Zapruder Analysis of Ken Griffey Jr.'s Horrific SportsCenter Interview
On the spectrum of sports interviews, there are many categories -- in-studio sit down interviews, brief post-game quick hit interviews, standard one segment phone interviews, to name a few.
Photo via Tonystl Junior, back in the good-interview days.
But if the spectrum of sports interviews were to be rated by "clunker potential," i.e. the possibility that the conversation comes off as contrived, self-serving, or awkward (or all three), easily the interview type that scores highest in that category is the "athlete endorsing a sponsor" interview.
It's why so many listeners hate Radio Row during Super Bowl week. The interviews aren't real bookings. They are, by and large, athletes who are pimping some sort of product or sponsor which they get to plug in exchange for the "privilege" (tongue in cheek) of speaking to them for seven minutes.
Believe me, I totally understand why listeners don't like these interviews. It's mainly because they don't feel like real interviews, they feel like a miniature interview with an infomercial stapled to it.
Well, Ken Griffey, Jr. set a new bar for "worst sponsorship interview ever" on SportsCenter yesterday, and that is not easy to do.
Appearing with Linda Cohn yesterday on SportsCenter to pimp Upper Deck's 25th anniversary as a manufacturer of baseball cards, Griffey appeared to want to be literally anywhere else except doing an interview with Linda Cohn. When he wasn't catatonic, he was totally dismissive, almost like there were terrorists holding him at gunpoint off camera and he was part scared and part like "all right, when are you dipshit terrorists gonna stop pointing those guns at me, I'm Junior, dammit..."
Here are the "highlights" of Cohn's "conversation" with Junior:
Riveting stuff, huh? In case you missed anything, or don't have a full 1:52 to watch a professional reporter try to draw more than three words and a few grunts out of an athlete (and to be clear, Cohn does an admirable job of staying professional during this fiasco), here is the full transcript:
LINDA COHN: Oh just seeing that video brings back great memories. I used to cover this guy when I worked in Seattle before coming to ESPN, so pleased to be joined by 13 time Major League Baseball All-Star Ken Griffey, Jr., who is here on SportsCenter live on behalf of Upper Deck in which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. How ya coin', Ken?
KEN GRIFFEY, JR.: Hey, how are you?
LC: Great, growing up you had a big baseball card collection. Did you have a favorite?
KG: Yeah, one. My dad. That was it.
LC: Your dad, of course. Besides your dad, was there somebody else?
KG: No. Didn't know anybody else.
(NOTE: Here was clearly a transition where this video jumps ahead to the end portion of the interview. I shudder to think that there was actually more of this interview we didn't get to see. Yikes.)
LC: Yeah, you were one of the best at going into home plate hard, you were one of the best at....before we let you go Ken, we know you've been doing a ton of interviews for Upper Deck, a few Twitter questions for you... first, which young outfielder do you see today that most resembles your playing style?