Bob Costas and Ron Darling. Photo Credit: TBS Bob Costas and Ron Darling call Game 3 of the NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks. Photo Credit: TBS

The Arizona Diamondbacks completed a shocking National League Division Series sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday. But as the game neared its end, Bob Costas, who was the play-by-play man for TBS throughout the series, focused on two other teams in a weird sequence.

Already leading 4-2, Arizona looked to break the game open in the bottom of the eighth inning. With runners on first and second and two outs, the Diamondbacks sent Jace Peterson up to pinch-hit. Wanting to go over the scouting report on Peterson, Los Angeles pitching coach Mark Prior went to the mound to talk with pitcher Evan Phillips. Costas used Prior’s presence to resurface a 20-year-old memory that involved neither the Dodgers or Diamondbacks. He even offered a warning.

“Mark Prior knows about agonizing defeats. The one I’m about to mention maybe would rank ahead of this disappointment if it turns out that way for the Dodgers.”

And in case anyone watching didn’t know about the Chicago Cubs losing the 2003 National League Division Series to the then-Florida Marlins, Costas had you covered.

“He (Prior) started Game 6 in 2003 for the Cubs against the Marlins in the LCS at Wrigley Field, was cruising along, then things fell apart late in the game. Steve Bartman reached out in a pop down the left-field line, the Marlins won the game. Then the next night Kerry Wood started, he hit a home run, actually and they led again, but that slipped away. It became part of the litany of heartache for the Cubs until they finally broke through in 2016 after a 108-year wait.”

Costas didn’t delve into Alex Gonzalez booting a potential inning-ending double play, which would have sent the Cubs into the ninth inning with no worse than a 3-1 lead or manager Dusty Baker seemingly failing to recognize that Prior was gassed. It’s tough, though, sometimes you have to abridge stories when you start them with two outs in an inning. This is especially true when you want to bring up pain for another fan base. And Costas went right into that, this time with an ongoing issue.

Ron Darling, who was calling the game with Costas, mentioned that Peterson had been traded to the Diamondbacks from the Oakland Athletics. He called Pederson getting traded from the A’s, who went 50-112 on the season to Arizona, who made the playoffs, “A reprieve from the governor.” Costas didn’t miss that chance.

“And the A’s are one of the stories now in baseball. Not because of the likelihood of their appearing in October. But, do they stay in Oakland? Is there a last-ditch effort that’s successful to keep them there? Or do they wind up in Oakland?”

In less than 90 seconds, Costas brought up a painful memory for the Cubs and a painful reality for the A’s, two teams that were not playing in this game. Heck, two teams that didn’t reach the postseason.

We can’t say that Costas went out of his way to make these connections. Prior did go to the mound and Darling brought up the A’s.

That said, he could have also brought up Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who, as a player on the Boston Red Sox, stole second base in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the ALCS against the New York Yankees. That helped spark Boston’s comeback in the game, which ended up being the first step for the Red Sox becoming the first (and to date, only) MLB team to win a series after trailing 3-0.

In fact, given that Roberts was again part of a team looking for a comeback, that would have been a far more natural connection.

Or, better yet, he could have kept the focus on the two teams playing in the game he’s covering. It would be one thing if this was a blowout game in the middle of June. Announcers often use situations like that to tell stories, sometimes not even related to baseball. But this was the eighth inning of a 4-2 playoff game — and an elimination game, at that.

Was Costas trying to annoy Cubs or A’s fans? Probably not, although it’s unlikely that any who might have been watching would have been pleased with his anecdotes. But even giving him the benefit of the doubt, the game in front of him was good enough and certainly significant enough to warrant the complete attention of the play-by-play man calling it.

[Photo Credit: TBS]

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