Catching up after taking a break. I'm on my way to Vancouver, and will post updates and observations here. You can follow me on Twitter at souhanstrib.
-Reason No. 20,291 I don't bet on sports: Who could have predicted that the key moments in the Super Bowl would be Pierre Garcon dropping a third-down pass in the second quarter, an onside kick to start the second half, or a former Big Ten cornerback (Tracy Porter, from Indiana of all places) picking off Peyton Manning and returning it for a touchdown.
Everybody in my business spends a lot of time researching and making predictions. If sports were predictable, though, we wouldn't care so much about them.
The Vikings' blowout over Dallas? A surprise, even if, like me, you thought the Vikings would win.
The way in which the Vikings lost to the Saints, playing superbly for much of the game but fumbling six times and throwing two interceptions? Utterly unpredictable, unless you believe the Vikings are cursed, in which case you may continue to wallow in self-pity. Just don't expect me to join you.
The Saints beating the Colts after failing on a fourth-and-goal from the one, getting lucky on an onside kickoff and beating Manning with a key interception? I didn't see it coming. If you did, congratulations.
This postseason demonstrated why the NFL is the No. 1 sport in America. It's such a spectacle. I've never been more impressed by a game atmosphere than I was in the Superdome for the NFC championship game. And the ratings were immense throughout the playoffs, even when so-called lesser markets were involved. New Orleans, Indianapolis and Minneapolis aren't exactly New York and LA, yet the ratings were huge.
The plays, the momentum swings, the coaching decisions, the personalities are so dramatic, and let's be honest, the specter of violence and injury makes the action that much more compelling. You wouldn't watch an action movie in which nobody got hurt.
-My prediction: Brett Favre returns. Eventually.
Last summer, all of the variables entering into his decision were negative. He didn't know how he'd adapt to a new set of teammates. He couldn't be sure he still had ``it.'' He was required to undergo surgery, and he hates surgery.
This summer, all of the variables will be positive. Once his ankle heals, and his ankle will heal, he'll be healthy. His teammates love him and will begin texting him soon to beg him to return. He and Darrell Bevell worked extremely well together. Despite the ``schism'' and ``spat'' talk, he gets along fine with head coach Brad Childress. He is coming off one of the best seasons of his career. And please don't assume he doesn't need or crave the money. He will never again have the chance to earn $12 million for six months of work. The team he plays for could give him a chance to end his career with a Super Bowl appearance or victory.
I don't think there's any doubt he'll come back. Eventually.
-I'm starting to revisit my thoughts about the Wolves eventually trading Al Jefferson. I thought it might be a necessity. Now I think they should trade him only if they get back excellent value in return.
Here's why: The Wolves have spent the last five years desperately seeking NBA-quality players. To trade their best player just to clear a spot for another good player would not represent progress. I'd rather see Kevin Love and Al Jefferson continuing to play together, continuing to learn how to play together, than see the Wolves trade Jefferson to bring in an average wing or center.
We've seen all kinds of different combinations of players win big. We've seen three-guard sets and point forwards and hybrid guards. I'd rather see the Wolves try to make this work than trade Jefferson just to trade him.
-I don't know if I've been as impressed by a Twins winter since the Twins brought in Chili Davis and Jack Morris. They didn't just add good players who should fit well; they did so without compromising their future, trading away valuable assets (since I consider the Gomez-for-Hardy deal to be the best move of the winter), or committing money that will hur them in the future.
Fans always want the Twins to spend big right now, but they will always operate under some sort of payroll limit, and landing good players on one-year deals is still the smartest way for them to operate. I'd love to see them sign an everyday third baseman, but leaving that position in flux does give them the opportunity to see a player - Harris, Tolbert, Casilla, Hughes, Punto or Valencia - surprise them. And the Twins always have at least one pleasant surprise. (My pick this year is Casilla. There's too much talent there for him to continue to flounder, and he'd be the perfect No. 9 hitter for a manager who still wants to play small-ball on occasion.)
-I may write about this more later, but I think the idea of being offended by a female athlete's bikini photos is ridiculous. so Lindsey Vonn posed for some provocative shots.
Female athletes wear provocative clothing when they compete, if you want to look at them that way. Would you let your daughter leave the house wearing one of those figure skating costumes? Or a skin-tight ski suit? Or a body-hugging speedskating outfit?
I'll say the same thing to the women's groups decrying Vonn's photos as I would say to the mouth-breathers who spell out their sophomoric pantings in the comment section of stories referring to Vonn's photos: Grow up, and get a life. The human instinct to be attracted to and by well-toned muscles isn't exactly what's wrong with the world.
-I land in Vancouver tonight and will start writing for the paper in Friday's editions.
This week, I"ll continue to appear at my usual radio times - at 6:40 a.m. on KSTP-AM with Reusse and Co. Next week, we'll move that time back.