O'Donnell: Bob Costas not interested in Marquee of Cubs new TV network
THE QUESTION HAS BEEN swirling around the Cubs cosmos almost as long as the team's search for an effective leadoff man.
So during a Yankees-Astros ALCS game this week, The Daily Herald asked Bob Costas:
Are you joining the Cubs' new Marquee Sports Network?
"No possibility," the 67-year-old TV wunderkind said.
"There really hasn't even been any communication between the two sides.
"Nobody's asked me.
"And quite frankly, I'm not looking for that sort of day-to-day baseball job.
"Please make it clear -- I have the greatest respect for that organization, its history and its television history.
"But I don't see my next primary broadcast job, if there is to be one, doing baseball, especially on a local level.
"If I ever take on a full-time assignment again, it might not even be purely about sports.
"But I can tell you this -- it has to be perfect for me, for who I am and what I'm about at this point in my life."
On the cusp of the autumn of his broadcast career, Costas deserves whatever he wants.
For 45 years, since a 22-year-old Greek-Irish lad from Long Island landed a job as the voice of the cartoonishly unpredictable Spirits of St. Louis in the American Basketball Association, Costas has been a gold standard of American airwaves.
He was at NBC Sports by age 29 and seven years later, was masterful as the host of the fabulously eclectic crossover "Later," a wee-hours vehicle that came on after Johnny Carson and "Late Night with David Letterman."
The show was the creation of Dick Ebersol. It proved to be two parts Tom Snyder, one part Steve Allen and all parts the irrepressible Costas, who clearly sat far too close to the TV growing up watching Adam West's "Batman," "American Bandstand" and Jules Bergman reporting from Cape Canaveral as more media-mesmerized Caboose Boomers were wont to do.
Even if a new "Later" was offered now, Costas says he probably wouldn't take it.
"Not on a daily basis," he said.
"I've got my association with The MLB Network (calling 26 games this season) and I'm happy with that.
"I'm happy with my life. And I want it to stay that way.
"I have no desire to be one of those guys who says his last on-air words just before he takes his last breath."
In a final nip of cosmic convergence, Costas was reminded that it was 40 years ago this week that he began his one season as WGN-Channel 9's voice of the Bulls alongside Johnny "Red" Kerr, a fact confirmed by an archived TV/radio column of the great Gary Deeb in The Chicago Tribune of Oct. 19, 1979.
"What a great time," he chuckled. "What great people.
"And who knew what was ahead, how fortunate I'd be?"
In the broadcast bona fides of Bob Costas, it's proven to be a magic force far beyond mere good fortune.
But at this time, it's just not right for a new Marquee.
STREET-BEATIN': Get set for a swarm of warm fuzzies about World Series-bound Nationals GM Mike Rizzo. He grew up in the 6200 block of West Waveland Avenue, graduated from Holy Cross High in River Grove (Class of '79) and -- probably most importantly -- intimately knows the extreme menu limitations and risks of the landmark Gene and Jude's hot dog stand near Grand and River. … DeKalb icon Mike Korcek reports that red-hot P.J. Fleck was present minded enough to laud NIU football savior Joe Novak after Minnesota thrashed Nebraska 34-7 last weekend. If Fleck (NIU Class of '04) and his surprise party beat Rutgers on Saturday (BTN, 2:30 p.m.) -- and they will -- it will be the first time the Golden Gophers have opened 7-0 since Sandy Stephens, Tom Brown and all pushed Murray Warmath to a national championship in 1960. … Also from the Annie Glidden file, nice breakaway by Daily Herald do-all Dick Quagliano on news that Hersey's Jordan Hansen will be joining Thomas Hammock at NIU next season. Hansen gives hints of being the second coming of Tommy Zbikowski, who won at Buffalo Grove and later helped Notre Dame win, even as part of an inherited troupe under snarky golden gnomer Charlie Weis. … Strange congested eve indeed on The Enchanted Lakefront when flailing Northwestern (+ 28½) hosts No. 4 Ohio State in the first Friday night FBS game ever at Ryan Field (BTN, 7:30 p.m.). The Wildcats have no shot but future OSU foes will be reading the schematic brilliance between the overmatched lines of NU defensive master Mike Hankwitz. … Solo promoting his new book "Silky D Bares All" (Amazon, $15), ex-Bear Dennis McKinnon is swimming up against Ego Falls. (He'd be fine if it was 1986.). Co-author is the late Chet Coppock. … John Smoltz's endless babbling about "putting up crooked numbers" on Fox's MLB postseason telecasts hints at "A Beautiful Mind Meets Professor Irwin Corey." A good friend might tell Smoltzie to keep the off-the-ball theory to himself. … With Joe Maddon now headed for the Los Angeles Angels, how long until he's blocking texts from Tom Dreesen and Ray Liotta? (Liotta was once married to Mark Grace's ex, actress Michelle Messer Grace.) … And the good news about Theo Epstein being sued for his dog's alleged excessive "No. 1-ing" on the carpet of a rental home in Arizona during spring training 2015 is that the full name of the 10-pound rescue pup has been sportified to "Winston 'Whizzer' Epstein."
• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.