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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Sprinkling the infield and correcting frequent misperceptions...
1. This is the best Wild team in franchise history. Better goaltending, a defensive system that leads to offensive chances, most depth at forward ever, and excellent leadership. The team that went to the conference finals was an average team that played admirably when it mattered most. The Gaborik-Rolston Wild didn't have thsi depth or goaltending. This team has a chance to become the second conference finalist in franchise history.
2. That Reds manager Bryan Price should think that it's the media's job to support the team isn't surprising. I run into that from team employees, players and fans all the time. What's really shocking to me is that Price was stupid enough to embarrass himself on tape with an unprofessional outburst. He's the face of his franchise. He wanted that job. He made himself and his organization look ridiculous.
I'm also frequently shocked by how little teams and media directors do to inform their employees how this is supposed to work. I've had to explain the real dynamic to many athletes and coaches, and here's the deal: We work for our organizations, not the teams we cover. It's not our job to help the team win, or to make the team comfortable. It's that simple.
But I understand the confusion. The lines have been blurred by fan blogs, team web sites, sycophantic team partners and mainstream journalism shills. There are people in my business who should be professional, if not completely objective, and who act like fans. So while I blame Price for his unprofessionalism, I'm not shocked that either his organization or some of the people who cover the team gave him the impression that reporters should be there to help him.
3. Wrote about Steve Ott's buffoonery today. The Stanley Cup playoffs are phenomenal, but the way the game is officiated and overseen is often a joke. If a player is on the ice late in the game solely for the purpose of starting trouble, he should be suspended for the following game, minimum, and his coach should be suspended as well, and the general manager should face a six-figure fine. That's all it would take to stop this nonsense.
4. Will talk about Ott, the Wild, Minnesota sports and general and the Minnesota United FC in particular with United defender Brian Kallman tonight at 5 p.m. at Kieran's Irish Pub, across from Target Center. Can listen in person, live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com. First 50 to show up and get a free pint of Guinness, plus a couple of other gifts. Follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib for updates.
Thanks for reading and listening.
Last Monday, the Twins played horribly in their home opener to drop to 1-6. They had lost Ervin Santana to a suspension and Ricky Nolasco to an injury. They were playing poorly in the field.
Then they won four of five to win two series on the homestand.
What changed? Often, fortunes change in baseball for no reason other than randomness or pitching matchups. A couple of players told me last night, though, that this change of direction may have been aided by manager Paul Molitor’s talk with the team after the home-opening loss.
According to the players, Molitor spoke of the inevitable ``storms’’ every team will have to weather, and that how a team handles such storms will determine its fate. He was calm, the players said, at a time when the team was frazzled.
That talk may have led to a winning homestand. Remember, the 2006 Twins turned their season around after Ron Gardenhire pulled Justin Morneau into his office for a meeting in Seattle. Morneau had been partying with his Vancouver buddies. Gardenhire merely asked him if he was dedicated to becoming a great player. Morneau went on to win the MVP award and the Twins were the best team in baseball for four months after that.
The right words at the right time can mean a lot in a clubhouse.
Two slumping Twins were rested on Sunday – shortstop Danny Santana and centerfielder Jordan Schafer. These are two very different cases.
The organization remains high on Santana and doesn’t want to move him from shortstop or keep him out of the lineup. Schafer, though, has compounded his erratic play with an erratic approach. Shane Robinson has impressed the Twins with his gamesmanship and has a chance to at least temporarily win the job.
I rarely write about home team advantages, because usually it’s a trite subject. I wrote about the Wild’s home-ice advantage today for two reasons: 1) It made a big difference in the playoffs last year and 2) the Wild was a lousy home team for most of this season.
The Wild regular-season crowd can be quiet and critical when the team isn’t playing well. I think the reason for the Wild’s poor home record this season is that the team has struggled on the power play, and when the power play doesn’t click immediately at the Xcel Energy Center, the crowd can become restless, even yelling ``Shoot the puck!’’ when doing so might not be the best idea.
That will probably change tonight. Sheer crowd noise made a difference during home games last year and should make a difference again this playoff season.
I picked the Wild to win in seven games. But given the Blues’ recent struggles in the playoffs on the road, and the Wild’s strong play the last three months, I wouldn’t be shocked if it were five or six.
Tuesday at 5 at Kieran’s Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis, across from Target Center, I’ll have Minnesota United FC defender Brian Kallman on SouhanUnfiltered.com. Unlike some previous podcasts, we’ll have the show broadcasting live for those in attendance, will be giving away prizes and will take live questions. Show up, listen live or listen later at SouhanUnfiltered.com
I don't often envy athletes. Those who are great successes lead great lives, but most wind up frustrated, broke and without a real career at the age of 35.
Here's a guy I envy: Kurt Rambis.
Rambis will be paid $4 million to not work for David Kahn and Glen Taylor.
Yes, I'm jealous.
-Now that the Rambis fiasco is over, where will Kahn turn for his next coach?
Strib Wolves beat wrtier Jerry Zgoda listed some potential candidates. Rick Adelman would be a grand slam, a fine coach who deals well with players, emphasizes ball movement and can play fast enough to satisfy Kahn.
Don Nelson would be a an act of desperation, another example of Kahn reaching for a proven name, even though the proven name was kicked out of his last two jobs and is 71.
Sam Mitchell still interests me, but I keep hearing that he has no shot at this job.
Know what name I like on Zgoda's list? Dave Joerger. I like coaches who commit to being a head coach early in their career, rather than riding coattails like Rambis did with Phil Jackson. I like guys who learn how to win at lower levels before they climb to the big time. And I like guys, like Joerger and Dwane Casey and Tom Thibodeau, who are given responsibility for an NBA team's defense and succeed.
Joerger helped the Grizzlies make the playoffs and beat the Spurs. He'd be hungry and driven. I don't know if he'd be the right guy, but he has the right kind of resume for my tastes.
-It's amazing. Every scout and baseball person and even baseball writer I speak with tells me they expect the Twins to win the AL Central. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised by that, but I fear fans are assuming it's going to be easy, and the Twins will still have to play at a remarkable pace to make it to 85 victories, which is probably the fewest number of victories that would win the division. (That's just my guess.)
The Twins are 41-48. Can they really go 44-29 with this bullpen?
I believe they'll have to find at least one more arm to go with Matt Capps, Joe Nathan and Glen Perkins. Maybe that's Chuck James. Maybe that's Carlos Gutierrez. More likely, the Twins will have to overpay to land a reliever on the trade market.
The Twins are obligated to go for it, given the continuing sellouts in Target Field. But I'm not sure their farm system can take many more hits.
Remember, one of the reasons the Twins were able to surge back into relevance in the early 2000s was because of the trades made by Terry Ryan. He got Johan Santana for nothing; Nathan, Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser for a catcher who was about to be replaced by Joe Mauer (A.J. Pierzynski), and made minor deals for Jason Bartlett, Lew Ford, Alexi Casilla and others who offered value.
Those deals are hard to make. So while the Twins may find it necessary to trade for another reliever, they can't afford to give up any more top prospects.
-Upcoming: I"ll be on 1500espn at 2:40 today, then filling in for Joe Anderson tonight from 6-8. My guests will include Dave St. Peter, San Jose columnist Tim Kawakami (on the NBA, Don Nelson, Moneyball and the Giants), my personal soccer guru Dana Wessel and Lynx star Maya Moore.
So Ricky Rubio is coming to town. I’ll have more on this in the Friday paper. Here’s my capsule view:
I don’t think he’ll be great. Even if he’s just pretty good and can run an offense and a fast break, he could upgrade the Wolves’ weakest position and make his teammates better.
But I don’t want to see Kurt Rambis coaching this kid. I want to see a coach who handles young players well and is not married to the Triangle Offense. Which means just about anybody other than Rambis.
-I think Kevin McHale has a chance to be a good NBA coach. He has the charisma and knowledge to do the job.
But he faces obstacles and challenges. Does he really want to work this hard? Good coaches are grinders who study the game. Is that really Kevin at this point in his life?
And can he really coach better than Rick Adelman, one of the best coaches in the league?
I don’t doubt McHale’s ability to coach well. I doubt his ability to coach well for any length of time.
-If hockey players are so tough, why do they react like such whiners when they get hit, and why does Alex Burrows think he can get away with biting an opponent’s finger?
There are things I like about hockey, but when you see the overreaction to legal hits and moments like Burrow’s Overbite, hockey loses credibility.
-The Twins are pathetic. I've watched a lot of bad Twins teams, but I've never seen a team this inept.
Nice effort, Delmon.
-Kevin Love’s Twitter response to the Rubio signing was classic: ``I’ll believe it when I see it.’’ Think he’s been worn down by The Wolves Way?
-I’m probably like a lot of Americans. I don’t need another sport to watch. I’m not particularly interested in soccer. But the ManU-Barca final the other day intrigued me, and I watched, and I enjoyed it, and now Fox is saying that the game drew 4.2 million viewers in the U.S.
For me, soccer is like hockey: I need to see stars and scoring opportunities and a game with something on the line to watch. This game qualified.
-Poor Christian Ponder. Doesn’t he know that the Vikings don’t know what to do with a quarterback who shows up earlier than he has to?
-Upcoming: I’ll be on 1500espn at 2:40 today, and Tom Pelissero and I will run Sunday Morning Sports Talk from the studio at 1500espn. The Gardy Show starts at 9:30 followed by our show from 10-noon.
You can bash David Kahn for any number of reasons, but bashing him for trying to joke about the draft lottery being fixed is to take yourselves - and his comments - way too seriously.
We tend to overanalyze everything in sports, but we shouldn't parse every public comment made by every public figure. We need to allow these people to make an attempt at humor - successfully or not - and extemporaneous speech. The alternative is living in the worst that is fast-approaching - a world of canned, processed quotes issued in press releases.
Get off Kahn's back.
Unless you want to pick on him for the way he does his job. Then, fire away.
-If the NBA draft lottery were fixed, the Cleveland Cavaliers would not have gotten the first and fourth picks in this draft. If the NBA draft lotterhy were fixed, the Los Angeles Clippers would be a marquee team. If the NBA draft lottery were fixed, Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard wouldn't have wound up in Orlando, and David Robinson and Tim Duncan wouldn't have wound up in San Antonio and the Knicks wouldn't have been so bad for so long.
-What's scary about Kahn landing the No. 2 draft, is it creates an opportunity for him to get creative. If he would have landed the first pick, he might have been obligated to take Kyrie Irving. If he had landed the third pick, he might have been obligated to take the best big man available, or trade the pick.
At No. 2, he should take Derrick Williams, adhering to the philosophy that a team this bad should always take the best availabel player. At No. 2, with Williams playing the same position as Kevin Love and Michael Beasley, Kahn could try to swing some 16-team trade that lands him Ralph Sampson, Hosea Crittenden, 12 second-round draft picks and lots of ``cap space'' he can use to not sign star free agents.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
-I was so happy to see that Sandy Stephens will be inducted into the college football hall of fame. This is a well-deserved honor.
-After watching the Twins this season, I will no longer be able to make fun of soccer for its lack of scoring and long periods of uninteresting play. In fact, now that I'm conditioned to watching the Twins, I'm not sure my heart would be able to bear the excitement of watching soccer.
-Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 on Thursday and Friday. Sunday morning, Tom Pelissero and I will return to the studio at 9:30 for the Ron Gardenhire Show (we'll take more calls this week; please ask a short question and withhold your stories) followed by Sunday Morning Sports Talk. We hope to have a former Twin and an NBA analyst on.
-Belated congratulations to St. Thomas basketball coach Steve Fritz, who is retiring from the sideline to concentrate on his duties as athletic director.
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