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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If the United States does indeed open the gateway to Cuba, the sports world could change dramatically and for the better.
Cuba produces tremendous baseball players, and would become a new, open, hotbed for talent.
Cuba possesses more than 11 million people, almost all of them baseball fans. If baseball can expand to Canada, surely it can expand to Cuba ,which would probably offer more support to a big-league baseball team than Miami does.
The NFL is eyeing London as a franchise destination, hoping to carve a niche in a market dominated by soccer and even cricket. Cuba offers 11 million people who don't have a lot of other entertainment options.
Cuba could work for basketball. Hockey wouldn't seem to be a likely export, but if you can put a team in South Florida, you might be silly enough to put one in Latin America.
I've traveled extensively in Latin America and the Caribbean. I've always been told that if Cuba were open and economically vibrant noone would ever bother going to Hawaii. Cuba is supposed to be that beautiful.
I hope that in my lifetime, we see American professional sports, even if only baseball, taking residence in Cuba.
Today I asked Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater what quarterback he wanted to emulate when he was young. ``Brett Favre,'' he said.
He loved Favre's toughness and production.
Now we just need to get Bridgewater to give Favrian press conferences.
I'll be at The Local in Minneapolis tonight at 5 for a podcast with Twins great Roy Smalley, who is a great storyteller. Come by, or listen live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com.
DETROIT -- Every losing sports team claims some sort of progress. Sometimes, it's a marketing ruse. Sometimes, it's self-preservation. Sometimes, it's even true.
It seems to be true for the 2014 Vikings. They aren't good. They haven't beaten a good team yet. But they have become more competitive in their division as the season has progressed, even as their roster has been shredded by injuries.
Here are the scores of their games, all losses, in the division:
They were outclassed at Green Bay when Christian Ponder was forced to start. They were manhandled in their first game against Detroit. They played their worst game of the season in the 21-13 loss at Chicago.
Since then, they matched up well with the Packers at TCF Bank Stadium, and came close to beating the division-leading Lions on Sunday.
In the last game of the regular season, a Vikings team that has played hard and improved will face a Bears team that has embarrassed itself in many ways this season. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Vikings win that game going away.
My podcasts can be found at SouhanUnfiltered.com. Last one was with Jarius Wright on growing up in Arkansas and life in the NFL. Tonight you can listen live at the site, or anytime later, as I speak with old friend Tom Linnemann, the most interesting man in the world, at 6:15.
I've been rather bullish on the Vikings, considering they're 6-7 and out of the playoff race. Or maybe because they're 6-7 despite all that has befallen them as a franchise in the last few months.
That doesn't mean I think they'll win on Sunday at Detroit. Quite the contrary. I think this is the worst possible matchup for this team.
The Vikings' flimsy offensive line? Up against the Lions' fearsome front, playing at home, with crowd noise. Advantage: Lions.
The Vikings' rookie quarterback? See above.
The Vikings' running game? Using its third and fourth and fifth options of the season against the best run-stopping unit in the NFL, by far.
The Vikings' rush defense? It's been less than stellar lately, and now has to face a surging Joique Bell and a finally-healthy Reggie Bush.
The Vikings' secondary? Xavier Rhodes has been exceptional of late, but he'll either have to cover Calvin Johnson on every down (unlikely) or he'll be leaving Josh Robinson to cover Johnson. Robinson has gotten torched by bigger receivers (the Bears') and by those with excellent body control and ball awareness (Percy Harvin.) Johnson is a combination of both.
The Vikings' special teams? This might be an area of strength for Minnesota. You've got to like Blair Walsh kicking in a Dome.
Coaching? The Vikings have usually had the advantage in this category throughout the history of this rivalry. And they may this year. I'd take Mike Zimmer over Jim Caldwell as a strategist. But Caldwell has done what a Lions head coach needs to do - provide solid leadership to a remarkably talented squad. Caldwell not being one of his predecessors is good enough to get the Lions into the playoffs.
I like a lot of what's happening at Winter Park these days. I think Zimmer is positioning this team to succeed in the future.
The Lions, though, may provide a reminder of just how far the Vikings still have to travel to be a playoff team.
My don't-bet-on-it-even-with-your-brother's-money pick: Lions 31, Vikings 17.
New podcasts up at SouhanUnfiltered.com: Jarius Wright on his childhood, his biggest play and vomiting; Jayhawks frontman and great all-around artist Gary Louris on music, sports and life on the road; Strib hockey writer Michael Russo; Chad Greenway; Glen Perkins; Craig Leipold; Strib football writer Mark Craig; ESPN.com writer Kevin Seifert; Mike Grant; Paul Molitor; Ross Bernstein.
I'm in Detroit this weekend to write Vikings-Lions.
Thanks for reading.
By Jim Souhan
In sports, you always have to grade on a curve.
An NFL team improving to 6-7 with a victory at home over a two-win team? Not impressive.
An NFL team without its star running back, playing a rookie quarterback, with its most talented defensive rookie out winning at a juncture of the season when some losing teams lose interest? Not bad.
When you factor in that two recent and talented first-round draft picks – left tackle Matt Kalil and receiver Cordarrelle Patterson – have become, respectively, abominable and invisible, what rookie head coach Mike Zimmer is doing is fairly impressive.
I picked the Vikings to go 8-8 when I expected Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph and Patterson to have big years. Without much production from those three, the Vikings are one game below .500.
They beat the Jets, in overtime, on Sunday, without much of a running game, with the offensive line looking leaky, and without a lot of high-end talent available.
Bridgewater made winning plays, and that’s the best thing that can happen to this franchsie – the quarterback inspiring belief.
If you’re willing to grade on a curve, that’s pretty good.
Latest podcast at SouhanUnfiltered.com is up, featuring Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway on his career goals, and his new thoughts on Mike Zimmer.
In suspending Adrian Peterson without pay for the rest of the season, Roger Goodell made the right decision, and probably for the wrong reasons.
When the photographs of the damage Peterson did to his four-year-old son were made public, with the caveat that the wounds had begun healing before the photos were taken, it was clear that Peterson had behaved inhumanly, using his incredible physical power to damage someone innocent and defenseless.
The courts in Texas, where child brutality is often mistaken for strong parenting, barely blinked before cutting Peterson a favorable plea deal. Vikings’ management tried to reinstate him after one missed game, with general manager Rick Spielman saying `` We believe this is a case of a parent disciplining his child.’’
The only person with the power and willingness to discipline Peterson would be Goodell, the NFL commissioner. And he did.
To think he punished Peterson severely strictly because Goodell was concerned with the child’s safety would be naïve. Goodell punished Peterson severely to offer a warning to other wayward players, to challenge the players’ union, and to reestablish himself as an authoritative figure months after he was made to look either foolish or corrupt with his handling of Ray Rice’s act of domestic violence.
Goodell is severely punishing Peterson because he so lightly punished Rice, initially handing Rice a two-game suspension even while knowing that Rice knocked out his then-fiancee in an elevator.
There will be howls of protest from Vikings fans, and fantasy football owners, but Goodell got this right. He had two choices moving forward: To remove himself as acting judge and jury of player misconduct cases, or to make an example of a star athlete who harmed a child.
Peterson earned this level of punishment. Whether Goodell has the right to impose it is a matter for the courts, and Goodell probably won’t mind watching Peterson’s legal team fighting him in the courts, where Goodell for once will get to wear a white hat.
There are new podcasts up at Souhanunfiltered.com, and this afternoon I'll be at Devil's Advocate bar in downtown Minneapolis with Star Tribune hockey writer Michael Russo, from 4-5 p.m. Jeff Dubay will host his podcast right after us.
Michael has covered the NFL before, so we'll talk about Peterson a bit before getting into how Michael went from a guy hanging around the offices at the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel to becoming one of the best hockey writers and reporters in North America. You can listen live at Souhanunfiltered.com - or listen anytime. That's the cool thing about podcasts.
My full column on Peterson, with different thoughts on his predicament, will be up tonight on startribune.com and in tomorrow's paper. Thanks.
I'll also be live at Shamrock's in St. Paul on Wednesday at 8, talking about the NFL and other topics. That will preceed a music showcase for the @Aliveandsocial network, as local acts Nathan Anderson and The Last Ride will take the stage. They are remarkably talented and I'd love to see our towns support them and other rising talents.
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