas to speak at the annual American Red Cross Benefit event

Bob Costas, whose easy manner and broad knowledge have made him a respected sports media figure, will be the featured speaker at the annual American Red Cross of the Heartland benefit on April 5 here.

"We were looking for a speaker with a major national reputation who would be a natural selection for this area, who would be entertaining and whose image and public profile fit with the goals and objectives of the American Red Cross," said Henry Bird, chairman of the 2005 Evening of Stars Committee.

Costas easily fulfills those requirements, said Bird, publisher and president of The Pantagraph. In a statement released by the Red Cross on Tuesday, Costas said "I am truly delighted to support the efforts of the American Red Cross and to be a part of such a rich tradition of Evening of Stars speakers."

Costas, who began his career in radio and television while studying journalism at Syracuse University, was a broadcaster for KMOX radio in St. Louis.

Since 1979, he has been with NBC Sports and has hosted HBO Sports and entertainment programs since 2001. While Costas has covered a variety of sports, he is best known for his baseball and Olympics coverage.

He has anchored NBC's prime time coverage of the last four summer Olympics -- including the Athens' games earlier this year -- and anchored the 2002 winter games' coverage. He has helped cover six baseball league championship series and five World Series. His commentary about baseball's appeal, history and problems earned him respect and his book, "Fair Ball: A Fan's Case for Baseball," remained on the New York Times' Best Seller List for several weeks.

In addition to sports broadcasting, Costas hosted "Later With Bob Costas," a late night talk show, for several years on NBC, and has contributed to the "Today" show and "NBC Nightly News." He hosts "On the Record with Bob Costas" on HBO, has won 16 Emmy awards and eight National Sportscaster of the Year awards.

Costas is married to Jill Sutton, a Bloomington-Normal native and Illinois State University graduate who also is in broadcast media.

"Bob Costas follows a fantastic list of Evening of Stars speakers," said Red Cross Executive Director Lyn Hruska. Speakers have included Regis Philbin, U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, Cokie Roberts and Dick Vitale. Last year, with actress Lynn Redgrave as speaker, the event attracted 450 people and netted almost $71,000 for local Red Cross programs, including disaster relief, emergency communications for military families, health and safety classes, and blood collection, Red Cross spokesman Scott Vogel said.

Costas to be honored at 16th annual Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) dinner

The 16th annual "Going to Bat for B.A.T." fundraising dinner will take place on Tuesday, January 18, 2005 at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel, it was announced today. National Baseball Hall of Famer and ESPN Sunday Night Baseball analyst Joe Morgan will co-host the event with Gary Thorne of ABC Sports. The theme for the 2005 "Going to Bat for B.A.T." dinner will honor Hall of Fame pitchers and catchers.
The "Going to Bat for B.A.T." fundraising dinner annually draws more than 150 current and former players, including members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. NBC and HBO sports commentator Bob Costas will be honored with the 2005 Big BAT/Frank Slocum Award for exemplary service to the B.A.T. organization. Costas's generosity has been instrumental in helping provide dignity and self-esteem to numerous members of the baseball family. In addition, former Major League manager Jeff Torborg will receive the Steve Palermo Award of Courage for his heroic efforts to rescue a young child from drowning.

The annual "Going to Bat for B.A.T." dinner gives fans the opportunity to interact with Major League Baseball players while raising money to assist members of the baseball family who have fallen on hard times. The "Going to Bat for B.A.T." dinner includes a cocktail hour at which attendees have the opportunity to mingle with and obtain autographs from the players, and players are seated at each table during the dinner and awards presentation.

Some of the players scheduled to attend include: Gary Carter, Whitey Ford, Steve Garvey, Goose Gossage, Bud Harrelson, Keith Hernandez, Tommy John, Cleon Jones, Don Larsen, Jim Leyritz, Bobby Murcer, Phil Niekro, Ozzie Smith, Duke Snider, Frank Torre, Bob Watson and Don Zimmer. Also scheduled to appear are Seattle Mariners' outfielder Randy Winn and St. Louis Cardinals' pitcher Julian Tavarez.

Bob Costas speaks about sport mentality

Like just about everyone else who watched the replays of Friday night's NBA game between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers, Daniel Wann was astounded.

Not that fans had demonstrated their displeasure by raining insults, cups of beer and handfuls of popcorn on NBA players. Not that players had responded by storming into the stands and throwing haymakers. Not even that fans had responded by running onto the court and attempting to sucker punch other players. Wann, a psychology professor at Murray State (Ky.) University who researches fan behavior, was struck by something else. "You look at it, and you're amazed that, gosh, it took this long," he said.

NBC broadcaster Bob Costas thinks the fight was the result, in part, of what he called "the whole Jerry Springer, I'm in your face, sports talk show" mentality. "The one that says, 'Hey, it's not enough to be at the game, you deserve to be part of the game."

The relationship between fans and players has been deteriorating for decades. With free agency, fans never know whether their favorite players will continue to play for their favorite teams. Stadium issues mean that some teams will move away permanently - or that taxpayers should fund new stadiums to keep the teams. Coaches jump from team to team, searching out the best deal.

Athletes are arrested and publicized for law breaking, including incidents of violence. Salaries have escalated; as Lapchick put it, "If fans can put it into any context, they realize that the players are making more in a single season than they're going to make in their entire working career.

"You put all those things together, and fans feel pretty unhinged." Then add the conditions that research has proved fuels aggressive acts. Drinking alcohol. Strong identification with a team or group. An increase in physical arousal, such as when the heart starts pumping. Being in a large group, which can lead to a mob mentality.

Costas pointed out, as well, that the defending NBA champion Pistons were losing by 20 points at home, and that many season-ticket holders already may have left, freeing up the area for other fans. Plus, violence can be incited by watching other people act violently, something that happens repeatedly during some athletic events - and something that happened when Artest fouled Wallace, who retaliated with a shove to the face.

That does not, the experts agree, take the fans off the hook. End says the media needs to do a better job of explaining the consequences for fans who misbehave; such details, he said, could stop the next fan from acting out.

"If a fan thinks it's a night in jail and a $100 fine, they might say, 'That's a cost I'm willing to pay to get on SportsCenter.' So I think the media has to be better at writing the stories of the fan who loses his wife, loses his job, rather than just showing the incident over and over again." Again, the experts stressed, that doesn't take the players off the hook, either. Costas said he is fed up with "this loopy idea that Ron Artest was defending himself."

Costas said: "If he wanted to defend himself, the thing he should have done was run to the middle of the court. There's a difference between defending yourself and retaliating. He was in no danger. Plus, he took off after the wrong guys."

The question in the aftermath is whether anything can change. Short-term solutions, everyone agrees, should include increased security and a cap on alcohol sales. The fans who fought should be punished by the justice system, or at least banned from the arena.

"Teams have to be more vigilant about security and also about fan behavior that can lead to stuff before you get to that point," Costas said. "You're allowed to boo, and heckle in the time-honored fashion, but you should not be allowed - not just for the sake of the players, but for the environment of the fans - you should not be allowed to deal in profanity and provocative personal insults on an ongoing basis. You should be subject to ejection. I think we'll move closer to that kind of approach."
Because of what we saw here, I think Americans are talking not only about violence on the basketball court, but talking about violence as part of the culture as well," Lapchick said.

NBC sports commentator Bob Costas named as Integrity Week speaker

Sports personality Bob Costas will be coming to Penn Nov. 18 to headline Academic Integrity Week, an annual series of events promoting academic honesty hosted by the University Honor Council.
"He is someone who appeals to everyone universally," UHC Co-Chairwoman and College junior Rachel Kohn said. "Everyone can relate to sports ethics."

Yet, many students said they are not familiar with the longtime sportscaster.

"I think it wouldn't appeal [to most students], because most people wouldn't know who he was unless they watch sports," said College sophomore and women's club soccer team captain Amanda Graham, who said she has watched Costas' show.

Others questioned Costas' connection to the topic of integrity. "Integrity is inherently important to journalism in general, but how much it applies to sports journalism, I'm not sure," College junior Andrew Gray said. However, some students disagreed, saying that Costas would have something to bring to the table.

"He may be a good person to speak on [integrity], because I'm sure he has had his integrity challenged many times," College junior Katie Boeck said. Others said Costas would be able to address specific integrity issues in the sports industry. "I want to know what he thinks about steroids in baseball," College sophomore David Berger said.

Costas has been a fixture at NBC since 1979 and has covered all major sports, but is most noted for his coverage of the Olympics and baseball. He currently hosts his own HBO show called On the Record with Bob Costas. Costas is "respected in the industry, so I'm sure anything he has to say on those issues would carry a lot of weight with fans," College senior Justin Bogatch said.

The Social Planning and Events Committee's Connaissance group facilitated Costas' upcoming appearance. Past Integrity Week speakers have included Patch Adams and Bob Woodward.


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