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Kuiper Calls On Experience

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Sometime in the near future, San Francisco Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper might email team manager Bruce Bochy a photo of one of the two World Series rings the men have in common. It’s Kuiper’s way of reminding Bochy they’ve had some pretty good times.

“He’s one of those guys who has a way of making you feel better about yourself,” Bochy said recently in the Giants dugout during pregame batting practice. “After a long day where maybe you lost a tough game, maybe question yourself, he’s very positive in that respect.”

Over the next few days, as a television voice of the Giants, Kuiper will lead both hardcore and bandwagon fans through the last six games of the season as the Giants seek their third playoff appearance in the past five years. It’s been an up-and-down season for the orange and black. The team, which showed so much early promise, is now in a desperate race to secure a wild-card berth, and with it, a chance at October redemption.

Of course, the past two playoffs, in 2010 and 2012, led to World Series championships. You only need to glimpse the huge, diamond-studded ring Kuiper wears to see what the ultimate prize looks like.

When broadcasting, Kuiper, 64, may have feelings about the team’s chances in a particular game. But you won’t hear it in his voice.

“You can’t let that inflection in,” Kuiper said on a recent afternoon at AT&T Park as pregame activities hummed around him. Kuiper has developed a sense of knowing what goes on in major league baseball from 40 years in the game – 11 as a major leaguer and 29 in broadcasting. All his seasons behind the microphone – except for one with the Colorado Rockies – have been for the Giants. He’s witnessed both glory and struggle.

“I still think about the 2002 World Series,” Kuiper said. “I think about it all the time.”

In that series, the Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent-led Giants, managed by Sacramento native son Dusty Baker, had the Anaheim Angels three games to two and were six outs away from the championship. But they couldn’t close the deal. They lost the series in the seventh game, a heartbreaker for Giants’ fans.

“I hear broadcasters say, ‘Well, the great thing about broadcasting is you walk away from the game and that’s it.’ Maybe they do – I don’t,” Kuiper said.

He’s won nine local Emmy Awards for distinguished broadcasting and last year was nominated for the Ford Frick Hall of Fame Award in broadcasting (though he wasn’t selected).

Kuiper’s straightforward, Midwestern guilelessness has always been one of his charms and part of his modest legend. He grew up on a 300-acre dairy farm in Sturtevant, Wis., just outside of Racine. He and his brothers Jeff and Glen (both in Bay Area sports broadcasting as well) worked the fields in their youth with their father, Henry Kuiper, driving tractors, bailing hay and the like.

Kuiper had what he calls a “happy” career in the majors as a slick-fielding, solid-hitting second baseman with the Cleveland Indians and the Giants. He led the league in fielding percentage twice at Cleveland and was a career .271 hitter who famously finished with only one home run in 3,379 at-bats.

He retired as a player in 1985 and segued into a broadcasting career, though he had already been doing his own radio show since 1982.

Mainly the television play-by-play announcer on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, Kuiper also handles radio play-by-play duties when the Giants television broadcast is carried by NBC or ESPN and radio lead Jon Miller does the television play-by-play. Kuiper and all the Giants broadcasters team up on KNBR radio during the playoffs, when television broadcasts are taken by the national networks.

Giants radio voice Miller, who is in the Hall of Fame, has long been an admirer of Kuiper’s craft. “He’s just a very good professional broadcaster who really knows the game, and that what sets him apart,” Miller said. “For me, he’s one of the best. It’s (his) knowledge of the game but also the ability to let the game speak for itself and not try to become the show himself.”

When Kuiper first started playing professionally, he thought that after his career was over he’d go into coaching or managing, like most of the other guys of his era.

“About halfway through my career, I realized I wouldn’t be a good manager,” Kuiper said. “I wouldn’t be very good at telling guys what they don’t want to hear. I had a hard enough time with my kids, so I can imagine what it’s like dealing with 30- to 35-year-olds.”

The observation shows the subtle wit that regularly surfaces in Kuiper’s spare commentary. He serves up disarming honesty with sly humor and clever associations.

Kuiper casually coined a Giants marketing phrase in 2010 when he closed a particularly tight tense game with “Giants baseball – torture.”

After prolonged excitement or intensity, he’s prone to say: “I need a nap.”

His home run call, “He hits it high … he hits it deep … he hits it outta’ here!” has become one of the most dramatic in all of baseball.

Bochy said Kuiper is one of his favorite people involved with the team.

“He’s got a great way about him, a great personality, a great sense of humor, and he’s got knowledge of the game,” Bochy said. “He’ll stop by the office and we talk quite a bit about baseball. He sits behind me on the bus, and I’ll throw things at him all the time.”

The renowned sports writer Joe Posnaski, who’s currently a national columnist for NBC Sports, has occasionally written about Kuiper, who he calls “my favorite athlete.” In one column about Kuiper the ballplayer, Posnaski wrote: “He presented this wonderful illusion that if you wanted something enough, if you cared enough, you could achieve it. It’s about the greatest gift anyone can give a kid.”

Kuiper would be the first to say he’s gotten some breaks over the years, but he’s also made the best of his situations.

“Midway through my (playing) career, I had a gentlemen by the name of Ray Keppen approach me about doing a radio show in Cleveland,” Kuiper said. “It was a five-minute show, and the station WELW was so small that in order to hear it you had to be in your car driving by the station.”

He was paid $10 for each installment. “But the experience was that for three years, I talked into a microphone, and for three years I wrote a five-minute script for every show,” Kuiper said.

Frank Robinson was Kuiper’s manager in his first full major-league season in Cleveland, and the famously no-nonsense Hall of Famer became a great supporter of the scrappy second baseman. When Robinson went on to manage the Giants, he had the team acquire Kuiper to be a backup infielder and pinch hitter.

In San Francisco, Kuiper was asked to take over ballplayer Joe Morgan’s radio show.

“I’m not afraid of the microphone, and I inherited a pretty decent voice from my dad,” he remembered thinking at the time. He was up for giving “it a shot, and the Giants did.”

Kuiper did color commentary part time in 1986, and after that year, his boss told him he’d be the play-by-play guy the next year. (The play-by-play announcer describes the live events in real time, while the color person brings expert analysis, statistical information and insight. Each has its own art and craft.)

“I said, ‘I’m really kinda happy doing this color stuff,’ but he said, ‘No. You’re gonna do it,’ and that’s how we ended the conversation.”

It didn’t go well at first as Kuiper learned on the job. “It was bad,” he said. “But we had we really good fans who were forgiving enough, understanding enough, and they said, ‘Let’s give this guy a chance, he’s got a chance to get better.’ And after the ’87 season, I started to feel more comfortable.”

Working in radio allowed Kupier to develop his chops and begin to understand what the medium required. “On radio, you’re really describing the game as if you’re sitting next to blind person, and you’re telling them what’s going on,” Kuiper said.

For much of Kuiper’s television career, he’s been joined at the hip with fellow broadcaster (and former Giants teammate) Mike Krukow, who joined the broadcasts full time in 1994.

Sports Illustrated described Kuiper and Krukow as the “the best broadcasting team in baseball,” and the Sporting News said much the same. This spring, the website Awful Announcing, which covers broadcasting and sports media, ranked “Kruk and Kuip” as the No. 1 broadcasting duo in baseball.

In July, Krukow revealed he was suffering from inclusion body myositis, which results in a progressive weakening of muscles in the thigh, muscles that lift the front of the foot and muscles in the wrists and fingers. There’s no cure and little understanding of what causes it. Krukow now uses a cane and will likely need a walker or motorized scooter at some point.

“He’s never in a bad mood,” Kuiper said of his partner. “We talk on the phone all the time. If I treated him any different, he’d be upset, and I’m not going to treat him any different. I’ll do whatever I can for him, but I’m not going to treat him any different.”

Krukow calls Kuiper his best friend. “I was lucky to play with him – I saw what type of teammate he was, the way he maneuvered in the clubhouse,” Krukow said. “He was a very strong asset to any club he was on.”

Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt said Kuiper has always held the respect of the players because of his experience with the game. “He’s a player and he understands how hard and grueling a season can be and how frustrating it can be,” Affeldt said.

By the end of September, it’s been a long season, whether you’re a broadcaster or a player. The broadcasters just aren’t as physically beat up.

“It’s a book!” Kuiper said. “Some years after three chapters you want to throw it out. Lately for the Giants, the last six or seven years, it hasn’t been like that at all.”

September reminds Kuiper of his 1974 debut in the majors, and the memories come back to him easily. He was playing AAA, the highest level of the minor leagues, for the Oklahoma 89ers and having a very good year with 175 hits in 125 games. He knew he had a good chance to get called up to the major leagues when teams expanded their rosters the last month of the season, and he did.

In his mind, he’d already been playing for the Milwaukee Braves for years, since he was a kid throwing a ball against the barn while listening to games on the radio.

“But now this was reality, and I walked into Cleveland Municipal Stadium, the place held 85,000 people, and … it took literally took my breath away because this is what you lived for and dreamed of.”

At that moment Kuiper had one thought: “I don’t know how long I’m going to be here, but dammit, I’m going to have the best time of my life.” He went 11 for 22 after he was called up.

As Kuiper got up to chat with his friend Bochy standing near the batting cage, he looked back.

“My last year in the big leagues, I went 3 for 5,” he said. “I have to have had the greatest first year and the greatest last year ever.”

Credit to the Sacramento Bee who originally published this piece.

Sports Radio News

Pat McAfee Defends His Intellectual Property on Show

A YouTube user had been using videos from McAfee’s show on his own channel and monetizing them.

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Intellectual property is the most important asset a content creator has in the digital space. That’s why it should not come as a surprise when Pat McAfee took to his show today to defend his.

A YouTube user named AntSlant had been acquiring video from Pat McAfee’s daily show for a while and putting it on his YouTube channel as his own content for months. McAfee has been a hot commodity and it seems that the personality may have been alerted to this activity thru potential future partners and their social searches. McAfee apparently reached out and sent a warning and today he addressed the account in what he called a little “house cleaning.”

“I have funded everything that you see (referencing his studio),” McAfee began. “Whenever you talk about stealing people’s footage, stealing people’s content and putting it up on the internet – so you can benefit from it – I don’t know how you think that the person that created, funded and paid for the content, worked their dick off, and their ass off amongst their peers and did everything – how they are the scam artists in this entire thing and not the account.”

Pat McAfee started referencing the offending account’s ability to monetize the videos. “We looked it up because we have this ability, [they] probably made $150,000 off of our content – not remixing the content, not getting in there and speaking and being a content creator – ripping content from us. Putting it together putting it up as their own videos and marketing it as if they work for us. And never reaching out to us one time. Not one time.”

The value of this content is immeasurable especially considering the account using McAfee’s IP is on the same platform (YouTube) as he is. McAfee add, “no network would just let you take their shit and profit off it. Nobody on Earth would let you do that.”

McAfee then revealed that he would partner with another YouTube account Toxic Table Edits. That account, which was doing the same thing as AntSlant, created a community around the Pat McAfee Show image. Things went differently for Toxic because when contacted by McAfee, the owner of that account responded “like a human”. Now the two will partner on future projects.

A Twitter account with the name @AntSlant did tweet shortly thereafter saying that the videos McAfee discussed had been deleted from his YouTube channel.

Upon an inspection of a YouTube account named AntSlant, the videos are no longer.

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Sports Radio News

Parker Hillis Named Brand Manager of Sports Radio 610

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Goodbye snow and hello heat! Parker Hillis is headed to Houston. Audacy has announced that he will be the new brand manager for Sports Radio 610.

“Parker is a rising star,” Sarah Frazier, Senior Vice President and Market Manager of Audacy in Houston, said in a press release. “He has impressed us since day one with his innovative ideas, focus on talent coaching and work ethic. We’re thrilled to have him join our Audacy team.”

Hillis comes to the market from Denver. He has spent the last three years with Bonneville’s 104.3 The Fan. He started as the station’s executive producer before rising to APD earlier this year.

In announcing his exit from The Fan on his Facebook page, Hillis thanked Fan PD Raj Sharan for preparing him for this opportunity.

“His leadership and guidance set the stage for me to continue to grow and develop in this industry, one that I absolutely love,” Hillis wrote. “This is a special place, one that I am honored to have been a part of and so sad to leave.”

Sports Radio 610 began the process to find a new brand manager in February when Armen Williams announced he was leaving the role. Williams also came to Houston from Denver. He started his own business outside the radio industry.

“I’m excited to join the Sports Radio 610 team in Houston,” said Hillis. “The opportunity to direct and grow an already incredible Audacy brand is truly an honor.”

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Sports Radio News

Schopp & Bulldog: NFL Has To Figure Out Pro Bowl Alternative That Draws Same Audience

“The game just could not be less interesting.”

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After years of criticism and declining television ratings, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell publicly stated this week that the Pro Bowl, as it is currently contested, is no longer a viable option for the league and that there would be discussions at the league meetings to find another way to showcase the league’s best players.

Yesterday afternoon, Schopp and Bulldog on WGR in Buffalo discussed the growing possibility of the game being discontinued, and how the NFL could improve on the ratings it generates with new programming.

“The same number of people [who] watched some recent… game 7 between Milwaukee and Boston… had the same audience as the Pro Bowl had last year,” said co-host Chris “The Bulldog” Parker. “….Enough people watch it to make it worth their while; it’s good business. They’ll put something in that place even though the game is a joke.”

One of the potential outcomes of abolishing the Pro Bowl would be replacing it with a skills showdown akin to what the league held last year prior to the game in Las Vegas. Some of the competitions held within this event centered around pass precision, highlight catches and a non-traditional football competition: Dodgeball. Alternatively, the league could revisit the events it held in 2021 due to the cancellation of the Pro Bowl because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which included a virtual Madden showdown and highlight battle, appealing to football fans in the digital age.

Stefon Diggs and Dion Dawkins of the Buffalo Bills were selected to the AFC Pro Bowl roster this past season, and while it is a distinct honor, some fans would rather see the game transformed or ceased entirely – largely because of the risks associated with exhibition games.

In 1999, the NFL held a rookie flag football game on a beach in Waikiki, Hawaii before the Pro Bowl in which New England Patriots running back Robert Edwards severely dislocated his knee while trying to catch a pass. He nearly had to have his leg amputated in the hospital, being told that there was a possibility he may never walk again. Upon returning to the league four seasons later with the Miami Dolphins, Edwards was able to play in 12 games, but then lost his roster spot at the end of the season, marking the end of his NFL career.

“You might not want to get too crazy with this stuff, but there’d have to be some actual contests to have it be worth doing at all,” expressed show co-host Mike Schopp. “Do you not have a game? I don’t know.”

The future of the Sunday before the Super Bowl is very much in the air, yet Goodell has hardly been reticent in expressing that there needs to be a change made in the league to better feature and promote the game’s top players. In fact, he’s been saying it since his first days as league commissioner in 2006, evincing a type of sympathy for the players participating in the contest, despite it generating reasonable television ratings and advertising revenue.

“Maybe the time has come for them to really figure out a better idea, and maybe that’s what’s notable [about] Goodell restating that he’s got a problem with it,” said Parker. “If there’s some sort of momentum about a conversation [on] creating a very different event that could still draw your 6.7 million eyeballs, maybe they’ll figure out a way to do something other than the game, because the game just could not be less interesting.”

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