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.
Find him on Twitter
Keep getting asked why it's such a big deal that the Patriots deflated footballs.
The questions I'm hearing:
-Why does it matter?
-Is it really an advantage?
-Isn't it just because the Patriots win, and nobody likes Belichick?
These questions are irrelevant.
If you cork your bat and strike out, you still corked your bat. If you take steroids and fail to perform, you still took steroids.
And there is a benefit to deflating footballs. It makes them easier to throw and catch. And if the Patriots knew they were going to play with deflated footballs, I'm sure they practiced with them all week.
The Patriots would have beaten the Colts with any form of ball in play. That doesn't mean they didn't cheat, or shouldn't be punished for cheating.
Ricky Rubio is belatedly becoming in danger of being not only a draft bust, but a contract mistake.
He's been out for months with a sprained ankle. He does not appear close to returning. It's time for the young man to act like he cares about playing basketball.
The best thing that could happen to the Wolves at this point would be further tests on his ankle that reveal something more serious is wrong. Otherwise, this is the worst sprained ankle in sports history - or Rubio isn't particularly interested in playing basketball and fulfilling his contract.
After their comebacks fell short against Ohio State and Iowa, Gophers players were crushed. They had played brilliantly late in the game to force dramatic endings.
Today, if they're still talking about being one shot away from a victory, they should be ignored.
They were within a shot of Nebraska last night because Nebraska played horribly all night. The Gophers lost because they played even worse. That wasn't a dramatic loss - it was a horrific loss. Neither team deserved to win.
That might have been the most important game of the season. Had the Gophers won, they would havre moved to 2-5. They would have had a two-game winning streak, with an easy upcoming schedule. They could have made a strong move toward .500.
Now they're just a lousy team in a mediocre league.
Tonight at 5 p.m. at Kieran's Irish Pub, great local rocker G.B. Leighton will be my guest for my podcast at SouhanUnfiltered.com.
Thursday at 3 p.m., Strib hockey writer Michael Russo will be my guest. Friday at 5 p.m. at O'Gara's, USA Today football writer Tom Pelissero will be my guest. Monday at 5 p.m. at The Local, Twins president Dave St. Peter will be my guest.
Thanks in advance to all of these people who have been so generous with their time. You can listen to the podcasts live, or anytime later, at the website.
And thanks for listening.
On Tuesday night, the Gophers fell behind by 17 points before rallying...and losing.
The Wild continued to embarrass itself and its entire effort-based sport with another pathetic performance.
Our bright spot came from the NBA. Actually, from two unanticipated sources in the NBA.
And Kevin Love.
Mo, as you know, scored 52 points to break the Wolves' losing streak. Just as impressive, he scored 52 points without frequenting the paint. He scored 52 points with a 7-3 assist-to-turnover ratio. He was both prolific and efficient, and it's nice to see a Wolves point guard invested in avoiding losing. (You can come back any month now, Ricky.)
While Mo was doing strange things, Kevin Love kept proving he is who we thought he was. In a loss at Phoenix, Cavs coach David Blatt benched Love for the fourth quarter, saying he liked the way his on-court lineup matchup up with Phoenix defensively.
In other words, Love remains a terrible defensive player.
Love finished with nine points and nine rebounds. He was 3-for-11 from the field. He was a team-worst minus-20.
Blatt made headlines the other day by saying Love isn't a maximum-contract player. He tried to spin that after guaging the public reaction, but I believe he was offering an honest assessment of a limited player.
Love is great at putting up big numbers. He's not so great at playing winning basketball.
I'll admit I've been conflicted on Love (great band name) for years. I've praised his productivity. I thought Wolves fans blamed him too much for the struggles of what has been a terrible basketball organization. But I also questioned his effort, defense and attitude at times.
Now he's playing with the best player in the world, on a team that should be near the top of the East, and the Cavs are 19-20, and Love is partly to blame.
I'll give Flip Saunders credit for getting Andrew Wiggins for Love, and I'll also credit the Golden State Warriors for being smart enough to keep Klay Thompson. It's not surprising that the team that decided against trading for Love is playing so well.
Tonight's podcast: 5 p.m. at The Local (the great Irish bar on Nicollet), former Viking and current North High AD Leo Lewis will be my guest. Friday at 5 p.m. at O'Gara's, my guest will be Strib hockey writer Michael Russo. You can listen live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com. Thanks.
I'll admit it: Even I, a lifelong newspaper person, sometimes blow off the morning paper.
I figure I"ll catch up on my phone or laptop later, and I usually do, scanning the major headlines and checking Twitter for updates.
Here's why that's stupid, for me and for you:
When I (or you) read the actual newspaper, I find things I would never seek out or notice online.
This morning, the front page of the Star Tribune featured a piece by veteran reporter Randy Furst on a Brooklyn Park man being accused of trying to overthrow the Gambian government.
It's a fascinating read, and not just because the code name he gave one of his cohorts was - I'm not making this up - ``Dave.''
The United States government is prosecuting a Gambian man who tried to overthrow what he believes to be a corrupt and sinister government in is home country. It's a movie plot spelled out on the front page of your local paper, with great details provided by Furst.
Also on our front page: Oil dipping below $50 a barrel, which could mean - get this - American families could have $115 billion more to spend this year in disposable income.
Also on the front page: Science proves that cold weather does indeed increase the strength of cold viruses.
In sports, on a slow news day, we have a perspective piece by David La Vaque on the dearth of female high school hockey coaches in girls hockey, and Phil Miller's interview with the always-entertaining Eddie Guardado on his inclusion on the Hall of Fame ballot.
On Page 2, we have a Nuggets nugget from Michael Rand on one of my favorite topics: Modern coaches' efforts to re-think traditional approaches. NBA and NHL teams hold shoot/skate-arounds the mornings of games in part to keep their players from staying out all night. Now the Nuggets are finding that their players are staying out anyway, and considering scrapping the morning shootaround so their players have time to sleep.
Here's my grander point:
None of those are stories I would have sought out online, and they may be my favorite stories of the day.
Somewhere along the line, newspapers became uncool. So my suggestion to modern readers is to look at the newspaper not as a newspaper, but as an amazingly cheap service: A printout of online stories you might love, and might have otherwise missed.
I've read a lot of studies that make the case that people are far better informed when they read the newspaper than when they rely on other outlets for information. It's easy to see why.
-On a completely different note, I found the words ``panic button'' in at least two stories this morning.
People: There is no such thing. I've never seen one. Asking an athlete or coach if it's time to push ``the panic button'' is inane and pointless. What is the best possible answer you will get to that question? Stop it. Thank you.
-Interesting week. I'll be at the Gophers-Ohio State game tonight and at Wild-Blackhawks on Thursday. It's rare to have two important games in hockey or basketball in early January, but these qualify.
-Wednesday night, Twins general manager Terry Ryan will be my guest at Kieran's Irish Pub, across from Target Center, at 5 p.m. for my podcast. You can listen live or anytime to that and my other podcasts at SouhanUnfiltered.com. Thank you.
The easy statistic to cite in regards to Andre Hollins' slump is that he has scored fewer than 10 points in four straight games.
That doesn't really, matter, though.
What matters is that in the two games that have mattered most to the Gophers basketball game so far - the two road games to start Big Ten play - Hollins has made only three of his 19 shots.
In the previous two games, the Gophers beat cupcake teams while Hollins played limited minutes, and his scoring wasn't required.
At Purdue and at Maryland, Hollins' leadership and scoring were necessary, and absent.
In two Big Ten games, he is 1-for-9 from three-point range. Perhaps even more revealing, a senior guard known for his ability to get to the basket has attempted only two free throws.
Hollins has been passive and inaccurate, leaving the Gophers at 0-2 heading into Tuesday's game at The Barn against Ohio State.
Tubby Smith was known for slumping seniors, the prevailing theory being that players tired of his coaching style.
Now for the second straight season under Richard Pitino, a senior named Hollins is slumping offensively.
Latest podcasts at SouhanUnfiltered.com are with Strib hockey writer Michael Russo, Wolves' VP Jeff Munneke and Strib NFL writer Mark Craig.
Munneke, one of the nicest people in local sports, told great insider stories about people like J.R. Rider, Christian Laettner, Bill Blair and Sam Cassell.
Ok, let's call this more of an infant working theory than any kind of proclamation.
Our local teams are not exactly pinning championship banners on top of championship banners, but this year of seemingly perpetual losing feels different. Doesn't it?
There is no David Kahn, hopelessly overmatched and somehow oddly entertaining.
There is no Tim Brewster talking about hot chili or scoring last.
For a bunch of struggling teams, suddenly our towns have a lot of leaders you can believe in.
The Vikings are 4-5. But...
Mike Zimmer has already made players like Anthony Barr, Everson Griffen and Sharrif Floyd better. Harrison Smith is playing better than he was a year ago. Xavier Rhodes has improved. Josh Robinson ,when healthy, has been better.
Norv Turner is missing the two most important pieces of his offense, Adrian Peterson and Kyle Rudolph (who I thought would be the biggest beneficiary of Turner's arrival), yet has squeked out four victories while breaking in a rookie quarterback behind a surprisingly horrid offensive line.
If you can set aside his personal views, you'd have to admit that Mike Priefer is very good at his job. (Although Chris Kluwe is better than Jeff Locke. No contest.)
Rick Spielman has made a dozen shrewd moves the last couple of years, including trading Percy Harvin at the right time for the right value, and, along with Zimmer, identifying Barr as a worthy use of the ninth pick in the draft.
The Wolves are 2-5. But...
I love the enthusiasm Flip Saunders has brought to the job, and the way he has used his young players.
I picked this team to win 25 games this year. Maybe they're better than that. What really matters is that Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Anthony Bennett develop into quality NBA players. LaVine has acquitted himself far better in Ricky Rubio's absence than I would have expected, and Saunders seems to have a good working relationship with Rubio. This is a team worth watchng, if only because Wiggins is going to make more and more astounding moves as the season wears on.
The Wild is 7-7. But...
I don't fault Mike Yeo or Chuck Fletcher. I like this roster. Maybe they overestimated Thomas Vanek, but if Zach Parise had stayed healthy, Vanek's struggles might not have been as costly.
When Parise was healthy, I thought this team was continuing the play like it did down the stretch and in the playoffs last season.
The Twins are...never mind.
It's been four terrible years, and I know people are tired of my saying that Terry Ryan is one of the best GMs in the business, but that's what I believe. I also will continue to say that if Byron Buxton, MIguel Sano and Alex Meyer can stay healthy and get to the big leagues, they'll lead a resurgence that will have the Twins contending in short order.
I loved the hiring of Paul Molitor, the smartest player I ever covered. So far, I like the staff - Tom Brunansky did good work last year, Gene Glynn has always been one of my favorites, and Rudy Hernandez, born in Venezuela, could provide an important language link to Sano and other young players from Latin America.
I'd love to see Eddie Guardado hired as the bullpen coach.
The Gopher football team lost to Illinois, and Richard Pitino didn't make it to the NCAA tourney his first season, but...
Both were well down the original list of candidates. The Gophers chose wisely/lucked out with both. Kill has put the football team in position to play big games in November two years in a row. Pitino has brought energy and an entertaining style to the Gopher hoops program.
I don't know how successful any of the current cadre of coaches and managers is going to be. But there is a wealth of intelligence and expertise around town these days. That's a start.
I'll be doing my first podcast for @aliveandsocial network today at 3:30 from O'Gara's in St. Paul. Molitor will be my first guest, and I"ll also speak with local author Ross Bernstein about the ways we researched stories about Randy Moss in the past. We have different stories to tell than ESPN.
Planning on doing the second podcast at The Devil's Advocate on Friday night at 7. May even break out the guitars after that one.
You can follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
|Professional baseball (163)||Vikings (258)|
|Gopher coaches (54)||Gopher quarterbacks (14)|
|Gopher recruiting (3)||Gopher road games (4)|
|Gophers disciplinary action (3)||Gophers injuries (1)|
|Gophers recruiting (3)||Gophers spring football (4)|
|TCF Bank Stadium (24)||The Big 10 (26)|
|NCAA: football (17)||Gophers coaches (65)|
|Gophers players (45)||Tubby Smith (39)|
|Williams Arena (17)||Gophers post season (8)|
|Gophers roster moves (5)||Golf (38)|
|Soccer (4)||Twins news (39)|
|WNBA (8)||Wild news (59)|
|AFC (14)||Bears (35)|
|Ex-Vikings (29)||Football on TV (118)|
|Lions (31)||NFC (96)|
|NFL draft (47)||NFL post-season (54)|
|Packers (65)||Super Bowl (67)|
|Vikings coaches (137)||Vikings defense (68)|
|Vikings fans (49)||Vikings injury report (19)|
|Vikings management (91)||Vikings off the field (36)|
|Vikings offense (77)||Vikings quarterbacks (46)|
|Vikings road games (16)||Vikings rookies (4)|
|Vikings roster moves (3)||Vikings special teams (2)|
|Vikings training camp (6)||Off the field (6)|
|On the road (26)||Quarterbacks (44)|
|Rookies (7)||Roster moves (1)|
|Vikings draft (42)||Ron Gardenhire (122)|
|Target Field (160)||Twins fans (168)|
|Twins management (219)||Twins offense (118)|
|Twins transactions (98)||NBA playoffs (42)|
|Wolves coaches (77)||Wolves draft news (34)|
|Wolves guards (42)||Wolves injury report (10)|
|Wolves management (84)||Wolves players (65)|
|Wolves trade talk (16)||Wolves training camp (13)|
|All-Stars and honors (95)||Fighting (2)|
|Wild coaching (48)||Wild management (60)|
|Wild off-season news (12)||Wild player moves (9)|
|Adrian Peterson (84)||Anthony Herrera (2)|
|Antoine Winfield (16)||Ben Leber (1)|
|Bernard Berrian (7)||Brad Childress (30)|
|Brett Favre (58)||Brian Robison (3)|
|Bryant McKinnie (3)||Cedric Griffin (5)|
|Chad Greenway (18)||Chester Taylor (5)|
|Chris Kluwe (3)||Darrell Bevell (8)|
|E.J. Henderson (4)||Jared Allen (29)|
|John Sullivan (6)||Kevin Williams (6)|
|Leslie Frazier (55)||Madieu Williams (2)|
|Pat Williams (3)||Percy Harvin (29)|
|Phil Loadholt (3)||Ray Edwards (1)|
|Ryan Longwell (9)||Sage Rosenfels (1)|
|Sidney Rice (10)||Steve Hutchinson (7)|
|Tarvaris Jackson (12)||Tyrell Johnson (2)|
|Visanthe Shiancoe (5)||Brad Childress (30)|
|Darrell Bevell (8)||Leslie Frazier (55)|
|NHL news (11)||2010 Winter Games (13)|
|Olympic curling (1)||Olympic hockey (8)|
|Olympic skiing (5)||Olympic speedskating (1)|
|Olympic village (11)|