5 Questions with... Tribune's Phil Rogers

187457.jpg

5 Questions with... Tribune's Phil Rogers

Wednesday, June 9, 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... one of the premier baseball journalists in the country... his national coverage of Americas pastime has earned him rave reviews for over thirty years... hell be plenty busy this weekend at Wrigley as the Cubs vs. White Sox crosstown series makes its triumphant return... from the Chicago Tribune... here are 5 Questions with... PHIL ROGERS!

BIO: Phil Rogers is in his third decade covering major league baseball, and has done it for the Tribune since 1997. He covered Sammy Sosa's major league debut and first interviewed Magglio Ordonez when he was in Triple-A. As the Tribune's national baseball writer, his responsibility is to cover the business of baseball, the commissioner's office, the 30 major league teams and everything else served with rosin and pine tar. He always keeps one eye on the minor leagues and an ear to trade rumors, looking for The Next Big Thing.

He's written two books, including "Say It's So,'' a narrative on how the 2005 White Sox were put together and came together to form Chicago's first championship team since 1917.

He looked ahead to a career as a baseball journalist while serving as a backup center fielder-second baseman for Denton (Texas) High School.

1) CSNChicago.com: Phil, unfortunately, its been a tough start to the 2010 baseball season on both sides of town. In your opinion, whats the single biggest issue the Cubs and White Sox must address respectively before the All-Star break?

Rogers: Yes, its tough all over town. Its been one of those years with two teams sporting nine-figure payrolls that somehow still seem to be in a state of transition. Theres a lack of direction with both the Cubs and White Sox (especially) and it comes in large part from letting cornerstone players in Paul Konerko and Derrek Lee enter the last year of their contracts unsigned. Konerko also did this in 2005 and it didnt hurt that team, but I never think its a good idea -- either extend the guy before the season or trade him and move on. Both will be better off when those decisions have been made but I dont see that happening before the All-Star break. Simply finding an All-Star representative from each team might be the most difficult issue between now and then. Alex Rios and Carlos Marmol, maybe? Konerkos in that picture, too.

2) CSNChicago.com: In what may be the top story so far of the 2010 MLB season, the self-admitted blown call by umpire Jim Joyce that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game has sparked much debate about the enhanced need of instant replay for game officials. What are your thoughts on this issue?

Rogers: Big Brother is always watching, isnt he? But I dont want expanded replay for 162 regular-season games. I think it would bog the game down and create as many problems as it solves. The beauty of the marathon baseball schedule is that theres room for just about everything to happen -- including a blown call to cost a guy a perfect game -- and, in the end, the right teams go to the playoffs. I would like to see a replay system in the playoffs, however, because theres so much on the line in those games. I believe a system could be easily and immediately put in place with the key change being that two of the six umpires on the field rotate into the replay booth every game, along with one of MLBs umpiring supervisors. They would have the power to overturn clearly missed calls after looking at two or three replays, not 10 or 12.

3) CSNChicago.com: The recent retirement announcement of Ken Griffey, Jr. came as somewhat of a surprise to the baseball world. Would you consider him one of the greatest players in the history of the game, even though his years in Cincinnati were marred by injuries and less than stellar statistics?

Rogers: Absolutely, he should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Hes the fifth all-time home run hitter -- even though he played in the steroid era, he never got dirty from it -- and he was the greatest defensive center fielder of his era. He carried himself well in Cincinnati even though his move home didnt turn out like he would have liked. And dont forget his impact in Chicago. If he doesnt make a perfectly accurate throw to the plate to nail Michael Cuddyer in the 2008 division playoff against the Twins, the Sox may not have gone to the playoffs. He wasnt a very good center fielder at that point, but he made the play when it was needed. Impressive.

4) CSNChicago.com: The Cubs-Sox crosstown series makes its return to Wrigley Field this weekend (NOTE: Comcast SportsNets live Cubs vs. White Sox coverage on Friday gets under way at 11:00 a.m. with an early edition of Chicago Tribune Live). Critics over the years have stated that interleague play has lost its luster, but that doesnt seem true whatsoever when these two teams meet. Whats so special about this rivalry that really brings this city together every summer?

Rogers: I almost hate to say this, but I believe it is based largely on hatred -- specifically the way White Sox fans are conditioned to hate everything about the Cubs. The Sox resent the mystique of Wrigley Field and the way the Cubs can draw fans no matter how theyre playing, and it really does carry over into the clubhouse. That being said, I dont think theres a single player in the Sox clubhouse that would trade places with his brethren on the Cubs. They enjoy their place in the city and understand the weight that the Cubs players carry around with them. They also enjoy the creature comforts that are lacking at Wrigley. Fans get carried away but, with the exception of bleacher brawls, its all part of our great city celebrating summer weather. Its fun to have all 50 of Chicagos big-leaguers in the same ballpark, especially when one of the two teams is at the top of the standings.

5) CSNChicago.com: Youve covered thousands of baseball games over the years in your very successful sports journalism career. When you have an off day, do you ever just attend a game at Wrigley or U.S. Cellular Field and sit in the stands as a fan or do you try to stay as far away as possible from the game at least for a day?

Rogers: I love to sit in the stands and enjoy myself, especially with my wife, my kids or a good friend. Sometimes Ill keep score but my children, 18-year-old Shelby and 16-year-old son Dylan, have generally taken over those duties. One of my favorite times of the year is spring break. Dylan will come to Arizona with me and well watch as many games as we can, trying to catch every team out there, if possible. Well go to doubleheaders when there are night games and just feast on baseball.

This spring we even headed over to Cincinnatis minor-league complex to watch Aroldis Chapman pitch. A couple summers back we did a guys trip with my brother, Dave, and nephew, Kyle, to catch a game at the original Yankee Stadium and one at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Our favorite stop on the trip, however, might have been a night game played by the Staten Island Yankees, whose ballpark offers a view of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline. Ive seen a lot of baseball with my family -- starting with my mom and dad -- and pretty much loved every minute of it. We call extra innings free baseball, and almost never go home before the last out.

BONUS QUESTION CSNChicago.com: Anything you want to plug Phil? CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it.

Rogers: Nothing out of the ordinary, at this point. I hope people are checking out the Tribunes Chicago Breaking Sports site, and in particular my daily ramblings, called Your Morning Phil. Its pretty much a five-morning-a-week offering, allowing me a chance to write about Chicago teams or any teams, really. Every now and then I might even review a concert or something else that grabs me. Its fun.

Rogers LINKS:
Chicago TribunePhil Rogers columns

Phil Rogers on Facebook

Phil Rogers on Twitter

E-mail Phil Rogers

Ex-Bear Brandon Marshall an early favorite at NFL owners meetings

Ex-Bear Brandon Marshall an early favorite at NFL owners meetings

PHOENIX – Brandon Marshall never needed a whole lot of encouragement to step before a microphone but the NFL, which sometimes wished he'd put a sock in it, has now invited the former Bears wide receiver to speak up.
 
The NFL extended an invitation for Marshall, whose time in Chicago ended in some measure because of his insistence on pursuing the media portion of his career, to address the league higher-up's ostensibly as part of a communications bridge-building. Marshall jumped at the chance.
 
"They thought it was important for a player to come up and give a player's perspective and talk about the relationship between owners and players," Marshall said on Monday at the outset of the NFL owners meetings. "I think it's evident that our relationship could be so much better."
 
Marshall has been part of Showtime's "Inside the NFL" in recent years, flying to New York to participate in taping the show, and ultimately accepting a trade from the Bears to the Jets in 2015, which obviously cut down on his commute. The Jets released Marshall earlier this month, after which Marshall signed on with the Giants.
 
He told owners this week, "If we want our game to continue to be on that [positive] track, that it's on being super successful and being a pillar in our community and being a thread in our community, we have to make sure our relationship as players and owners is good."

[VIVID SEATS: Get your Bears tickets right here!]
 
The immediate response was more than a little positive: Per San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York:

https://twitter.com/JedYork/status/846400103472480256
 
Marshall predictably welcomed the forum and wants to see it expanded.

"I'd like to see more players be more involved in our owners meetings," Marshall said. "And not only at the owners meetings, but any time we're talking football, we should have players at the table. Commissioner Goodell is always open-minded. He always has that open-door policy. So I think he'll continue to listen and continue to evolve this part of our business."

Raiders-to-Vegas the latest in long line of NFL relocation drama, some of which included the Bears

Raiders-to-Vegas the latest in long line of NFL relocation drama, some of which included the Bears

PHOENIX — The Bears next play a team named "Raiders" in 2019, having just played them in 2015 at Soldier Field. Whether the Bears' schedule of opponents will say Oakland Raiders or Las Vegas Raiders is still fluid, but the Raiders are leaving Oakland sometime in the next several years after the expected vote Monday at the NFL owners' meetings.

Leaving a press conference at which NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Raiders owner Mark Davis and a couple other league figures formally announced the foregone conclusion of the Raiders moving from Oakland to Las Vegas, a Cleveland media counterpart fell in beside me and remarked, "Well, at least that's one story you won't have to worry about covering in Chicago."

Maybe yes, maybe no.

The NFL game presents endless spurts of the byzantine and bizarre, so my colleague — who saw his Browns bolt from their lakefront to Baltimore one dark upon-a-time — might be premature with his effort at comfort. Besides, nobody to my knowledge ever took the temperature of Decaturites when their town lost the Staleys to Chicago (at least the Bears kept a Staley as a mascot). And a deal had been worked out, later abandoned, to move the Bears to Hoffman Estates in the mid 1990s, something that had been preceded by then-chairman Michael McCaskey shopping the franchise to various suburbs, low-lighted by a flirtation with Gary, Ind., to something that concept drawings labeled "Planet Park."

Hizzone Da Mare once told George Halas that if Papa Bear took his team out of the city, the "Chicago" part of its name wasn't going with it. And son Richie blustered regarding Gary, "Let them move to Alaska."

Well, I mean, then again, hey, if Juneau or Fairbanks can come up with the requisite relocation fees.

And you can only wonder how many members of Raider Nation are feeling that way about the Raiduhs, that they can go to Alaska (or Gary) for all they care.

The vote approving the Raiders' move to Las Vegas (presumably the league toned down any anti-gambling rhetoric for the day) was believed to be 31-1, with only the Miami Dolphins saying nay. But the side issues were everywhere and somewhat more entertaining, given that the deal was a fait accompli ever since the city of Oakland failed to deliver enough of a stadium package to keep its Raiders where they'd begun under Al Davis when the AFL was formed in 1960.

It was difficult not to chuckle as Mark Davis opined that he thought his late father "would be proud" of moving the team to the self-appointed entertainment capital of the world. True that; Al moved the Raiders to Los Angeles in 1982, to a second location in that market subsequently, and then back to Oakland in 1995. Definitely a legacy to be proud of.

And one for Goodell, too, who summarized, "You know that our goal is to have 32 stable franchises for each of those teams and the league," meaning stable financially, not necessarily geographically. "We're all disappointed for Oakland and their fans," Goodell managed to say.

The Raiders do have one-year options on their lease in Oakland for the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and Davis said that if their Las Vegas facility isn't completed for the Bears' 2019 visit (OK, he didn't say "Bears," that was me), an extension might be in order.

Some observers are waiting for a reaction statement from jilted Oakland mayor Libby Shaaf, who got a thanks-but-no-thanks public letter from Goodell this weekend and sent a last-minute one for the league to delay its vote on the Las Vegas move, which the league didn't do. Somehow the thought of the Raiders asking Oakland to do something for them in their time of need is something worth buying a ticket to.

In the meantime, the move proceeds as expected, adding another mystery to the NFL firmament: moving a team to a significantly smaller sports market from the one it already occupied; moving not one but two teams into the Los Angeles market that had been abandoned by the Rams, Raiders and even Chargers (one of the teams now returning there); those sort of things.

How viable the Las Vegas market is for NFL football is something that'll play out over the next number of years. For now, good seats still available ... in Oakland.