PxP: Duane Kuiper
Color: Mike Krukow
Reviewer: Bill Schneider
Category: Play by Play
Duane Kuiper is the play by play man, with Mike Krukow providing color. Kuiper has been featured on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area telecasts since 1993, and Krukow is in his 23rd season on CSBN. Both are former Giants players.
Kuiper handles the play by play, and his strength is seamlessly integrating his calls with the action on the field. His descriptions complemented the play visuals very well, providing (limited) supplemental information while avoiding unnecessary redundancy. His play descriptions were competent but unremarkable.
Kuiper’s tone of voice is modulated well to the relative excitement level of plays on the field, with his voice conveying and complementing on field action. His call of exciting plays heightens the tension. As an example, his call of a Brandon Belt walk off single in extra innings was excellent. There were times where routine fill in comments such as describing a particular fan were accompanied by overly dramatic voice inflection, but this was not a frequent occurrence; this tendency materialized during some games but not in others.
Overall, play by play descriptions were above average, and enhanced the game action.
Category: Color Commentary
Mike Krukow’s experience as a pitcher definitely manifests itself, as he does a very thorough job of introducing each new pitcher entering the game. Krukow also keys the viewer in to pitcher tendencies, such as Lincecum requiring an inning or two to gain control of his breaking pitches.
Krukow at times presented “spot on” analysis of other game situations too, setting up for the viewer the tactical options available to each side. He “called the shot” for a hit and run play, correctly surmising that the runner (Torres) would be sent and that the hitter (Scutaro) was contact-oriented. Krukow also pointed out instances where the outfielders were playing unusually deep and the tactical significance of their positioning just prior to a runner advancing an extra base on a ball hit to one of the deep outfielders. However, this anticipatory tendency was demonstrated only occasionally, with other comments not veering from the obvious.
Color commentary was good, not great, owing to Krukow’s occasional but not necessarily common insightfulness.
Category: Broadcast Team Commentary
Kuiper and Krukow maintain appropriate focus on the on-field action, and maintain engaged throughout despite the lack of tension during some games. Both come across as the solid, experienced professionals that they are. Commentary was even-handed, with plays described for the most part matter of factly. The level of unique insights provided was somewhat variable. Occasional insights such as the influence of the home plate umpire’s strike calling tendencies on the batter pitcher matchup appeared only infrequently. Trivia references showed the same tendency as game insights- interesting tidbits appeared occasionally during the broadcast.
Kuiper and Krukow described mistakes made by players on the Giants and their opponents accurately and even handedly. While obviously Giants’ announcers, neither Kuiper nor Krukow serve as apologists for Giants players. In one instance, Tim Lincecum failed to cover home and allowed a run to score as a result. His error in judgment was described and dissected, and Mike Krukow identified the lapse as the action unfolded. Descriptions of close plays on the base paths or borderline strikes were even-handed as well.
Overall, commentary is satisfactory without being especially remarkable.
Category: Charisma and Chemistry
Kuiper and Krukow meshed together very well, displaying an easy chemistry. They occasionally finished each other’s sentences, and displayed no tendency to talk over each other. Both have listenable voices. Commentary was appropriately paced, and both announcers demonstrated a seamless integration of their efforts with the on-field action.
Krukow’s pitching expertise is reflected in the quality of the analysis of pitchers, as repertoire and tendency descriptions are insightful. As mentioned previously, at times Krukow did an excellent job of describing the tactical situation; these insights appeared irregularly.
The use of statistics can be described as rudimentary, with HR-RBI-AVG for batters and Wins and ERA for pitchers most frequently cited. Advanced statistics were noticeably absent, with OBP and strikeout to walk rate the only non-basic stats referenced and those only rarely. As examples, Brandon Phillips was described as having a strong season due to entering a game with 79 RBI and Giants starter Eric Surkamp was described as having a strong track record as a minor league pitcher because of a 26-13 W-L record. Small sample size batter pitcher matchup statistics were described as predictive, with little discounting for their lack of statistical significance. In one game, the comment was made that “Brandon Belt is 3 for 3 lifetime against Ottavino. Wow!”
It is the lack of statistical sophistication that most stands out in terms of analysis. The Giants game broadcasts have failed to integrate statistics such as on base percentage and strikeout to walk ratio that are routine in other broadcasts, and the quality of analysis suffers as a result.
Category: Production Values
Camera work was first-rate, with a good vantage point from center field for the batter pitcher matchups and excellent replay angles when required. The slow motion replays are particularly well done, with very clear images that provide nice illumination of close plays. There are occasional instances of late returns from commercial breaks, but otherwise production was well done. Announcer mike levels blended well with game action.
Category: Commercialism and Cutaways
Sponsor drop ins were seamless and did not distract from on-field action, subject to the aforementioned late commercial break returns. The sideline reporter did a competent job, and covered transactions in noteworthy detail. She occasionally does not seem completely at ease during her on-camera stints.
Crowd cut away shots are frequent enough to come across as repetitive and inane. Kuiper and Krukow struggle to come up with unique comments for the frequent cut aways, and default to trite, banal musings. Examples are describing a fan wearing his jersey as “a big Buster Posey fan” or a fan with a glove as “a gamer.” In one game, there were cutaways to fans dressed as Elvis about every half inning. These shots serve as filler only and add nothing of value to the broadcast.
While sponsor drop ins are unobtrusive, the annoying cutaways are common enough to detract from the overall viewer experience.
Overall, Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow deliver a professional, competent broadcast. The viewer is kept abreast of the action on the field, and enjoyment of the game is enhanced by the commentary. In particular, the strong calls of on field action and sometimes insightful descriptions are high points. Balancing these out are the complete absence of advanced statistical analysis and the distracting use of cutaways. The net result is an ordinary broadcast experience that, with a few modifications could be very good.
About the author:
Bill capped a lifelong fascination with baseball statistics by joining SABR in 2012. These broadcast reviews are his first foray into SABR-related writings.
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this evaluation are solely those of the author. As such, the views expressed by the author should not be interpreted as representing the opinions of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), its board, or anyone otherwise affiliated with SABR. Likewise, the conclusions included in these evaluations are not to be viewed or interpreted as official endorsements (or lack thereof) by SABR, or of anyone affiliated with SABR, of any particular broadcasters or broadcast organizations.