Last night, while preparing for today's tournament lunacy and trying to find a picture of Mississippi Valley State's logo (he is Ming, and he is merciless), our phone rang. We didn't have time to answer it, so 20 minutes later, we checked our messages. It was Bob Costas. He wanted to discuss, on record, his comments from last week. We called him back and talked for about 20 minutes. Samplings of the interview follow.
Did you just become aware of the fervor about your comments?
Yes, I've been on vacation, and just saw [Sunday]. I noted that many of the comments expressed disappointment. I wanted to clarify and amplify my points, not backtrack or apologize or anything.
All right. So did the Miami Herald story quote you correctly?
Yes, the quotes were accurate, but it didn't have everything I said. Barry Jackson [the reporter] is an good reporter, but that wasn't everything I said. He, and everyone who was at the [charity auction], knew that I wasn't condemning everyone.
So, feel free to clarify.
I don't have any problem at all with the mainstream media being challenged or supplemented by new media. No entity has a monopoly over good writing from a valid point of view. In that sense, the more the merrier. In fact, many bloggers, on numerous subjects, sports included, are talented, humorous and bring fresh perspectives.
My commentary was aimed solely at a portion of Internet sports discourse, an unfortunately large portion, that consists of nothing more than potshots, ad hominem arguments, ignorance and invective. No one who is familiar with the general tone of public discourse, whether it be sports, politics, whatever, can honestly deny that much. It comes from that direction.
I was absolutely not saying that most or all bloggers were losers. It just seems so often that commenters use insults in the place of arguments. Is there a lot out there that's also well-written? Or course. But forgive me for not placing the exact same value on an comment on a political blog that I would to something said by Ted Koppel. Sure, they have the equal value in a voting booth. But you have to assume that if you've done something reasonable well for an extended period of time, you have some notion of what you're talking about.
So you don't think anyone who writes a blog or comments online is a "get-a-life loser?"
Some have inferred that I have this elitist view, and that I think only people who have been somehow "certified" have the right to comment on sports. It shouldn't be confused with somehow being superior. If you opened up anything to large numbers of participants, you'd find some real gems in there. But you'd have a lot of muck to sift through. I do think newspapers' comment boards need to have the same sort of standard they'd have for a letter to an editor. It's possible they just don't have the manpower for that, though. I do think I made a good point [in the Herald story], but it's only part of what I think.
Do you read blogs?
I look at some baseball blogs, Baseball Prospectus and what-not. Sometimes I'll see something funny in The Onion, and I've recently been looking more at your site since your book came out. It's a generational thing, though. I would do well to download music, but that's just not something I do. It's not my natural first impulse. I still love to pick up a newspaper in the morning.
We think the tipoff for people being angry was the "basement" line. Everyone's a little tired of that line.
Yes, well, that might have lapsed a bit into cliche.