Enlightening moments in sports interview history, Vol. 1: Linda Cohn and Ken Griffey, Jr.

“Smiles, everyone!  Smiles!”

-          Ricardo Montalban as Mr. Roarke on Fantasy Island

Ken Griffey, Jr. will go down as one of the most talented players in baseball history.  He’s sixth all-time on the career home run list.  He finished his 22 years in the league with just shy of 3,000 hits and a rather respectable .284 batting average.  He’s a former MVP who boasted what many consider to be one of the sweetest swings in baseball.

Griffey Upper Deck Rookie CardThat doesn’t mean he’s not a total douche bucket.

Some Upper Deck boardroom executive recently decided it would be a good idea to anoint Ken Griffey, Jr. spokesperson for the 25th anniversary of their company, as if anybody still gives a shit about baseball cards.

Choosing Griffey made perfect sense.  His 1989 rookie card from their very first set was once valued at well over $300.  That card marked the apex of the modern collectibles industry and for years was the most coveted rookie card of his generation.

It wasn’t long after that, however, that baseball struck, the steroid scandal hit and a slew of baseball card companies flooded the market.

The industry tanked.

Back in the day, I actually made the mistake of buying one of those Griffey rookies at an auction for over $100. You can currently find them on eBay for less than twenty bucks.  Oh well, live and learn.

Griffey swingRegardless of the diminished value of his rookie card, most fans still revere Junior as one of the greatest players of that era.  Mysteriously, he was one of the few of that generation that made it out of the steroid scandal scot free.  Never mind the fact that he led the American League in home runs for three straight years (1997-99) smack dab when steroids were running rampant.

Nope, for whatever reason Griffey always got a pass, a concocted symbol of the game’s lost innocence.

Now he’s marketing baseball cards and he’s not very good at it.  Earth to Upper Deck.  You probably should have signed someone a little more media friendly.

In a recent interview with Linda Cohn, one of ESPN’s most respected journalists, Griffey looked as if he could care less about his face time or the product he’s promoting.  Poor Cohn had to deal with the pouty Griffey who was apparently having a bad day.  Fortunately, Cohn, the consummate professional, knew to get in and out before Griffey bored us with another curt, and spectacularly rude, one-word response.  Nothing like another pampered athlete to fleece us into spending our hard earned money on the product he’s pimping.

Nice work, Griff.

Notice as the excited and rather enamored Cohn begins the interview.   Junior looks as if he couldn’t be bothered, giving answers that were Popovichian in their shortness.  The only difference is that Gregg Popovich isn’t getting paid to answer questions.  He does that because the league requires it.  He’s paid to make a winner out of the San Antonio Spurs.

I did a little research and could not confirm whether or not Upper Deck is paying Griffey to commemorate the anniversary of his rookie card but I’m pretty sure he’s not doing it out of the goodness of heart.  Shortly after the interview, Cohn Tweeted “For a guy who wants to be known for his smile he has a strange way of showing it.”  Griffey has since apologized.

Look, this may have been Griffey’s eight millionth interview of the day but that’s still no excuse.  One would think the five minutes allotted to ESPN would rank pretty high on the docket, not to mention treating others with respect are always valuable words to live by.

The guy made more than $150 million over his career in baseball salary alone.  I imagine neither he nor his grandchildren’s grandchildren will have a financial worry for the rest of their lives.  Was the Cohn interview really that much of a bother?

Griffey and sonOne of these days, we’re going to get tired of athletes acting like spoiled little children.  Griffey’s dad was a professional baseball player.  The kid was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  Furthermore, he was born to play a game so many of us wished we were good at.  Perhaps a little humility and appreciation for the gifts he was given is in order.

If Griffey had something else on his mind that afternoon, Upper Deck should have postponed or canceled the interview.  If not, man up, answer the questions and don’t make people like me rethink your character.

Or maybe Griffey was just a douchebag all along and I never bothered enough to pay attention.

15 thoughts on “Enlightening moments in sports interview history, Vol. 1: Linda Cohn and Ken Griffey, Jr.

  1. Pingback: Enlightening moments in sports interview history, Vol. 1: Linda Cohn and Ken Griffey, Jr. - BallHyped Blog Network, MLB | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. Here’s a rarity , Griffey Jr and Griffey Sr , the only father and son to suit up for the same team in an MLB game . Took place at the Kingdome in Seattle , Washington on the 31st August , 1990 when the Mariners met the Kansas City Royals . Baseball and their historians are a damn fickle bunch , this event isn’t even recorded on the official MLB site even within the historical facts concerning the game. Simply shows how irrelevant the hierarchy of MLB has been for a number of years ins spite of the insipid idiocy of Bud Selig and the anal retentive fans trying to hype the game of still having some ” social relevance ” . That hasn’t been the case in several decades as it relates to the sport !

    I know you’re probably, considerably behind your reading , but here goes .

    You can talk a good game, but can you play one?


    What actually makes a successful NFL owner much less a successful professional sports’ franchise owner today in the world of sports ?

    :)

    tophatal ……………………

  3. Obviously the writer does not like Junior.
    Although the interview was brutal and seemingly disrespectful of Linda Cohn Griffey apologized publicly and called Linda personally.
    I lived in Peoria, Az for years and saw Junior countless time at spring training and he was a joy to watch play as well as fan friendly.

  4. Upper Deck has got to be pleased… what a worthless spoiled prima donna …

  5. Jake…

    That’s good to hear.

    Since the piece, I’ve received an earful from Griffey supporters.

    To be perfectly honest, I’ve always been pretty neutral about Griffey.

    I can’t say I know him, have known him, nor do I recall any interview over his career that was in any way memorable, whether positive or negative.

    I do think, however, in this instance, he could have been a little more cordial.

    After all, like the rest of us, he’s got a job to do.

    I read where he had a previous beef with Cohn dating back to their Seattle days. I’ve also read that he had been doing tons of interviews, so who knows what to believe.

    Either way, in this case, I just think he comes off as short.

  6. Al…

    I don’t mean to throw stones but what’s your take on my stance that Griffey got a pass on the whole steroid scandal while other players have been outcast.

    Your thoughts?

  7. At least Griff came back and apologized for the interview, saying that he was sick. I think if someone truly didn’t care at this point and was a d-bag, they would not have bothered to even go that far. Unless, he still has a publicist that forced the issue on him. I doubt it though. He still, to me, was one of the highlight guys in sports when I was growing up… one of the more fun players to watch. It’s too bad he suffered through so many injuries, imagine where that career could have gone.

  8. Chris, I always thought Griffey was a great guy. With his ability and his charming smile, he could’ve written his own ticket to Cooperstown.

    This interview could’ve been an aberration or payback for a previous transgression. Who knows, but he was very rude.

    Sometimes reporters overstep and can be annoying. But probing is part of their job.

    Often the sports figure is in a different zone, resentful of the press for interfering in an area perceived to be the domain of the athletically priveledged.

    I am surprised with the huge numbers of interviews conducted there aren’t more incidents like this one. I think that speaks both to the professionalism of the press and the acceptance by sports figures that intelligent questions and answers are part of the game.

  9. I get it, Jimmy, but again, like I said in the post, I do think Griff has gotten a pass for years because of that smile, because of his name and because of his talent.

    He’s not an athlete anymore. He’s promoting those cards, among other things.

    I just think he came off a little short when there was really no reason to be.

  10. I love Linda Cohn. However, when I read the words ESPN and respected journalists in the same sentence I admittedly paused to collect myself. As for the interview Griff was periodically gruff during his career so no shock there. I’d always be approaching a chat with him with the finger on the dump out button. As for Linda she did all she could to salvage the train wreck. I wish I still had my baseball cards. I know there were some gems in that collection. Don’t know if I’d sell them or not.

  11. I still have a ton of cards, Burnsy. Fortunately I was broke a while back, needed some coin and unloaded a bunch of ‘em right before the market crashed.

    Re: ESPN, they still have a few of ‘em lying around, respected journalists, that is. Bob Ley comes to mind, allthough even he got pissed at LeBron not long ago. Did you hear about their Twitter warfare? That was actually pretty childish.

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