White Sox

5 Questions with...V103's Joe Soto

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5 Questions with...V103's Joe Soto

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 citys most popular personalities on the spot with everyones 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 guesta Chicago native and local radio standout with three decades in the broadcasting biz under his belt and he just keeps getting better each yearnot only is this guy a standout on-air personality at the mega-popular V103, hes also a teacher, a man of deep faith, a proud husband & father, a stellar baseball player and, in addition to our own David Kaplan, hes probably THE biggest Cubs fan youll ever meet, not to mention a true class actwhat are we waiting for, its 5 Questions withJOE SOTO!

BIO: Joe Soto has been in radio for 31 years. He now teams with Ramonski Luv for "The Real Show" weekday evenings from 6:00-9:00 PM on V-103. He also does his own show, "Back in the Day" on Saturday evenings from 5:00-10:00 PM.

He is a native Chicagoan who graduated from Farragut High School on the west side and Daley College on the south side where he received his Associate of Arts degree. Joe then moved to DeKalb where he earned his Bachelors in Radio, Television and Film at Northern Illinois University.

Joe has been married to his wife Darlene for 17 years. They have two daughters and a son (Sonia, Samantha and Sonny). They also have 2 dogs named Katie and BJ.

Aside from his family and radio...baseball is his passion. He plays for The Oak Lawn Rifles of The Roy Hobbs League. He has won National Championship rings with teams out of Dallas and Memphis.

Joe also teaches Announcing and History of Radio at Kennedy King College and is a member of the CPS "Real Men Read" program. He is also a "Proclaimer of the Word" at St. Leonard's Church in Berwyn, Illinois.

Joe's favorite movie is The Godfather. His favorite sports team is the Chicago Cubs. His favorite musical groups are Santana and Steely Dan and his favorite color is blue. He's also quite fond of leopard print.

1) CSNChicago.com: Joe, as a radio veteran in the Chicago market, youve established yourself as a standout on-air talent at one of the top stations in the market. Describe your style as it pertains to connecting with your V-103 listeners?

Soto: I've done a lot of formats at a lot of different stations over the past 31 years. I can easily say that V103 is definitely a lifestyle station for me. First, I really love the music. In particular, the songs I get to play on "The Back in the Day" show on Saturday nights. I relate to this music because it's the stuff I grew up with. I really love those songs best.

As far as connecting with the listeners, that is the easy part. I don't think there is too much difference between us. In most cases, we are all native Chicagoans who grew up in the same place and relate to one another on a lot of levels. When I'm in the community, they treat me and talk to me as if they've known me all my life. They even ask about my family members by name. That is an honor to me. Our listeners are like family as well. That's why we refer to them as our "V103" family.

2) CSNChicago.com: As a teacher and outspoken literacy advocate, youve been a champion for the importance of education in our city and society in general. Do you think its safe to say the parents have increased their involvement with their childrens education these days or are we still a long ways away from getting to that point?

Soto: I do think there is more attention paid to education as a whole nowadays. Yes, parents are doing better, but we have to keep at it. As a parent myself, I find that children can have a range of emotions and sometimes their judgment can get cloudy. I'm not a dinosaur, but I am old-fashioned when it comes to the kids of today. It's better to be stern and clear with young people. When they see a weakness in an elder, they will try to take advantage. I won't allow that to happen. I am not my children's friend, I am their Father. By the same token, I am not my student's friend either. I am there Instructor. When I think back, my best teachers were the ones that were hardest on me. I didn't care for them at the time, but I never forgot them either. Now I thank them for being tough on me and helping to shape me. It's much appreciated.

3) CSNChicago.com: Kudos to you Joe for still going out there and playing baseball to this day. As were all getting older, that cant be an easy task. Hows your overall game today and do you still look at new ways to improve yourself on the diamond?

Soto: Thanks for the nice words. It's actually not an easy task. Ever since I was a kid, I was always good enough to play on the team. I was never the star player, but I always contributed. It's the same today. Despite my advanced age, I can still get to the ball in the outfield. Can't throw it as well, so I have my cut-off man come out another 20 feet for the relay. As we say on the diamond: "got no gun. But it is my defense that has kept me in the game this long. My stick has suffered over the last couple seasons, although I usually have a pretty good on-base percentage. I'm always looking to improve. Any suggestions? I'm open. I spend a lot of time throwing the ball around with my 9-year-old little league playing son. He seems to enjoy it. I hope he stays with it. I can truthfully say that both baseball and radio are in my blood. Oh...I want to take this opportunity to say hello to my teammates, The Oak Lawn Rifles of the Roy Hobbs League.

4) CSNChicago.com: Theres no hiding the fact about your love and passion for the Chicago Cubs. Are you excited about the front office moves the Cubs have made this past off-season or would you say youre cautiously optimistic?...also, lets throw in a follow-up question: who is your all-time favorite Cubs player? (and a brief line or two about why you admire that player so much)

Soto: I'm always excited about the Cubsespecially in the off-season. I already miss baseball so much. But before you know it, pitchers and catchers will be reporting. I like the fact that the Cubs have been lying low and not signing these big money players. I think they've added some good pieces. We need to play as a team and not rely on one or two studs. I hope they make moves to secure pitching more than anything else. Yes...I do believe in "THEO-logy". Good things will happen for our Cubs. I know it!

As far as my favorite player. There were so many. But I got to go with Jose Cardenal. He played right field and first base, just like me. He also wore 1, just like me. And, back in the day, we both had the big fro's stuffed underneath our baseball caps. I actually met him once and had my picture taken with him. He showed me his World Series ring he earned as a coach with the Yankees. That was a cool day. Yup! I love me some Jose!

5) CSNChicago.com: With Christmas Day fast approaching, lets go Back in the Day to your youth. What was the best Christmas present you ever received when you were a kid and what made it so special to you personally?

Soto: Easy. I was 13. Christmas 1972. My Father bought me a blue MacGregor Willie Mays baseball glove. I believe it cost about 20. That was a huge amount of money back then. I was so happy. I'm smiling about that glove right now as I write this. It was beautiful. The brand new leather smelled so good. I remember unwrapping it and running out to the alley to play catch on a cold December day and there was snow on the ground. But I did not care. I used that same glove thru four seasons of High School baseball at Farragut on the west side. It will always be my favorite glove.

Incidentally, I still own my first baseball glove. I was 6-years-old. It was a Rawlings Mickey Mantle glove and it never leaves my baseball bag. I carry it with me every time I play. It always reminds me of being a kid. Because in a lot of ways, I am. Kids don't work. They play. Just like me. I get to play Radio 6 nights a week and then I get to play Baseball on the weekends 6 to 7 months a year. Thanks God!

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything youd like to promote Joe? Tell us, CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it

Soto: Join me and my on-air partner Ramonski Luv for the "Real Show" week nights at 6pm. If you love 70's, 80's and even 90's music like me, join me for the "Back in the Day" show Saturday nights from 5pm-10pm. Call me with your requests at 312-591-8103. Also, if you know of a teacher or school that has special reading activities or events, I'd love to come and read to your students. Happy Holidays and thanks Comcast SportsNetI'm a big fan!

Soto LINKS:

V 103 official websiteJoe Soto page

Joe Soto on Facebook

Joe Soto on Twitter

The Yasmani Grandal Effect is real, and it's already happening for the White Sox

The Yasmani Grandal Effect is real, and it's already happening for the White Sox

It might not be possible to measure the effect Yasmani Grandal has already had on the 2020 White Sox.

While the team’s first big splash signing of the winter has been met with near universal acclaim — how could you not love a guy with Grandal’s track record of offensive production and winning experience? — plenty wondered why it happened in the first place. After all, the White Sox already boasted an All-Star catcher in James McCann.

Sure, two All-Star backstops are better than one. But with so much still on Rick Hahn’s offseason to-do list when the move was made, why spend big bucks — the richest contract in team history — on a position you already had covered?

Well, the 2020 campaign hasn’t even started yet, and already Grandal’s worth is evident.

As much love as McCann got for his skills as a game-planner during his All-Star season in 2019, the rave reviews for Grandal take things to a whole different level.

“I got to talk with Yaz for a while, I played catch with him today down the road. He’s already got a plan for me, how he wants to set up, attack guys, showing me the program he uses. It’s awesome,” new White Sox reliever Steve Cishek said before SoxFest kicked off Friday. “He’s ready to go, and it’s going to be a lot of fun working with him.

“Just talking with him today, it’s obvious that he knows what he’s doing and what he’s talking about. And then you see why he’s one of the best catchers in the game. And then how mentally prepared he is, we’re not even into February yet, and he knows what he wants to do with each and every one of us. That’s incredible to me. He’s just planning ahead.

“I introduced myself. He wanted to play catch, just to see what my stuff does first hand. … First conversation after playing catch, he’s like, ‘Did you see me messing around? I was standing over here just to see if you would start your fastball over here. This is how I’m planning on setting up with you. I watched how Willson (Contreras) set up with you last year. I like how he did it, but I want to try this way, too.’

“Are you kidding me? When can we start? Let’s go.”

It’s clear from talking to his new teammates — some, like Cishek, who haven’t even been able to spend much time with him — that Grandal is prepared to the point where he’s ready for the season to start yesterday.

Rick Hahn revealed when the White Sox signed Grandal way back in November, that the newest backstop on the South Side is the kind of student who asks for homework — then devours it in no time.

“We met with him in Phoenix (the) Tuesday afternoon during the GM meetings, but I think it was by Thursday, he had reached back out and requested video of each of our starters and wanted to spend some time getting to know each of them,” Hahn explained the day the White Sox announced Grandal’s four-year contract. “He had some familiarity from afar but wanted to spend some up close time learning their strengths and weaknesses and how to get them better.

“He and I, since things became official late last night, we’ve been texting back and forth about various guys both on our roster and available throughout the league. He really has a deep, deep knowledge of how to maximize a pitcher’s ability. He’s tireless worker.”

Though the White Sox have yet to converge on Camelback Ranch for spring training, that unmatched work ethic has already become apparent to Grandal’s new teammates. These pitchers haven’t had much opportunity to work with Grandal yet — as Cishek mentioned, he talked with Grandal for the first time Friday before heading to SoxFest — but they’ve already been blown away by the kind of preparation and the kind of work Grandal has done.

It’s the kind of effect a veteran with winning experience can have on a young group.

“I haven't personally thrown to him, but having conversations with him about pitching and pitch mechanics, he's very intellectual,” Michael Kopech said earlier this week. “He himself is very serious about his training and his body and his regiment. It's refreshing to see somebody take that much pride in what their doing.

“Not that we don't have that already, we've always had that. But to have that veteran role step in and show you that you can do this and you can do this for a long time, it means the world to us, because that's what we're all wanting to get to.”

One of the White Sox other offseason splashes, Dallas Keuchel, has on multiple occasions talked about Grandal as an attractive selling point that helped bring him to the South Side. Friday night, he described Grandal signing with the White Sox as “mind-blowing.”

Grandal has excited pitchers who were already a part of the organization, too.

“When he signed, the first thing I did was I went to YouTube and I looked him up,” Dylan Cease said Friday. “First, I started with his framing highlights, because there’s a YouTube (video) of that. And then I went to his hitting. I was like, ‘All right. This is a nice addition.’”

That would seem to be an understatement.

Obviously, Grandal will be expected to add something special to the White Sox lineup, and his career .348 on-base percentage in eight major league seasons — not to mention a career-best 28 home runs in 2019 — ought to provide plenty offensively.

But Grandal is here to help the Ceases of the world, too. While Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez bring some veteran reliability to the South Side starting staff, the White Sox will need to see some improvement from both Cease and Reynaldo Lopez from the not-so-stellar numbers they put up last season if they’re truly going to contend for a spot in the postseason.

Grandal is making that his mission, to help the younger pitchers blossom into the stars their once lofty prospect rankings said they could be.

“This not being the first time (I’ve been through this kind of thing), I understand it’s going to be a process, and it’s going to take some time,” Grandal said Friday. “We’re not going to try and hurry the process up, we’re just going to let it be. We know what we have, and we’re just going to take it one day at a time.

“Once I have at least 80 games behind the plate, we’ll look at the bigger picture and start making the bigger strides and start doing the things that we really have to do. We’ve got to lay some sort of base in order to start building. I feel like we’ve moved in the right direction so far this offseason. It comes down to me and the whole catching group getting together with the pitchers.”

That kind of work is something Grandal has already shown he’s willing and excited to do. He’s impressed the pitchers he’ll be catching in their limited interactions, and while he describes a potentially time-consuming process in getting everyone to where they need to be, he’s still thrilled to be working with this group of arms. He continues to explain that it’s the No. 1 thing that drew him to the South Side.

Because as a guy who’s played in each of the last four postseason knows, it’s all about the pitching.

“As we saw in the past World Series, the Nationals kind of did exactly what needed to be done. They relied on their pitching staff,” he said, “and they got big hits when they needed it. At any point, once you get to the playoffs, if you have the right amount of pitchers, you can have a big win.

“Let’s just get there first.”

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Patrick Kane views booing in St. Louis as 'a sign of respect'

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USA Today

Patrick Kane views booing in St. Louis as 'a sign of respect'

ST. LOUIS — Of the 11 NHL All-Stars from the Central Division this season, four of them are Blues: Jordan Binnington, Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron and Alex Pietrangelo. And deservedly so.

The other seven were all booed by Blues fans on Friday, but none were louder than the ones Patrick Kane drew.

Kane steps on the ice for warmups? Boos.

Kane’s name announced as a Central Division representative? Boos.

Kane touches the puck for one of the skills challenges? Boos.

Heck, even during Thursday’s media session when seven other skaters were talking at the same time as Kane, he was interrupted by boos.

So when the nine-time Blackhawks All-Star won the Shooting Stars challenge at the Skills Competition on Friday, Blues fans weren’t afraid to show how they felt about it. It didn’t help that it was the final event of the night, either.

After the competition, Kane was asked about the crowd reception in St. Louis. And he responded in terrific fashion.

"The boys were asking me why I was getting booed," Kane said. "And I said I shouldn't have scored those overtime playoff goals against them and maybe they wouldn't have booed me."

Over the last decade, Kane helped lead the Blackhawks to nine consecutive playoff appearances, five Conference Finals and three Stanley Cup runs. He was a thorn in the side of every Central Division team over that span, including the Blues.

In 64 career games against the Blues, Kane has 25 goals and 38 assists for 63 points. He also has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 13 postseasons contests, with two of those goals being game winners.

As they say, fans don’t boo nobodies.

"I remember me and my dad, we went to watch the Flyers and Sabres fans were booing [Eric] Lindros the whole game," Kane recalled. "I think he got kicked out with like 10 minutes left in the game or something, and then the game was no fun anymore because there was no one left to boo or watch. 

“You kind of view it as, obviously it’s somewhat a sign of hatred, but somewhat a sign of respect too. It’s fun when you play in Nashville or Winnipeg or places like that, and you hold onto the puck and they’re booing you and you want to hold onto it longer. [Duncan Keith] get booed in Vancouver, which is always pretty funny to see him up his game a little bit and hold onto the puck as well. It’s somewhat a sign of respect.”

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