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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Posted by: Jim Souhan under All-Stars and honors, Professional baseball, Ron Gardenhire, Target Field, Twins fans, Twins management, Twins offense, Twins transactions, Gophers coaches, Gophers players, Wolves management, Wolves players, Gopher coaches, Gophers spring football, TCF Bank Stadium, The Big 10, NCAA: football Updated: April 21, 2011 - 12:28 PM

Received a number of interesting emails in the wake of our Joe Mauer package in today's paper. (Yes, we still print a newspaper.)

The most interesting came from a reader who noted that a position change wouldn't necessarily keep Mauer off the disabled list. After all, players at positions other than catcher get hurt, too.

While that's true, I'm basing my premise - that Mauer needs to shift positions to be an everyday offensive force - on years spent around Mauer, observing his routine and his habits. I see a guy who invests an incredible amount of time and thought in catching. I see a 6-5, 235-pound man with a long history of leg ailments. I also believe that modern athletes over-train.

While we all make fun of the odd pro athlete who proves to be an irresponsible slacker, most modern athletes are remarkably dedicated. They spent 12 months a year working on their bodies and their jobs. Mauer is such a modern athlete, and I think getting out of the crouch, and spending fewer hours every day, all year, would allow him to fulfill his offensive potential.

Here's a guy (to borrow a phrase from Frank Caliendo mimicking John Madden) who has won three batting titles and an MVP without even concentrating on his offensive capabilities. His current numbers are remindful of Rod Carew's, and I believe that relieved of the burden of catching, Mauer would become one of the greatest average/on-base-percentage hitters in baseball history, and he may even increase his power production.

What's fascinating about all of this is that noone knows. Not Mauer, not the Twins, not his teammates, not us. Noone can predict exactly how his body will react either to continued catching or a position change. But I'd rather see him change positions than continue to be worn down. And, of course, I get into all of this in today's column.

-Congratulations to Kevin Love on winning the NBA's Most Improved Player award.

He deserves it. What's strange about Love as a phenomenon is that I don't think I've ever encountered a player who is more celebrated nationally than locally. It usually works the other way around.

ESPN loves love. The Dan Patrick Show loves Love. And yet locally, he's more of an oddity than a celebrity.

This is, of course, another example of how far the Wolves have fallen in the public's eyes. If I had told you a few years ago that a white player would win the rebounding title and run off a remarkable string of double-doubles for the Wolves, you would have thought that the guy would be our No. 1 celebrity.

He isn't, and that's because nothing trumps winning in pro sports. I covered Kirby Puckett in his prime, Dave Winfield and Terry Steinbach near the ends of their careers, and Paul Molitor as he pursued 3,000 hits and a berth in the Hall of Fame, and those Twins teams didn't draw, because they didn't win.

Until Love becomes part of a winner, he will remain, locally, more a pleasant oddity than a star.

-Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn today at 2:40 p.m. Tom Pelissero and I will run Sunday Morning Sports Talk on the Target Field plaza at 10 a.m., right after the Gardenhire Show starts at 9:30 a.m. Feel free to visit, but the woman who pressed her chest against the window is not welcome back.

The elderly man who walked up to our poster and shook his cane at our faces, however, is welcome to come in the booth and join the show.

This weekend, I"m covering the Gopher spring football game, where I believe Gopher fans will induct him into the Hall of Fame, and covering the Twins on Sunday. I know, it's Easter, and my kids are mad at me for working, but it's the first-place Indians!

 

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