It’s been a bad month for television’s Jim Gray, who has gone from shill to shrill. First, there was his decidedly unjournalistic role in LeBron James’ “The Decision,” where he lobbed softball questions on perhaps the year’s most criticized television “event.” Now, at the PGA Championship Gray was seen on Wednesday jabbing a finger in U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin’s chest and telling him, “You’re going down!”
Has Gray lost it? It would seem so. Pavin said afterwards that during the exchange, Gray’s “eyes looked strange.”
Frankly, I think that Gray’s reporting and behavior this week have both been pretty strange. Working for the Golf Channel here, he chatted up Pavin in a casual conversation right after the U.S. Ryder Cup captain registered for the tournament. Afterwards, he said that Pavin had told him that “of course” he would pick Tiger Woods for the team if he did not qualify on points.
Sorry, it doesn’t make any sense that Pavin would say that. He clearly came to Whistling Straits with the intention of not telling anyone that any captain’s picks had been made–which makes sense since that’s pretty much what every captain has done at this stage of the process. So he really gave an exclusive to Jim Gray as soon as he arrived at Whistling Straits? Nor do I think that Pavin has even made up his own mind. After Woods finished next-to-last at the WGC-Bridgestone, Pavin is going to have to see how Woods plays at the PGA and in the first FedExCup event, the Barclays, before he makes a decision. The deadline for captain’s picks is September 7 for a reason.
The most charitable explanation I can offer is that Pavin understood Gray to be asking if he was considering Woods as a captain’s pick, the answer to which would be “of course.” And Gray misinterpreted the answer and ran with it.
After finding out about Gray’s report, Pavin went on Twitter on Tuesday night to say that Gray had misquoted him.
Fast forward to Wednesday afternoon, when Pavin and European captain Colin Montgomerie gave a joint news conference. After the conference, with some media members remaining in the room, Gray appeared, got right in Pavin’s face, called him a liar and said, “You’re going down!” according to witnesses.
That’s totally unprofessional, and even downright creepy. (Also, I wonder if Gray would have behaved the same way if it involved a larger athlete from a less genteel sport.) Later, the Golf Channel issued a statement that Gray’s conversation with Pavin was meant to be private (then why confront him in the media center?), and Gray went on the air to assert that he stands by his story (but that he likes Corey Pavin!)
Sorry, Jim. Maybe that’s what you thought he said, but it makes no sense that he would say it, so I’m with Pavin on this.
As Pavin said on Wednesday, “[Gray] would not be my first choice [to tell], I’ll tell you that. He wouldn’t be my second, third, or fourth, either.”