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HBT Special Edition: Bob Costas and I talk about playoff expansion, realignment and instant replay

Jul 11, 2011, 11:42 AM EDT

Costas Calcaterra.bmp

A little while back I had the privilege of going to New York and talking with Bob Costas about a great many issues in the game. It was a great conversation. Long, wide-ranging and totally no-holds-barred. We tackled a number of things that afternoon. Among them expansion of the playoffs and realignment. Those are the topics which forms the bulk of this edition HBT Daily.

Anyone who follows baseball has an idea — or thinks they have an idea — of what Bob thinks about these kinds of issues. The issues which touch on tradition and change in the game.  I found, however, both during our taped conversation, but also during our chats before and afterward, that he gets a bum rap on this stuff. Sure, there is a traditionalist strain to his thinking, but far less than advertised and far less than a great many people who think about and comment on the game. And if you don’t believe me, let me say this much:  within three minutes of the beginning of this video, one of us was pounding his fist on the desk and accusing the other of being “a damn traditionalist.”  It wasn’t me.

There were other topics we touched on that aren’t here, but which we may roll out some time in the future. Or we may meet up again — maybe this time in my basement instead of New York! — to talk about stuff we didn’t cover before. I guess part of that depends on how you like it, so please, let me know what you think.

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  1. insaneinthemembraines - Jul 11, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    Bob Costas for next commissioner of baseball.

  2. deathmonkey41 - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:01 PM

    I don’t know how you can sit across from him without wanting to lay him out. He’s such a pretenious, condescending tool.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:04 PM

      Nonsense. I know a lot of people are critical of him — and I’m not saying that because we’re both on the NBC payroll — but he was very nice, very gracious and very thoughtful about all of the stuff we talked about. I came away from this liking the guy an awful lot.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:11 PM

        Dude, the first 30 secs of the clip are him patting himself on the shoulder for all the TV stations and venues from where he can voice his opinion from. Egomaniac.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:06 PM

      I don’t see it that way at all. Costas and Chris Wheeler are my favorite sports commentators/announcers. Craig, how are we doing with that edit function?

      • b7p19 - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:15 PM

        Chris Wheeler??!! Oh boy. I agree with you on Costas, he’s pretty much the Sh!!. Your judgement is way off on Chris Wheeler. The Phillies announcers are darn near unwatchable. The loss of HK ruined Philles broadcasts in my opinioin.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:25 PM

        Wheels gets a bad rap. McCarthy is caught in a thankless job trying to replace HK so I cut him so slack. Sarge, well I don’t know about him. Wheels is awesome, however. I know it is a minority opinion, but I don’t care.

      • Utley's Hair - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:29 PM

        I try to mute the TV guys and listen to Franzke and LA as much as possible, delay be damned.

      • seanmk - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:34 PM

        i don’t know what you see in wheels, let alone Tmac. sarge at least is unique with his dicTATION and catch phrases he has abandoned “cadillac time”. Tmac is known for OPPO BOPPO, enough said

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:37 PM

        I don’t like TMac, but I don’t slag on him because replacing HK was an impossible task. I liked the phrase “Cadillac Time”, not sure why Sarge abandoned it. I don’t know, I just like Wheels. I think he does a good job and like listening to him.

      • Jonny 5 - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:01 PM

        Wheels gets on my nerves to the point where I tune to the radio. Often.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:03 PM

        That’s just like your opinion man.

      • Jonny 5 - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:19 PM

        This is very true. I hold no contempt over a persons choice of announcers. It’s not like you said cake is better than pie or anything CRAZY like that.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:21 PM

        If any of you are on FB, put I hate Chris Wheeler in as a search.

      • seanmk - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:26 PM

        but jonny 5 look at the no doubles defense in the outfield! they are also guarding the lines

      • carlosruiz51 - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:28 PM

        Chris Wheeler is GARBAGE!!! All he ever talks about are stories from the 70s. As far as his “analytical” analysis, every hitter likes the ball MIDDLE IN. Really Wheels? Really?

  3. yankeesgameday - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    Dude… Craig… You’re interviewing bob costas in front of a sign for your own baseball blog. Seriously? You’re living the dream. I hope you email this to everyone at the old law firm!

  4. trevorb06 - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    Craig you have a face for the radio and a voice for the newspaper.

    I, of course, say this with love and affection for your work. :-)

    Good job

  5. Utley's Hair - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    Yeah, the extra ump would call Joe West and tell him he got it wrong. And then West would start going off on him and eject him.

  6. yankeesfanlen - Jul 11, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    I don’t like anything less than best-of-seven for any playoff competition.

  7. Reflex - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    As much as I like Craig, you could not pay me any amount of money to listen to Bob Costas. The main benefit of baseball going to Fox was that I no longer had to mute my tv during games. Not that Fox is great or anything, just that Costas is *that* grating to me.

    To be fair I’ve always heard he’s a nice guy, and I’ll always enjoy his appearance on my all time favorite comedy, News Radio(he even lampooned his commentary style), but I just find him totally unwatchable/unlistenable, and it will be a special circle of hell for me if he ever gets the commissioner position he really wants.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:09 PM

      Very under rated show was Newsradio. Not nearly as funny after Phil Hartman died, but still funny.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:14 PM


      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:19 PM

        John Lovitz didn’t ruin the show, but he was certainly no Phil Hartman. Not many people were. Even the Simpsons suffered from the loss of great characters he voiced on there.

      • b7p19 - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:47 PM

        What characters did Hartman voice on the Simpsons?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:53 PM

        Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz. There might have been others, I don’t remember.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 11, 2011 at 2:16 PM

      • Reflex - Jul 12, 2011 at 3:35 AM

        I’ve got a WNYX mug on my desk at work. The yellow one from the middle seasons.

    • deathmonkey41 - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:13 PM

      Agreed and add Chris Berman to that mix. I am so happy that I got the Extra Innings package through my cable company because not only do I get to see every game now, but if they’re on ESPN and Berman is doing the game, I don’t have to watch it, but can tune into YES. Berman and Costas suck the fun out of watching sports.

      • jimbo1949 - Jul 11, 2011 at 2:23 PM

        The BIG problem with X I is the FOX & ESPN blackouts Sat & Sun. The only relief is the radio or Gameday Audio. I used it last night to avoid the 3 stooges ragging on about the ASG.

    • gugurich - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:39 PM

      You mean you don’t mute Buck and McCarver. Wow, that’s gotta be a first.

  8. The Common Man - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    Aside from the fact that Bob Costas makes a lot of assumptions about what your readers think, Craig (the same assumptions he complains about people making about his opinions, I’ll add) this was a lot of fun and a great conversation. I admit to liking Costas a lot, however, and wishing that he had more opportunities to do baseball play-by-play.

    • b7p19 - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:53 PM

      uh, hello, we’re called minions…

      “readers” just sounds so intelligent and thought performing.

      • Utley's Hair - Jul 11, 2011 at 2:25 PM

  9. Ari Collins - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    I found myself really liking both you and Costas a lot more after this one.

    That said, you might want to find topics you disagree on. Or someone else who might disagree with you, if need be. Although it had a really neat and professional tone to it, you missed some chances to really argue with him, like with the “things even out over the course of the season and some games are less meaningful than others, so we don’t need replay.” All baseball games are meaningful, April to October, Royals to Yankees. If you want to get the calls right in any of them, you want to get the calls right in all of them.

  10. O.Handwasher - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    That was awesome. Do it again.

  11. deathmonkey41 - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    Do an interview with Ron Jeremy. Now there is a man who has made serious contributions to media and entertainment.

  12. jpeetey - Jul 11, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    Would’ve liked to hear you guys discuss the option of eliminating divisions entirely, evening the leagues and sending the best four teams. If fairness is the goal, that option is the best.

    • Jonny 5 - Jul 11, 2011 at 2:02 PM

      Fairness isn’t the goal. If it was there would be a salary cap too.

      • deathmonkey41 - Jul 11, 2011 at 3:43 PM

        Why? So they can make everyone mediocre like they did in football?

      • jpeetey - Jul 12, 2011 at 4:06 PM

        Selig has argued on any number of occasions that adding more playoff teams is “more fair”. This is what I was referring to, fairness in playoff qualification, not fairness in roster construction. (Though a salary cap is arguably “unfair”, too, for any number of reasons)

  13. Old Gator - Jul 11, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    Did you guys happen to discuss adding an EDIT FUNCTION to this cockamamie software?

    • jimbo1949 - Jul 11, 2011 at 2:26 PM

      Edit Function Edit Function Edit Function Edit Function Edit Function
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  14. franklapidus316 - Jul 11, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    Enjoyed the interview. Agree on the “continuation” issue with instant replay, but they could just devise a protocol, be it judgement or just 1 base advance. Team currently hosed by fair ball called foul (or catch that turns out to have hit ground, or whatever) at least gets a single and runner advancement out of it. NFL has myriad continuation issues as well, like say a guy is ruled down and whistle blows, but he fumbled, defender picks it up and would have had easy TD. Defense can get awarded the ball, but can’t advance the ball.

  15. Kevin S. - Jul 11, 2011 at 3:10 PM

    I don’t think continuation plays are a bug of instant replay at all. If a ball is actually trapped and called an out, the batting team is still better served with a single and each player advancing a base than with the out standing. If the ball is called a trap but is actually caught, all that is lost is the potential opportunity for the batting team to tag and add a base. For actually fair balls that are called foul, baseball already has protocols for base advancement in dead-ball scenarios – apply them. Every one is preferable to the batting team than a strike.

  16. madocyankfan - Jul 11, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    Could someone in the HBT lab encode these videos so they’ll play on my iPad?

  17. clydeserra - Jul 11, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Wild card disadvantage is easy. [4 team scenario] Make them play the team with the best record regardless of division and make the WC win one more game than the division winner in the Division series. (ex. in 2010 TB has to win 3 games v NYY but NYY has to win 4)

    [6 team scenario] best two records v. 2 wild card same thing. Make the WC win one more.

    Better, have a round robin winners and losers bracket.

    Most importantly make the teams play everyday. Make them win with 5 starting pitchers or 4 guys going on 3 days rest.

  18. mornelithe - Jul 11, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    Costas was awesome even before Pootie-Tang, I envy your getting the opportunity to talk ball with him Craig, that’s pretty cool. Not to deify him or anything, but I’ve always thought of him as a damn good contribution to the sports world.

  19. embinoratsicus - Jul 11, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    Nice conversation. I have no idea why people are so down on Costas, I think he is a pretty good guy, except for the fact that he is a Yankees fan who believes that the rest of the league doesn’t feel as strongly about their team, with the possible exception of the Red Sox fanbase. I say, put the Royals in the biggest market, you get more fans showing up.

    But beyond that, he usually does have well reasoned arguments for his statements, and tell me he wouldn’t be better than having one of the owners policing the other owners, and especially this one who has a checkered history in any case, just start with the (admittedly few) Seattle Pilots fans that watched his entry into the game.

    My only other comment would be that I would be in favor of no divisions, just have AL and NL but just grab the first four finishers and put them in the playoffs. We have planes now, it is not that hard to get across the country to play the other teams and there is no reason for these artificial distinctions between regions. Then you might get people following other teams that are not right in their backyard.

    Also, on replay, GIVE GALARRAGA HIS PERFECT GAME. Seriously, they have changed results before, just recently in fact. This is not like changing the Constitution, it is a sports record. Allow replay on calls of this nature and also make sure that blown calls are noticed. Just because there is a strong union, it doesn’t mean that poor performance in the primary duty of the umpire should not be punished by their union. Other unions and guilds do this, they can too.

  20. mentalotherhalf - Jul 11, 2011 at 9:58 PM

    Dude: how did Craig snag the interview with Mark Hamill?

    And who would have guessed that middle-aged Luke Skywalker would have such nuanced opinions about baseball?

  21. schmedley69 - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:16 PM

    Good job, Craig. You should do this more often. I miss Costas in the booth calling games. He was one of my favorites.

  22. dirtyharry1971 - Jul 11, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    Was Bob lost that day or did he have nothing better to do? God i feel sorry for him for having to do this interview!

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