How Mike Krukow, Duane Kuiper will broadcast Giants games this season

How Mike Krukow, Duane Kuiper will broadcast Giants games this season

For 13 weeks, Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper inadvertently prepared for what now will be their reality. They watched on monitors as Brandon Belt put up MVP numbers and Kevin Gausman emerged as a stabilizer in the rotation. They called Joey Bart's first career homer and chuckled as the rookie got the silent treatment in the dugout. 

Kruk and Kuip spent about 90 minutes every week in recent months looking at screens and calling PlayStation simulations that aired on Fridays on NBC Sports Bay Area. Both say they believe that experience has set them up well for a season unlike any other. 

"We had an hour and a half where we did a game off the monitor, which is what we're going to end up doing for the road games," Kuiper said. "I think it was a great way to prepare us to do these road games."

Krukow already was preparing to do 22 games off a monitor since he wasn't going to travel this season. Now, both will do every game from Oracle Park, beginning with two exhibitions against the A's that will air on NBC Sports Bay Area next Monday and Tuesday. Just as with players and coaches, the broadcasters are preparing for a 2020 season that will include plenty of adjustments, starting with the fact that the broadcasters will do road games by viewing the Giants on monitors set up in their booths at Oracle Park. 

The Giants' broadcasters will not be allowed to be in the same booths during the 60-game season because if one person showed symptoms of the coronavirus, the entire broadcast team would have to be quarantined. Krukow will now be set up in Willie McCovey's booth, which neighbors the home TV booth. Jon Miller and Dave Flemming will also be separated, doing the radio call from two adjacent booths. Neither Krukow nor Kuiper thought this would be an issue. 

"Even though we'll be in different booths he'll only be three or four feet away with a window in between us," Kuiper said. "We'll use hand signals or whatever. That's not going to be a problem."

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There are, however, challenges that already have been identified. The MLB operations manual for this unique season does not allow TV broadcasters to travel but does permit it for radio broadcasters, so it's possible that an opposing team could show up at Oracle Park with a radio team and a Spanish-language radio team. At some point they would run out of booths on the broadcast level, which could lead to a visiting broadcaster being set up in the seats nearby.

Kuiper also anticipates running into a sound issue because of the lack of fans. The Giants are expected to have some sort of artificial noise in the park during games, but it won't be thousands of fans. If Hunter Pence hits a huge home run in the eighth inning, Kuiper likely will hear the calls of Miller, Flemming or Erwin Higueros, and vice versa. 

You would think players might also hear the calls in an empty park, which would be strange and potentially awkward if the broadcasters are having an honest conversation about a player who is struggling. But Kuiper isn't concerned. 

"I don't think the players are going to be able to hear us," he said. "I'm not 100 percent sure, but I've tried to yell from our booth to get someone's attention on the field when it's fairly quiet and you've got to yell pretty loud for somebody to hear you."

Kuiper and Miller will be separated by an extra booth most nights to try and avoid competing calls. Another key member of the broadcast team will also be away from her usual spots. Amy Gutierrez generally roams the ballpark or positions herself in the dugout during games, but that's not possible this season. She'll be in the NBC Sports Bay Area studio on Third Street for every home game and said one of her primary goals will be to give a voice to fans who cannot attend games.

"I'm going to try and bring that to the broadcast," she said. "They deserve to have a place on this new platform because they've had something taken away from them as well."

Gutierrez might also mix in Zoom interviews with new players, particularly prospects at the secondary site in Sacramento, and said she's looking forward to seeing what aspects of this unfamiliar broadcast stick long term.

There is some thought within the industry that certain franchises could opt to make the broadcast-from-home method permanent. Krukow and Kuiper already were set to try a new way to be together more often, but they now will get to broadcast nearly the entire season from their familiar level at Oracle Park (the schedule does include four national broadcasts).

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There is, of course, one other issue that's front and center for anyone involved with baseball this season. Krukow has been strictly quarantining in Reno and Kuiper in the East Bay, and both will now be at the ballpark every night. Krukow said he has been even more careful since getting word that baseball is returning.

"Once this thing went down we self-quarantined again and really got tight," he said. "We don't want to bring anything into the booth to jeopardize our partners and crew. I'll be really careful. We're coming in with a mask, it'll be sterile and as benign as possible."

It'll be an adjustment, to be sure, but one the entire broadcast team is ready for. The game might look different this year, but Krukow and Kuiper plan to be there narrating every step of the way. 

"We're in an age now where we don't take any game for granted," Krukow said. "We're looking forward to doing it."

Kuiper said he has often considered that the broadcasters are having dinner with Giants fans every night. That won't change in 2020, even as so much else has. 

"For as long as we've done it our fan base has always been very kind to us, and this is where we want to be, too," he said. "When the game starts, we want to have dinner with the fans."

Brawl between Ramon Laureano, Astros provides reminder for Giants

Brawl between Ramon Laureano, Astros provides reminder for Giants

MLB teams have spent the last couple of weeks reinforcing their health and safety protocols, and as the Giants embarked on this three-city trip, they made some changes, including to the types of masks that some members of the traveling party were wearing on flights. 

Every move is made with safety in mind, but on the field, it can still be hard to remember the backdrop of this season. That was the case Sunday, when A's outfielder Ramon Laureano charged the Astros dugout after hitting coach Alex Cintron reportedly made a vile comment about his mother. The ensuing fracas was a nightmare image for the league in an age of social distancing. Laureano is expected to get suspended, and Cintron could face a lengthy suspension for taunting a player into the incident.

A day later, as Gabe Kapler prepared for his turn with the Astros, the manager said the brawl was used by the Giants as a kickstart for another discussion about being responsible. He spoke to his large coaching staff Monday. 

"I think it's a reminder to be especially aware and sensitive that right now everybody has their stress levels at their highest, because not only are we combining the stress of a major league baseball season and a modified shortened sprint as it is, but we're also doing it under conditions that we've never seen before," Kapler said. "Just the awareness that we're probably already a little bit emotionally charged will help us stay cool under conditions that would normally force us to move out onto the field. 

"I think most of this is about just a heightened level of sensitivity and awareness that we're already pretty stressed out, and leading with a little bit of empathy and understanding, I think that'll put us in a good spot."

The Giants have already played seven games against the Dodgers without incident and shouldn't have any issues with the Astros. Aside from president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, the former Dodgers GM, they don't have anyone who could have a real beef with the sign-stealing scandal that was the biggest story of this past offseason. 

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Some players have said it's extremely easy to hear conversations and expletives in these games being played without fans. The Astros have already had benches-clearing incidents with the Dodgers and A's, but Kapler said he hadn't heard anything thus far that stood out too much. 

"I've seen less jawing with the other team than I would normally see," he said. "There's kind of the same level of interaction with umpires that we've seen in the past. I think one thing that we've been considering is what's the best strategy there, since it's so easy to hear what we're saying to the umpire and to each other in the dugout. Sometimes it has to do with just kind of dialing our voices down a little bit."

Giants vs. Astros live stream: How to watch MLB games online, on TV

Giants vs. Astros live stream: How to watch MLB games online, on TV

The Giants continue their road trip Monday as they head to Houston to face the Astros for a three-game series. 

The Giants (7-10) are coming off a series where they dropped two of three to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but it's the Astros (6-9) that are reeling. Houston has lost five games in a row, and were just swept by the A's in Oakland.

This is the first time the Giants have faced the Astros this season. Logan Webb (1-0, 2.13 ERA) will start the first game of the series for San Francisco.

Here's how you can watch the Giants play the Astros online (download the MyTeams app here!) and on TV:

Monday, Aug. 10

When: Giants Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 6:10 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area
Stream: MyTeams app

Tuesday, Aug. 11

When: Giants Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 6:10 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area
Stream: MyTeams app

Wednesday, Aug. 12

When: Giants Pregame Live at 3:30 p.m. PT -- First pitch at 4:10 p.m. PT
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area
Stream: MyTeams app

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