Souhan on Sports Logo

Blog

Souhan on Sports

Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene

Souhan: Two in a row of the right kind of Twins win

I'm often labeled a "baseball guy,'' because I wrote so affectionately about the game, but the truth is the game can turn me off when the local team isn't good.

So I haven't been much of a baseball guy this decade.

When the Twins fell back into their sloppy habits this weekend against Detroit, I feared this might be another summer when I lost interest in watching the team, live or on TV.

So the last two nights in Texas have provided a pleasant respite. Not because the Twins won. But because of how they won.

Phil Hughes and Ervin Santana pitched with great intelligence. Miguel Sano made spectacular plays in the field. The outfield defense remained spectacular. Sano and Kenny Vargas made the ineup look like something that isn't pieced together by Scotch tape. And Byron Buxton took his best at-bats since last September.

Buxton has drawn walks, seen pitches and driven the ball to the opposite field.

It's not that he should be an opposite-field hitter. It's that when a hitter loses all semblance of ability to make contact at the plate, hitting the ball the other way remphasizes the most important hitting fundamentals. If Buxton can take away the outside part of the plate and stop swinging at  pitches in the dirt, his bat speed and athletic ability will ensure that enough balls fly over the leftfield fence.

It's just two games, but these two games have brought the Twins back to .500 and demonstrated that they can play a satisfying brand of baseball. Small sample size? I'll take as many of these samples as I can get.

------------------

Next live shows for the MNSPN.com crew: 6 p.m. tonight at Hell's Kitchen with Michael Russo and 4:30 on Friday at Hell's Kitchen with Russo and VikingUpdate publisher Tim Yotter. Please stop by, or check out the podcasts at MNSPN.com.

Souhan: Five playoff games isn't good enough, no matter what Fletcher says

Chuck Fletcher held his season-ending press conference on Tuesday.

I wish he hadn't.

Instead of admitting that spending all of five games in the playoffs was a failure, Fletcher tried to put a positive spin on the season.

That's a mistake.

What's most interesting is trying to figure out why he's making this mistake.

Is he speaking directly to owner Craig Leipold and trying to bolster his job security?

Is he speaking to the players and thinking that positivity will help them win next year?

Or is he tacitly acknowledging that his roster is going to remain largely static and that he might as well try to put a happy face on his biggest problem?

I think it's some combination of the three, with the third factor being the most important.

I hate Fletcher's characterization. But I understand his problem.

With Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Devan Dubnyk and Mikko Koivu eating up payroll and a bunch of young players failing to elevate the team during the playoffs, I'm not sure what magic move would make this team better,.

I only know that five playoff games is not good enough, no matter what Fletcher says.

----------------------------

Our season-ending podcast with Michael Russo will be 6 p.m. Wednesday at Hell's Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis. Please stop by or find all of our podcasts at MNSPN.com https://mnspn.com/

We'll also run Sports From Hell on Friday at 4:45 at Hell's Kitchen with Michael and a guest to be named later.