5 Questions with...Tribune's Dan Pompei

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5 Questions with...Tribune's Dan Pompei

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 guestoften referred to as the nations top pro football writer, this guy has been a mainstay at the Chicago Tribune (not to mention his solid work in the National Football Post and insightful updates on WSCR AM 670 The Score), for over a quarter-century providing both Bears & NFL fans with his deep passion and insight for the gamedoes he think the Bears have a legit shot this year? Lets find outhere are 5 Questions withDAN POMPEI!

BIO: Dan Pompei has covered more than 500 National Football League games over a quarter of a century. He currently writes about the NFL and Bears for the Chicago Tribune. His opinions and analysis also can be heard on WSCR-AM. He previously authored the NFL Insider column for The Sporting News and worked for the Chicago Sun-Times. He is one of 44 members on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors board and also is one of nine members on the seniors committee. He has covered 25 Super Bowls and served as a pool reporter at five Super Bowls.

1) CSNChicago.com: Dan, the Bears are off to a flying start at 5-1 with many fans in the Chicago area becoming true believers that this could indeed be a very special NFL season. Outside of the fact that their schedule does get a little tougher as we move forward, do you think they have ALL the right tools in place to get to the NFC title game and -- more importantly -- make a return trip to the Super Bowl?

Pompei: The Bears are a pretty complete team. If they stay healthy, play defense the way they have played and make some improvements on offense and special teams, they can make it to the Super Bowl. They were a very good team last year and might have been a Super Bowl representative if they had stayed healthy and peaked at the right time. They are a better team this year with the additions of players such as Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, Michael Bush and Shea McClellin. That isnt to say the Bears have nothing to worry about, however.

The offensive line still is suspect, though I think its headed in the right direction. Jay Cutler needs to prove he can avoid meltdowns in critical situations. They need to show they can beat the Packers. Ill be very interested to see how they stack up against some of the other elite opponents on their schedule like the Texans and 49ers, who they play back to back. There isnt a team in the league that has no potential weaknesses. At this point, you would have to say the Bears have as good a chance as any team in the NFC to make it to New Orleans.

2) CSNChicago.com: Jay Cutler has obviously been the primary target of fan (and even media) scrutiny with every move he makes both on and off the field since he arrived here in 09. In your opinion, do you feel that kind of pressure really does have an adverse effect on his (or any player for the matter) on-field performance?

Pompei: It depends on the individual. Some people are able to let criticism roll off their backs better than others. But nobody can completely tune it out. Cutler seems pretty impervious to what people say about him, and I dont think his performance is affected by it. The impression he gives is he has no concern about what anyone thinks about him. Thats usually not a bad thing, but in his case, he might benefit if he did care a little more about how he is perceived. He needs to understand the position he is in and what he represents as the quarterback of the Chicago Bears.

3) CSNChicago.com: As a father with children involved in youth football, what are your parental concerns on how youth leagues in general are handling the growing and troublesome problem of childhood concussions in the sport?

Pompei: Id be lying if I said I had no concerns. Its been a frequent topic of discussion between my wife and me. But what I tell her, and how I justify my son playing football is that I believe the game never has been safer than it is today. Helmet technology has advanced. Rules have changed so that many high risk collisions have been outlawed. And most important of all, how concussions are treated has changed. Research has shown that the most severe damage is done when a second concussion occurs before the first has healed. Thats why players are forced to sit out now after symptoms. That never was the case in the past. So this is not the same game that Dave Duerson or Andre Waters played. My hope is that 30 years from now, were not going to have anywhere near the number of former players battling the effects of old head injuries that we have today.

Back in the old days, nobody knew anything about brain science. No one was concerned about concussions. They were treated like scratches or bruises. Some of that ignorance still is out there. Brian Urlacher spoke for a lot of players recently when he said if he thought he had a concussion, he would try to conceal it so he could keep playing. His commitment and toughness is admirable in an old school way. But that mentality has to stop, and I think it is stopping with young players. I know I have told my son that if he feels any potential symptomsdizziness, fogginess, headache, ringing ears or nauseahe needs to come out of the game and be treated. Players of Urlachers generation never were told that when they were kids. Hopefully coaches get this now too. If I thought my son had a meathead for a coach who wouldnt treat concussion symptoms properly, I wouldnt allow him to play for him.

4) CSNChicago.com: The sports media world lost a giant recently with the passing of Chicago Tribune & Sports Writers on TV legend Bill Jauss. As someone who has known Jauss for so many years, what is your fondest personal memory of this brilliant mediapublic-savvy sports journalist?

Pompei: I only knew Bill as a competitor and never worked with him as a teammate. Back in the early 1980s, we both were covering college basketball. I was a kid on the beat and he already was an icon. I remember a couple of times I thought I had outhustled him and beat him on stories. When I read the paper the next day both times, I found out I not only didnt beat him, but he had better stories than I did. What I figured out is people really liked, respected and trusted Jauss because of who he was and how he did his business. He had a great ability to connect with people, and it was all natural. None of it was affected. Subsequently, a lot of people had his back. I remember thinking that one day, I hoped that people would think of me like they thought of him.

5) CSNChicago.com: Youve covered the game for many years now Dancovering thousands of practices, hundreds of games and interviewing countless players, coaches and front office execs. Tell us the one thing that you most love about your joband the one thing you just loathe to no end.

Pompei: First, I would tell you that it has been a privilege to be around the greatest game in the world for all these years. To be in my position truly has been a blessing. The thing that Ive enjoyed most and have taken the most pride in is being able to tell people things they dont know. Football is such a complicated game that there is no way someone can understand everything that happened just by observing from afar. Being in my position has enabled me to help readers peek behind the curtain and explain the whys and hows. Sometimes that involves why a game played out the way it did. Sometimes its about a coaching decision or philosophy. Sometimes that is explaining a front office move.

The other thing I have come to enjoy more and more as I have gotten older is story telling. I dont get to do it often enough, but I do enjoy the opportunity to dig into a subject and give an in-depth account of something. I had a chance to do this recently with a story about Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, a fascinating man.

The thing I dislike most about my job is the time away from my family--working weekends, holidays, and long hours. Sometimes, I know even when Im around, Im not really around mentally, if you know what I mean. The travel gets old.

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything youd like to promote Dan? Tell usCSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it.

Pompei: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and it is a cause the NFL has supported. Readers can see for themselves at http:www.nfl.compink. Having lost my mother to the disease 15 years ago, its a special charity for me. I also hope people get behind the CHUCKSTRONG movement for leukemia research. Chuck Pagano, the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, was recently diagnosed with leukemia. Hes a special man. Anyone who wants to know more can go to http:www.colts.comfanzonechuckstrong.html.

Pompei LINKS:

Chicago TribuneDan Pompei section

Chicago TribuneDan Pompei Mail Bag

National Football PostDan Pompei section

Dan Pompei on Twitter

White Sox crush four homers to support Jose Quintana in win over Mariners

White Sox crush four homers to support Jose Quintana in win over Mariners

Fireworks Night started early for the White Sox on Saturday night.

The White Sox homered four times to support Jose Quintana in their 9-3 win over the Seattle Mariners at U.S. Cellular Field in front of 27,318 fans. Quintana, who set a career high in season wins last week, notched his 11th victory of the season.

"This year is special for me," Quintana said. "Now we have momentum. (We have to) try to keep (it) going to get more for my team. It’s really good. I’m trying to do my job."

Quintana was on point again right from the get-go. After allowing a double to the first batter of the game, the 27-year-old southpaw retired the next 11 batters.

Quintana pitched 7.2 innings with eight strikeouts and two runs on five hits and a walk. He lowered his ERA to 2.77 on the year.

"He's pretty consistent," said manager Robin Ventura. "I think that's the biggest thing for him. Mentality wise and just focus, just his attitude and everything that goes with him is pretty consistent. You're never going to really tell what's going on with him on the game.

"He's had so many games that were close or tied or even behind that he never changes. I think that's what endears him to a lot of guys. He's consistent."

While Quintana has been consistent all year, the offense hasn't been. But on Saturday, the team gave their starter a healthy dose of run support.

"What was really impressive was the offense tonight was really good for us and for me," Quintana said. "It’s fun when you’re throwing when a lot of runs are scored."

The Mariners opened up the scoring with a sac fly from Robinson Cano in the first. But the White Sox answered back right away.

Melky Cabrera drove in Tim Anderson, who tripled in the previous at-bat, with a sac fly. The next batter, Jose Abreu, crushed his 18th homer of the year to put the White Sox in front. Cabrera was the only White Sox who didn’t record a hit in the game.

The White Sox offense began to heat up in the fourth after a quiet second and third from both sides.

After the first two batters of the inning were retired, the next four White Sox got on. It cleared the path for Tyler Saladino’s RBI single, which put the Sox up 3-1. Saladino finished the night with one homer and three RBI.

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

The White Sox added four more in the fifth inning.

The scoring started with an RBI triple from Justin Morneau — the team’s second three-bagger of the night.

Back-to-back homers from Avisail Garcia and Alex Avila made it 7-1. It was the fifth time the White Sox hit two consecutive homers this season.

"I think Q's probably the happiest guy of anybody. He was great," Ventura said. "Any time you swing the bat as well as we did tonight and you get some add ons with the homers, you like seeing that kind of offense and you like seeing balls over the fence.

"Guys had a good night of just being patient and being able to cash in."

The Mariners added a run in the sixth from an RBI single by Guillermo Heredia and a sac-fly Franklin Gutierrez in the ninth.

Avila went 1-for-3 with a solo homer and walk in his first game since July 5.

Garcia, who had five extra base hits in June and July, had three on Friday night.

Preview: Cubs-Dodgers Sunday on CSN

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Preview: Cubs-Dodgers Sunday on CSN

The Cubs take on the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 2:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

CSN will also carry the live audio call of Los Angeles Dodgers broadcasting legend Vin Scully during Sunday's game as the SportsNet LA audio feed will be featured during the third inning.

Sunday’s starting pitching matchup: Jon Lester vs. Kenta Maeda

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Cubs Pulse.

Defensive mistakes, red card cost Fire in ugly loss at D.C.

Defensive mistakes, red card cost Fire in ugly loss at D.C.

RFK Stadium hosted one of the stranger games of the Chicago Fire’s season on Saturday.

It also may end up being a killer blow to the Fire’s playoff hopes.

The Fire lost 6-2 to the host D.C. United, falling nine points out of the playoffs with nine matches remaining.

Patrick Mullins had a hat trick and former Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko played a role in three of D.C.’s goals. The six goals were the most the Fire have allowed this season.

Fire midfielder Khaly Thiam received a red card in the 34th minute in a match-changing moment. Thiam fouled Nyarko then argued with the ref and dropped the ball on Nyarko’s face while Nyarko was still on the ground.

Nyarko keyed the opening goal in the 25th minute with a backheel in the box to Marcelo, whose low cross was finished off by Mullins.

Michael de Leeuw answered for the Fire (5-12-8, 23 points) by tucking away a big rebound from goalkeeper Bill Hamid after Matt Polster hit a half-volley at Hamid. The relief was short-lived for the Fire because Thiam was sent off a few minutes later.

Nyarko set up Mullins for a goal in the 40th minute and then Luciano Acosta did the same for Mullins in first half added time to make it 3-1 D.C. (7-8-11, 32 points). Razvan Cocis got the Fire back within one on the final kick of the half with a long shot that took a big deflection, lofting the ball perfectly over Hamid and into the net.

However, Nyarko quickly restored D.C.’s two-goal lead out of halftime with a goal in the 51st minute. Mullins finished off his hat trick in the 76th minute and Nick DeLeon finished the scoring in the 89th.

David Accam, who was favoring and icing his left leg after Wednesday’s draw with LA, did not start the match. He subbed on at halftime. He and David Arshakyan, who made his Fire debut off the bench, will both leave for international duty and miss next weekend’s match against Philadelphia.