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

Chicago Mag is right: The Bulls will be must-watch in 2016 with Wade, Rondo

Chicago Mag is right: The Bulls will be must-watch in 2016 with Wade, Rondo

No one knows how all the new pieces the Bulls brought in this offseason - eight, to be exact - will fit together.

The team opened training camp on Tuesday, and it should come as no surprise that everyone seems to be getting along just fine. It won't be until the real games get going close to Halloween that we see how the new team, built by GM Gar Forman and VP John Paxson, fares. And realistically, the squad won't be a finished project until well into 2017.

But as Chicago Mag's Adam Waytz wrote earlier this week, no matter how the new faces - particularly two veteran champions in Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo - mesh together, the Bulls will be must-watch television in 2016-17.

Yet for all of Rondo’s outward absurdity, a similar strangeness lurks just below Wade’s surface, manifesting in an occasional thrown elbow and, this summer, in his erratic exit from the Miami Heat. Wade had no reason to leave Miami, where he led the team in 2006 to its first championship and holds franchise records for points, games played, assists, and steals. Yet the looming presences of Shaquille O’Neal and Pat Riley on the 2006 team, followed by LeBron James’s arrival in Miami (and subsequent departure!) overshadowed Wade’s steadfast tenure as the most successful athlete in South Florida history. Then came this summer’s contract quibbles.

But Wade’s departure had little to do with money. It was about the Heat, and the league more broadly, slowly wallpapering over his relevance as a top five all-time shooting guard.

This slow burn of Wade’s ego is the flame to Rondo’s fuse. Rondo also unwillingly tumbled into obscurity, with each setback—a 2013 ACL injury, his acrimonious 48-game Dallas stay, and a purgatorial last season in Sacramento (where a national audience ignored his career bests in rebounding and 3-point shooting)—fueling his resolve. For both Wade and Rondo, arriving in Chicago signaled a pressure release—they have already vocally deferred team leadership duties to Jimmy Butler—yet their pride still smolders.

Bulls fans now get to sit back and watch the Wade-Rondo redemption tour, a revenge fantasy that Tarantino could not have stunt-cast better. If all goes as planned, Rondo’s eccentric aggression will allow Wade to access the strange spite he secretly harbors, and Wade’s polish will set an example for Rondo, guiding him to restore luster to his recently tarnished reputation. If nothing else, watching their rejuvenation will be way more fun than pondering the sadness behind Rose’s eyes or wondering whether Noah and Taj Gibson can play together.

One has to wonder, too, about how much Wade's decision to return home had to do with his best friend, LeBron James, doing the same in Cleveland two years ago. And even though he's already dubbed the Bulls as Jimmy Butler's team, it thrusts him back into the spotlight playing for the team he dreamed about ever since he was a kid.

For both Wade and Rondo, it's also an opportunity to rebound from sub-par years. Wade played in 74 games, his most since 2010, but shot a career-worst 45.6 percent from the field, and his 19.0 points and 4.6 assists were the lowest since his rookie season 13 years ago. That's not to say the future Hall of Famer doesn't have plenty left in the tank - he does, at witnessed by his stellar playoff performance - but some added motivation in a new jersey will serve him well.

Rondo has even more to prove. The Bulls will be his fourth team since the start of the 2013 season, and while he led the NBA in assists per game last year (11.7) his shot and defense remain liabilities. Both Rondo and Wade can opt out of their deals after this season, and while that doesn't mean leaving the Bulls per se, there are financial games to be made by the pair having dominant seasons.

Combine that with Jimmy Butler attempting to prove he can play nice with a pair of Alphas, and as Waytz wrote, there will be something new to watch for every night.

Time will tell if Fred Hoiberg can harness the egos, talent and attitudes in the Bulls locker room. But one thing's for certain: no matter the outcome, it'll be worth watching.

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