5 Questions with...The Score's Matt Spiegel

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5 Questions with...The Score's Matt Spiegel

Wednesday, Sept. 22, 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...

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 guestone of the top on-air talents in Chicago sports radio today whose love of sports and music is second to nonehe can be heard weekdays from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM on 670 The Score who more often than not, lets say, has some spirited disagreements with his on-air partner Dan McNeil on The Danny Mac Showyou can also catch this guy on stage throughout Chicagoland as the front man for everyones favorite tribute band Tributosaurushere are 5 Questions withMATT SPIEGEL!

BIO: Matt Spiegel is the co-host of The Danny Mac Show featuring Chicago sports radio veteran Dan McNeil on 670 The Score (weekdays from 9:00 AM -1:00 PM on WSCR AM 670). For the last decade, Spiegel has been a nationally syndicated talk show host on Sporting News Radio Network, hosting The Matt Spiegel Show. The show, a platform for his immense knowledge of sports history, as well as his uniquely entertaining perspective, was heard on more than 100 affiliates and on XM satellite radio.

For seven years before joining Sporting News Radio, Matt was a host, producer, and reporter for WSCR. While there, he had a chance to cover Mike Ditkas final days with the Bears, and the entire second three-peat for Michael Jordans great Chicago Bulls teams.

Matts first job in sports media was as an intern for Major League Baseball Productions, where he worked on This Week in Baseball for Mel Allens final 2 years with the show. Matt fetched Mel coffee and lunch every Thursday for 2 summers. While matriculating at Emerson College in Boston, Matt won several sportscasting awards, and went to Fenway 30 times a season.

Through the years, Matt has interviewed the biggest names in the business, including Joe Torre, Manny Ramirez, David Stern, Charles Barkley, Bob Costas, Wayne Gretzky, and countless more. NFL stars and coaches Matt has interviewed live include Joe Montana, Deion Sanders, Mike Ditka, Marshall Faulk, Warren Sapp, Andy Reid, Donovan McNabb, Jeff Fisher, Michael Irvin, Emmit Smith, Dick Vermeil, Eric Dickerson, Warren Moon, and Tony Dungy.

Matt was the founding producer of Sound Opinions, the worlds only Rock and Roll talk show, hosted by Jim DeRogatis of the Sun Times and Greg Kot of the Tribune. He produced their 2 years of television on WTTW-11 as well. Matt also was a DJ at WXRT-FM.

Matt is the founder and lead singer of Tributosaurus, one of Chicagos hottest musical acts, becoming a different band every month at Martyrs on the north side since 2002. His singing talents have been heard on numerous commercial jingles through the years, including Feldco, several car dealerships & casinos.

1) CSNChicago.com: Matt, since you came back to Chicago to team with Danny Mac on The Score, the two of you have an interesting chemistry that is definitely paying off for both the station and your listeners. The two of you also have no problem ripping into each other if one thinks the other is absolutely out of their mind. Some entertaining stuff for sure. Why do you think the McNeilSpiegel combo works so well and are there ever times off the air that your on-air disagreements continue?
Spiegel: Our disagreements, and agreements, do indeed continue off the air, but so does our ability to laugh at ourselves and each other. We're really good about just tossing something aside and moving on...though also never afraid to talk about things later if we need to. I'm a very lucky man...I think I got Dan McNeil as a radio partner at exactly the right time, for both of us. He chose me, in part I think, because he knows he needs to be challenged, to be poked at. I love to poke the bear, because it's real, and because he invariably rises to the challenge of having to defend a viewpoint, or admit something about himself. Mac is real...that's him you hear. This is me, too...one of our main mantras is "be who you are." People are going to dislike you for something all the time anyway...it might as well be for what you actually think. It's cleaner that way.

I had told Mac before we started that I was going to come on strong as hell. I'd never been a sidekick, and didn't want to be Ed McMahon anyway. Fortunately, that's not what he wanted. By the way, I got some amazing advice from my old friend Buzz Kilman, which I won't share with you...it's for 2nd chair radio guys only...we have secret meetings.

One of the reasons our show works so well is that we balance each others interests. He's Big Chief MacHawk after all, and I love hoops and the Bulls. He's a football man to the core, and to me, Baseball Is Life. He loves his Stones and ACDC (which I dig too), but he has not flinched (much) when we fire bands at him like Wilco, Spoon, The Secret Machines, Replacements, Phish, Yo La Tengo, Dawes, and others. Here's the big key: we both love learning things. We like asking for answers, then chasing them down. That means we can talk about anything.

I love our give and take, and he makes me better at radio, every day. For instance, he loves to work without a net, just letting it fly without much structure sometimes. That used to make me crazy (WHAT ARE WE DOING NEXT!), but I'm getting a lot more comfortable, knowing that eventually over 4 hours, we're gonna get everywhere. I admire his calm within chaos.

2) CSNChicago.com: With a new Bears season is upon us and even with a surprising 2-0 start, a good majority of fans and critics are still pretty much unsure of exactly what kind of team theyll wind up like this season. In your opinion, name three key elements to this season that need to occur in order for the Bears to make the playoffs.

Spiegel:

1) Cutler must keep the picks at around 15, total. I thought he was about 90 brilliant in Week 1, and a lot further along in the offense than I'd expected. Then, Week 2 makes you think he might actually be finally maturing right before our eyes. There will be interceptions simply as a result of what Mike Martz does, but Jay can not compound it with careless throws. If he mixes in some efficiency with the expected explosiveness, watch out.

2) Health and productivity down the middle of the D. Tommie Harris has to be active and smart every week, Urlacher's presence is obviously enormous, and somebody needs to step up at safety. I'm more scared about safety than I am any position on the field, including tackle. Urlacher, by the way, has circled back around to being underrated now...he's a beast.

3) Far and away the biggest key is that Mike Tice and Martz must figure out some way to keep the QB upright. If you can't block teams straight up, then chip block. I loved the quick hitting pass plays they ran against Dallas when the rush got out of control. Make the defense pay for blitzing...that's always been the Martz way.

3) CSNChicago.com: Was there a specific moment in your life that triggered your interest in getting into the radio biz and, a follow-up questionwho do you consider to be The Scores most underrated on-air superstar?

Spiegel: Ah, the specific moment. Yes, yes there was. Growing up in central New Jersey, I used to listen to WABC 710 AM out of New York sometimes, and at night, they had a great sports talk show hosted by Art Rust, Jr. It was free form, caller-driven sports talk, way before WFAN and The Score. By the way, I was always excited to hear his great NFL guest on Monday nights, the knowledgeable Hub Arkush.

So one night I called in, towards the end of the 1984 baseball season. Everyone was talking up Willie Hernandez, the Tigers closer, as an MVP candidate, and I made a case for one of my favorite players, the Red Sox' Dwight Evans. Dewey after all had a .295 average, higher than anybody in the league with as many as his 32 home runs. Afterwards, the next caller said "that was a nice kid." Thus began a life of wanting people to say, publicly, "that was a nice kid." A window perhaps to my wiring, as a performer. On a related psychological note, I was the youngest of 5, craving attention at the dinner table.

Most underrated on air talent, eh? Hmmmm. Well, if I can't say me (punch me, please), then a few other people come to mind. What Hanley does in the morning is kind of remarkable, in a similar role to me. Laurence Holmes can do absolutely anything on the station, and excels at all of it. My guy Barry Rozner was a revelation to me doing Hit and Run...deep knowledge, a properly fun disposition, and he's good talking other sports too. I'll end up on Jason Goff though, with his fearlessness and edge. When we do 4 hours together, it feels like it lasts 10 minutes. Partnered correctly, he'll be great at this.

4) CSNChicago.com: On to musicyour standout tribute band, Tributosaurus, has been entertaining audiences for quite a while now. Who would you say is your favorite band that you and your bandmates transformed into so far?and what band in your repertoire are you currently practicing that you hope to share with your fans in the near future?

Spiegel: We've become more than 80 bands since August of 2002...kind of staggering, even to us. Steely Dan was the first incredibly difficulty one we attempted, and it was gratifying to do it well. Michael Jackson utilized 30 musicians, with the flat out best singers in town. The soul ones, like Stevie Wonder, James Brown, or Otis Redding, always feel like a memorable party. I loved when we became The Band...some of my personal favorite music.

The one dominating our consciousness these days is The Beatles, which we finally started tackling last December. We started with their first singles, and we're going to perform every song they ever recorded, chronologically. Every 6 months we move forward from where we left off, so this December we get to do Help! and Rubber Soul. That was the elephant in the musical room, and I like how we're dealing with it.

5) CSNChicago.com: Name the five most embarrassing songs on your iPod that you hate to admit that you absolutely love. Its OKwe promise we wont tell anyone.

Spiegel: See here's the thing. I have a very particular, strong, annoying sense of what is good music, and what is not. If it's good, it's good. Other people's opinions will not derail me. So, I won't think the following songs are "embarrassing," per se, but maybe you will. You're so judgmental.

Hall & Oates, She's Gone
George Michael, Freedom 90
Madonna, Express Yourself
America, Ventura Highway
Tears For Fears, Head Over Heels

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything you would like to promote Matt? Tell us, we want to hear about it

Spiegel: Barry Rozner and I come back for two more Hit and Run shows, wrapping up the baseball season on the next two Sunday mornings from 9 to noon on The Score. We will rage against the dying of the light that is the baseball season, with football stepping to the forefront too quickly for my taste.

Also, this just became official: Tributosaurus is going to become The Rolling Stones on New Years Eve (and December 30th) at Martyrs on Lincoln Avenue! Can't wait...we'll be joined by Bobby Keyes, the Stones' saxophone player for years and years. Bobby once told me a story about him, Keith Richards, Greg Gumbel, and former Bear Keith Van Horne riding around Lower Wacker Drive in someone's RV late at night. There were more details, but I'm not telling.

Spiegel LINKS:

670 The ScoreThe Danny Mac Show home page

Tributosaurus official website

Matt Spiegel on Facebook

Matt Spiegel on Twitter

Willson Contreras showing why he belongs as big part of Cubs' plans

Willson Contreras showing why he belongs as big part of Cubs' plans

NEW YORK — Jeurys Familia schooled Willson Contreras, the New York Mets closer blowing the Cubs rookie away in the ninth inning on Thursday night at Citi Field with five pitches clocked between 96 and 98 mph.

Contreras fouled off one pitch in the middle of that at-bat but whiffed three times, striking out swinging with the bases loaded after Familia intentionally walked Anthony Rizzo, trying to protect a one-run lead.

“He learned a lesson,” manager Joe Maddon said of Contreras, replaying the end of that 4-3 loss against a closer who’s 27-for-27 in save chances this season. “Familia didn’t even throw one strike, I don’t think, among all those hitters, but his stuff moves that harshly. It’s really that good. I would like to believe the next time they see him, they might have a different approach.”

[MORE CUBS TALK: Cubs aren’t sweating loss to Mets or NLCS flashbacks]

That’s yet another reason why the Cubs don’t plan to send Contreras back to Triple-A Iowa, understanding how valuable he could become in October and beyond.

“He’s shown that he belongs here,” Maddon said. “He’s definitely shown that he can do this. (He’s saying): ‘I’m staying here. I’m not going anywhere.’”

There are looming roster decisions, with Adam Warren scheduled to make a spot start against the Cincinnati Reds next week at Wrigley Field after getting stretched out at Triple-A Iowa. Tommy La Stella (hamstring) could be activated from the disabled list as soon as this weekend. Dexter Fowler (hamstring) might not return to the lineup until after the All-Star break. The Cubs haven’t really given a timeline on Jorge Soler (hamstring).

But Contreras has already proven his versatility, moving to left field and first base while living up to his catcher-of-the-future label and hitting .325 (13-for-40) with three homers and 10 RBIs through his first 13 games in The Show.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

As long as Contreras continues to absorb the team’s game-planning system — and learn all the different personalities on this pitching staff — his rocket arm might also help the Cubs control the running game better than they did during last year’s National League Championship Series loss to the Mets.

“That was like the floor — to bring him up as a third catcher and get his feet wet, see how it goes,” president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said, “knowing that we could easily send him back down. But we always were transparent about leaving open the possibility that he might take off and hit the ground running. And he certainly has.

“No pun intended, he’s willed himself into this position. No decrees about this formally, but he’s obviously played himself into a position to take on real responsibility and help the team win. He’s earned his spot on the team.”

Blackhawks agree to terms with Spencer Abbott on one-year deal

Blackhawks agree to terms with Spencer Abbott on one-year deal

The Blackhawks have agreed to terms with forward Spencer Abbott on a one-year deal, the team announced Friday.

The 28-year-old winger scored 14 goals and 21 assists in 42 games last season with the Frolunda Indians of the Swedish Hockey League. He also tallied one assist in nine postseason games.

Abbott is familiar with the Blackhawks organization, spending some time during the 2014-15 season with the Rockford IceHogs, where he appeared in 19 games and registered 12 goals and nine assists. He also recorded three goals and three assists in eight playoff games.

Abbott will likely begin the season in Rockford, but gives the Blackhawks some depth up front at a low cost.

Injury Report: Dexter Fowler close to return; Sox lose another while making debut

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Injury Report: Dexter Fowler close to return; Sox lose another while making debut

Each week, CSNChicago.com takes a look at the injury report from both the Cubs and White Sox, presented by Service King.

CUBS

Dexter Fowler (hamstring) is due to come off the disabled list early next week and the Cubs initially believed he may not even need a rehab stint, so he could make his return atop the Cubs lineup on the upcoming homestand. That is, however, if he's OK after getting drilled by a slugging toddler.

Jorge Soler (hamstring) traveled with the Cubs to New York and there is still no timetable for his return or when he would head out on a rehab assignment. He is participating in batting practice and has been seen taking some grounders in the field.

Tommy La Stella (hamstring) and Clayton Richard (finger) are both currently on rehab assignments with Triple-A Iowa and both guys could be back with the big-league club soon. However, the Cubs may leave Richard in the minors for a little while to figure out his struggles (7.30 in 22 games with Chicago).

WHITE SOX

The White Sox are having terrible luck with players making their debut this season.

Matt Davidson’s first game with the White Sox on Thursday started off great, recording an RBI-single in his second plate appearance. But it didn’t end well. Davidson suffered a broken right foot while rounding the bases trying to advance on a J.B. Shuck double. The White Sox recalled Carlos Sanchez on Friday to replace Davidson.

Melky Cabrera has missed a few games and will miss few more with a right wrist sprain. Cabrera left Saturday’s game after rolling his wrist diving for a fly ball, but X-rays came up negative.

Justin Morneau continues to progress from his elbow surgery he had back in December. If things go as planned, he could begin a rehab assignment next week. The White Sox veteran is traveling with the team this weekend to Houston and will re-evaluate at the end of the series.

Zach Putnam was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 21 with ulnar neuritis in his right elbow. Putnam has a pair of options: surgery (two types) or rehab. The White Sox reliever is hoping to avoid any sort of surgery, which would effectively end his season. For now, Putnam will continue to rest his arm and let the inflammation decrease. He will travel with the team to Houston and could attempt to play catch soon.