Recently in The Walkoff Walk Interview Category

Jason Bay: The Walkoff Walk Interview

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I had the chance to speak with Jason Bay in the Red Sox clubhouse last night while reporting on something else, and after getting the quotes I needed I just had to ask him about the world famous Jason Bay Song (unfortunately no longer viewable) that we posted here last year. Talking to reporters that cover the Sox on a daily basis you often hear what a great interview Bay is. He'll engage with a reporter and give you more than boilerplate and cliche. Even so, I expected him to say that he hadn't heard the song and for that to be the end of it. But it wasn't! So of course, I sat down for more questions

Yes, I interviewed one of the best hitters in the league and all I asked him about was this stupid video. Please to enjoy!

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Kris Liakos: So I run a website called Walkoff Walk and last year we ran a video in which a young female fan had written and recorded a tribute to you set to the melody of "Yesterday." It's a total earworm and I hear it in my head every time an announcer says your name.

Jason Bay: Oh wow. I actually saw that.

KL: No way! That's when you were with the Pirates. It was a slow news day so I was just kicking around YouTube looking for baseball stuff and I found that and put it up on Walkoff Walk.

JB: Yeah, that's the site my wife found it on. She showed it to me. It was really... something.

KL: I know! She had another one about Brian Roberts and I saw that she got on TV with him and he was telling her how much he liked it. No one ever contacted you to do that?

JB: Nope. I was reading the comments on YouTube under the video and you could tell she was really really serious about it, though.

KL: Yeah, man. We tried to get her to write us a song about Corey Patterson because we're always talking about how we don't think he should be a leadoff hitter. She said she wasn't sure if she could do it or not but thanked us for listening.

JB: You can't just pull that stuff out of the air. She needed to be inspired. That stuff comes from inspiration.

KL: So true.

Chipper Jones: The Walkoff Walk Interview

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When I was in the Braves clubhouse and saw Chipper sitting alone by his locker in a camo hat, I knew I had to interview him for Walkoff Walk. Did I have anything interesting to ask? As you'll see, no way! I didn't even remember to ask him about hunting. Is it a riveting interview? Not even close! But it's Chipper. He's a star around this site and I'll be damned if I wasn't going to make him a Walkoff Walk Interview. He turned out to be a nice guy. So behold a cub reporter interviewing a Hall Of Famer. It's downrig.....zzzzzzzz.

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Kris Liakos: So how was it facing (Roy) Oswalt today?

Chipper Jones: Not fun.

KL: Is it ever?

CJ: Well it's usually more of an even battle when I have some ABs in me. He's gonna be my teammate for the next couple weeks and he uh... (laughs) he looked good.

KL: You were pretty vocal about some of the offseason moves the team made this year and you seemed especially emotional about Smoltzy leaving. Are you gonna have one eye on him in Boston this year?

CJ: I got bigger fish to fry around here. Obviously, I'm pullin for him and I hope he does well, but we play them six times this year. So I'm sure we'll see him a couple times. It'll be like it was facing Glav or Doggie (Greg Maddux). It is what it is. He thought he had one more shot at winning a championship and he thought Boston was the best place.

KL: I remember last year you made an appearance in the comments of Dave O'Brien's AJC blog. You still read any of that stuff?

CJ: A little bit. A lot less this year. Less than I did last year. I got four boys at home that keep me pretty busy so it's tough. But it's always good to keep your finger on the pulse of what the fans are thinking, and that's where they are.

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I'm pretty sure we're friends now.

Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel: The Walkoff Walk Interview

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Previous installments of The Walkoff Walk Interview have been straight transcripts of conversations that I had with my subjects. Both Alberta Griffey and Helene Sovern proved charming and engaging, and me, even more so. Both interviews had a flow that lent themselves to that kind of presentation.

But of all the Q&A's I've done for the site, I was obviously the most excited for the one I had on Tuesday afternoon with Rinku and Dinesh. Before they broke worldwide, we'd been cheering them on for months here at WoW. We'd talked about them so much we felt like we knew them. When I contacted Jeff "JB, Sir" Bernstein with the request on Monday he quickly agreed and the wheels were in motion. I had sort of envisioned asking questions through a translator. I knew that the guys had been working on their English but wasn't sure exactly how far along it was.

When I called them, I found out I was wrong. I talked one on one with Dinesh and then with Rinku. While their English was pretty great for two guys who had only started learning the language a couple months back, it still limited the questions I could ask, and certainly limited the scope of their answers. For that reason, I don't think the transcript format will work best here. It's probably best that I just relay some of the high points.

  • First off, they were as polite on the phone as they seem on their blog. I almost crapped when they called me Kris, Sir. I asked them both if they felt prepared for spring training after the training at USC. They both seemed confident saying that they had played with good players there. Delving into the issue of teammates a little more, I asked Dinesh if he felt it was more difficult playing a team sport than individual one like javelin. He laughed and had a definitive answer.

    "Team sport is harder. In team sport you care about everything. Individual sport, it's only one person. Team sports have many things going on the same time."

  • I asked them whether or not they still get homesick. Rinku says they miss their families very much but they talk to them weekly and now with the increased media coverage of them around the world "they get to see more what we're doing."

  • Dinesh's favorite pitcher is Cliff Lee, who would probably also be mine if I had just started watching baseball last year. In any case it's probably a good sign that he hopes to take cues from a crafty lefty. After winning this opportunity based purely on his velocity it seems like he's interested in learning how to really pitch. I didn't understand Rinku when he told me his favorite pitcher because I was interviewing them at work and someone slammed the door to the walk-in fridge.

  • I asked them if they had heard anything about Pittsburgh as a city yet. Dinesh said they were visiting February 15 and were "excited," which leads me to believe that they haven't heard anything about Pittsburgh as a city yet.

    Regarding the Pirates as an organization, unsurprisingly they didn't know much about the franchise's history, which is just as well. It would probably behoove more minor leaguers to not worry so much about the franchise and just work on improving their game. Especially with a team whose futility is as weighty as the Bucs, ignorance to that fact is probably a plus.

  • My final question for each of them was open ended. I asked about their goals here in America, specifically for next year. Dinesh said he wanted to learn more about how to pitch, but Rinku took it a step further.

    "Get better at pitching. Help my team. Help the Pirates win the World Series." Kid's got guts, I'll tell ya.

Before I hung up I got to talk to JB a little. He made the point that more than Rinku and Dinesh being Indian, it's just amazing that two guys signed a pro contract in a sport that they hadn't heard of 7 months earlier. We racked our brains to come up with someone else like that and couldn't. He asked me if I'd seen the "Babewatch" blog entry. I said I had but I didn't want to bring it up since Rinku seemed mad about it. JB said "he wasn't mad, he was INCENSED." That made me laugh.

The Walkoff Walk Interview: Helene Sovern

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Not familiar with Helene Sovern? I wasn't either until this morning. She was the focus of this piece by Tampa Bay's News 10. According to them, Helene (whom they call a Rays fan) made it to last night's Red Sox/Rays game despite having surgery earlier in the day "after a sharp piece of medal (sic) was found lodged in her throat."

The short piece admired her pluck for still heading to the game fresh out of the hosptial, but I thought it was terrible reporting. I had so many unanswered questions. So, I did what any pseudonymous journalist would do. I looked up her number and called her. Helene could not possibly have been sweeter, and I'm glad she's feeling better. What follows is our conversation. Yes, it's real.

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Camp Tiger Claw: So Helene. How are you feeling?

Helene Sovern: I'm feeling better now. Just a little sore still.

CTC: So I'm calling from Boston, that's how I heard about the story. You were there rooting for the Rays last night, right?

HS: Well I lived in Boston for about 10 years. Actually. I gotta tell you. I wanted to root for them since I live in Tampa. My husband's a Yankees fan. But when the Red Sox came out I just had to root for them. Once you're a Sox fan you can't change it.

CTC: Well I'm glad to hear that. So what happened. I guess the biggest problem I had with the channel 10 story is that they didn't tell me what got stuck in your throat. I'm curious.

HS: So my husband and I had some guests in town from New York. And he was grilling. I bit into a pork chop and all of a sudden it felt like I swallowed a razor blade.

CTC: Jesus.

HS: Yeah. So my husband tried to give me the heimlich and that didn't work so he told me to go to the Emergency Room. But I hate the Emergency Room. I don't trust them to actually do anything.

CTC: And who knows how long you'll be in there.

HS: Right! So I just said, I'm going to sleep and if I die, I die.

CTC: Ha.

HS: Well the next morning I woke up and it was still there. So luckily my ear nose and throat doctor took me in the next day. And he scoped me out. Looked all over and said, "There's a small black thing sticking out at the base of your tongue."

CTC: Eek.

HS: So he tried to get it out, but I kept gagging. He said I had to go to the hospital so they could put me under and take it out. When I came to, they'd removed it.

CTC: What was it?

HS: It was a one inch long metal bristle from a grill brush. It embedded itself in my tongue.

CTC: (jumps up and down while on phone) MY GOD. HELENE. THAT IS HORRIFYING. I HAVE GOOSEBUMPS.

HS: Haha. Yeah it was. But I really wanted to go to the game, so I headed right there.

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According to Channel 10, Helene still had her hospital bracelet on when she got to the stadium. I'll also tell you this. Helene works blue and has a good sense of humor. She told me a couple of zingers about having a throat injury that she didn't want me to repeat online. I promised I wouldn't, because she also said I had to send her this article to show her family.

Get well soon!

Alberta Griffey: The Walkoff Walk Interview

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griffey mom.jpgThe 2008 season has been a renaissance for fan appreciation of Ken Griffey Jr. His 600th home run allowed for some reflection and perspective on his career. Everyone knows the story. Young phenom with huge expectations, fufills those expectations, returns to the team where his family legacy is, career gets hampered by injuries. It's a testament to his skill that no other first ballot Hall Of Famer and member of the 600 HR club will ever have a "what if" conversation about them.

Griffey has always seemed like a likable guy but apart from some stories about locker room pranks and the jock strap incident last year, I'd never felt like I had a real handle on his personality. Well, what better way is there to learn about someone than talking to their mom? Last week, I sat down with my telephone and talked to the first lady in Ken's life, his mother Alberta Griffey.

CTC: So you're up in Cincinnati for the Reds' tribute to Ken's 600th homer. What was that like?

Alberta Griffey: It was very nice. There was a message from Hank Aaron and a message from Willie Mays. I didn't think I could go originally, but they called me yesterday morning and got everything done really quickly. I'm good at packing fast and was on a flight at 11 yesterday morning. We ended up leaving the game early because he said he wasn't going to play. Junior lives close to the stadium and we can just walk back there. Then when I got home I saw that he pinch hit and I wanted to kill him.

CTC: Ha. You shouldn't lie to your mom. What did this milestone mean to Ken? What did it mean to you?

AG: Nothing. Junior's never really cared that much about setting the records. He says that if he breaks them, that's what they're made for but it's not his goal. When he trying to make the Mariners he set 15 rookie spring training records. I thought that was amazing. 15! And that was one of the only times Junior's played a prank on me.

On the day when they were making the last cuts Ken (Sr.) called me up and told me I should probably go to camp to see Junior if he didn't make the team. I was thinking, "How are they not gonna put him on the team, he broke 15 records." But since he was so young I thought there might be a chance, so I went. I was in the hotel when he came back in and he just looked at me sad and said he didn't make it and I went crazy! Then he smiled and laughed and said he made the team. They knew he was going to make it.

CTC: Junior is known for his pranks. Do you have a favorite one?

AG: Probably the one with the cow in Lou (Piniella)'s office.

CTC: I don't know that one.

AG: Oh, no! Well Junior and Lou had made some bet where the loser had to buy a steak dinner for the other one. Well Junior lost the bet. One day Ken was driving home and he saw a field with some cows in it so he got the idea. He went to the owners and told them what he wanted to do, and they liked it. So they put the cow in a truck and took it to Lou's office. When he came back there was the cow next to his desk!

CTC: I'm sure Lou took that well. He doesn't have a temper or anything.

AG: He thought it was funny. They were always doing stuff like that.

CTC: What was Ken like as a kid?

AG: All his teachers used to compliment me on how I raised him. They'd always say, "You know Ken never talks about how his Dad is a ballplayer, he never trades on that." That always made me proud.

CTC: You hear a lot about him being in the clubhouse as a kid. What was that like for him?

AG: He wasn't in the clubhouse that much.

CTC: Oh, so that's kind of a misconception?

AG: Yeah, I mean Ken would take the kids in there sometimes, but not very much. Never after they lost because the guys on the team would be mad and cussing and Ken didn't want them around that. They'd go in sometimes when they won, but not very much.

CTC: How about when Junior and Senior played together on the Mariners? That must have been a trip.

AG: Oh my god. Ken and Junior's habits were so much alike. They warmed up the same way they did everything the same. I remember on TV they had a split screen of them just walking up the dugout steps the same. I was like "You have got to be kidding me," haha. It's gone away a little bit as Junior's gotten older. He's developed his own habits. Now people say "Oh my god he looks just like his mother."

CTC: What did it mean to you when he went to play for the Reds?

AG: It cut back on my traveling time! Back when he was with Seattle I'd know that if I was going to go see him anywhere I'd have to pack two suitcases. But now I can just pack one which is good. I only bring a carry on because a little while back they put my Louis Vuitton underneath the plane and they cut it and I said, "No way. No one is cutting my Louis Vuitton ever again."

CTC: Yeah I wouldn't wanna mess with your stuff. You sound tough.

AG: Haha. Yeah now if I have to put anything underneath I do it in a regular bag.

CTC: How does Ken deal with the rash of injury problems he's had in Cincinnati?

AG: The thing about Junior's injuries is that all but one of them have happened on the field while running or trying to make a play. He plays so hard and that's why he's gotten hurt. No one really mentions that when they talk about the injuries. I think sometimes he tries to come back too soon too, but he hates being off the field. He keeps his own positive attitude.

CTC: There have been rumors swirling around. Is Ken coming back to Florida (where Alberta lives)?

AG: Oh you know they're always talking about (the Reds) making trades and breaking down the team every year. But it doesn't happen. They say that every year, you can't believe the rumors.