Souhan: Kelly speaks the truth in the booth; Beasley? Not so sure

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 11, 2011 - 6:06 AM

We applaud the work of the former Twins manager as an analyst but shrug at the missteps of other sports figures.

Tom Kelly

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Sprinkling the infield as Michael Cuddyer applies SPF 3,000 in Phoenix:

• Tom Kelly's stint as Bert Blyleven's fill-in on FSN Twins broadcasts has proved that fearlessness and knowledge are the two prerequisites for outstanding broadcasting analysis, not voice modulation and obsequiousness.

Sunday, Kelly noted that the White Sox middle infielders never moved on a bunt, that Chicago center fielder Alex Rios cost his team a run by throwing to the wrong base, and that Twins starter Anthony Swarzak was losing his effectiveness and needed to throw a breaking pitch away from Carlos Quentin to get out of the sixth inning. He provided a baseball education rather than cheerleading.

It's well-known that most local broadcast announcers are encouraged by their bosses to be cheerleaders for the team they cover. I know many feel they'll lose their jobs if they fail to spew enough optimism, even when optimism is unjustified or even mindless.

But broadcasters who fail to speak the truth or enlighten their audience lose credibility, damaging the broadcasts and their own careers, and their bosses should have the guts to allow them to speak their minds.

• Now Michael Beasley has done it. When he was arrested at 3 a.m. on June 26 with 16 grams of marijuana under the front seat of the car in which he was speeding, Beasley violated not only the letter but the spirit of rules governing NBA players.

Everyone knows they're never allowed to get caught with less than 30 grams.

I can't get worked up over an NBA player getting caught with pot. If the league got rid of every player who smoked pot, David Stern could be a player-commissioner.

Here's the serious aspect of the story, and it, as is so often the case, concerns the savvy of Wolves boss David Kahn.

Kahn said publicly last fall that Beasley promised he had stopped smoking marijuana. Kahn said he believed Beasley.

Beasley is a talented player. But if Kahn operates with this level of naiveté, what hope do the Wolves have?

Yahoo! Sports basketball writer Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Kahn is considering shifting lame-duck coach Kurt Rambis to the front office. Maybe Kahn can make Rambis Beasley's driver.

• The Rochester Red Wings' no-hitter Wednesday might have been one of the most unlikely in baseball history.

Jeff Manship has a career big-league ERA of 5.63, and hasn't been able to help the Twins' struggling bullpen this season. Jim Hoey has a career big-league ERA of 8.01. Jake Stevens quit baseball in 2007 and skipped the 2008 season. And Kyle Waldrop has an ERA of 4.86 this season.

Wednesday, the four combined on a no-hitter, even though Manship and Stevens weren't even on the Red Wings' active roster as of Wednesday morning.

This spring, I made the short drive from Fort Myers, Fla., to Cape Coral High School to write about Stevens. A third-round pick by the Braves in 2003, he became frustrated with his slow progress through the minors and quit in 2007. The Twins signed him as a minor league free agent this winter, and he has climbed from Double-A New Britain to Rochester, where he has a 2.91 ERA. As the Twins search for lefthanded relief help, Stevens could even find himself in a big-league pennant race this summer.

• Kevin Slowey wants out of the Twins' organization. The Twins desperately need relief help. This should be the easiest decision in franchise history (other than calling up Trevor Plouffe soon to play first base and outfield): The Twins need to trade Slowey for a big-league reliever.

• Derek Jeter hitting a home run at Yankee Stadium to reach 3,000 hits was stunning, but the most fitting 3,000th hit in history, for my money, occurred when Paul Molitor slashed a ball to right-center and slid face-first into third with a triple.

Jeter played against type, pulling a home run. Molitor provided a reminder of why he is a Hall of Famer and how he reached 3,000 hits, by slashing a pitch to the opposite field and hustling for an extra base.

• In summation, Minnesota's baseball fans owe Cuddyer a thank-you note. Cuddyer, the classiest athlete I've ever met, has led the Twins back from the brink of irrelevance; has made the last 73 games of the season worth watching.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2:40 p.m. on 1500ESPN. His Twitter name is Souhanstrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

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