5:46pm PT by Tim Goodman
Sochi: Get Well Soon Bob Costas -- And Hurry Back
There are probably very few high-profile anchors -- sports, news or otherwise -- who would have handled the Bob Costas Situation the way that Bob Costas did.
As you probably know, Costas has an eye infection that seemingly got worse by night when people tuned in to watch the Winter Olympics on NBC. First it was his left eye, then it spread to the right and escalated hour by hour. Pink, red, watery, glassy -- and painful looking. Costas couldn't wear contact lenses, so he wore eye glasses. That seemed to magnify the effect his eyes were having on viewers -- which was, actually, kind of grossly mesmerizing.
And, of course, Twitter took notice. And then starting having a lot of fun at Costas' expense. Including yours truly. Witness, from last night:
The Winter Olympics makes me tear up pretty much every night. Now, if Bob Costas cries, it's gonna be like an ocular pandemic. #CostasTears— Tim Goodman (@BastardMachine) February 11, 2014
Oh, for the love of all things holy, #FreeCostas - get him to a hospital or something. It's just brutal.— Tim Goodman (@BastardMachine) February 11, 2014
I want to see the pictures of everybody at NBC eating lunch together while Bob Costas sits alone, leaking pink acid poison on his suit.— Tim Goodman (@BastardMachine) February 11, 2014
On Tuesday, Matt Lauer took over for Costas. For his part, Costas is hoping this only will be a one-night thing, but odds are that it could be more than that. Two things are important here: 1) that Costas get well and 2) that he hurry back.
I love Costas. He's hosted every Olympics since 1992 and been stellar while doing it. This is not an easy gig -- especially when the prepackaged primetime coverage has so many detractors to begin with. And high-profile announcing assignments come with all kinds of built-in criticism. But Costas always has been supremely good at what he does -- he's quick on his feet, he can ask the tough questions, he can be funny without seeming like he's pulling a muscle to make a joke, and he's self-deprecating, which became even more clear with his ill-timed eye woes.
He's also extremely knowledgeable about the Olympics -- Summer and Winter -- and loves much of the arcane tidbits that come out of these competitive events. He's a wonderful balance of keeping perspective and ushering along the emotions of viewers at home who are swept up into what is always a drama-filled event. I can't imagine going through an Olympics without him.
And since NBC puts so much importance on the primetime show that Costas deftly hosts -- the vast majority of viewers are watching the tape-delayed, packaged events -- then it's essential to have a quality guide. That's not to say that Lauer can't do it. But right now there's really nobody who can do it as well as Costas.
So, thanks for rolling with all those eye jokes, Bob Costas. You were trending on Twitter. But in all of those often snarky or faux-grossed out messages was a lot of real concern for your health. Get well and hurry the hell back. We need you.