At 70, Bob Costas monitoring his pitch count, still throwing strikes
Bob Costas used to be known for being young, and long after that for looking young. In March, he turned 70.
Really. You could look it up!
Was that weird for him?
“A little,” he said with a laugh in an interview with Newsday. “You say to yourself, geez, I don’t feel that much different than when I was 50. And it doesn’t even seem that long ago when I was 50. But I’m equidistant between that and 90, so whatever I need to do, I better get it done in a hurry.”
Costas has been in no professional hurry since ending his long run at NBC in 2019. Rather, he has fashioned for himself what he considers an ideal workload that matches his interests and schedule.
Most prominently, he will call 20 regular-season games for TBS and MLB Network this season, including Tuesday night’s Yankees-Mets game on TBS.
Unlike most TBS games, it will not be blacked out in the market of the teams involved and thus will be viewable in New York alongside the SNY and YES coverage.
Costas also will be involved in Turner Sports’ American League playoff coverage.
He also does a four-times-a-year interview show for HBO called “Back on the Record” and contributes sports-related commentary to CNN.
“This is exactly the way I wanted it to be,” Costas said. “I only wanted to do the things I’m most interested in doing and only as much volume as I feel comfortable with.
“Both MLB and TBS are great about the logistics of my schedule. So in cooperation with them, I get to pick the games that I do that work out best for me schedule-wise and geographically.”
He added, “It feels like exactly what I should be doing now at exactly the level of appearances.”
This has been the first chance to fully execute the plan, given the COVID-related disruptions to the 2020 and ’21 baseball seasons.
Costas did contribute historical commentary in 2020 and ’21, a period that included the deaths of 10 Hall of Famers in less than 12 months.
“Each time, as sad as it was, I had relationships with almost all of them, some sort of historical overview, so they call upon me for that kind of thing,” he said.
Costas was in Cooperstown this past weekend to see his friend Jim Kaat inducted into the Hall of Fame and to interview Kaat, Tony Oliva and David Ortiz for MLB Network’s coverage.
Costas, who grew up in Commack as a Yankees fan, splits his time between Manhattan and California, so the commute to Citi Field on Tuesday will be easy.
Does he believe it is good for baseball to have the Yankees and Mets both playing this well?
“It’s absolutely good for baseball, sure it is,” he said. “You’ve got a lot of attention and a big market. You’ve got a good chance that one or both goes deep into the playoffs.
“They both have recognizable stars, not just in New York but on a national basis. I would say that Aaron Judge now is one of the four or five biggest names in baseball nationally . . . I think it isn’t good just because of the market; it’s good because of the story lines and the boldfaced names.”
Despite being known as a traditionalist, Costas said he is “very much in favor” of MLB instituting a pitch clock next season, especially with no one on base.
“It’s never apples-to-apples when you compare minor-league stuff to major-league stuff,” he said, “but the pace of play and the time of games has been significantly improved with a pitch clock in the minors. So I’m all for it.”
Costas will work with analyst Jeff Francoeur on Tuesday. He understands many Mets and Yankees fans will stick with their local broadcasts but added: “If you have three alternatives, what’s wrong with that? Maybe somebody will sample us for a couple innings and go back to their hometown broadcast.”
It’s all good for Costas, who said that while his “pitch count isn’t quite what it was,” he still is able to get the job done — under his terms.
“It’s a blank canvas, which I now filled in exactly as I wanted it,” he said. “It’s all like a little bit of a jigsaw puzzle and all the pieces have to fit perfectly, or else why do it at all?”
So far, 70 isn’t so bad after all.
“There’s no denying it,” Costas said. “Time marches on.”