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Please keep Bob Costas away from Red Sox playoff games

Alex Reimer
October 06, 2017 - 9:47 am

Bob Costas has always been haughty. But in semi-retirement, the legendary broadcaster is something far worse. 

He’s really, really bad. 

Red Sox fans who don’t work were treated to the misfortune of watching Costas and 78-year-old Jim Kaat call Game 1 of American League Divisional Series Thursday afternoon on MLB Network. As my colleague John Tomase pointed out, the duo had the vibe of late-career Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti. They spent a lot of time bantering about minutia, such as whether postseason stats should factor into MVP voting. (Costas says yes, because there are so many playoff rounds these days.) 

Kaat, who was an insightful analyst in his day, also occasionally misidentified the action on the field. The most egregious example came in the bottom of the fourth inning, when he tried to argue Jackie Bradley Jr. didn’t trap Josh Reddick’s line drive to center field. It was obvious the ball bounced before hitting Bradley’s glove, but Kaat kept denying reality. 

Aesthetically, the MLB Network broadcast seemed small-time. The audio was muted, with Costas often sounding like he was broadcasting from a faraway kitchen or janitor’s closet. Unfortunately, viewers were still able to hear his fun wordplay. When the Astros loaded the bases in the sixth inning, he said the “sacks were juiced.”

Costas hasn’t totally lost his fastball. He astutely broke down the NFL kneeling protests on CNN last month, pointing out the perversion of only ascribing the flag to the military. 

“Part of what’s happened is that sports and patriotism and the flag have been conflated to such an extent that people can’t separate out any nuance,” he said. “If you go to see Hamilton, which is about the founding of the republic, no one says, “Wait a minute, don’t raise the curtain until we’ve heard the national anthem”... It’s in sports where this stuff happens—sometimes movingly, and sometimes, I’d submit, cynically. Because wrapping yourself in the flag and honoring the military is something that no one is going to object to. We all respect their sacrifice. We all honor their sacrifice. And yet, what it has come to mean is that the flag is primarily and only about the military. This is no disrespect to the military… Martin Luther King was a patriot. Susan B. Anthony was a patriot. Dissidents are patriots. Schoolteachers and social workers are patriots.”

While hearing Costas' political lectures may cause one’s eyeballs to roll into the back of his head, at least he makes some salient points. It’s a much more preferable alternative to hearing him call Jose Altuve the “Sultan of Swat.”

At this stage in his career, Costas has earned “broadcaster emeritus” status. He should be above trekking to Houston for an afternoon division round game that airs on a cable network few people can find. 

It was an exercise nobody, including Costas himself, seemed to enjoy.

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