Athletics

What makes MLB's potential return exciting, different for Glen Kuiper

What makes MLB's potential return exciting, different for Glen Kuiper

Assuming the A’s return to playing baseball in 2020, there will be no fans in attendance. Given that, Oakland’s television broadcasts could be among the most watched -- and most different -- for veteran broadcaster Glen Kuiper.

“We have a major responsibly coming up as announcers,” Kuiper said. “I have thought a lot about what the broadcast is going to be like. Should it be different? I’ve also said maybe don’t overthink it.”

Resources and plans are constantly changing, but the approach likely will remain simple.

“What people really want, desperately, is to see their team and their players on the field playing meaningful games,” Kuiper said.

The likely television-centric season across MLB could lead to unprecedented broadcast enhancements. One such idea being proposed is wireless microphones on players during gameplay. Kuiper is hopeful for additions like in that realm, if the players are comfortable. 

But he also realizes screaming his signature home run call -- “That Baby Is Gone!” -- into a headset will be different, if he’s literally the only spectator in the stadium screaming.

“That certainly makes the job more difficult for announcers,” Kuiper said. “We feed off fans. Whether there’s 10,000 or 40,000, you feed off that. It pushes you in excitement level. That’s a challenge for all of us announcers.”

Another challenge will be access to players. Often times, pregame conversations around the dugout or batting cages can lead to insightful commentary for fans.

“You ask questions, you get tidbits, things that you can talk about on the broadcast,” Kuiper explained. “Those opportunities face to face are probably not going to happen, to be honest with you.”

[RELATED: Who experts believe A's will take in first round of MLB draft]

While the amount of games continues to be negotiated between MLB and its players, a shortened season guarantees increased relevance.

“The ‘dog days’ of June and July, that ain't happening this year,” Kuiper said. “That’s an excitement level I’m kind of looking forward to, each game really is a big deal -- twice as big as a normal season.”

“There’s still going to be a trophy at the end of the year, and there’s no reason why the A’s don’t have a really good chance to get it.”

A's coach Ryan Christenson says apparent Nazi salute was unintentional

christensongetty.jpg
Getty Images

A's coach Ryan Christenson says apparent Nazi salute was unintentional

A's bench coach Ryan Christenson said he "unintentionally" gave a Nazi salute during Oakland's celebratory handshake line after Thursday's win over the Texas Rangers.

"I made a mistake and will not deny it," Christenson said in a statement released by the team. "Today in the dugout I greeted players with a gesture that was offensive. In the world today of [COVID-19] I adapted our elbow bump, which we do after wins, to create some distance with the players. My gesture unintentionally resulted in a racist and horrible salute that I do not believe in. What I did is unacceptable, and I deeply apologize."

The NBC Sports California broadcast showed Christenson raising his right arm with his palm facing down while A's closer Liam Hendriks approached.  Hendriks quickly grabbed Christenson's arm, bending it at the elbow for the coach's "elbow bump" celebration, which he said is done due to MLB's coronavirus safety protocols. Christenson then turned around and repeated the initial gesture.

"No, no straight arm, you have to bend your elbow," Christenson said Hendriks told him in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, referring to the coach's usual celebration.

"Oh, I see what you mean, oh no, it's like 'Heil Hitler,' " Christenson said after he turned, in his and Hendriks' recounting to Slusser.

The salute, typically followed by exclamations of "Heil Hitler" or "Sieg Heil," was a compulsory tribute to Adolf Hitler within the Nazi Party and, later, all of Germany under the Nazis' rule from 1933 through 1945. Still used by neo-Nazis and white supremacists long after the end of World War II, the Anti-Defamation League says the salute is "the most common white supremacist hand sign in the world."

The A's said in a statement that they were "deeply sorry this happened on our playing field."

"We do not support or condone this gesture, or the racist sentiment behind it," the A's said in a statement. "This is incredibly offensive, especially in these times when we as a [club] and many others are working to expose and address racial inequities in our country."

Before the A's released the pair of statements, Christenson told Slusser that he "wasn't doing that intentionally" and that "I just blacked out, my mind wasn't there and I spaced out."

"I'm cringing inside picturing myself," Christenson told Slusser. "Of course I'm sorry for it -- it's like standing there with my middle finger up. Anyone should know better."

A's Khris Davis reveals adjustment that led to production at plate

A's Khris Davis reveals adjustment that led to production at plate

Whatever he’s doing appears to be working.

Khris Davis proved his recent adjustment at the plate is paying dividends, as he tallied his second multi-hit game of the season during the A’s 6-4 sweep over the Texas Rangers on Thursday.

Davis said the coaching staff and teammates are to thank for the recent surge -- particularly hitting coach Darren Bush, who first suggested an alteration with Davis' hands.

“Yeah, I just put my hands back and further up a little and it’s been helping me be more accurate to the ball,” Davis said after the game. “I’m finding less swings and misses and a little better contact.”

“It’s all pretty comfortable right away, usually when you have to make an adjustment and you feel it click, you just run with that and don’t look back so it’s brought some comfort in the box so I’m going to keep working with it,” Davis said.

Davis went 2-for-3 on Thursday, driving in two runs in the 4th inning to break the game open.

“I think it’s a positioning thing, just having them further back -- less room to go,” he added. “They’re just already ready to fire and it’s been working.”

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Davis wants to be the everyday designated hitter, but that hasn’t necessarily been the case with his lack of production. Mark Canha has been taking over the DH spot in some of the outings, but it’s something Davis is ready to earn back.

“It is what it is,” Davis said. “And, I just have to capitalize on my opportunities that I do get. It’s s--tty, but I’ve been here before, I’ve lost my job before a couple times and I’ve had to battle back and this is nothing new to me.”

It turns out the oblique injury Davis suffered last season when he ran into the wall in May ended up leaving a bigger mark than just on his skin. 

"I think when I got hurt, I had been getting set up in a different way,” Davis said. “My body just wasn’t adjusting to that injury and just when I put my hands further back it just freed things up.”

[RELATED: Luzardo's outing shows A's have something special]

Oh, and his teammates are helping him a lot too.  

“A lot of good teammates, they know what it’s like to go through a struggle and they just kept reminding me that I could hit all around, I don’t have to hit a home run or whatever, but they constantly say that I’m a good hitter, I’m [not just] a power hitter.”