Cubs

5 Questions with...NBC 5's Rob Elgas

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5 Questions with...NBC 5's Rob Elgas

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of CommunicationsCSNChicago.com Contributor

January 13, 2010

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 weeka huge Chicago sports fan who is one of the citys rising stars in the local broadcast news worldhes a morning fixture with co-anchor Zoraida Sambolin on NBC 5 Chicagos morning news telecasts (M-F, 4:30-7:00 AM)here are 5 Questions withROB ELGAS!

BIO: Rob Elgas joined NBC 5 News in August 2002 as a general assignment reporter. He now co-anchors NBC 5's morning newscasts along with Zoraida Sambolin. A two-time Emmy winner, Elgas came to NBC 5 from the ABC affiliate in El Paso, Texas, where he anchored their two-hour morning program. Prior to the El Paso station, Elgas worked for the NBC affiliate in Champaign. His duties included photographer ('one-man band'), reporter, fill-in anchor, and even weather forecaster. In 2005, Elgas won a regional Emmy for a feature story called "Stuck in the Middle". Elgas also covered the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy along with fellow anchor Paula Faris. Rob and Paula, along with a top notch production staff, won a regional Emmy in 2006 for "Hometown Hopefuls", a half hour program about Chicagos winter Olympic athletes.

Born in Arlington Heights and raised in Crystal Lake, Rob calls Chicago home. He loves sports, and you might find him on the hardwood playing hoops, or watching any Chicago team during the year. Rob attended the University of Illinois in ChampaignUrbana, studying broadcast journalism and agricultural communications. His family now lives in southern Texas, near the border of Mexico -- a place Rob calls his home away from home.

1) CSNChicago.com: Rob, back in July in our very first edition of 5 Questions with we interviewed WTMX morning host Eric Ferguson who mentioned he once played in a media basketball league with you, WGN 9s Mark Suppelsa, CBS 2s Rob Johnson and Comcast SportsNets very own Mark Schanowski. Including yourself, how would you rank the skill level of each of these media personalities and briefly list their on-court strengthsweaknesses?

Elgas: Now thats a sweet weekend warrior team! Suppelsa and Ferguson in the backcourt, Schanowski and Johnson playing the 3 and 4, and yours truly in the middle. Wait, Im the big guy at just 62? Were toast. I match-up well with those dudes from the Matadors.

Suppelsa is like a gray-haired energizer bunny out there. He buzzes around and finds a way to the ball. A guy you always like having on your team. He hasnt played with us in a while due to a shoulder injury. But Im not quite sure how that happened. Isnt he almost 50??

Ferguson is solid. Hes got range, can play guard or move around in the paint. You better have a hand up if hes behind the arc. But I have to tell you, he hasnt been around much since he brought his trainer once and that guy left for the hospital to get staples in his head.

Crazy story: This big dude, like 66 and really athletic, takes a freak elbow (not mine, but those boney things are lethal too) to the top of the head. He and Eric never came back. Cant blame them, with the blood and all.

Johnson and I only played once or twice together. He seems pretty good at just about anything he does, so Im thinking he can hold his own. A little quicker than youd expect, great shooter, would be a tough match-up for Suppelsa.

Schanowski and I worked together at the start of my career at Channel 5, in 2002. Hes a class act. It was great to shoot the breeze in the Sports department with Mark and Darrian Chapman. Chapman had game too. Those two were some of the first media guys I played with in Chicago. So you know Schanowskis knowledge and insight for the gamethats how he plays. Smart and patient.

2) CSNChicago.com: Youre a Chicago guy and huge Chicago sports fan, but its decision time with this next question. With the Winter Olympic Games coming up next month (with NBC providing non-stop event coverage from Feb. 12-28), from a fan standpoint, would you rather attend a Winter Olympics event for the sheer spectacle of being there or attend a playoff game involving one of Chicagos pro teams with a natural heightened personal interest?
Elgas: This is an easy answer.

Let me start by saying I covered the Olympics in Turin 4 years ago and it was probably the greatest experience of my broadcasting career. The spectacle of the event, the gathering of so many people from the globe, the whole feel of the Games is unreal.

But I was so busy reporting for our 10pm and morning newscasts, I slept in four-hour shifts to get stories on the air, and only saw ONE event live. It was this chilly little stadium and we watched USAs Joey Cheek speed skate to a gold and silver. Funny, I also enjoyed a few cold beers (BUDWEISER!) tapped from the concession stand. Youd think theyd have Peroni or something. God bless America.

Having said that (thanks Larry David), theres nothing Id rather see in sports than a Chicago playoff game.

Flashback: Watching the Bears throttle New Orleans, the gentle snow coming down like we were encased in some magic snow globe, was probably the greatest live sports experience for me. My brother called it the greatest day of his life (besides his marriage and the birth of his children of course).

A post-season game at Wrigley brings about a vibe unlike any other. (Not the vibe Eric Ferguson and I witnessed with Grant DePorter two years ago during Little League practice against the Dodgers). But I digress

Sox Park for the playoffs, that place kills! Its a formidable stadium for any opponent. The Sox play like theyve been there before, well, because they have been there before.

And the Hawks! Last years Western Conference Finals are just a taste of whats to come. Theyre bringing back passion of years past.

I remember going to my first Hawks game at the Stadium, stacked high and tight in the rafters. My Dad leaning over and saying, Son, when they start singing it will be so loud you cant hear yourself think. Confused and flushed with excitement I thought, So wait, I dont have to stand up and sing?

Bulls, Fire, Wolves. Doesnt matter. The post season is gold in the Chi. Any game is a joy to watch. Any playoff game is a life long memory.

3) CSNChicago.com: Anchoring the local morning news in Chicago is certainly a nice gig for anyone in your business. What time do you start your day and whats your routine once you arrive at the NBC 5 offices and, a follow-up question, who generally gets into the office first: you or Zoraida?

Elgas: It's an incredible job. Im lucky to be doing it. And I've never once woken up dreading going to work.

My alarm goes off at 2:04 AM. My second alarm will go off at 2:14 AM if I don't smack the clock the first time. After staring at my Blackberry for a few minutes, I get the day going and I'm in at about 3:10 AM. Zoraida is in about the same time, but gets up even earlier! I think she's up by 1:30 AM. And the early riser of all of us: Andy Avalos. His SUV is there every single time I pull in. After makeup (lots of it) and coffee (lots more) we hit the air at 4:30 AM. And go live until 7.

It's one of the oddest schedules in TV news. Well, besides our producers who are usually here by midnight. Its the total opposite of when I was reporting for the evening news. The toughest part of my day is the first four hours, not the last four. I've learned to adjust my life accordingly. I simply go to bed. EARLY. By 7:00 PM if possible. It throws a wrench into watching sports, especially come playoff time.

People ask me all the time, How do you go to bed at dinner? Isnt that hard, especially in the summer? Its simple: get up at 2:00 AM for a week and youll understand. Youre tired.

4) CSNChicago.com: What are three keys to success that you would give to any aspiring broadcast journalist trying to get into your field?

Elgas: Dedication, confidence and sacrifice.

In 15 years of working in television news, I've probably had weekends off 4 TOTAL YEARS. What I mean is, I worked Saturdays and Sundays most of my career, getting days like Monday or Tuesday off.

5) CSNChicago.com: The pairing of you and Zoraida in the morning seems to have paid off nicely for NBC 5. Explain why the chemistry between the two of you works so well for a morning TV audience?

Elgas: Zoraida and I worked weekends together and gelled almost immediately. We're both very comfortable together and her strengths compliment my weaknesses. It's easy to look good when the person next to you can handle their job.

We truly enjoy working on this show together with Andy, Mike Lorber, Kim Vatis and Matt Rodewald. Our behind the scenes staff, the writers, editors, directors, studio people, they all make it fun. Its the most talented group Ive ever been around. And when youre up that early with other people, theres this natural connection and feeling of family. We wade through Mondays together. And look forward to the weekend and some extra sleep.

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything you want to promote Rob? Tell us, CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it
Elgas: Check out our new morning show webpage at nbcchicago.com. Just search morning show. You see some of the fun behind the scenes stuff we just cant show you on the show.

Elgas LINKS:

NBC 5 Chicago website

E-mail Rob Elgas

In another huge playoff moment, Wade Davis stays cool while everything else around Cubs goes crazy

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USA TODAY

In another huge playoff moment, Wade Davis stays cool while everything else around Cubs goes crazy

This became a three-ring circus on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, Cubs manager Joe Maddon screaming at the umpires, the video board showing the replay of Curtis Granderson’s swing and the crowd of 42,195 booing and chanting “BULLS#$!!”

The Los Angeles Dodgers are still in command of this National League Championship Series, but the Cubs won’t go quietly into the offseason, unleashing All-Star closer Wade Davis for the final two innings of a 3-2 thriller that kept them alive for at least another night.

The Cubs can worry about the daunting task of winning three more elimination games in the morning. Once Davis forced Cody Bellinger into the double-play groundball that left Justin Turner stranded in the on-deck circle and this one ended at 11:16 p.m., he pulled at his right sleeve and buttoned the top of his jersey while waiting for the Cubs to start the high-five line. “Go Cubs Go” blasted from the stadium’s sound  system and fireworks erupted beyond the center-field scoreboard and Davis acted as if nothing had happened.

To put the idea of beating the Dodgers three times in a row in perspective, the Cubs blasted three homers and got a classic big-game performance out of Jake Arrieta and still needed Davis for a heart-stopping, high-wire act.

Maddon already ruled out Davis for Thursday night’s Game 5 after the closer fired 48 pitches – or four more than he did during last week’s seven-out save that eliminated the Washington Nationals. But at least the Cubs will have those decisions to make instead of cleaning out their lockers.

“I don’t know,” Davis said. “We’ll definitely come in tomorrow and get some treatment and go out and play catch and see how I feel.”

It looks like Davis doesn’t feel anything on the mound. Davis didn’t react to Turner chucking his bat and yelling into the visiting dugout after crushing a 94-mph fastball for a home run to begin the eighth inning. Davis didn’t seem bothered by Yasiel Puig flipping his bat after drawing a walk. And Davis never lost his composure while Maddon got ejected for the second time in four NLCS games.

Maddon flipped out at home plate umpire Jim Wolf – and really the entire crew – when what was initially called a swinging strike three on Granderson got overturned and ruled a foul tip.

“Wade doesn’t care about any of that,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. “That’s the right guy to have on the mound. With the mentality he has, he’s going to strike the guy out on the next pitch. Obviously with the replay, it’s not easy to keep your composure. But he’s just different. He’s a different animal.”

While the fans at Wrigley Field got loud and turned angry, Davis chatted with catcher Willson Contreras: “I was just trying to think of the next pitch I was going to throw if he ended up staying in the box.”

Davis got Granderson (0-for-4, four strikeouts) swinging at strike four, walked Yasmani Grandal and then blew away Chase Utley with a 95.1-mph fastball, needing 34 pitches to finish the eighth inning. Davis wasn’t finished, using a Kris Bryant bat to hit against Dodger lefty Tony Cingrani, fouling off five pitches before striking out looking at a 94.9-mph fastball.

“Yeah, I gave up there after a little bit,” Davis said with a look that sort of resembled a smile. “He was bringing it pretty good, and I hadn’t seen a baseball in a while coming in like that.”

If the Cubs are going to match the 2004 Boston Red Sox – the only other team to come back from an 0-3 deficit since the LCS format expanded to seven games in 1985 – they are going to need the offense to generate more runs, a great start from Jose Quintana on Thursday night and someone else to run out of the bullpen. Not that Davis is ruling himself out for Game 5.

“Go get some sleep and then come in tomorrow and start getting ready,” Davis said.

Jake Arrieta stars at Wrigley Field and doesn’t believe this is The End for Cubs: ‘Hopefully, it’s not a goodbye’

Jake Arrieta stars at Wrigley Field and doesn’t believe this is The End for Cubs: ‘Hopefully, it’s not a goodbye’

It’s not Jake Arrieta getting greedy and the Cubs being cheap when he holds up another jersey in a different city this winter, smiling for the cameras while super-agent Scott Boras watches the press conference unfold, marketing an ace to a new audience.

Even Arrieta admits that if he had Theo Epstein’s job, he would do the exact same thing, letting it play out until a 30-something pitcher hits the free-agent market. And Epstein wouldn’t have left the Boston Red Sox and taken over baseball operations at Clark and Addison if he didn’t believe in the need for change, to get outside the comfort zone and test yourself.

It’s just business, but this still felt very personal on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, Arrieta probably making his last start in a Cubs uniform while the defending World Series champs survived an elimination game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Three straight trips to the National League Championship Series might have spoiled Cubs fans to the point where standing-room-only Game 4 tickets were selling for $60 on StubHub less than an hour before the 8:01 p.m. first pitch.

By 10:13 p.m., the crowd of 42,195 started booing when manager Joe Maddon popped out of the dugout in the seventh inning to take the ball from Arrieta after 111 pitches. It turned into a standing ovation as Arrieta walked off the mound and tipped his cap, his shaved head set against a mountain-man beard.

“Hopefully, it’s not a goodbye,” Arrieta said after a dramatic 3-2 win, surrounded by reporters at his locker. “It’s a thank you, obviously. I still intend to have another start in this ballpark.

“If that’s where it ends, I did my best and I left it all out there. But we’ve won four in a row plenty of times this year. And there’s no reason we can’t do it again.”

So many times, Arrieta has been worth the price of admission, must-see TV through two no-hitters and those two World Series games he won on the road last year against the Cleveland Indians. None of this would have been possible without the Cubs finding a winning lottery ticket in that Scott Feldman flip deal with the Baltimore Orioles on July 2, 2013.

“I took a little bit of extra time in between pitches,” Arrieta said, “just to look around, foul pole to foul pole, behind home plate, just to relish it and take it in. You got the fans on their feet, pulling on the same side of the rope. It breeds some added energy.

“I had that mindset of I’m going to do everything in my power to get it to tomorrow.”

Arrieta’s pitches dart and dive in directions that even he can’t always control, but he has guts, swing-and-miss stuff (nine strikeouts) and the ability to work through traffic. He gave up five walks, hit Chase Utley with a pitch and watched as Cody Bellinger hammered a ball off the video-board ribbon in right field for a third-inning homer.

But lefty reliever Brian Duensing backed Arrieta up with two outs and two runners on in the seventh inning, forcing Bellinger to lift a flyball into shallow left field, keeping it a 3-1 game and setting the stage for a two-inning Wade Davis save.

“Jake was amazing,” Davis said. “He was throwing Wiffle balls, it looked like. Guys were just swinging at balls that started in on the zone and finished a foot off the plate. He’s just got some amazing stuff.”

For perspective on how far this franchise has come, just look at the lineup from Arrieta’s first spot start as a Cub, the second game of a July 30, 2013 doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field:

David DeJesus, CF
Junior Lake, LF
Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Dioner Navarro, C
Luis Valbuena, 2B
Starlin Castro, SS
Cody Ransom, 3B
Cole Gillespie, RF

The Cubs actually sent Arrieta back to Triple-A Iowa for two more starts that summer, part of a mental/mechanical reset and the service-time calculus that would delay his free-agency clock by a year.

By 2015, Arrieta’s raw talent and natural confidence converged with a young, inexperienced team that caught fire in the second half, his Cy Young Award campaign fueling 97 wins and the momentum for chairman Tom Ricketts to authorize a spending spree on free agents that almost totaled $290 million.

"That was pretty special,” Maddon said. “I've never witnessed on the field that kind of consistent performance from a pitcher. It was other-worldly, right down to the wild-card game.

“My God, you pretty much knew if you scored one or two runs, you're going to win that night somehow. I don't know how this is going to look moving forward. But I know one thing, man, that one year of watching him play was different. It was a throwback to the ‘60s kind of pitching (I watched) as a kid.

“He's special – his work ethic and who he is and how he goes about his business. He's a very special young man.”

But Arrieta really isn’t in the mood to wonder if this is the end scene to this chapter of his life.

“There’s a little thought of that, yeah, because you never know,” Arrieta said. “But at the same time, now that the game’s over, it’s out of sight, out of mind. The thought process for me now is to be ready if I’m needed.”