With Uecker unavailable, Costas, Morgan ready to tag-team ALCS


Joe Morgan says that he and Bob Costas have yet to do their best work as a baseball announcing team. If they manage that feat during this week's American League Championship Series telecasts, sports television may not get much better than what we're going to hear.

The ALCS will effectively serve as Costas' and Morgan's first extended work together as a duo because Bob Uecker, suffering back ailments, decided earlier this year not to work NBC telecasts.

With only two men occupying the booth, rather than three, the movement of the telecast should be more to each of their liking, which, in turn, should make for a better broadcast.

"We've been jumping around from team to team," Morgan said yesterday during a national conference call. "Now, we're going to have an opportunity to go with the Yankees and the Cleveland Indians. We'll have an opportunity to build a rhythm, to build a pace."

That's not to say that Uecker, the regular radio play-by-play man for the Milwaukee Brewers, won't be missed. Uecker, who has planned to have back surgery in the off-season, brought a level of levity to the booth that wore on some, but tended to lighten things up.

It will be interesting to see how Morgan and Costas, who are as steeped in baseball lore and strategy as any announcers can be, will play without Uecker to the larger, non-baseball audience that will tune in during this week's series.

"Bob Uecker was underappreciated for what a good analyst he was," Costas said. "People just put him in that category [comedian], but you can't play as long as he did and broadcast Milwaukee games as he has, as the play-by-play man, and not know a lot of baseball. He made a lot of good baseball points and never got credit for it."

Nonetheless, Uecker's absence provides some space for Costas and Morgan to get in points that need to be made, not to mention allowing for thoughtful periods where no one is saying anything at all.

"You're able to use silences and use pauses more if there are two people than if there are three," Costas said. "It has nothing to do with any one person being too talkative or anyone doing anything wrong. It's just that when you have three people, even if you're not stepping on each other there's just less silence. It makes it seem as if everyone is talking more than they may actually be.

"With two, you feel less rushed. You don't feel as if, 'Now is the time that I can get this point in before the pitch and before the next person has to have his turn to talk.' "

NBC (Channel 11) begins its coverage tonight with Game 1 of the series at 8, with Game 2's telecast commencing tomorrow at 4 p.m. Fox (Channel 45), meanwhile, will have the National League Championship Series between San Diego and Atlanta, beginning tomorrow at 8 p.m., with Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and Bob Brenly.

Enough already

After getting Detroit safety Mark Carrier to whine about the fine and suspension he got for a vicious Monday night hit the previous week, you would have thought that CBS would be sensitive to showing hard hits.

You would be wrong. That block that New York Jets linebacker Bryan Cox leveled on a Miami special teams player Sunday was bad enough on first viewing, but the repeated airings by CBS (twice on replay and twice again after the game), not to mention ESPN (at least twice during "SportsCenter") lapsed into gratuitousness.

Pub Date: 10/06/98

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