Bob Costas addresses accusations of bias during AL Division Series

Bob Costas, who called the New York Yankees-Cleveland Guardians American League Division Series on TBS, joined Cleveland-area sports talk show ‘The Ken Carman Show with Anthony Lima’ on Audacy’s ‘The Fan’ to discuss the series and respond to accusations of his perceived bias toward the Yankees during the coverage.

‘I don’t want to be harsh — I understand where it comes from — but to be concise, it’s idiocy,’ the veteran play-by-play announcer said. ‘There are people in New York who think we’re somehow being unfair to the Yankees.’

Costas, who joined MLB on TBS during last year’s postseason, received criticism from fans on his play calling throughout the ALDS, most notably from popular New York-based radio personality Mike Francesa. 

“Costas, who will not be quiet no matter what,” Francesa said after Game 3 on his podcast. “He thinks, I guess, that every word is golden because he just will not shut up. Everything’s a history lesson. We don’t need a history lesson every two seconds. Everybody’s a Yankees fan. They understand Yankees history. They know it backwards and forwards. This is not a history class. It’s a baseball game. Be quiet. Do the game.’

Costas defended his call of the game and continued to reject the idea of bias toward the Yankees.

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‘It only comes from people who are themselves partisans — whose idea of objectivity is Tom Hamilton’s call,’ Costas said of the Guardians’ beloved hometown broadcaster. ‘Tom Hamilton is great. He’s a wonderful guy. He should someday be in the broadcaster’s wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He’s the radio announcer for the Guardians. He can call a game the way he calls a game, and it’s the way he should call the game.’

Costas elaborated that network broadcasters and local market broadcasters take a different approach during games.

‘When you’re doing a game nationally, first of all one of the things you have to do early in a series, is to familiarize the casual fan of people outside — in this case Cleveland and New York — with the basic storylines of the series, and in this case the contrasts.

‘Here’s a newsflash for most fans. There may be a handful of exceptions somewhere but, by and large, here’s what network announcers root for: good games and good events,’ Costas continued. ‘If the series is for five, you’d like it to go five because that’s more dramatic. And you’d like the last game to go to the last pitch somehow, to the bottom of the ninth or extra innings, because that sets the stage for more memorable games and therefore should be a better broadcast. That’s what network broadcasters root for. … It’s very, very unusual for network broadcasters to have a true rooting interest.”

Costas said fans should also keep in mind that, no matter the sport, there will be a crowd reaction from the home team, causing the announcer to instinctually raise their voice.

‘It’s still about professionalism, you should be able to always be appreciative and always give credit to both sides, and people who think that’s not the case in this series are seeing it through the prism of their own non-objectivity and then casting that on the broadcasters,’ Costas said. ‘It’s simply a bogus argument. It has no validity, whatsoever.’

As for the haters criticizing Costas’ work, he says, ‘I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to it, because of the dynamics that we’ve been talking about, so I understand what it is.’

The Yankees will now face the Houston Astros in the ALCS. Game 1 is Wednesday at Minute Maid Park. Brian Anderson, Ron Darling and Jeff Francoeur and Lauren Shehadi are scheduled to call the series on TBS. Costas is scheduled to work the network’s pregame show with former players Curtis Granderson, Pedro Martinez and Jimmy Rollins.

Contact Analis Bailey at aabailey@usatoday.com or on Twitter @analisbailey.

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