MLB Network's Costas raves about Game 6
Host's 'Studio 42' kicks off new season with Jackson
ST. LOUIS -- Bob Costas has spent most of his life talking about his one true passion of baseball, with occasional side discussion such as the Olympics and even an old St. Louis radio gig for KMOX broadcasting the American Basketball Association.
Watching the Cardinals take batting practice before their seventh World Series game against the Rangers on Friday night at Busch Stadium, the MLB Network host and conversationalist said Game 6 was "one of the greatest games in the history of baseball."
"That's not hype or a lack of perspective where you are carried away by the most recent thing that happened. That's a considered opinion," he said. "It's one of the greatest games in the history of baseball. It had so much to it, not just the drama at the end. So much texture, so many twists and turns.
"And even prior to that, you have a historic performance by [Albert] Pujols in Game 3, terrific pitching performance by [Derek] Holland in Game 4, all the controversy and head-scratching moves in Game 5, and now you have this, that propels you into the first Game 7 since 2002.
"If the rating tonight [for Game 7 on FOX] is not through the roof, it isn't baseball's fault, it just shows that the American public has lost its mind."
Costas has been part of MLB Network since its inception, conducting the studio narrative interview with Don Larsen and Yogi Berra on New Year's Day 2009 when the network had the largest launch in cable TV history. A new season of his Emmy Award-nominated series "Studio 42 with Bob Costas" begins at 9 p.m. ET on Monday, with Reggie Jackson.
"I love the MLB Network," Costas said. "Even if I wasn't involved with it, I would be involved with it -- I would be a viewer, because the combination of the way they cover the game in the present and the way they take care of all the historical stuff is terrific."
Filmed in Cooperstown last summer during the Hall of Fame induction festivities, the five-time World Series champion discusses the most memorable and controversial moments of his 21-year career, including his infamous long-standing feud with former Yankees manager Billy Martin, his relationship with late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, his dominance in the postseason and his thoughts on players using performance-enhancing drugs.
"Reggie is very forthcoming on his relationships with George Steinbrenner, Billy Martin and other significant baseball figures, as well as on the steroid era and its impact on the game," Costas said. "I've spoken with Reggie many times over the years but I felt that this was the most interesting of our conversations."
One thing that naturally would be missing is Jackson talking about Albert Pujols joining him on the baseball mountaintop of players who have homered three times in a World Series game.
"We need to actually redo the opening," Costas nodded. "They need to put on the screen a couple of times during it: 'Taped July 2011,' because otherwise you would ask him about Pujols, of course."
Fortunately, the conversation with Jackson does include Mr. October talking about clubbing his own three homers -- on three consecutive pitches.
"Winning solves all the problems for the time being. ... I plowed through all the difficulty and the uphill battle and the fights and the problems with Billy Martin and the difficulty I'd had with the media," Jackson says in the show. "I should've gone to a rehab center when the season was over for mental clarity."
Additional new episodes of "Studio 42 with Bob Costas" will air Monday nights throughout November and December and feature conversations with Hall of Famers including former Red Sox teammates Jim Rice and Wade Boggs, former Mets pitcher Tom Seaver, former Braves pitcher Phil Niekro, former Cubs Ryne Sandberg, Ferguson Jenkins and Andre Dawson, and actor Billy Crystal.
During this World Series, MLB Network aired Costas' conversation with Commissioner Bud Selig. What did the host find most important in that discussion?
"The conversation with the Commissioner, I think one of the things that came out of it, he remains pretty adamant that he's not going to expand instant replay in the postseason, which I think is a mistake," Costas said. "He's not going to go, if they expand the playoffs, to a single-league thing where you just take the top six teams or whatever number and just line them up one through six and seed them. He still thinks you should have three divisions and then add an extra Wild Card, probably the way he's going to go.
"He won't commit on whether it will be best two out of three or a single-game elimination, but most of us are pretty sure it will be a single-game elimination."
That is all in the future, and Costas always has had a respected opinion about where the game is going. And Friday night, he was also contemplating its past, acknowledging big differences between people's viewing habits today and those days in 1975 when the Reds beat the Red Sox in that historic Game 6 -- often regarded as one of the best World Series games ever.
"No, there are differences," he said. "In '75 it's really before cable TV. ESPN doesn't exist, the Internet doesn't exist, the MLB Network doesn't exist, all the highlight shows aren't there. A zillion choices. Even though football was coming on very strong, baseball still held a position unlike what it holds today. So the definition of a terrific rating, with the whole country being captured by something, is a little bit different in 2011 than it was in 1975. But in recent memory, this is way up there."