Cubs

5 Questions with...Tribune's Luis Gomez

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5 Questions with...Tribune's Luis Gomez

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of Communications
CSNChicago.com Contributor

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the city's most popular personalities on the spot with everyone's favorite local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

On Wednesdays, 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 ... you know the guy that gets invited to all the cool club openings and gets to interview tons of film/TV/music celebrities when they come to town? Well, this is that guy. His About Last Night and About This Weekend celebrity media columns are a must-read in the Chicago Tribune for just about anyone who wants to know the inside scoop on the very latest celeb appearances happening here in Chicago ... a man who gets very little sleep with all those late nights, but definitely wouldn't trade it in for anything else, here are 5 Questions with ... LUIS GOMEZ!

BIO: Luis Gomez is the celebrity media columnist for the Chicago Tribune, penning the popular About Last Night and About This Weekend columns. His celeb interviews can take place anywhere from hotels, backstage or even on the red carpet, plus he provides readers with details of exactly where they hung out while they were in town.

Gomez parents were born in Colombia, but Luis was raised in the Chicago-area in Highland Park. Following his graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2003, he interned at the men's magazine FHM in '04. In 2005, he joined the Tribune sports dept. and extensively covered the MLS Chicago Fire, along with the entire 06 World Cup in Germany. He became the Trib's celeb columnist in 09 and hasn't looked back since.

1) CSNChicago.com: Luis, hope you're not too groggy from your latest celeb reporting adventures to be in the 5 Questions with spotlight this week. Here we go ... your About Last Night & About This Weekend columns are a lot of fun to read, especially for those of us who don't get to see Hollywood's finest up close and personal on a regular basis. Naturally, you must get inundated with requests to cover events/celebs when they're in town. How do you decide which ones to cover that would be of greatest interest to your readers?

Gomez: When I first started this job, I went to everything I could, but I burned out after a while. Now I'm more selective. I choose the events and interviews that I think Tribune readers will find interesting. I take into account whats popular at that moment (why else would I do all these Twilight interviews?!) and which celebs have a local angle (if Common, Jeremy Piven or Kerry Wood are hosting a charity event, Ill probably cover it).

Every now and then, Ill pick interviews I find interesting, like when I interviewed Michael Kenneth Williams because I'm a huge fan of The Wire. I should point out that the colder months in Chicago are a different story. Fewer celebs are here, which means I cant be as selective.

2) CSNChicago.com: There has to be at least one or two celeb interviews you conducted where in your mind you were saying to yourself, I cant believe Im actually interviewing (THIS person). Very curious to know who those people were.

Gomez: That thought rarely crosses my mind during the interview. Im usually too busy thinking about the next question or my tight deadline. For example, Johnny Depp is my favorite actor, but I was too busy thinking about how I needed to file my story in less than an hour when I interviewed him at the Public Enemies premiere in Chicago. It usually doesn't hit me until after the interview.

In 2007, I interviewed Dan Marino, my childhood idol. I wore his jersey for days at a time as a kid and had a life-size cut out of Marino in my bedroom throughout college (how that wasn't a deal breaker, I'll never know). I figured if ever I was going to get nervous during an interview, Marino would be it. But once the interview started, all I thought about were my questions and his responses. I was even pretty nonchalant about the whole thing on my drive home as well. It wasn't until I got home and checked my email that the moment really hit me: His last name was my password.

3) CSNChicago.com: Sports fans may know this fact about you, but many others may not: you changed your last name from Arroyave to Gomez. Why the surname switch?

Gomez: While growing up, most people mispronounced my first name (its Luis, not Louis or Lewis) and nearly everyone mispronounced my last name. By taking my Mom's last name, I solved the latter issue. I also now hear more people pronouncing my first name the correct way. I'm guessing its because they know Gomez is a Latino last name, so they realize my first name is likely pronounced the Latino way.

4) CSNChicago.com: As big of a city as Chicago is, which includes a roster of some huge stars from here, we have very few celebrities that actually live here. Truth be told, our local celebrities really do tend to be the professional athletes from our teams here in town. With that said, who was/is your favorite former or current Chicago pro team athlete that you really have a good time hanging out with after hours?

Gomez: The only Chicago athletes I hang out with outside of an interview setting are past and present Chicago Fire players. But when it comes to hanging out during an interview, I've had a good time with Kerry Wood. I think it's because Wood reminds of the good old days when I used to be a huge Cubs fan (I was crushed by the Cubs playoff collapse in 2003 and never recovered). He's also pretty easy going and doesn't seem to take himself too seriously. Plus, he's a guy's guy. And considering I often interview teeny bopper actors and reality TV stars for a living, that's a nice change of pace for this former sportswriter.

5) CSNChicago.com: We have just a couple months left of summertime partying fun Luis -- quick, off the top of your head, what three bars/clubs should we hit up before the leaves start falling around here?

Gomez: Believe it or not, I only go to clubs for work reasons (or because my friends want me to help them get in). Ive always been more of a bar guy. Here are the three bars where you'll find me when I'm not working:

Innjoy: Not only do they play 80s and 90s music, but they also have slam dunk contests and WWF matches from that era on the TVs.

Merkle's: If I'm in Wrigleyville, I'm at Merkle's. They play sports with volume (which is never a given at sports bars) and have great wings. I also like the atmosphere on Friday and Saturday nights.

The State: Best place to watch football. Tons of TVs. Tons of eye candy. And it doesn't hurt that its a University of Wisconsin bar.

BONUS QUESTION! CSNChicago.com: Anything you'd like to promote Luis? Tell us ... CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it.

Gomez: You can read my celebrity interviews and sightings on my blog, which only features celeb news that is Chicago-related ... if you want national celebs news, you can watch Entertainment Tonight. And if you want to hear about celeb sightings and filming in Chicago as they're happening, follow me on Twitter.

Gomez LINKS:

Chicago Tribune ... Luis Gomez About Last Night blog
Luis Gomez on Twitter

Eddie Olczyk delivers motivational message to Cubs fans

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Eddie Olczyk delivers motivational message to Cubs fans

Eddie Olczyk had a special message for the Cubbie faithful ahead of Game 5 of the NLCS.  

The Blackhawks color commentator passed along some inspiring words that were played on the Wrigley Field jumbotron right before first pitch:

“It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get up,” Olczyk said as North Siders cheered.

Olczyk’s motivational pep talk had extra meaning given that he’s in the midst of his own fight. The Chicago legend was diagnosed with colon cancer in August and has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment ever since. His resilience is unmistakable, though. Olczyk returned to the broadcast booth this week and will continue announcing as his health allows.

Even with all that’s happening in his own life, Olczyk is still putting on for his hometown teams.

As the Bears begin to form an identity, special teams need to catch up

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USA Today

As the Bears begin to form an identity, special teams need to catch up

If you squint, you can start to see the Bears forming an identity. The offense, at its best, will control the game with Jordan Howard and an offensive line that’s improving with cohesion over the last few weeks. The defense will stop the run, rarely blow assignments and — at least last week — force a few turnovers. 

Those can be the makings of a team that's at least competitive on a week-to-week basis. But they also leave out a critical segment of this group: Special teams. And that unit is obscuring whatever vision of an identity that may be coming into focus. 

Jeff Rodgers’ special teams unit ranks 29th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings, and is below average in all five categories the advanced statistics site tracks: field goals/extra points, kickoffs, kickoff returns, punts and punt returns. 

Had the Bears’ just merely "fine," for lack of a better term, on special teams Sunday, they would’ve controlled a win over the Baltimore Ravens from start to finish. But a 96-yard kickoff return (after the Bears went up 17-3) and a 77-yard punt return (which, after a two-point conversion, tied the game in the fourth quarter) were the Ravens’ only touchdowns of the game; they otherwise managed three field goals. 

Rodgers didn’t find much fault with the way the Bears covered Bobby Rainey’s kickoff return — he would’ve been down at the 23-yard line had the officiating crew ruled that Josh Bellamy got a hand on him as he was tumbling over. But the Bears players on the field (and, it should be said, a number of Ravens) stopped after Rainey hit the turf; he got up and dashed into the end zone for a momentum-shifting score. 

“A lot of our players stopped, all their players stopped,” Rodgers said. “There were players from both teams who came on to the field from the sideline. So there’s a lot of people on that particular play who thought the play was over.”

That return touchdown could be chalked up to an officiating-aided fluke, but Michael Campanaro’s punt return score was inexcusable given the situation of the game (up eight with just under two minutes left). The Bears checked into a max protect formation, and no players were able to wriggle free and get downfield toward Campanaro (Cre’von LeBlanc, who replaced an injured Sherrick McManis, was knocked to the turf). Rodgers said O’Donnell’s booming punt wasn’t the issue — it didn’t need to be directed out of bounds, he said — and instead pointed to a lack of execution by the other 10 players on the field. And not having McManis isn’t an excuse here. 

“We expect everybody to play at the standard at which that position plays,” Rodgers said. “I don’t put that touchdown on one guy getting hurt, but you’d always like to have your best players on the field.”

In isolation, the special teams mistakes the Bears have made this year can be explained — beyond these two returns, Marcus Cooper slowing up before the end zone was baffling, yet sort of fluky. But while the Bears’ arrow is pointing up on defense and, at the least, isn’t pointing down on offense, these special teams mistakes collective form a bad narrative. 

“We take those players, we practice it, and like all mistakes, you admit them and then you fix them,” coach John Fox said, “and then hope to God you don’t do it again.”