Costas strikes down theory he's bummed by baseball

THE BALTIMORE SUN

You would expect NBC's Bob Costas, a man who carries a Mickey Mantle trading card in his wallet because "everyone should have a religious artifact on his person," to be major-league bummed about the strike.

You would be wrong.

"We knew all season there was a possibility of a strike, and I was one who believed that, once they struck, the season was over. It all kind of fit into the pattern that I had going anyway," Costas said during a recent local swing to help promote Channel 11's impending switch to NBC.

Indeed, Costas has trimmed his NBC Sports schedule somewhat, begging off "NFL Live" two years ago, after 10 years as host of the football pre-game show, though he is an occasional NBC News contributor, and has been host of a Sports Illustrated 40th anniversary special.

Costas, who lives in St. Louis with his wife and two children, will return as host of "NBA Showtime" in January, but baseball commands his sports passion.

No one was happier to see baseball return to NBC after a four-year absence than Costas, but it is gone for the moment, and he places most of the blame for that on the owners.

"Historically, the owners have screwed everything up, and it's not just the labor situation. The owners, with the players' approval, destroyed the pennant races with the stupid wild-card thing. Everything that made a pennant race what it was, in terms of competitive integrity and drama, went right out the window."

That's not to say that Costas exonerates the players.

"They're lavishly compensated. They seem to have little perspective about how fortunate they are. And they, half the time, seem resentful," said Costas. "So, intellectually, you can identify who has a point here or there, but emotionally, the feeling is, 'Hey, the hell with both of them.' Is that strong enough for you?"

And how.

Dennis the Menace

TNT's Craig Sager landed a two-part interview with the recalcitrant Dennis Rodman of the San Antonio Spurs. The first part of that chat will air at halftime of tonight's Los Angeles Lakers-Dallas Mavericks game at 8, with the other portion airing during Friday's New York-Phoenix contest.

On the subject of Rodman, there just isn't enough condemnation for Foot Action and Nike for that tasteless commercial in which the oft-fined and suspended forward jacks up Santa Claus for sneakers. The ad sends a clear message that bad is good, but then what do you expect from a sneaker company?

Ringside roundup

USA wraps up its 1994 "Tuesday Night Fights" schedule with a 12-round World Boxing Council lightweight title fight between champion Miguel Angel Gonzalez and Calvin Grove from The Pit at the University of New Mexico at 9 p.m.

On the undercard, Jose Caba will fight for the North American Boxing Federation's vacant junior welterweight crown against, no kidding, Rocky Balboa.

Yo, Adrian!

Hoops in the air

WITH (1230 AM) airs one of 14 Towson State women's basketball games tonight, as the Tigers meet Maryland in College Park at 7:30 with Spiro Morekas on the call.

Killing the cash cow

One can safely assume that Sports Illustrated isn't selling as many subscriptions with those Michael Jordan highlight tapes as it used to.

How else to explain that nasty swipe SI's Tom Verducci took at Jordan in last week's issue in a piece on Jordan's trek through the Arizona Fall League baseball schedule?

So, maybe Jordan wasn't so accommodating to the magazine or to the fans, and maybe his hired bodyguards were a bit threatening, but it seemed odd that SI would be so mean to His Airness.

After all, it stands to reason those sneaker phones won't always be such a great hook to get new subscribers.

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