A Bob Costas Hit and Run

Jan 19, 2007 at 5:08 pm

St. Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriter Dan O'Neill makes a career of cutting and pasting. His thrice-weekly column, a page-two mainstay in the sports section, comprises short, bold-faced news and gossip O'Neill snips from media nationwide. Given the freedom the author has to jump topics as he sees fit, it makes a certain sense that the column runs under the heading "Hit and Run."

With yesterday's installment, though, that heading took on a different meaning. O'Neill used comments St. Louis-based broadcaster Bob Costas made on his show, Costas on the Radio, to fill most of his 700-word allotment.

While he was at it, he seized the opportunity to belittle the award-winning broadcaster, whom he referred to as "Costie."

The needling commenced thus:

"The spunky little bantom [sic] broadcaster can break a topic down and put it in perspective like no other. Yes, he's often lost for words. Yes, he labors to string thoughts together and express himself in clear, cohesive forms. But if you can get past the pregnant pauses and awkward moments, he often has something provocative to say."

After transcribing a long swath of the bantam's radio banter, O'Neill prefaced Costas' concluding remarks with:

"Still stumbling over his words, Costas pressed on[.]"

Why the public dis? A cursory search of the Nexis news database reveals that O'Neill has quoted Costas in his Post column some 40 times since mid-1990s. As recently as 2002 the columnist had this to say:

"Costas, of course is the master craftsman and profound prophet of articulation. He has a gift for saying exactly what most of us are thinking in a way none of us would ever think of. In fact, if we're being honest, we would admit that some of what Costas says goes over our heads."

Suspecting the two might have had a falling-out since �02, I left messages for O'Neill at the Post. Responding via e-mail, he expended precisely six of his own words:

"I was spoofing on him. Sarcasm."

-Chad Garrison