Veteran Broadcaster Says Public Reaction Had Nothing To Do With Apology


NEW YORK (WFAN) — Bob Costas says he had an obligation to apologize to Chicago Cubs reliever Pedro Strop for his comments during a recent broadcast.

As for the users on social media who made it a trending story, Costas doesn’t “owe them any explanation.”

The veteran sportscaster sparked a firestorm Friday night when he said of the pitcher, who was walking off the field after blowing a lead: “Strop is on his way out, pointing toward the heavens. We can only ask, or wonder, that he is asking some departed relative for forgiveness for this atrocious performance.”

Costas told WFAN radio Monday night that he’s “said things like this” before, though this time it lacked the necessary levity.

“Sometimes you don’t pull it off exactly the way you intended,” Costas said during a lengthy schmooze with host Steve Somers. “When the producer told me afterwards, when the game was over — I think this happened in the eighth — the producer, who I trust, he knows my work, he said ‘You know, that came out more harshly than you intended. It didn’t have the kind of touch that it usually would have.’ So I immediately got the DVD, and I listened to it, and I agreed.

“I would have, if this was 1990 and the Internet didn’t exist and if nobody had said anything about it, I still would have sought Pedro Strop out, and I still would have said, ‘Pedro, what I intended to do was move you off the plate. But sometimes when you intend to move somebody off the plate, you accidentally hit them. I didn’t mean to hit you, Pedro. I didn’t mean to single you out. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.’ I’ve been doing this for a long time. People know that I have a point of view on things, but fair-minded people also know that I never deal in personal attacks or ad-hominem attacks. I’m not an insult-type guy. It’s just not my nature as a person. So I felt badly when I watched it, because it just didn’t come across the way I usually present things.

“I sought Pedro out to explain that to him and apologize if I had hurt his feelings, or if there was any misunderstanding. I did not apologize because of any sort of public reaction or outcry. The hell with that. I’m not responding to what’s out there in the ether. That has no effect on me. I would have done the exact same thing if it was 1990 and the Internet didn’t exist.

“And in fact, I contacted the Cubs’ PR guy the next morning after the game before I was aware of any reaction whatsoever and said, ‘Where’s Pedro gonna be … when can I arrange to speak with him?’ And that’s what I did. Just a man-to-man thing, shouldn’t be a federal case, that’s the end of it as far as I’m concerned.”

Costas had the conversation with Strop, who he described as “extremely kind and gracious,” on Sunday.

“He said, ‘You know, I get it. … Many people have told me you’re a good guy. I understand. No problem, it’s all behind us,’ ” Costas told Somers. “We shook hands, we smiled, we slapped each other on the back. It’s all cool. And that’s the way things in a sane world should always be. There was no malicious intent. It doesn’t fit into any profile of me that a fair-minded person would derive from looking at 30-plus years of work. It was just something that didn’t quite come out the way I intended, and I was sorry about that, and I took care of it with Pedro Strop. As for the rest of the world, people whose entire lives revolve around creating controversies out of nothing, I don’t owe them any explanation.”

The 63-year-old Costas, no stranger to having controversial opinions, explained his issues with social media.

“A large amount of it is just vitriol and ignorance and ad-hominem arguments and ad-hominem attacks, and anyone who says otherwise is either not paying attention or being disingenuous,” he said. “And because of that, it attracts people who have that kind of personality profile. So there’s no leavening influence. You or I or many of your listeners are not going to wander into that precinct to say, wait a minute, let’s be reasonable here. So it just becomes a playground for people who want to vent or express over-the-top and often utterly uninformed and ignorant opinions. And then what’s worse yet is that the mainstream often reacts to it. … The idea that in some desperate attempt to remain relevant and to get more clicks, that we should dumb ourselves down by adopting the ethos of the mob, that’s something that I’m not good with.”

Listen to the entire interview for Costas’ thoughts on player celebrations, the latest hit against Pete Rose’s reinstatement bid, Alex Rodriguez’s resurgence and more: