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Q&A With Giants' Broadcaster Dave Flemming, Part 2

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Here's part two of my conversation with Dave Flemming, who's been on the Giant broadcast team since 2004. He's already described moments that other broadcasters might need an entire career to experience, what with the Barry Bonds home run chase, Tim Lincecum's two Cy Young awards, and of course the run to the World Series championship. Flemming was also famously behind the mic when Bonds hit home run No. 715, and the moment was mysteriously jinxed by several seconds of dead air. KNBR later explained the snafu stemmed from a technical glitch with a connector to the sound board or somesuch, but we all know it was really Curt Schilling with a extra-strength pair of wire cutters.

Part one is here.

El Lefty Malo: You've gotten the chance to work with three of the best in the business, including The Big Kahuna. Can you name a trick of the trade you've learned from Jon Miller, Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow each?

Dave Flemming: The number one thing I learned immediately from all three is to put down the game notes, so to speak. Way too many broadcasts rely on stats and notes and generally uninteresting stuff to carry the game. We broadcasters are why people think baseball is boring!

I do lots of prep work, lots of reading, and a good stat or note can add tremendously to a game broadcast. But what my partners do so beautifully is keep their focus on the game at hand, on the pitch at hand. The listener wants to feel the game, feel the tension between pitcher and hitter, understand the dynamics of the competition. I hope that comes across in our broadcasts. We love to have a laugh or tell a story but ultimately we want to present that night's game as exciting as it can be.

ELM: A famous cardinal rule is "No cheering in the press box." It doesn't necessarily apply to the broadcast booth. Do the Giants have any rules or guidelines? If so, are they different for radio and TV?

DF: The Giants let us do our thing. I don't think in eight years anyone has ever told me what to say or how to say it. They care deeply about the broadcasts and they treat us like very important parts of the franchise, but they do not try to steer our broadcasts. We are lucky.

I know that my broadcasts are different when I work with different partners. My interaction with each of Jon and Duane and Mike is distinct. And while I am now an established part of the Giants family and I hope a big part of it, as long as I work with Jon and Duane I am not going to start trying to carry a show or sound like the lead voice of the team.  Working with these guys I just cannot do that, and I am OK with that. Someday if I am with the Giants and working as the lead announcer I imagine my broadcasts will sound a good bit different.

ELM: I've always imagined sports broadcasters are like opera singers, always worried about their voices, wearing scarves in drafty buildings, demanding hot tea with lemon. Do you have any tips for keeping your larynx supple? 

DF: It is a big concern. No scarves for me but lots of ibuprofen. Opera singers pop them regardless of feeling any soreness. Hot water is essential, tea or otherwise. No Arcade Fire shows and screaming all night for me.

My number one thing is to try to avoid getting sick, that's where the voice problems come into play. The good news is, it would never happen that I would get deathly sick during a Giants World Series and lose my voice the day of a clinching game and get to call the biggest home run in franchise history and have my vocal cords blow out. That would not happen!

ELM: Name a few people associated with baseball you'd like to have around your table for the ultimate dinner conversation.

DF: I will remove my colleagues from the equation, because truth be told my favorite nights are when Duane, Jon, Mike and I get a rare night off on the road and can go out to a meal, just the four of us. Typically some beverages are consumed and stories are told and many laughs are had. Those dinners are as good as it gets for me.

But a dream-team non-Giants broadcast division might include Vin Scully, Tom Seaver -- a really interesting guy and he can bring the wine -- Marty Brenneman, Billy Beane -- I do like Brian Sabean and he has some fabulous stories, but I have heard most of them by now -- and, of course, Mr. Mays. Oh, and Kirk Rueter.

ELM: Are you trying to curry favor and get unfettered access to The Shed? But seriously, why Rueter specifically?

DF: I don't need to kiss up to get access to The Shed. I think Rueter is my favorite person in the game, and I don't see him that often or talk to him too much. He plays up the goofiness sometimes, but he is a great conversationalist about sports because he watches everything and is a very smart guy. He has great baseball stories. Woody never missed a thing, and his teammates loved him. I think he is like Krukow and Kuiper in that way. When he was playing, there was nothing that slipped by him. You would love Rueter, everyone would. He is the best.

ELM: There were a lot of classic Giants games last year. Is there one non-obvious favorite of yours that's gotten lost amid the pennant clinchers, 1-0 nail-biters, and playoff drama?

DF: Game 4 of NLCS will go down to me as one of all-time dramatic, fun, spectacular postseason games in any sport. I love that game. Aside from that and some other obvious ones, there are a couple I will never forget:

The finale of the early September series in San Diego, Giants had a chance to take three of four and gain ground on the Pads. But [Mat] Latos was on the mound, who had destroyed the Giants all year. I believe Torres also was just lost to his appendix, too? So the Giants were a little wobbly. But in the first inning, there was an innocent base hit and Posey comes up and hits an opposite-field Petco home run against Latos. I just loved that swing and that moment. It was such a -- pardon the language -- f-you to Latos and the Pads. That was the swing where I thought the Giants were going to win the division.

Also, the "Darren Ford" game against Colorado. Great, electric atmosphere at the ballpark. Lincecum vs. Jimenez, which had been so dominated by Ubaldo on Memorial Day. Tim turned it around that night. Huge win. Helped crush the Rockies. Every time Ubaldo lost it was like two or three losses [for Colorado]. Plus, the undercurrent of the humidor controversy was there as well. Giants/Rockies is pretty fierce now, and to me that was the defining game of that series last year.

ELM: What's the coolest vessel you've ever seen on the Bay during a game?

DF: I am kind of partial to the floating putting green we see from time to time.



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