Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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What a week. I thought Minneapolis and Target Field put on a great show all week, from the Futures Game through Glen Perkins getting the save last night.
All week, Perkins talked about pinching himself, that he wasn't sure this could be real - a local boy pitching at an All-Star game in his home ballpark.
Here's the link to the column I did this spring on the turning point in Perkins' career:
Or, if you prefer text, here's the text:
FORT MYERS, FLA. – Glen Perkins is an All-Star closer who has spent his entire life in Minnesota. He is the rare Twins player who lives in state year-round, has become a centerpiece of the Twins’ marketing campaign and has vowed to play for them as long as they will have him.
It’s easy to forget that three years ago the Twins considered trading him, and only Perkins’ intervention led to what he calls “a great life.”
Perkins butted heads with his coaches at the University of Minnesota, then quarreled with his Twins bosses. He was on his way to becoming another first-round bust when, late in the spring of 2011, he walked up to Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson.
“I can remember it like it was yesterday,” Anderson said. “He came to me right here and said, ‘Can I talk to you? I was born and raised in Minnesota, I’ve spent my entire life in Minnesota, I want to be a Twin. I want to be a better teammate, I want to be a better pitcher, don’t give up on me.’
“There was some talk of making a trade, then all of a sudden he saw the light.”
Perkins remembers traveling from Fort Myers to Clearwater, Fla., with the Twins and not pitching.
“That’s the first time that had ever happened to me,’’ he said. “I was angry.”
He walked into manager Ron Gardenhire’s office and asked why he hadn’t been informed he had made the team.
“I told Gardy, ‘I want to play here, if you’ll have me,” Perkins said.
Gardenhire said he would call Perkins later in the day. Perkins figured that was a brushoff. He picked up his father-in-law and headed to Sanibel to fish.
“The phone rang before we got to the causeway,” Perkins said. “Gardy said, ‘Pack your bags, you’re going north with us.’ ”
Perkins had a similar experience with the Gophers. The Stillwater High School product made lousy grades during his first semester in college. The Gophers redshirted him, and he spent his second semester “figuring out how to be a college student.” One day, Gophers pitching coach Todd Oakes called him about a rumor that Perkins wanted to transfer.
Perkins said that if he was going to leave, he already would be gone.
“I think that was the moment for Todd where he said, ‘OK, he’s committed, he just needs to figure out how to do it.’ I never had any more trouble.”
Why so much conflict? “I guess it’s a character flaw of mine,” Perkins said.
Now he’s Mr. Minnesota, or at least hangs out with someone vying for that title.
Perkins and Joe Mauer played for the USA in the World Baseball Classic and for the American League in the All-Star Game last year. They could play in the next All-Star Game, at Target Field.
With Mauer having twin daughters and wintering in Minnesota instead of Fort Myers, the two were able to enjoy the Polar Vortex together. “We played hockey,” Perkins said. “Well, it was more like ice dancing. No sequins, though.”
They talked about their kids. They talked about their futures, with Perkins signed through 2016 and Mauer through 2018. They talked about how losing feels, and what winning at home would mean.
“We agreed that if we had crappy season after crappy season it would be worth it if just once we could win it all here,” Perkins said. “That’s the carrot dangling in front of us. The experience of winning a World Series in your hometown — what Kent Hrbek did — makes it all worth it.
“I want to be the closer of this team when we get to the playoffs. I got to see Joe Nathan do that a whole bunch.”
In the last few days, Perkins became the centerpiece for Twins television and radio commercials, and has dined with the Gophers baseball staff, with the team playing in Florida. One conversation changed him from an anti-authoritarian trade chip into a representative of all that is right in Minnesota sports.
“Either I hinted to them that I didn’t want to be here, or they got that impression,” Perkins said. “I think they appreciated what I had to say. For a guy to say, ‘This is where I still want to be,’ no matter how rough the going was, I think they respected that.”
Last night's home-run derby went on far too long, and yielded a final between Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier.
But last night's derby offered an easy-to-find clue about how to fix the event.
There were two outstanding moments last night: The ovation that greeted Justin Morneau, and the home run that almost left the ballpark.
Giancarlo Stanton hit a shot estimated at 510 feet that reached the last handful of rows in the third deck of leftfield. That's what people will remember, and therein lies the lesson:
The Derby shouldn't be about hitting the most home runs. It should be about hitting the longest home runs.
Want to fix the derby? Make it quicker. Give each player 20 swings, with the guy who hits one the longest winning the whole thing. Then every swing would count, and every swing would be taken with the intent of hitting the ball out of the ballpark.
Kent Hrbek said the All Star game gave him a chance to meet up with old teammates who came to town for the game. They ate at J.D. Hoyt's the other night. The guest list: Hrbek, Greg Gagne, Scott Erickson, Tim Laudner, Randy Bush, Scott Leius, Rick Aguilera and Roy Smith.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at 12:15 tomorrow.
In our Twins gamer today, players lobbied for general manager Terry Ryan to either stand pat or trade for help.
They're asking him not to trade off pieces.
This is why general managers should never listen to players.
The Twins aren't good enough to make the playoffs. Deep down, even the players know that. They're just mouthing words players are supposed to mouth this time of year.
Ryan made his bones as a general manager trading players he didn't need for prospects the franchise desperately needed. Any Twins player who has long-term plans with the franchise should want Ryan dealing at this time of the year.
He shouldn't trade just to trade, but if Kurt Suzuki, Josh Willingham, Jared Burton, Brian Duensing or Kevin Correia can bring value in a deal, then Ryan is obligated to do it.
Covering All-Star interviews and events today. Will be on 1500ESPN at 12:15 with Mackey and Judd, and on WFGO with Mike McFeely in Fargo at 3:30.
When I visited Jose Berrios at Class A Fort Myers a month ago, he said he had two goals: To pitch in the Futures Game, and get called up to Class AA New Britain.
Sunday, he started and pitched one inning for the World Team in the Futures Game, striking out one while retiring the side in order, and he was recently called up to New Britain.
So what's next? ``Hope I can get called up to the big leagues,'' he said.
Berrios was just one of a dozen power arms that impressed USA manager Tom Kelly.
``Oh, my, it was relentless,'' he said. ``That was very impressive. One great arm after another. I went out to the mound to make a change, and I'm standing there talking to the infielders, saying, `Fellas, I don't know how anybody gets any hits today.' ''
Twins prospect Kennys Vargas played the whole game at first base for the World Team, hitting a double and striking out twice in four at-bats. Top pitching prospect Alex Meyer pitched one inning for the US. He threw four pitches, all clocked at about 97 mph, yielding a line out, a line single, and a double play.
``I went to write on the lineup card, and turned around, and he was coming in,'' Kelly said.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at 12:15 every weekday with Mackey&Judd. Thanks to everyone who came by the booth today at FanFest.
If you haven't picked up a copy of our All Star special section in the Sunday paper, please do. A lot of talented people put in a lot of work to make it special, and Patrick Reusse's story on Willie Mays is a must-read.
The Twins reached the All-Star break at 44-50 after beating Colorado on Sunday.
Here's how that compares to their record at the three previous All-Star breaks:
Slightly better starting pitching, due mostly to Phil Hughes and Kyle Gibson, has made the Twins a little better this season despite vital injuries to key hitters, like Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham, and the failure of Aaron Hicks to become a useful big-league hitter.
But the Twins' chances to finish strong could be handicapped by the innings limit on AAA pitcher Alex Meyer, and the expectation that the Twins will trade away a few valuable players as the trade deadline approaches.
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