5 Questions with...CSN's David Kaplan


5 Questions with...CSN's David Kaplan

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of Contributor

November 25, 2009

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with a new weekly feature entitled 5 Questions with...

Every Wednesday exclusively on, 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 weekEmmy-award winning host of Comcast SportsNets Chicago Tribune Live (Monday-Friday from 5:30-6:30 PM) and host of WGN AM 720s Sports Central (Monday-Friday from 7:00-9:00 PM)hes a multimedia superstarhes the Kapmanhere are 5 Questions withDAVID KAPLAN!

BIO: Veteran Chicago radio sports reporter David Kaplan joined Comcast SportsNet in 2008 as the primary host of Chicago Tribune Live. He recently was honored with an Emmy for hosting CTL by the ChicagoMidwest Chapter of NATAS. Along with his duties for Comcast SportsNet, Kaplan is the host of Sports Central on WGN Radio AM 720. He has earned six Achievement in Radio awards and was named Newsfinder of the Year by the AP for breaking several stories. Kaplan also works as a college football and basketball play-by-play commentator for ESPN. Before coming to WGN Radio in 1995, Kap was midday host on WMVP-AM in Chicago after the station adopted an all-sports format in November of 1993. He is a former college basketball coach at Northern Illinois University (1982-86) and was a scout for both the Indiana Pacers and the Seattle Supersonics of the NBA.

In 1988, Kaplan was the Player Personnel Director for the Chicago Express of the World Basketball League (WBL). His duties included drafting and signing all players, as well as trades and contracts. Kaplan has appeared as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and appears in the movie Hoop Dreams, which is a story of the dream of two Chicago area prep stars to reach the NBA.

Raised in Skokie, IL, David attended Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in English and played both football and baseball. He also earned the "First Decade" award for the most outstanding performance by a Hamline alum in their first 10 years out of college. Kaplan was also named "Father of the Year" by the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative.

David and his wife Mindy reside in the northern suburbs. He is the father of four teenage boys (son Brett and stepsons Nicholas, Alex and Garret). He also has three of the greatest dogs in the world: a miniature Goldendoodle named Studly, a Yellow Labrador named Rocky and a mixed breed named Yoshii, who was adopted at a Chicago Wolves game in February of 2008. He is an avid golfer and still plays baseball as a member of the 35 and over Chicago North Panthers of the Men's Senior Baseball League (MSBL).

1) Kap, the majority of your fans know you as the host of Chicago Tribune Live on Comcast SportsNet and host of Sports Central on WGN AM 720, but many people may not be aware of your expertise in the sport of basketball. As a former college coach, an NBA scout and the operator of a highly-heralded basketball recruiting service, what specific attributes did you look for in a player you scoutedrecruited and, a quick follow-up question, what separates a good player from a great player?

Kaplan: Whenever I scouted a player, whether it was at the HS level when I was coaching at Northern Illinois or when I was scouting the college ranks for both the Seattle Sonics or the Indiana Pacers, the first thing that I looked for was athletic ability. No matter how good an athlete you are, you also have to have a great basketball IQ because too many players can jump out of the gym or can make shots but they don't have an understanding of how the game is played. Very few players combine basketball savvy with the athleticism necessary to star in either college basketball or the NBA. Obviously, Michael Jordan is the perfect example of a player who had the whole package but look at Derrick Rose in today's game. He is a great athlete and he has a very high basketball IQ. I truly believe that he will be a huge star as the Bulls continue to surround him with more talent.

2) Youre no doubt one of the top multimedia threats in town with your extensive work on television, radio and the internet. Tell us what specifically interested you about the sports media biz to the point of making career out of it and who would you say are your mentors in our industry?

Kaplan: I always wanted to work in sports since I was a child. I remember making a microphone out of a paper towel roll and announcing the Chicago sports scores, especially the Cubs and the Blackhawks, which were my two favorite teams growing up. During my 20 years in the media, I have been very fortunate to have a few tremendous mentors who took an inexperienced guy and helped me to learn the business the right way. The guys who I consider mentors include Thom Brennaman, who is a superstar in baseball and football. Doug Collins, who I met when I was coaching his son Chris on a basketball team, was great to me when I started doing color on college basketball games. He would let me bring my game tapes over to his house and he would break down my analysis so I would understand the right way to call a game. You can also add in Tom Dore and Steve Stone to that list. However, Coach John McDougal, who hired an unknown 21 year old kid as his assistant basketball coach at NIU in 1982, is probably the biggest mentor of my professional life. He took a chance on me and he taught me how to understand not only the game, but how to carry yourself as a professional. I call him my second father because of how important he has been in my life. I love him dearly.

3) As one of the biggest Cubs fans in the city who knows this team inside out, what would be your top three organizational recommendations to new Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts and, for Cubs Vice PresidentGeneral Manager Jim Hendry, what would be your top three off-season team recommendations going into next season?

Kaplan: For Tom Ricketts, my first recommendation would be to be very visible to the fan base, especially during his first season. He and his brothers and sister need to know what Cubs fans are thinking. I would also create an e-mail address for fans to submit ideas. Ozzie Guillen answers e-mails from fans and he has said that he will even try some of the ideas that are sent in to him. The Ricketts family can learn the needs and concerns of their fan base if they take the time to listen to them. From meeting the family, I believe that, as die hard Cubs fans, they want to improve the experience for a fan at Wrigley Field and they will indeed do all they can to make the Chicago Cubs the premier organization in Major League Baseball. Second, I would hire a baseball expert such as a former manager or player who has a tremendous understanding of how the game should be played to be his assistant so that he has a great handle on the inner workings of the sport from an on field perspective. Third, I would also add in some family friendly and kid friendly things such as letting kids run the bases after a weekend game.

For Jim Hendry, I would do these three things:

1) Move Ryan Theriot to 2B: That is where his long term future is with the Cubs so why not get him comfortable there now?

2) Add a 1 starter: Roy Halladay is available and he immediately makes your team a legitimate contender. Starting pitching is the most important quality in building a championship team. The Cubs have a questionable rotation with Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells definitely back. Ted Lilly is coming off of shoulder surgery and has to be considered a question mark. Add in very average starters in Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzelanny and Jeff Samardzija and you do not currently have a rotation that looks like it is of world championship caliber. They have to add another top flight starter.

3) Get on base!: The Cubs have to emphasize on base percentage more than they have in the past. They need to add more speed to the lineup and a top flight on base machine who can help ignite rallies is a must to upgrade the lineup.

4) What do you think you would be doing in your career if you were not involved in sports broadcasting? (Note to Kap: anything basketball or sports-related in general is not an option.)

Kaplan: My late father was a lawyer and a huge sports fan. He is the reason that I am doing what I am doing for a living. However, I was accepted into law school after college, so I guess I would be practicing law if I wasn't in sports. However, my entrepreneurial spirit might have led me to running my own business of some sort. I was not cut out to sit behind a desk from 8-5 everyday. No way!

5) Congrats to you and the staff on the big Emmy win for Chicago Tribune Live. What has been your personal highlight so far as host of the show and who would you say is that one elusive guest that youre still trying to corral for a live in-studio appearance?

Kaplan: Thanks for the kind words. Winning the Emmy was a testament to the tremendous group of people we have who work incredibly hard on the show each and every day. Executive producer Lissa Christman, show producer Jeff Nelson and booking producer Ezra McCann are incredible professionals who do all they can to make our show so timely and creative. Our director Terry Cortez is the best in the business and our editor Eric Greenamyre is extremely good at making the show look great.

My personal highlight was taking the show on the road throughout the Blackhawks playoff run last spring. It was unbelievable to have guys like Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Tony Esposito and Denis Savard on our shows and to cover such an exciting team. The one dream panel that I want to host? Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama talking about how sports played such a great role in their lives. That would be an awesome experience!

BONUS Anything you want to promote Kap? Tell us, readers want to hear about it

Kaplan: I have a special needs son, Brett, who has Fragile X Syndrome, which is on the Autistic spectrum. If anyone can make a donation to the National Fragile X Foundation, it would be most appreciated. He is a wonderful kid who works extremely hard everyday in school and has made tremendous strides over the past few years. Also, check out my blog on chicagonow.comkap, which I update all the time. Also, please follow me on Twitter @thekapman. I am always working to break stories in the sports world!

Kaplan LINKS:

Comcast SportsNetChicago Tribune Live page

WGN AM 720Sports Central page

Kaps Corner blog on

David Kaplan on Facebook

David Kaplan on Twitter

Are expectations too high for Bears WR Allen Robinson?

Are expectations too high for Bears WR Allen Robinson?

Allen Robinson was signed in free agency to become the alpha dog of the Chicago Bears' wide receiver corps. The three-year, $42 million contract that general manager Ryan Pace signed him to is proof of how high expectations are for the fifth-year pro.

Robinson isn't coming to Chicago with a flawless resume, however. His massive breakout year in 2015 (1,400 yards, 14 touchdowns) was followed by a pedestrian 883 yards in 2016 and a torn ACL in Week 1 last year. That begs the question: Is the forecast for Robinson's impact in 2018 too high right now?

According to Bleacher Report's Doug Farrar, the answer is yes. Robinson was named as the Bear most likely to disappoint this season.

Robinson practiced for the first time since the injury during the Bears' May minicamp, but it's safe to say Chicago isn't sure what it has in Robinson. If he gets back to his 2015 numbers, that would be huge for the Bears' passing offense, but given his 2016 regression and the specter of the 2017 injury, that's a tough bet.

Robinson will have an impact that goes beyond the traditional box score, and it will happen this season. Is he a lock to reach 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns? No, but his presence on the field will be enough to see a return on investment. The Bears haven't had the kind of threat he poses to defenses in several seasons, and his ability to pull a defensive coordinator's attention away from the running game will do wonders for Chicago's offensive output.

Determining whether Robinson is a disappointment in 2018 will depend on who's evaluating his season. Sure, he may disappoint in fantasy football circles if he doesn't re-emerge as a game-changing stat monster. But if he makes the Bears offense a more well-rounded and productive group, he'll live up to the expectations set by Pace and coach Matt Nagy.

As long as Robinson is pleasing Pace and Nagy, nothing else really matters.

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox


Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.