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5 Questions with... CSN's Chuck Garfien

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5 Questions with... CSN's Chuck Garfien

Wednesday, May 26, 2010
By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor
Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with everyones favorite weekly local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

Every Wednesday, exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weeks guest the man on the pulse of the Chicago White Sox for Comcast SportsNet his dedicated insider coverage and overall work ethic has catapulted him to the top of the local baseball coverage scene but theres much more to be known about this homegrown TV talent get ready here are 5 Questions withCHUCK GARFIEN!

BIO: Chicago native Chuck Garfien, a four-time ChicagoMidwest Emmy award winner, is a reporteranchor for SportsNite and SportsRise and host of Feldco White Sox Pregame Live and U.S. Cellular White Sox Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet. Garfien also pens the wildly-popular Sox Drawer blog on CSNChicago.com. Prior to joining Comcast SportsNet, Garfien was an anchorreporter for Fox Sports Net in Denver. He also served a two-year stint with ESPN and ESPNEWS as an anchor. He was the Sports Director for two years at WWJ-TVWKBD-TV, the CBS and UPN affiliates in Detroit and was also a sports anchorreporter for WABC-TV in New York City. Garfien is a board member for the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. He graduated from USC with a degree in communications, and attended Homewood-Flossmoor High School.

1) CSNChicago.com: Chuck, as someone who covers the White Sox as closely as you do, what has impressed you most about this years team so far this season and what areas are you most concerned about going forward?

Garfien: Well, so far there havent been too many things to be impressed about. Just being honest. The expectations for this team were very high going into the season. There was tremendous buzz both in Chicago and outside of Chicago that the Sox would make a serious run for the playoffs. But as we know, there can be a big difference between perception and reality. And right now, the reality with the White Sox isnt so good. Do you think commissioner Bud Selig would mind if we just started the season over again?

But considering how poorly the Sox have played (as I do this interview they haven't won back-to-back games since April 25), they are fortunate that they are not even further back in the standings than they are. As we've been saying for weeks, they just need to go on a run. A four- or five-game winning streak just to give the players some confidence, not just in themselves, but in what they all can do as a team. They struggled right out of the gate, and a lot of guys started feeling the pressure. They weren't hitting, they weren't pitching and they weren't winning like everyone thought they would. The fans and media weighed in, everything snowballed, and now here we are.

Winning solves everything. Loses exposes everything. They just need to start winning games and this dark cloud of pessimism will go away.

2) CSNChicago.com: As a lifelong White Sox fan, whos your all-time favorite White Sox player?

Garfien: My favorite all-time White Sox player is Chet Lemon. Chet wasn't the greatest baseball player the world has ever seen. I'd say he was exceptionally average.

But watching the Sox as a kid in the late 1970's, the team was below average. And the TV signal for Sox games was even worse. You needed to watch with binoculars or a magnifying glass. But Lemon played the game with such a flash and flair that he could break through the grainy picture on the screen and give you hope that the Sox could win ... about 80 games.

The Sox traded him to Detroit in 1981 for Steve Kemp, who played just one season with the Sox. That was my first lesson in the business of sports. I was angry. I was bitter. I felt betrayed. But by 1983, I had forgotten all about it when the Sox won 99 games and went to the playoffs. Then all I could remember was Tito Landrum.

A few years ago I got to meet and interview Chet at Sox Fest. It's one of the highlights of my career.

3) CSNChicago.com: Whats the most enjoyable aspect of working with your on-air tag-team partner Beltin' Bill Melton and, a follow-up question, does he ever do anything that just drives you absolutely nuts either on or off the air?

Garfien: What drives me nuts about Bill is his incessant desire to read poetry and deliver quotes from William Shakespeare. It's late in the game, Ozzie has just made a pitching change, and there's Bill reciting some silly passage from "Romeo and Juliet." I'll say to him, "Bill, what pitch is Bobby Jenks going to throw here? And he'll say something like, "O! She doth teach the torches to burn bright."

But that's Bill. You just learn to live with it.

Seriously, working with Bill is the greatest. And not just because he played the game with Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. He's got a vast knowledge of the game, and has mastered the art of being a TV analyst. It's not as easy as it looks. I can bring up any topic to Bill, and he can give you anywhere from 15 seconds to 2 minutes (whatever we need) of succinct, informative baseball analysis. And he never messes up. Well, almost never. Sometimes he forgets my name.

His nickname might be "Beltin'" Bill Melton, but I like to call him "Mayor" Melton. Wherever we go, people are always coming up to him to say hello, get an autograph, or reminisce about one of his hits from the 1920's. The ever-approachable Bill is there for them. Every time.

And I joke about Bill's age, only because the man DOESN'T age. And he also has the best hair in the business.

It's been a joy and honor to work with him.

4) CSNChicago.com: Fans may not know that youre also a pretty big music lover. Isnt there a story out there that you once attended a Bruce Springsteen concert and he actually granted a song request YOU had for him and the E Street Band to play that night? Enlighten us with that tale ...

Garfien: People who know me are quite aware that I am a rabid fan of Bruce Springsteen. I have personally helped pay for one of the wings of his New Jersey home. Bruce, you're welcome.

On the last tour, fans started bringing request signs to his concerts, and Bruce made it a part of the show where he would grab about 10-15 signs from the crowd (there were literally hundreds of them), and he'd play around 3-4 requested songs.

So we're having dinner before the concert, and my friend Shannon wants to make a sign. Now, most people spend hours creating these huge, elaborate signs that will hopefully catch Bruce's eye, put him in a trance and force him to play their request. We simply took the paper placemats we were eating on at this restaurant and scribbled down the song we wanted him to play. Shannon chose "I'm a Rocker," which has been played about five times in about 30 years. I wrote down the song "Trapped," which is a great, great concert song from the 1980's.

We get to the show, and we're in a great spot near the front of the stage. It comes time for Bruce to start picking out signs. Shannon rushes to the stage with hers. But watching all of this madness unfold, I said to myself, "There is no way that Bruce is going to see this little sign I have that has been buried in my back pocket for the last two hours." So I just stood there and did nothing.

All of a sudden, this young guy next to me says that he wants to put his girlfriend on his shoulders, and asks if he can borrow my sign. I said, "It's all yours!" At this point, Bruce has about 10 signs in his hand, and he's about to leave our side of the stage. This seemed like a futile quest. But at the very last second, Bruce spots the girl holding my sign. She's shaking and shimmying (Bruce probably likes that). He also apparently liked what he saw written on the piece of paper. Bruce says, "Ohh, Trapped!! And with that, he grabbed the sign out of her hand, ran to the center of the stage, threw all the signs down, picked three to play and chose one sign which he placed at the bottom of his mic stand for the cameras to pick up and show the entire crowd at the United Center which song he was going to play first.

"Trapped."

Greatest concert moment of my life.

5) CSNChicago.com: Heres another one from the rumor mill ... legend has it that a young Chuck Garfien actually auditioned for a role in Stanley Kubricks classic horror film The Shining. Is that true and, if it is, how did that come about?

Garfien: I wasn't an actor or anything like that as a kid, but I did have this vivid imagination about the world around me, which produced this spaced-out look on my face. Very Kubrick-esque.

When casting the film, they did a national search for the child who would play Jack Nicholson's son in the movie. My mom, a psychologist who clearly never saw A Clockwork Orange, thought that I fit the description of what they were looking for. My dad took me to meet the casting director somewhere in Chicago. I was about 4 years old at the time, and don't remember much. Fortunately, I didn't get the part. This became abundantly clear a year later when my parents saw the trailer for the film at a movie theater and they showed the scene of the hotel elevator doors opening with nothing but blood pouring out of them.

Good movie though.

BONUS QUESTION CSNChicago.com: Chuck, anything you want to promote? Tell us CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it.

Garfien: Besides our White Sox coverage and reading my blog, the Sox Drawer, here on the Web site, I'd say look for a special I did with my colleague Sarah Kustok called "Mind and Body. (NOTE: premieres Thursday, June 3 at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet). We went out and took five different fitness classes together, everything from spinning to yoga to 6 a.m. boot camp on the beach. Sarah is a former college athlete. I'm a former little league shortstop. What transpired wasn't pretty, but we had a great time putting the stories together. I think you'll learn a lot about the many ways we all can get in shape, while laughing at our expense.

Garfien LINKS

Chuck Garfiens Sox Drawer blog on CSNChicago.com

Chuck Garfien on Facebook

Chuck Garfien on Twitter

Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are the playoffs in sight for the Bulls?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are the playoffs in sight for the Bulls?

On this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Seth Gruen and Ben Finfer join Chuck Garfien on the panel.

The Bulls win again. Do they dare think playoffs? Vincent Goodwill joins the guys to discuss.

Plus, they debate where the “Minneapolis Miracle” ranks amongst the greatest plays in NFL playoff history and if Tom Ricketts is right to say that Sammy Sosa needs to put everything on the table to rejoin the Cubs family.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Humorous things we learned at Cubs Convention

Humorous things we learned at Cubs Convention

One of the best things about Cubs Convention is the access fans and media have to the team and the state of mind the players possess in mid-January.

At this point, they’ve had time away from the field to rest and relax with their family and friends and as Anthony Rizzo says “no one is oh for four yet.” While workouts are in full swing, few have started hitting or pitching at this point in their off-season schedule, so “baseball talk” is not always priority. Instead, this is when we get to hear fun stories and entertaining tidbits about these players.

It’s no secret this team genuinely enjoys being around one and other and that the camaraderie is on full display for fans as they interact and poke fun at one and other during the question and answer panels. So, for those that may have missed the weekend’s festivities here are a few humorous things we learned about the Cubs:

  • When asked about a celebrity crushes, Anthony Rizzo coaxed Javier Baez into a J-Lo response while Kyle Schwarber weighed out his options before coming up with Katy Perry. That was “until she shaved her hair off and now looks like Eleven from Stranger Things!”
  • Schwarber’s name has consumed the recent headlines following his physical transformation this winter, but he isn’t the only Cub who dropped some weight this off-season. Those that got a picture or autograph from Ian Happ over the weekend should have noticed a slimmer physique as well. Happ told me “you have to look and feel your best for your first full season.” And when it comes to all the trade rumors involving his name, he said he’s been too busy golfing and working out this offseason to pay any attention.
  • During a one-on-one interview with new Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood, he gave us his best scouting report on himself, “four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, I’ll throw my curveball a lot more. That’s always been my best pitch and I kind of got away from it a little bit, but I’m going to be throwing that a lot more. Cutter and a changeup, too. So, you know, try to trick them with something.” And when asked which Cubs player he’s most interested in meeting, his response was Kris Bryant. “Just watching him it seems like he does everything cool.”
  • Addison Russell recalled his favorite memory or most funny moment of 2017 as the exchange with Nacho Man. Bringing Cubs and Cardinals fans together over nacho cheese and selfies. The All-Star shortstop also informed us that if he weren’t playing major league baseball, his fallback would be, a dart player. That’s right.
  • After being left off the panel of last year’s Kids Only Press Conference, Anthony Rizzo asked to be the host this year. “It’s my favorite event of the weekend,” Rizzo said. The Cubs first baseman did a tremendous job, toeing the line between appropriate parent/child humor. And after a few minutes of trash talking with Kris Bryant, Rizzo conceded that the younger Bryzzo partner would likely beat him in a one-on-one pickup game. Something I’m sure we’ll see a few weeks from now in Mesa at Spring Training.
  • And last, but certainly not least, Willson Contreras stole the weekend as he recalled the best defensive play of 2017 being Jon Lester’s pickoff of Tommy Pham. “I went out there and said hey motherfu**** throw the ball to first.” A moment that left his teammates on stage shaking their heads in disbelief. But our takeaway: the young, fiery catcher is not intimidated working with the veteran lefty, and he’s just the guy you want behind the plate for this experienced rotation.

After an easy going weekend full of laughs and selfies, the players now buckle in and turn their attention to spring training, with pitchers and catchers reporting to Mesa in less than a month.