Note: I’m sorry to have neglected this blog for so long … I meant to keep it regularly updated but I also expected Hyun-Jin Ryu to throw a pitch this season, so what the bleep do I know? My absence has nothing to do with my Beloved Bums inability to score here in Fog City, though it might appear that way to Giants fans, it’s just a cowinky-dink. But, my bitterness over recent results on the field have spurred me to deflect attention from the Dodgers’ miserable performance to a far better target for my vitriolic rants and slobbering, sputtering hissy-fits; the dynamic broadcasting duo of Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper – possibly the most obnoxious pair of sleaze bags ever to befoul a booth! Really.
Q: Why is Mike Krukow so obsessed with “grabbing some pine”?
A: Because Duane Kuiper has a woodpecker.
– Vulgar schoolyard humor attributed to an anonymous blogger.
Okay, that may be out of line, perhaps a little over the top, but when a gag is just sitting there … waiting … you can’t fault some tasteless curmudgeon for picking the low hanging fruit. Well, maybe you can fault him, but I shan’t cast a stone.
It may seem unnecessarily cruel to pick on another team’s broadcasters. After all, Dodger fans are incredibly spoiled after 65 years of Vin Scully, undoubtedly the classiest act in sports. Heck, he may be the classiest act in the WORLD! And Vinny would be appalled by the gutter-mouthed besmirching of another human being’s skills that I’m about to unleash. But, I could never pretend to possess the dignity and style of a Vin Scully. I have no qualms about taking a cheap shot when presented with the opportunity. I’m not proud of this characteristic, but I’ve learned to live with my flaws … to a degree. Besides, these two guys deserve to be called out for their blathering, insipid, mean-spirited commentary and joy-sucking attitudes.
I’m taking a stand and giving voice to an objection that baseball fans everywhere should be undertaking. Bring fair and balanced journalistic integrity to baseball broadcasting. Mix it with fun and good old home-spun pleasantries and use appropriate and descriptive language. Embrace the spirit of competition and sportsmanship. Know the game’s history and its nuances. Do some research and prepare yourself for your broadcast. Be a professional. Or you could just go ahead and shill self-serving home team propaganda and berate opponents and their fans … you know, like Kruk and Kuip!
Maybe I’m a little more sensitive to these things. Like I said, I’m spoiled. I grew up in Southern California, the home of the premier sportscasters on the planet. The Dodgers had Vinny, the Angels had Dick Endberg (Oh, My!) and the Lakers had Chick Hearn (Slam Dunk!) … I mean, how can another city compare with THAT?
I was literally shocked when I heard my first out-of-town broadcasters. I know Harry Carey is a beloved icon in Chicago, although I found his blustering, drunken bellowing from the WGN Super Station booth kind of entertaining (in an alcoholic uncle kind of way), I was completely disoriented by his “homer” slant … he would be absolutely giddy when a Cubs player would hit one into the bleachers despite the fact it was a 7th inning solo shot in a game in which they were down 11-2. He would fume and pout if a hometown runner was thrown out at second, bemoaning the ineptitude of the umpire, forgetting that the game was televised and the audience clearly SAW that the forlorn Cubbie was out by at least three feet. Sure, by the sixth inning Ol’ Harry was clearly drunk on his ass but I wasn’t quite sure how it enhanced the broadcast. Be that as it may, I would jump over a hundred Kruk & Kuips to hear one Harry Carey belch, “Holy Cow!” on a warning track fly ball.
The difference, I suppose, is a little thing called “personality.” Harry Carey had one, Kruk and Kuip don’t possess any between them. At least nothing that could be called very nice. I would suggest that in order to create some kind of warmth they might employ The Harry Carey Inebriation Method to liven up the play by play – but somehow I suspect they are mean drunks. Heck, they’re mean sober!
Let’s take Krukow’s “catchphrase” (please), “Grab some pine, Meat!” which he snarls whenever an opposing player strikes out or makes an out in a key situation. Again, having grown up listening to the gentlemanly Mr. Scully it was disconcerting to hear such derisive language coming from a broadcaster. If you have ever been anywhere near a baseball diamond you know the phrase, “Grab some pine, Meat,” is not a term of endearment. It is very often followed by a return salvo of expletives and, in some cases, physical confrontation. If it’s an organized game an umpire may warn purveyors of such a snarky remark that poor sportsmanship could result in ejections. When he was playing the game I’m sure Kruk liked to spew that kind of thing on those rare occasions when he was able to induce an out. Hopefully, he got his nose punched a couple of times. But, he was probably just content for the opposing pitcher to buzz a few of his teammates with a little “chin music.” Classy.
One of the most irritating things about “homers” in general, and Kruk and Kuip in particular, is their complete and utter bias. The inability to be objective and to only see the events on the field through orange and black glasses, looking for reasons to either inflate Giants players or to justify those player’s misdeeds. It drives me crazy.
From where I sit, up in the View Section, the most villainous player in baseball is Madison Bumgarner. I consider him to be the Ted Nugent of MLB. He appears to be an ignorant redneck who hates brown people. He’s also beaten the Dodgers the last few times he’s faced them which does absolutely nothing to increase my love for the schmuck. The only thing worse than watching Mr. Arrogance Personified walk slooooowly to and from the mound with his indignant swagger is listening to Mike Krukow’s slurping of his precious MadBum (get a room!) – a sound bite from one of Kruk’s “Slurp Sessions” could be used in ERs to induce vomiting in patients who’ve ingested poisons. It’s horrible!
A little background: Last season during a game at Dodger Stadium, Bumgarner gave up a home run to Yasiel Puig (a man of color and a Cuban to boot) and The Greatest Lefthander In History took exception to Puig’s bat flip as the ball sailed into the pavillion. Now, granted, the young Mr. Puig has been known to show a little cockiness … if you could play like he can, you would too … and it certainly wasn’t the first time he had exhibited this particular maneuver. It’s kind of a signature thing. But The Arbiter Of On Field Etiquette (MadBum) thought that the Cuban was being “disrespectful” and started verbalizing his displeasure in a tone loud enough to be heard in Oxnard. This incited Yasiel to return fire in Spanish. This REALLY pissed MB off! The Great One Who Says What Is What would prefer to be cursed out by someone “speaking Uh-merry-cun.” Again, disrespect!!!
Obviously, the next time Puig came to bat “The Nuge” plunked him … a little brouhaha ensued. OK, that’s baseball. Not the nicest side of the game but definitely a part of the game. We move on.
Spring Training this year: In an interview intended for an L.A. audience (I believe it was conducted in Español) Puig was asked about the rivalry with the Giants. He responded that based on his time in the major leagues he would consider the St. Louis Cardinals more of a rival to the Dodgers than the Giants. After all, it had been the Cardinals who ended his team’s seasons the last two years. A reasonable point and one that made no derogatory mention of the Giants. But, this statement really got up Mike Krukow’s skirt.
“Yasiel Puig is a dumb kid who needs to show more respect to the game.” the Krukster wailed. Dumb? Yeah, probably. I wouldn’t imagine the combined IQ of the stiffs in the Giants’ locker room would give you a total over the Mendoza Line either. But, if there’s one thing the Giants and their fans take VERY seriously it is their rivalry with the Dodgers. If you were to take that away from them it would create a gaping hole in their identity that couldn’t ever be filled with garlic fries alone. It strikes at the very core of their existence. To suggest that the Dodgers might not consider the Giants their arch foe is disrespecting the entire fan base in San Francisco. It would be like having a crush on The Cheerleader who doesn’t know you exist. It’s a self esteem thing.
But, Yasiel did say it … forget that many Dodger fans agree with him. It’s just that the Jints (and Krukow) need the Dodgers. Their self-esteem was already low despite having won the World Series the previous Fall. They’re very, very sensitive to the national opinion that 2014’s Fall Classic was a bit of a cheapie. Not the games themselves, just the participants. Two second place teams, one of which took advantage of MLB’s cracking the back door a bit wider for them, duking it out in Kansas City and San Francisco didn’t exactly excite the big market audiences. Too bad, so sad. Deal with it, Kruk! You still get to parade that trophy around at every conceivable opportunity and you can pretend that you are somehow a “dynasty.” Why worry about being disrespected by a Cuban Phenom in Blue?
Fast Forward to a recent game, again at Dodger Stadium. The Most Righteous and Enviable Master of the Mound throws a pitch to another new Dodger from Cuba (who also happens to be brown), Alex Guerrero. Guerrero was in the midst of a Rookie of the Month stretch and had gotten a couple dings off MadBum. On this particular pitch, the kid swung hard and missed. He swung so hard he corkscrewed himself into a little more graceful pirouette and, obviously disgusted with himself, slapped his bat with his hand. For some unknown reason this riled the delusional pitcher no end. Convinced he was once more being “disrespected” Bumgarner started screaming at Guerrero. Alex looked a little confused but composed himself enough to get back in the box and whack a double. MadBum was apoplectic. He really, really seems to take offense when a Latino player has the unmitigated gall to get a hit off his ugly ass.
Worse than Bumgarner’s behavior was Krukow’s ride to the pitcher’s defense. Get this, Krukow said it was beyond the pale that a mere rookie like Guerrero would have the nerve to “show up” a “LEGEND” like Madison Bumgarner. WTF??? Forget that the “showing up” only took place in MadBum’s imagination. Forget the fact that the only two players to irk The MVP (oh wait, that was Kershaw) happen to both be Cubans. What is most troublesome to me is that Krukow can actually say with a straight face that MadBum is a “legend.” Well, he had a good postseason, I’ll grant you that, but legend? Let’s hold the canonization until he’s at least been beatified, OK? I mean, Clayton Kershaw has had a much more impressive career (four ERA titles, three Cy Youngs and an MVP) but I would most certainly hesitate to bestow “Legendary” status on him just yet. Will he be considered a legend? Probably … someday. Will Madison Bumgarner be a legend? He will to Giants fans. Heck, these guys put up plaques for such “legendary” players as Johnny LeMaster and Attlee Hammaker, so I would assume MadBum is a shoe-in for a spot on the 2nd & King Street wall. The perceived disrespect being felt by Bumgarner and Krukow, unfortunately, is being projected as the public attitude of the organization. Which it probably is. But, that’s a disservice to actual baseball fans who root for the Giants.
Kuiper and Krukow are the public face of the Giants. They do dance to the tune of Their Master, the Evil One, Brian Sabean. The final straw, for me, was their editorializing during the “The Collision” controversy. Between the three of these vile little rodents, Duane Kuiper took the lead in the public berating and vilification of an innocent journeyman ballplayer, Scott Cousins, whose only crime was to play baseball on the same field as the Special One, Buster Posey.
In that infamous game between the Giants and Marlins, Scott Cousins attempted to score in the 12th inning of a tie game. Buster Posey, out of position and feebly leaving his left leg in front of the plate was on the receiving end of a what should have been most certainly anticipated collision with the baserunner. Posey broke his leg. The Giants wailed.
“How can you let a nobody like Scott Cousins take out our MVP, super star?” they cried. Never mind that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the play, it was and had been a common occurrence. It’s the way the game had been played for over a hundred years. It was the 12th inning! A tie game! Cousins had to score that run! Did Buster and the Giants really expect Cousins to pull up, and stick out his butt to ease Buster’s efforts in applying the tag? Really?
Buster Posey has ALWAYS tried to avoid base runners at the plate. It’s his style. He had put himself a little out of position this time and with the simultaneous arrival of both the runner and the ball, he got taken out. Had this never happened to a catcher before?
To hear Kuiper tell it, Cousins was guilty of assault on half a battery. Poor Buster was mugged by a career minor leaguer! Cousins should be banned from the game for having the audacity to play Big Boy Baseball against our most popular and productive player! We (the Giants) demand that MLB take appropriate action against this vicious usurper!
What really got me was Posey’s attitude when Cousins visited him in the hospital to express his concern and to let him know he was sorry things turned out the way they did. Buster refused to see him.
Classless? Obnoxious? No problem for Kruk and Kuip. They continued their campaign badmouthing Cousins and their incessant whining (along with the Giants front office) eventually led to the “Buster Pussy Rule” being adopted by MLB protecting catchers from contact by the baserunner. A little too late for Ray Fosse, but he didn’t play for the Giants.
Bottom line? The broadcast team of Krukow and Kuiper does nothing to improve the Giants image outside the Bay Area. As the frontmen for the Giants organization and their fans these two project an arrogance and haughty derision that most baseball fans find very unbecoming. But, in their defense, it was about time somebody took the mantle of Most Obnoxious Sports Teams from Boston. Maybe they can swing a trade for Tom Brady. God knows, he’d fit right in.