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
Just walked the front nine at Augusta National during practice rounds in preparation for The Masters.
I'm always struck by how pristine this place is. It is startling even when you expect it. Practice rounds were cancelled on Monday after a severe thunderstorm. It's still overcast, but dry, today.
First thought during the practice rounds: ``Huh. Mike Weir actually won this tournament once.''
I've already picked out my favorite grouping for Thursday: Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy will tee off at 9:52 Central time. Spieth is one of the best players in the game. McIlroy could this year become the best player in the game, and if he wins this week, he will have three-quarters of the career slam at the age of 24. Reed thinks he's one of the best players in the game.
You know what? He might be right. He's won three times on tour since joining the tour in 2011. He beat a great field at the WGC-Cadillac Championship earlier this year. I like that he's brash enough to call himself a top-5 player. Confidence is a great tool in golf.
I'll be filing posts and columns and tweeting from The Masters all week for the Star Tribune and startribune.com.
The Wolves blew it with their handlnig of the Dante Cunningham stuation.
Cunningham is alleged to have committed one of the most heinous crimes in our society. Yet the Wolves rushed him to Orlando, played him extensively, and then coach Rick Adelman acted like it was no big deal.
It's a big deal. While the NBA collective bargaining agreement states that a player shouldn't be suspended until he is given due process in our legal system, that doesn't mean the Wolves had to rush him to Orlando or play him like nothing had happened. Domestic assault isn't just a serious charge; it is a disgusting charge.
If I were the Wolves, I'd rather bench or suspend Cunningham than play him. I'd rather fight a grievance than let one mediocre player taint my organization's image.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at 12:15 or so. I'll be calling in all week at the time, and will co-host Sunday Sports Talk from 10-noon on Sunday from Augusta.
Today's local power rankings look far different than my last attempt to rank local revenue-generating sports teams:
1. Minnesota Vikings
Great week for the local NFL franchise, and its legacy. Adrian Peterson wins the MVP Award, then admits he played at the end of the season despite a sports hernia.
When I was talking to him Saturday night, I asked when he'd work out again. He said ``In four weeks.'' When I asked whether that was doctor's orders, he said, ``You got that right.'' Of course, I thought we were talking about his knee. Wish I had asked whether it was his ``abdomen,'' as the Vikings listed the injury.
Cris Carter made the Hall. Matt Birk won a ring.
2. Gopher hockey
Fun team to watch. Why No. 2? Because the Gophers need to win the WCHA to fulfill their potential, and until they move into first in the conference, they don't move into first here.
3. The Wild
Disappointing start, but the team's at .500 while sorting out a lot of new combinations in a season without a true training camp.
4. MInnesota Twins
Fans are going to get sick of me saying `Wait until next year,'' but...wait until next year.
5. Gopher basketball
They're at .500 in the Big Ten, which would be fine for a team lacking such high expectations. But it's to the point now where this team isn't even fun to watch. They can't get a clean look in the half-court offense, and they refuse to run, so they're stuck with their lousy half-court offense.
Next time they play a quality opponent that slows down the pace, count how many baskets they score that aren't a result of a covered three-point shot or an offensive rebound. You won't need both hands.
It's sad, seeing what has become of such a promising roster. Wait til next year. Again.
7. Gopher football
I think the idea that the Gophers can't win because there isn't enough talent in the state is bogus. If the Gophers consistently landed a good percentage of the best players in Minnesota, the Dakotas and Western Wisconsin, and occasionally landed an out-of-area gem like Maroney, they'd have more than enough talent to compete.
-Sunday Sports Talk will run from 10 to 12:30 this week on 1500ESPN.
My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
For a variety of reasons - a slow summer, local teams stinking it up, my Olympic excursion - I took a break from the all-important Local Power Rankings. Now, with the NFL returning to action, they're back.
If only Ricky Rubio were healthy, this could team might be the fastest-rising team in the NBA. As it is, the offseason roster improvements, along with Rubio's expected return from knee surgery, will make this easily the best and most fun-to-watch team in town. It's not really close.
What will be most interesting, to me, is to see how Kevin Love, who performed so well at the Olympics, plays this season. He's been able to improve in some way every year of his pro career, and he had to pick up some nuances, or confidence, playing with the world's best.
2. Gopher hockey
This should be a powerhouse team, which means I"ll be fascinated to see how Don Lucia handles the pressure of coaching a team with high expectations.
3. Gopher basketball
Tubby Smith should have his best team. I'm praying that none of his best players get hurt, partly because I'd love to have a fun winter in the Barn watching a good team, and partly because I don't want Smith to be able to cite any easy excuses. Other than his players having to walk outside in the cold to go to practice.
They'll be much better, but how much better? I say they're a playoff team, but as my hockey-minded buddies point out, the LA Kings barely made the playoffs last year, and they won the whole thing. Are the Wild better today than the Kings were last spring?
Maybe I'm crazy, but I see some hope for this franchise. I like Diamond. I like Deduno. I'm tremendously impressed by Cole De Vries' ability to get people out with average-at-best stuff. I think the Twins will re-sign Scott Baker, and Kyle Gibson could give them 100 good innings next year. Liam Hendricks has been awful, but there has to be something there - you can't dominate in the minors as much as he has without being able to eventually function in the majors.
Yes, they lack an ace, but this team went to the ALCS with a rotation of Brad Radke, Eric Milton, Joe Mays and Rick Reed. They don't need Hall of Famers, they need functional big-league starters.
The Twins need to sign one innings-eater and hope Baker can become a staff leader.
A lot has to go right for the Twins to contend next year, but are they really that far away?
You can make the case that this is an improving team with a bright future. You can't make the case that this is a good team now.
7. Gopher football
UNLV stinks, and the Gophers almost found a way to lose to the Rebels. They are lucky to be playing New Hampshire this week.
It's raining in London. This is news only because of an amazing run of uncharacteristically spectacular weather.
Doesn't affect me. I just watched Brazil beat Australia, 75-71, and I'm waiting on US-France and, later, Russia-Great Britain. I'm here to watch three Wolves - Kevin Love, Alexey Schved and Andrei Kirilenko.
London is a great city, and one of my favorite aspects of this trip is the language. A few translations, with the British version first, followed by the American English translation:
1. Mind the gap/Watch your step
3. Spot of bother/annoyance
6. Black coffee/Espresso without milk or cream (Brewed coffee is not common here. The best coffee shops serve espresso drinks. A few have ``filtered coffee'' listed at the bottom of choices, as an afterthought)
11. Good bits/Most attractive portions of the opposite sex
12. Pint/Serving of beer or ale
In fact, I had porridge just before walking through the rain today, so I'm feeling very Bri'ish.
Also, the English love their adjectives. This is the home of the television series ``Absolutely Fabulous,'' after all.
You hear a lot of ``Brilliant,'' ``Fabulous'', ``Re-Markable,'' ``Absolutely.''
What's really cool is hearing a 3-year-old speaking like Sir John Gielgud. (Google him, youngsters.) This makes the tots sound very mature even when they're screaming for ice cream.
Love the White Sox's approach on Francisco Liriano: Beat him up, reduce his trade value, scare off other suitors, then trade for him at a reduced price. Brilliant!
Hearing that the Wolves were the only team willing to give Brandon Roy two years of guaranteed money. I love the addition of Roy to a team desperate for a quality shooting guard, but that's scary, that no other NBA team would give him a second year. Wolves fans have to hope this wasn't another example of David Kahn overreacting to the chance to be associated with a big NBA name.
I'll be calling in to 1500espn this morning between basketball games, probably at 11:35 or so. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Who would have imagined a few months ago that our most prominent winter sports teams would add Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko?
The Wild, one of the most boring teams in the NHL the past two seasons, should now be entertaining, and should make the playoffs.
The Wolves now feature a starting lineup that, when the knees of Roy and Ricky Rubio are willing, will look something like this: Rubio, Roy, Kirilenko, Love, Pekovic. With a bench of Budinger, Ridnour, Barea, Stiemsma and Derrick Williams.
In short, the Wolves have added depth and talent without sacrificing Williams or trading away first-round draft picks. Kirilenko will add length to the Wolves' defense, and can score and get to the line without hogging the ball. He should mesh well in Adelman's offense.
The Wolves could have made a bigger splash, by trading for Pau Gasol or Nic Batum. But they would have had to sacrifice valuable assets to get those players. They may be better off, long-term, by adding Kirilenko as a free-agent and helping Williams develop into either a starter or a more valuable trade chip.
The Wolves will also be improved because they won't be relying on Wes Johnson, Mike Beasley, Anthony Randolph and Darko to play important minutes. This is the definition of addition by subtraction.
Could we see the Wolves and the Wild in the playoffs? I think so. Especially if Rubio recovers well and Roy can play valuable minutes.
I hope to watch the Russian team with Kirilenko and Alexey Schved on Sunday, and get Kirilenko's thoughts on playing for the Wolves.
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