To be clear, professional sports broadcasting is thankfully long past the time when the announcers would annoyingly sugarcoat dismal player performances. (Though I would prefer that those who actually played the game engage in this criticism, and that play-by-play announcers who haven't try to stay away from it.)
So it would have been somewhat acceptable if veteran NBC broadcaster Bob Costas, as he was doing the play-by-play for a Friday night Chicago Cubs-St. Louis Cardinals game, had merely stated the obvious, i.e., that Cubs relief pitcher Pedro Strop, after giving up a home run, hitting a batter, and walking one while only getting one out, had an "atrocious" outing. But that's not what he said. Costas ridiculed Strop for (imagine that) looking up and pointing to the heavens as he headed towards the Cubs' dugout.
Costas's public "apology" only reinforced what many viewers surely felt as all of this transpired, namely that he had a larger (in his fevered mind), pent-up objection.
Here, while it remains available, is Costas's extraordinarily mean moment:
Motte (the next relief pitcher — Ed.) is on his way in. 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.
Those who believe that Costas got bent out of shape because he sensed something spiritual in Strop's pointing to the heavens — perhaps, uh, heaven forbid, that Strop was addressing someone other than a relative — will see that the "heavenly" portion of Costas's "apology" confirms those suspicions (HT Twitchy):
Bob Costas tells Daily News he owes Pedro Strop an apology and will meet with the Cubs' reliever on Sunday
... “The tone of it was not what I intended. I intended it as a kind of sarcastic comment about this overall thing where everybody seems to be pointing toward the heavens for every accomplishment, large and small, or even for no accomplishment at all,” Costas said. “I inadvertently appeared harsh toward Strop. That wasn’t my intention. And so I owe him an apology. And I will apologize to him (on Sunday).”
Costas certainly deserves credit, as described in the linked article, for proactively listening to what he originally said after his producer advised him that it was problematic and quickly recognizing that his statement on Strop was over the top. He also deserves credit for meeting with the Cubs' reliever as soon as he possibly could to apologize in person.
But let's note that Costas is steadfastly sticking to his annoyance with "this overall thing where everybody seems to be pointing toward the heavens," thereby admitting that what really set him off wasn't Strop's "atrocious performance." No, it was the Cubs' reliever pointing towards the heavens. Little big man Bob Costas, considered by many the face of NBC Sports, can't handle public expressions of religiosity. He has apparently allowed his annoyance with them to fester and build, perhaps for years. Strop's move, after a dismal outing, caused the dam to burst.
For his part, Strop was generously forgiving. As seen in coverage found at Comcast Sportsnet, the Cubs reliever, a six-year major league veteran, also explained his actions quite well.
As expected, he was thanking God, even in trying circumstances:
“I always thank God for everything,” Strop said. “(It’s) for the opportunity. It’s nothing to do with (how I) perform. Oh, because I did good, I’m going to thank God? No, no, no, I thank God for everything. I always do that.”
I'd say that Strop looks like a winner in the game that matters most — and it's clear from Bob Costas's expressed hostility over anyone "pointing towards the heavens" that he doesn't even begin to get it.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.