Results tagged ‘ Five minutes with ’

Vine Line Exclusive: Held Hostage (a preview)

Editor’s Note:
Our usual format for Five Minutes with….is a little different for our first installment of 2009. Instead of spending five minutes with us, new Cubs second baseman Aaron Miles spent nearly two hours with us. He shared his harrowing tale of a life-changing night during spring training 2000, when he was held hostage in a Florida motel room with a 9mm pointed at his head. The following is an abbreviated version from an upcoming Vine Line Exclusive story

Vine Line
: So what exactly happened? 

Aaron Miles: I had gone out to dinner with my uncle who was visiting. I said I was tired

pphtooshoot3.jpgand was going to bed. There was a bar in the motel where you could go sing karaoke, so he said he’d go in there….I was lying in my bed reading when two guys with ski masks and guns walked into my room. I had left the door a little open and it was one of those open motels (second floor). I figured my roommate was out, so I left the door slightly ajar…

VL: Can you remember what was going through your mind at that time?

AM: My heart was beating out of my chest. They made me lie face first on the bed while they started taking my wallet and some clothes. All I kept thinking was “just take what you want and go.” At first I thought it was a joke, when they first came in….


VL: So when the police finally arrived, what happened?

AM: Well, one guy who was sort of the leader, jumped off the second floor, onto the parking lot and ran off just as the cops were coming. The guy who was behind me put the gun to my head and pulled me back into the room. All the while this was going on, my roommate and other teammates like Morgan Ensberg and Keith Ginter were hogtied in the room next door. But they had broken their ties and called 911. But before that, they called my room. When one of the robbers answered the phone one of my teammates asked: “Is this Miles?” The robber said I was in the bathroom. At that point they knew I was in trouble and they called 911. Problem was, it took a while for the call to go through. At the motel, so many guys were using the phones–remember in ’99 there were no cell phones yet–so all the lines were blocked.


VL: At this point, what is taking over? Instinct or fear?

AM: The cops were outside the door and the guy keeps telling me to open the curtains and look out the window. I could feel the barrel of the gun on the back of my head….I just felt something welling up inside me. I didn’t want to go out this way. I wanted to have some say, some control over the outcome of this situation. So I felt him momentarily move the gun to the right side of my head. That’s when I turned and quickly grabbed the barrel of the gun.

We must’ve wrestled for about 20 seconds. My right hand was holding the gun and his left hand was punching my mouth. I bit his arm twice. Then he bit me on the back. At one point I just sort of did a reverse squat thrust and we both went flying back against a wall. I think we both were surprised and we were kind of frozen, neither one of us wanting to give up. That’s when I started yelling to the cops at the top of my lungs….”Get in here!!!”


VL: The cops shot the robber while you both were still holding the gun?

AM: Yup. They got him six times, three in the right shoulder, twice in the upper chest and once in the mouth. Point blank. They told him to drop the gun so many times. But he just would not let go of the gun. And since I was sort of off to his left with the gun farthest away from me, his right side was exposed….I am convinced they did the right thing….The guy didn’t die. He was in critical condition for a while and eventually went back to jail.

VL: How did this experience change you?

AM: It made me understand that while baseball is important to me, the most important thing to me is family and things really are not life and death out on the field. I’ve said since then the 0-for-4s aren’t as bad and the 4-for-4s are that much sweeter….But it also was empowering in a way because I was able to stand up for myself and get out of that situation. I had a say in how that situation ended up. And I think I’m stronger for it.

–Mike Huang

Check out a future issue of Vine Line to read more about Aaron Miles’ experience. To subscribe, go to,


Chicago Blues: Five minutes with … Buddy Guy

Sept. 4, 2008

It might have been fitting that Chicago blues legend Buddy Guy would be singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the 7th inning stretch at last night’s game versus Houston. Indeed, languishing through their first four-game losing streak of the year, it was a night for one of Buddy’s biggest songs….

You damn right I got the blues, from my head down to my shoes.

I can’t win, ’cause I don’t have a thing to lose.

I took solace in my impending Vine Line interview with one of the pillars of the music industry. I’ve been a fan of the blues for almost 20 years, tiptoeing my way into the genre ever since a high school history teacher introduced me to a Muddy Waters cassette (does that make me sound incredibly old?). I was entranced by Waters’ song, “Mannish Boy” that was featured in the film “Risky Business.” Ever since then, I’ve been hooked.

Buddy blog photo.JPGBuddy had gone to the bald look a couple years back, dropping his trademark Jehri curls, overalls and work boots. It worked for him–but he was 72, of course. Perhaps it was about time.

But there was nothing 72 about the way he spoke and his wit. During his television interview with Len and Bob, he said, “I still sleep with a guitar. It’s the best; it won’t say nothin’ to you until you touch it!”

Buddy went over to the Lowery organ and greeted Gary Pressy with a big hello. The two musicians talked shop for a while then Buddy warmed up with a soft melodic version–in B flat–of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”

His live rendition was in key as well, with an entire stadium of Chicagoans singing along with him. He said later in the interview: “we just played a venue in England last month that fit 100,000 people. But I’ve also played in places with a capacity of 38-40 people. I like those because that means I packed the house!”

He stressed entertainers can’t make everyone happy every night, but if you make someone happy with your performance, it’s worth it. I was hoping the players on the field felt the same way–you won’t win every game, that’s just a given. Doesn’t mean you have to accept losing, but among 162 games, it will happen eventually.

Unfortunately, it looked like we weren’t going to win this game, with Houston up 3-0 on the verge of a sweep. The Brewers lost, too, so I was not that worried with the team still five games up. But ironically, it was the blues singer who lifted our spirits tonight.

–Mike Huang

(“Five Minutes with…Buddy Guy” will be featured in the October issue of Vine Line.)

Five minutes with … Daryle Ward

Ward_Daryle4.jpgChicago enjoyed beautiful weather the last few weeks. Even though fall weather brings exciting baseball, we are still hanging on to the final days of the warm season. I asked Daryle Ward to reflect on the highlights of summer as we approach Labor Day weekend.

— Jennifer Dedes Nowak

Vine Line-Online: What’s best on the grill? 

DW: I like barbecued chicken or steak. They are about equal to me.

VL: You’re chasing after the ice cream man? What do you order when you catch up?

DW: It’s been so long since I’ve done that. I like the sundae cone, the Drumstick.

VL: You’re at the beach. What are you doing?

DW: Probably throwing around a football. I don’t play football that much, but at the beach, it’s fun. Once in a while I’ll play volleyball.

VL: What’s the perfect temperature to play baseball in?

DW: 79 degrees. Warm, but just not too hot where it feels like you might pass out.

VL: You’re parched on a scorching summer day. What is the most refreshing beverage?

DW: Definitely an ice-cold glass of lemonade.

VL: Describe your ideal off day.

DW: I love to go to Dave & Buster’s. I can eat, play video games all day and have a cocktail if I want. I try to win a lot of tickets so I can get a prize. I play a lot of skee ball.

Jennifer interviews Cubs players and coaches for “The Buzz” in each edition of Vine Line.

Five minutes with … Jeff Samardzija

The first week of the Olympic Games has proven more than exciting to watch–especially since the Cubs had an off day on Monday and rain out on Tuesday. So there was little else on TV for Cubs fans to watch. From the breathtaking Opening Ceremonies to the Men’s 400m free relay, I’ve been transfixed. The thought of the games being held in Chicago in 2016 has me longing for a time machine that could take me there now!

samardzija.jpgBut back to (a welcome) reality, as the Cubs sit in first place and have a big double-header today. Though the team is focused on their games, will they be watching the Olympics in their down time? I asked natural-born athlete Jeff Samardzija what events he will try to catch and what other sports we can add to the list of his innate abilities.

VL: What Olympic events do you most look forward to watching?

Jeff Samardzija: I really watch Track and Field a lot, like the 100m and 200m. They’re exciting. Probably a more odd one…when Table Tennis is on I’ll watch that. And actually Badminton is not too bad either.

VL: Which event could you compete in best, aside from baseball?

JS: Actually, probably Table Tennis. My skills are pretty good out there at Table Tennis.

VL: You must have quick reflexes.

JS: There you go.

VL: What event would you be the worst at?

JS: Diving. I don’t think that I have a slender body to slide into the splash. And…I would probably just cannonball too.

VL: Do you think baseball should remain an Olympic sport?

JS: I would say so. I think if kayaking, or something like that, is an Olympic sport, then baseball should obviously be there too–since it is one of the biggest sports in the world. The only hard part is it runs along the same time as Major League Baseball and probably a lot of the other leagues, so it’s kind of tough.

VL: If Chicago is to become the host city for the 2016 Olympic Games, what event would you like to see at Wrigley Field?

JS: Probably Handball. I’ve never seen it before, but they could play it off the ivy walls. I’d come see it.

VL: Since you can’t travel to Beijing this year, what’s the best Chinese food substitute?

JS: General Tsao’s Chicken from Golden Dragon takeout back at school at Notre Dame, it’s AMAZING!

— Jen Dedes Nowak

Five minutes with Jeff Garlin

GARLIN J 071108 184.jpgOn July 11, comedian and actor Jeff Garlin visited the WGN-TV booth fresh off the heels of his new, critically acclaimed animated film, Wall-E, to lead a subdued Friday afternoon crowd in “Take Me Out To the Ball Game.” In his subsequent interview with broadcasters Len Kasper and Bob Brenly, Garlin boldly guaranteed a Cubs win that day, though the team was not winning at the time. Luckily for him, Aramis Ramirez came through with a walk-off home run that sent the Wrigley crowd into a frenzied celebration. Jeff also took the time to sit down with us to talk about his deep passion for the Cubs and how he keeps tabs on the team.

— Jennifer Dedes Nowak

Vine Line: What brings you to Chicago?
Jeff Garlin:
Two things bring me to Chicago. Obviously, to sing today which is always an honor, and my sister-in-law is getting married tomorrow to her Cub fan fiancée. They are lovely and wonderful.

VL: What’s your baseball background?
When I was growing up, I played baseball. I was a huge Cub fan. I lived in Morton Grove [Ill.]. I pretended to be Billy Williams when I was batting and Ron Santo and Bobby Tolan and also Willie Stargell and Joe Morgan because they had very distinct batting styles. I didn’t play Little League until I was older, but I played with my friends every day after school.

VL: What’s the scouting report on you?
Power-hitting first baseman with a high batting average but a weak arm. There you go.

VL: You have sung “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” a few times at Wrigley now. Is it something you get nervous about performing?
No, no at all, zero. I was looking at ESPN and the list of all the people that sang before, and I think I am the record holder for singing it the most times of any actor or performer. Ernie Banks has sung it every year, and I looked at the other categories, but in terms of the actor categories I believe this is No. 5 for me, and I would be No. 1. I’m going to brag about that for a long time.