I remember the first time I heard locally broadcast baseball outside of the San Francisco Bay Area.
I was going to school in New England and a friend was watching the Red Sox in the common room. All I could think of was how bad the commentary was.
I grew up following the San Francisco Giants, and no matter which combination of broadcasters happened to be announcing the game, I was always content with the quality.
Were blessed to have ESPN’s top choice for baseball play-by-play on a regular basis in the form of Jon Miller, and we’ve got a scrappy youngster named Dave Flemming who came out of nowhere a few years back to join the broadcast team after Ted Robinson and Lon Simmons left.
Those guys, past and present, are great. But any Giants fan will tell you the trademark callers of the Giants are Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper, informally known as Kruk and Kuip.
There is an art to broadcasting baseball.
They master it, and not just because they can seamlessly throw in the forced marketing gimmicks of the “Toyota Drive of the Game” or the “Defining Moment brought to you by Fry’s.” The art to baseball broadcasting requires four main elements: Enthusiasm, Homerism, Knowledge, and Knowing When to Talk.
The last element can be tricky and has arguably been their biggest weakness, yet they have gotten better at letting some moments sit without commentary.
In terms of knowledge, the two former players are obvious experts who know how to call a game. Krukow, the former pitcher, is not only great at breaking down the battle between pitcher and catcher, but has a great appreciation for plays in the field and analyze them quickly.
While those two traits are important, it is the first two, Enthusiasm and Homerism that make these two broadcasters one of the best pairs in baseball.
I’ve heard home runs called by some broadcasters as if it was the third ball in an intentional walk. Kuiper knows when something exciting or important is happening and anyone who can hear his voice knows it too. And while they clearly want the Giants to win, they break things down from a fairly objective standpoint.
It’s why a week ago, you could hear Kruk compliment Andre Either after he just gave the Dodgers the lead in the 9th, saying "That was a great at-bat." The balance of Homerism and Objectivity is hard to strike, and topping it off with the right amount of Enthusiasm is what makes for a great announcer.
Kruk and Kuip sound like someone mic’d the two most knowledgeable and passionate fans in the yard and just let them watch the game. And we Giants fans are blessed to sit in on their day at the yard.