From the moment his microphone was turned on Tuesday night, TBS televangelist – uh, sorry, “play-by-play” announcer – Bob Costas began with his manifesto about the Cleveland Guardians, who he referred to by their previous name multiple times, and the state of the game. Not just Tuesday night’s game mind you, but the MLB game in general.
Short version: Cleveland and the Yankees are in the ALDS and Cleveland “does it differently”. Cleveland is the youngest team in baseball, they have a payroll that’s $173 million less than the Yankees, they make contact, they are aggressive on the bases, they play small ball, they don’t “sit around and wait for the home run”, they play the game the “right way” – there wasn’t a trope or cliché in this regard that Bob skipped over.
That’s the condensed version of Professor Bob’s oration. The unabridged version went on until the bottom of the fourth inning when he finally mentioned the other team on the field.
Although Bob the orator went on and on about all of the above, what he did not mention is that the 2022 Guardians, despite Bob’s yearning for 1906-style baseball, are an average offensive team at best. Left out of the monologue was that Cleveland’s presence in the ALDS is overwhelmingly due to their fantastic ability to prevent other teams from scoring.
Bob also didn’t bother to explain why, if Cleveland’s “contact” was a good thing, were the reigning champion (and winners of 101 games in ’22) Atlanta Braves dead last in contact rate this season but were third in runs scored – in fact, Atlanta scored almost 200 more runs than Cleveland, doing it the “wrong” way presumably.
Also, when championing the Guardians’ success with a low payroll, Bob left some important context out: Cleveland’s 2022 payroll is less than it was in 2012 when the team was worth $410 million – the team is now worth $1.3 billion. Instead of noting the extent to which that paradox is an obvious problem in today’s game – particularly for the fans – MLB’s curator, the voice of the everyman baseball fan at home, decided to celebrate the Dolan family’s profit margins.
Nor when discussing the Guardians’ sweep of the equally average Rays in the Wild Card Series, did Bob note that the “do it differently”, small ball Guardians’ offense scored only three runs in 24 innings of play, and all were via the long ball. (Thank GOD for his booth mate Ron Darling, who did point that out – I think Ronnie was starting to get a little uncomfortable with Costas’ selective ignorance too.) That stretch of offensive ineptitude would extend to a mere four runs in 33 innings, all via the home run, and no, Professor Troll failed to recognize or acknowledge the irony.
Also, if I may be so bold Bob, noting and applauding players for playing the game “the right way” is off the charts condescending, arrogant, and self-righteous. MLB players are adults, they work their asses off, and are free to decide how they play and act on the field and they do not need your permission or approval. My man here gets interviewed by Ken Burns and thinks that means he can tell grown men with exponentially more talent than he has how to act.
Speaking of doing things the “right way”, the lover of the ballgame did take time to note and gush over Cleveland’s José Ramírez accepting a well-below-market-value contract extension to stay in Cleveland long-term. Again – three cheers for the Dolan family checking account!
Well into the broadcast, when finally getting around to aspects of baseball not involving the Guardians, the pedant Costas noted that Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 home runs in 2017 for the Marlins, then signed a “rather large deal” with the Yankees in the offseason – this of course, is factually untrue, and most baseball fans know that. Bob then discussed how the MLB International draft affects current rosters – if you’re curious, there is no MLB International draft. If you were not aware of that, you can be forgiven. If you get paid to talk about baseball into a microphone and you don’t know that, you’re an ignoramus.
We all have our preferences when it comes to announcers, and old men yelling at clouds is certainly not one of mine. But it’s more than just personal preferences in this case – this is a case of presenting an agenda while (purposely or not) omitting a mountain of contradictory evidence, which is flat-out misleading to the audience and unprofessional. It’s also about getting basic facts about baseball wrong, which shows a level of incompetence for the position.
Do better TBS. Do better MLB. As Baseball Prospectus writer Craig Goldstein pointed out, you can get someone who’s not Bob Costas for much less money and the product would be better too.
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