Sending this post from the Winter Park press room after watching Brett Favre sidestep every question about the NFL's investigation into him:
-Does anyone else find it interesting that as the Twins have developed a more powerful and slow-footed offense, what may be the two best teams in the American League - the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays - have won with young, fast, athletic lineups?
The Twins were built that way in the early 2000s, but the current Twins rely on players who fit the old steroid-era formula of swinging for the fences when they're not taking pitches. The new Twins don't run well or play small-ball well, and now, with pitching dominating the game, small-ball is suddenly back in vogue.
One benefit to small-ball: It's less expensive. That could benefit the Twins as they try to revamp their roster to become more competitive in future postseasons. This October, they had only one regular (Denard Span) who had a chance to steal a base.
-I do believe that the Timberwolves are better, and more interesting. I'll be at their opener next Wednesday. What we won't know until we get into the season is whether they'll play defense every night. And as much as sports fans love to spout cliches about the NBA - all the games are decided in the last two minutes, nobody plays defense - you have to play good defense to contend (or dramatically improve) in that league.
Michael Beasley has a chance to score a lot this year. What will be more interesting is whether he's interested in stopping anybody.
-Now that there is a national debate about how the NFL can reduce violent hits, let me offer some simple suggestions:
1) Suspend players who lead with their helmet.
2) Suspend players who make contact with an opponent's helmet.
3) Test for HGH and do a better job of testing for steroids.
If these measures were ever adopted, you'd hear a lot of bleating from current and former players, and, unfortunately, a lot of those former players are in the broadcast media now and sometimes people actually take even the dumb ones seriously.
Here's the deal: If you reduce helmet-to-helmet hits, the game will still be violent and fast, and people will still show up/turn on to watch winning teams and great offensive players.
-So a hockey player gets suspended for jumping at a Wild fan? Don't these fans always say they want to feel like they're a part of the game? What better way than getting punched in the face? I think the dude should have to pay extra for that ticket.
-My early pick on Vikings-Packers: The Packers' injuries will keep them from exercising their home-field advantage. The Viking passing game starts to pick up, and the Vikes win, 23-20, and then Randy Moss moons everyone in Lambeau.
-Is it just me or are the Wild the least-interesting team in town? The Wolves are intriguing, and the Gopher hockey team is so lousy it's fascinating to watch, considering it should be an ongoing dynasty and not an also-ran in its own league.
Even when they play well, you don't get the sense that anything spectacular can happen with the quality of players on the current roster. Give me Gaborik and his moods and defensive lapses. At least he made you watch.
-Wrote about Favre's demeanor for the Thursday paper. I'll be in Green Bay this weekend with Team Strib, and I'll do Sunday Sports Talk on 1500espn from there. Possible guests include espn.com's Kevin Seifert and Milwaukee radio host Drew Olson, an old buddy of mine who covered Favre for years.
-My daily appearance on 1500espn is at 2:40ish with Pat Reusse and Joe Soucheray.