Cubs

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

Cubs are reported to be 'deeply involved' in trade talks for Zach Britton

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USA TODAY

Cubs are reported to be 'deeply involved' in trade talks for Zach Britton

The Cubs and Orioles reliever Zach Britton are once again being linked to each other, according to Patrick Mooney of the Athletic. 

Despite the front office constantly denying any big moves coming before the July 31st deadline the Cubs continue to pop up in trade rumors. However, the Cubs interest in Britton from last year makes this one with the Orioles stick a bit more, and when taking a look at Britton's fit on the club, a deal involving the lefty-reliever makes too much sense not to be true. 

The Cubs did add reliever Jesse Chavez earlier this week, but Chavez profiles more as a swingman and less of the late-inning arm Britton has been over his eight-year career. The Cubs would be acquiring a lesser effective Britton than the one teams saw dominant in '15 &'16 when he saved a combined 134 games for the Orioles. 

However, his 2018 numbers are encouraging for a guy coming off a ruptured Achilles tendon with a 3.68 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 14.2 IP. And when you factor in the pedigree the Cubs would be adding to the back end of the bullpen on top of his expiring deal at the end of 2018, it would make the Cubs bullpen lethal in the postseason. 

There will be other suitors for Britton who could likely offer more in terms of prospects in return, but if the Cubs are serious about adding someone like Britton, they could always dip into their MLB roster and part with a Victor Caratini-type player. Infielder David Bote has also impressed with his surprise season, showing he can contribute in multiple roles. 

Jed Hoyer did say earlier this week the Cubs will be adding depth before the trade deadline, but the asking price for arguably the best available reliever remaining on the market could end up being too rich for the Cubs to stomach. But it clearly won't stop them from at least weighing all options. 

The White Sox outfield is finally healthy, and it's got a lot to prove in the second half

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USA TODAY

The White Sox outfield is finally healthy, and it's got a lot to prove in the second half

The outfield the White Sox thought they'd have all season long is finally back together.

Avisail Garcia came off the disabled list ahead of Saturday night's game in Seattle, bringing an end to his second DL stint of the campaign, both of which involved hamstring injuries. Garcia's return came a day after the return of Nicky Delmonico, who had been on the DL with a broken hand since mid May.

Here we are 96 games into the season, and Garcia has logged just 35 games, with Delmonico playing in 38. Leury Garcia had his own lengthy DL trip and has played in only 59 games. Daniel Palka, the replacement for any variety of those injured outfielders, has played in 66 games. Adam Engel, the Opening Day center fielder who is once again struggling with the bat (he entered Saturday with a .215 batting average), is the lone outfielder to see action in an overwhelming majority of the team's contests. He's appeared in 86 of them.

At the dawn of the second half, though, everyone's healthy again. But as is the case with most positions on the current big league roster, how long into this rebuilding franchise's future will those players be occupying those spots?

Outfield is one of a couple areas in which the White Sox have incredible depth. Eloy Jimenez is the No. 2 prospect in baseball and gets a deserved amount of attention (he hit two home runs in Friday night's game down at Triple-A Charlotte), with Luis Robert generating plenty of excitement, too, with his high ranking and oft-discussed tool set. But those two headliners are hardly the only guys angling for a spot in the White Sox outfield of the future. There's Micker Adolfo, Blake Rutherford, Luis Alexander Basabe, Luis Gonzalez, Joel Booker and more all developing down in the minor leagues.

Will all those names make the current crop of White Sox outfielders, finally healthy, irrelevant? And if so, how quickly?

Garcia came into the season as the White Sox reigning All-Star representative, but health isn't the only area in which he's had bad luck this season. He had a very slow start at the plate, slashing just .233/.250/.315 with one homer in 18 games before hitting the DL for two months in late April. Of course, after returning from that first layoff, he was excellent. Garcia slashed .333/.347/.783 with eight homers in just 17 games between June 22 and July 8 before hitting the DL again.

Garcia still has plenty to prove if he wants to be a part of the White Sox long-term future, chiefly in the form of consistency. Some of his numbers in 2017 were among the best in the American League, but can he do that again? Injuries have wiped out his ability to show he can do it over the course of another full season, but the remaining two months and change of the 2018 campaign will be the perfect opportunity to show the White Sox, not to mention the rest of the league, that he is a dependable long-term piece. If he can do that, the White Sox could find offseason suitors or interested parties at next year's trade deadline to swap Garcia for a rebuild-improving package. Or they could opt to extend him. His team control runs out after the 2019 season. Remember: He's only 27 years old.

Delmonico was another player embarking on a "prove it" campaign when 2018 began, and the broken hand sure didn't help him out in that department. But he managed to impress enough to get into the long-term conversation in only two months of action last season. Perhaps he could do the same over the final 60-plus games of this season.

If he's going to impress enough to do that, though, he'll have to shake off his own not-so-great beginning to the season, when he slashed .224/.333/.302 with only one homer in 37 games. In Friday's second-half opener, he went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.

Can any other members of this outfield do enough to keep themselves among the possibilities as the wave of prospects starts washing ashore on the South Side? For has hard as he's hit the ball — his nickname maybe should be "Exit Velocity" — Palka's managed just a .234 batting average and a .280 on-base percentage to go along with his 12 homers and 33 RBIs. Engel has still struggled to show he can do much offensively to complement his great defensive abilities. The player with the best case to stay in the conversation, at this point, might be Leury Garcia. The White Sox love his versatility, his ability to play both infield and outfield, and he's been on an offensive tear since returning from his own month-long layoff, slashing .338/.348/.477 in his last 20 games. Maybe he garners some interest as the trade deadline rapidly approaches?

Jimenez — slashing .319/.373/.594 with five homers in 18 games since being promoted to Triple-A — is coming. If he keeps this pace up, he'd figure to be a lock to play for the White Sox before the end of this season. But Rick Hahn has talked about the importance of Jimenez getting at-bats in Triple-A, and the 30-games-under-.500 White Sox are in no rush to bring up reinforcements before their development dictates it.

So there might be an increasingly limited window in which this crop of outfielders has the opportunity to prove its worth in the White Sox long-term plans. Injuries that have slowed things down for Robert and Adolfo have increased that opportunity for the current big leaguers, too. But as Basabe showed in last weekend's Futures Game, there's no shortage of outfield prospects knocking on the door. So for the Garcias, Delmonico, Engel and Palka, now's the time to impress.