Bob Costas has been a regular presence in the MLB Postseason over the past few years, but he’s expanding that in a notable way this year. After calling individual postseason games for MLB Network for several years, Costas signed with Turner last year to host the National League Championship Series on TBS. This year, he’s been calling games for TBS, and he’ll again be on that network this postseason. He’ll be hosting the ALCS, but also calling the entire Cleveland Guardians-New York Yankees ALDS series (which begins Tuesday) before that, joined by analyst Ron Darling and reporter Lauren Shehadi.
This marks the first time Costas has called a full postseason series since he called the Yankees-Seattle Mariners ALCS in 2000 for NBC. And there’s a significant change between calling one game in a series and calling the full series. Costas recently spoke to Richard Deitsch of The Athletic on that and more:
Here’s what Costas said on the series front (and on the games he called this year) in particular:
How would you self-evaluate where you are right now as a baseball game-caller?
I’m really excited about the prospect of doing an entire series instead of parachuting in for a single game. We used to do one game in each series, alternating National League and American League, for MLBN. We’d come in for Game 2 or Game 3, and that was fine. But you didn’t have the full narrative of the series. To do a full series like this, I haven’t done that since I did the ALCS for NBC in 2000, the Mariners against the Yankees. So it allows you to get into a rhythm. It isn’t quite like playing, but it’s the closest thing to it. You remember every pitch. So if something happens in Game 3 and it somehow connects to some tension from Game 1, you’re on top of it in the way that a good local announcer would be.
In 2020, I didn’t do any games. In 2021, I did just a handful, and some of them were remote from the studio. This year, I think I wound up doing about 18 or 20 games. So I think the rhythm is pretty close to where I want it to be.
That makes a fair bit of sense. While those not calling particular games can obviously watch and track them, there’s a further level of involvement when it comes to actually calling a whole series. And a consistent announcing team for a series can also build on their own points and themes when appropriate as the series goes on. So it’s cool to see Costas get the chance to do that.
It’s also cool to see Costas get to continue his involvement with baseball. He has a long history with the sport, which includes calling games for NBC from 1982 through 2000 and calling games for ESPN, MLBN, YES, and TBS since then. A few years ago, he was selected as the winner of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2018 Ford C. Frick Award (he’s seen above at that induction in July 2018). And he told Deitsch baseball still has a special place in his heart, and some of that’s about the great announcers who have worked in that sport over the years:
I’m 70 years old. When I was learning sports and learning baseball, baseball was the unquestioned national pastime. No matter what the sport was, I could never separate the voices of those sports from the games themselves. If I was shooting baskets in the schoolyard, I was hearing Marty Glickman, or then Marv Albert. If I was hitting a Wiffle ball or throwing a tennis ball off the stoop, I could hear Mel Allen, Red Barber, or Vin Scully in my head. Baseball was always something that I was interested in doing. I was lucky enough to be part of the great NBC coverage of the game of the week in the 1980s. When we resumed in the ‘90s, I got to call World Series games with Joe Morgan and Bob Uecker. It’s the sport that I still follow most closely. Am I still interested in other sports? Yes. But am I connected to baseball? Yeah, more so than the other sports.
We’ll see how Costas, Darling and Shehadi do with this year’s Guardians-Yankees ALDS.
[The Athletic; photo from Gregory J. Fisher/USA Today Sports]