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Ken Griffey Jr. apologizes to Linda Cohn, says he was sick

Ken Griffey JrKen Griffey Jr. apologized to Linda Cohn both privately over the phone and publicly over social media for his unfriendly behavior during an interview Wednesday.

Griffey was doing interviews on behalf of Upper Deck, but his Q&A session with Cohn did not go well. He hardly gave answers and was overall very difficult. Junior says that’s because he was sick.

“I want to apologize to Linda for the way things went today,” Griffey wrote on Instagram. “I was in the middle of a cough attack and felt a little ill and didn’t want to walk off the set. Linda has always been professional to me and my family . I’m sorry, Junior @espn @sportcenter @lindacohn”

Cohn also tweeted to say she received an apology from Griffey and accepted it.

I don’t know if I believe that Junior really was sick, but at least he apologized. Still, nothing will ever really explain why the heck he acted like he did in that interview. He soooo did not want to be there.

This Ken Griffey Jr-Linda Cohn interview did not go well at all (Video)

Ken Griffey Jr. was on a promotional tour for Upper Deck Wednesday and did a number of interviews for the company, but we doubt any went as poorly as his one with “SportsCenter” anchor Linda Cohn.

Junior clearly was not in a good mood, did not give elaborate answers, and overall acted as a tough interview.

Was he worn out from doing too many interviews that day and being asked the same questions over and over? Did he have some beef with ESPN or Cohn? Who knows.

Cohn did send a number of tweets about it afterwards. You can see those below:

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Ken Griffey Jr. jokes he owns 100 copies of his famous Upper Deck rookie card

Ken Griffey Jr Upper Deck card

If you were a young baseball fan during the late ’80s and early-mid ’90s, chances are you collected baseball cards and were a fan of Ken Griffey Jr. Junior just embodied cool. He had a great smile, always had his hat turned backwards, hit home runs, made great catches, and man, did he just have the prettiest swing in the world.

If you collected cards back then, chances are you had at least one Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card in your collection. If you did, that’s nothing compared to the collection Griffey had of himself.

Griffey Jr. spoke with Sporting News’ Chris Littman about the 25-year anniversary of the former Seattle Mariners center fielder’s 1989 Upper Deck rookie card. Among the notable details Griffey shared about the card were that it was Photoshopped, and that he owns quite a few copies of it.

“I got a few … over 100,” Griffey Jr. told Sporting News. “I have the bigger version of that. A couple of those, too. I don’t have a hundred, but I have a couple.”

Griffey Jr. also says the card was Photoshopped.

“That was actually the first, pretty much,” Griffey said. “That baseball card was me in a San Bernardino uniform, they just Photoshopped it.

“If you notice, the Mariners had the blue stripe down the center of the shirt. That one doesn’t have it. And if you look at the hat closely enough, you’ll see the trim of the red where the yellow is.”

So it sounds like Photoshop was in even before the program was invented!

Griffey went on to make his major league debut at 19, hit .300 and became an All-Star in his second full season at 20, and he led the league in home runs four times with the Mariners, winning MVP in 1997. He retired in 2010 and will be a lock for the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible.

All this talk about his rookie card has me feeling nostalgic and like I want to buy a pack of cards. Is there a better feeling than the suspense of opening up a pack to see what you get?

Forearm bash to Big League Stew

Bryce Harper wonders if Robinson Cano will wear Ken Griffey Jr.’s No. 24

Robinson CanoRobinson Cano has worn No. 24 throughout his last nine seasons of smashing the cover off the ball with the New York Yankees. On Friday, Cano signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners. Now, it will be interesting to see if the slugger wears No. 24 in 2014. Why? Because some guy named Ken Griffey Jr. wore it for 11 incredible seasons in the 1990s with Seattle.

Shortly after Cano reportedly signed his massive deal with the Mariners, Washington Nationals superstar Bryce Harper was one of the first people to address the No. 24 issue. He deleted his first tweet, but not before it was retweeted:

I agree with Harper. If Cano wants to arrive in Seattle with class, he won’t even allow there to be a debate. He should just pick another number and start a new legacy with his new team.

Ken Griffey Jr. Says He Was a Distraction

Last year was a disappointing one for future MLB Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. The Mariners icon was reported to be sleeping on the job when asked to pinch hit in a game last season and then abruptly retired three weeks later. The fan favorite walked away from the game in an odd fashion and was hardly heard from afterwards.

Now, nearly a year later, he somewhat explained why he walked away mid-season.

Junior told several reporters including The Seattle Times that he retired abruptly last year because he felt he’d become a distraction to the team. “I’m not upset. I think people thought I was upset about certain things, but that’s not the case,” Griffey told them.

Griffey believed at the time that former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu had leaked the word of his mid-game nap to the press and didn’t talk to the man for two weeks on the job. They still haven’t patched things up, and Griffey says he’s still waiting to hear from Don.

This somewhat brings closure to a bizarre ending to the legend’s career. Most people probably could have figured that was the reason Griffey walked away, but at least now we have it on record.

When you look back at things, it’s really a shame that Ken left the game in the fashion he did. Many people, myself included, will argue that he should have walked away after his successful season in 2009. Griffey doesn’t have any regrets, but there are several fans who certainly wish things had ended differently.

Ken Griffey Jr. Retires from Baseball

The Mariners sent out a press release announcing Ken Griffey Jr.’s decision to retire from baseball on Wednesday afternoon. This move doesn’t come as much of a surprise based on the events that took place about three weeks ago. A report came out saying Griffey was sleeping in the clubhouse when Manager Don Wakamatsu wanted him to pinch hit. The incident led to a rage of heavy criticism against Griffey for being unprepared, unproductive, and taking up a spot on the roster. I said that the backlash would solve the problem of public complaint and I was right — Griffey has taken matters into his hands and decided to retire.

While injuries, decreased production, and the infamous sleeping incident marred the end of Jr.’s career, there is no doubt that he is a first ballot Hall of Famer. Griffey Jr. was the 1997 AL MVP, a 13-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner, and he’s 5th all time with 630 career home runs. Throughout the 90s, Griffey was one of the best, if not the best all-around outfielder in the game. He combined speed with defense and power, and he possessed the entire package that so many players wished they had.

Growing up in the 90s, Griffey’s popularity was unmatched. He was the favorite player of many of my friends and his Super Nintendo game was a must-have for anyone who had the system. Even today when I read profiles on current players, many of them say Griffey was their favorite player growing up. With his hat turned backwards, the shimmy at the plate, and the all-around swagger, Jr. was the epitome of cool.

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Ken Griffey Jr.: Sleeping on the Job

One of the fun parts about sports is that you never know what they’re going to have in store for you. One day you can read about the Mariners firing their hitting coach and later that night they’re scoring eight runs to win the game. Another day you read about their Hall of Fame DH falling asleep on the job and later … wait, what?!?! I know a baseball clubhouse is sacred, but I’ve never heard of a player falling asleep on the job until Monday. Check out this report from the Tacoma News Tribune that says Ken Griffey Jr. was sleeping in the clubhouse when asked to pinch hit:

Last week, when some members of the press corps asked manager Don Wakamatsu why he hadn’t used Griffey as a pinch hitter for Rob Johnson late in a game, Waskamatsu was vague.

Two Mariners players, however, weren’t. Both are younger players, fond of Griffey. Neither had an ax to grind. So why didn’t Wakamatsu go to Junior off the bench?

“He was asleep in the clubhouse,” one player said. “He’d gone back about the fifth inning to get a jacket and didn’t come back. I went back in about the seventh inning – and he was in his chair, sound asleep.”

The other player, who knows Griffey a little better, tried to ratonalize.

“He doesn’t sleep well at night, he’s away from his family, he’s comfortable in the clubhouse,” he said. “They could have awakened him …”

Yes, they most certainly could have awakened him, but do you really want to send a guy up to pinch hit who was just sleeping in the clubhouse? You need to show more desire than that to earn an at-bat, especially with so many kids in the minors dying for one. Just last week I was talking with LBS contributor Alan Hull about the Mariners’ offensive struggles, and we said one of their biggest mistakes was carrying both Mike Sweeney and Ken Griffey Jr. on their roster. They added both guys as clubhouse chemistry boosters, but both are strictly DH’s who can’t play the field, and neither guy is hitting. There’s hardly room for one of those guys on a 25-man roster if you’re trying to win a division title, so two is obviously a surplus. Now that this story has hit the media, there may be enough public backlash to solve the situation. It’s too bad because I didn’t think Junior’s Hall of Fame career would end like this. Let’s hope things are handled tactfully.

Sources:
For Griffey & the Mariners, the end is near [Tacoma News Tribune]