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

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Yanic Perreault came onto the ice as the Blackhawks wrapped up practice on Thursday.

It’s been a relatively common sight the last few seasons. Most of the time, Perreault has helped out when a particular player is struggling from the faceoff dot. That was true with Artem Anisimov earlier this season. But with Jonathan Toews sidelined the Blackhawks have been even more focused on improving upon and winning faceoffs. Thanks to the extra diligence, they’ve done that.

The Blackhawks’ overall faceoff performance has steadily improved. They’ll see how it goes again on Friday night when they face the New York Rangers, their eighth consecutive game without Toews.

“We’re working almost every practice and trying to get better on faceoffs,” Anisimov said on Thursday. “If we win the faceoff, we start with the puck and it’s pretty good. You can go to the offensive zone or win in the offensive zone you start with the puck and you have the opportunity to shoot the puck all day and get chances. It’s a big part of the game.”

Enter Perreault, who was a great faceoff man during his NHL career. The Blackhawks players say Perreault offers a wealth of information in each session.

“It’s different every day. The whole science behind it, he’s been great since he was brought in,” Marcus Kruger said. “He always has something new he wants us to work on, whether it’s just timing or body-positioning or something like that. It’s a lot of different stuff and we work on new stuff every day.”

Rasmussen agreed.

“It’s a lot of things you can work on,” he said. “You try to work on being in a low position so you get stronger. [There are] a lot of small things on how you can go against other guys that do it certain way, and you have to find your own way, too.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Their first game without Toews, against the Anaheim Ducks, was dismal. Part of that is the Ducks having some tremendous face-off guys. But Toews is the Blackhawks’ best at the dot – he’s won 60.3 percent of the time this season – so that first game without him was rough.

Here’s how things have progressed for the Blackhawks, with faceoffs won and lost and percentage, in Toews’ absence.

Opponent Wins-Losses Percent
Ducks 18-49 27 percent
Kings 21-37 36 percent
Panthers 39-35 53 percent
Devils 22-27 45 percent
Flyers 22-31 42 percent
Jets 31-27 53 percent
Coyotes 30-28 52 percent

So yes, there’s been improvement.

“I think we hold our own,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Yan works well with our center men, they take pride in trying to be the best they can and now they’re taking some important faceoffs and some they probably haven’t taken in the past, whether they’re defensive or special-teams faceoffs. They’ve all won some important faceoffs for us at key times, too.”

The Blackhawks have done their best filling the void left by Toews, especially on faceoffs. There’s been a lot of work put into it, especially with Perreault following practices. But the results have been there.

“We know we’d like to start with the puck, and we had a couple of tough games when Jonny went down initially,” Quenneville said. “But it’s been much better since.”

High School Lites Week 2 basketball capsules

High School Lites Week 2 basketball capsules

CSN Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school basketball games across Chicagoland for another basketball edition of High School Lites. Catch the show live at 11 p.m. Friday on CSN and streaming at CSNChicago.com

The show will feature numerous teams in the CSN Preps Power Rankings. The best game on Friday night could be No. 16 Benet traveling to No. 15 Notre Dame in a clash of unbeatens in the ESCC but there will be plenty of other highlights to check for.

The Red-West, North Suburban and Southland are all prominently featured on the show this week while High School Lites will also have highlights from the SouthWest Suburban.

This week's Viewers' Choice Game of the Week generated over 5,000 votes as Von Steuben will travel to Taft to represent the Red-North.

We'll also have a Getting to Know feature on Conant senior guard Jimmy Sotos.

Thursday's Game

Hyde Park at No. 7 Kenwood, 4:30 p.m. -- Kenwood will try to keep its momentum going as they host Hyde Park in a Red-Central battle. Kenwood (5-1, 1-0) is coming off of a Red-Central win over Dunbar earlier this week while Hyde Park (3-1, 1-0) defeated Lindblom for a conference victory as well. The Broncos are still unbeaten in Illinois as they're relying on senior big man Manny Patterson and his talented group of teammates. Hyde Park is trying to figure things out in head coach Jevon Mamon's first season as Andrew Anderson had a nice game against U-High at the Chicago Elite Classic.

Friday's Games

No. 11 North Lawndale at Westinghouse, 4:30 p.m. -- The Red-West is going to be a lot of fun to watch this season as this should be an interesting game. The Phoenix (5-1, 1-0) knocked off Marshall for a Red-West win on Wednesday while Westinghouse (3-3, 0-1) is coming off of a tough double-overtime loss to Farragut. Westinghouse is going to have to slow down Carlos Hines and Martrell Barnes but they can counter with a talented senior of their own in Coreyoun Rushin.  

Kankakee at Crete-Monee, 6:00 p.m. -- We also head to the Southland on Friday night as Kankakee (1-3, 0-1) travels to Crete-Monee (3-2, 1-0). The Warriors survived a high-scoring, double-overtime win over Rich East on Wednesday as they're led by senior and Toledo commit Dwayne Rose, the nephew of Derrick Rose. Kankakee is off to a sluggish start as they've lost some close games and they could use a conference road win here.

Rich East at No. 19 Bloom, 7:00 p.m. -- Keeping it in the Southland, Rich East (2-4, 0-1) will try to shake off a double-overtime loss this week as they travel to face No. 19 Bloom. Rich East has two one-point losses and the double-OT loss to Crete-Monee this year, so they could be better than the 2-4 record indicates. Bloom (4-1, 1-0) was impressive during Thanksgiving week at the Chicago Heights Classic as they look like one of the premier teams in the South Suburbs this year.

No. 24 Thornton at Lincoln-Way West, 7:00 p.m. -- These two teams battled in the SouthWest Suburban Red last season and both programs return some key pieces. Lincoln-Way West (2-4, 1-0) is led by senior Marco Pettinato as he's an All-Area candidate and big-time scorer. Thornton (3-2) will counter with a big scorer of its own with senior Alonzo Verge.

No. 16 Benet at No. 15 Notre Dame, 7:00 p.m. -- This could be the best matchup of Friday night as two unbeatens clash in the ESCC. Benet (5-0) is coming off of a runner-up finish in Class 4A as they bring back some talented players like Jack Nolan, Liam Lyman and Justin Enochs. The Redwings have looked very good early this season as they've piled up a lot of double-digit wins. Notre Dame (6-0) is also off to a hot start as they picked up an overtime win over Loyola and another victory over Bartlett last weekend. The Dons have a lot of size on the inside as Chris Heinichen, Jeameril Wilson and Sean Johnson are all 6-foot-5 or bigger.

No. 12 Stevenson at Mundelein, 7:00 p.m. -- Stevenson is off to a great start as they try to carry that into Mundelein in this North Suburban contest. The Patriots (6-0, 2-0) are led by Indiana commit and senior Justin Smith as he's one of the best players in the state this season. Mundelein (2-4, 0-1) dropped one to Zion-Benton earlier this week as they try to get back on track in the North Suburban race.

Lake Zurich at Zion Benton, 7:00 p.m. -- Two team with high expectations in the North Suburban face each other in this one. Zion-Benton (2-1, 1-1) dropped a conference game to leader Stevenson last weekend but recovered with a double-digit win over Mundelein during the week. Lake Zurich (4-1, 0-1) dropped its conference opener to Waukegan after a 4-0 start to the season.

Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

Von Steuben at Taft, 6:30 p.m. -- This week's poll was a tight one as over 5,000 people voted and this game barely beat Lane at Uplift. The Panthers (0-2, 0-1) are trying to pick up their first win of the season after losing to an out-of-state opponent and No. 9 Uplift. Senior Rafael Cruz put up monster numbers last season as he's the player to watch for Von Steuben. Taft opened its Red-North slate at home against Lincoln Park as they're facing two tough opponents right out of the gate at home. They'll try to capitalize on those early conference home games with a win here.