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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Posts about Bryant McKinnie

Two stuck-in-the-middle teams

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: August 1, 2011 - 12:08 PM

The Twins didn't trade away players at the deadline because they think they can still win the division. They didn't trade for players because they don't want to pay the high prices required for them to acquire a bullpen arm when they're in the fourth place in the division on Aug. 1.

They're stuck in the middle. I've heard outrage from both sides, that the Twins should have traded their players headed to free agency, and that they should have sold out trying to win this year.

I'm just not surprised that they did neither. To trade an everyday player or a prospect for a reliever could damage their long-term plans without dramatically increasing this team's chances of winning. to trade away Michael Cuddyer, their most valuable player on the trade market, when they're still in contention would be one way of telling fans not to show up at Target Field for the rest of the season.

From a purely logical standpoint, I believe the Twins should have traded Cuddyer. But the Twins care about their clubhouse culture and rewarding the right players, and Cuddyer is the best organizational player they've had, in terms of being a personification of everything they teach and value, in a long time.

We all begin our evaluation of teams by gauging their ability to win a championship, but there is more to sports than that. If keeping Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Matt Capps around gives this team a chance to win the division and encourages people to buy tickets, then maybe this is the right approach.

I'm on record saying I would have sold pieces off to try to rebuild the franchise's talent base. But while I disagree with the Twins' decision, I also, on a gut level, like it when franchises stubbornly insist on winning, and keep trying to keep a good thing going.

As for the Vikings, this is a strange set a circumstances. They have a first-year coach, a free-agent quarterback trying to learn the offense in a short period of time, a new offensive coordinator, and a slew of very good players who might not have many effective years left in their legs.

Like the Twins, the Vikings are stuck in the middle. To win nine or 10 games, they'll need surprising performances from Donovan McNabb, Bryant McKinnie, John Sullivan, Steve Hutchinson, Cedric Griffin, Jared Allen, Brian Robison...just about every veteran on the team.

How many of their best players are sure things, presuming good health? Adrian Peterson, Chad Greenway, Antoine Winfield...and that's about it. All of their other name players are either aging or coming off disappointing seasons or injuries.

So why should the Vikings avoid a true rebuilding process? Because sport is unpredictable. I still don't think the Bears were all that good last year, but they wound up on the right side of the Calvin Johnson ruling, got to face the Seahawks in the playoffs and suddenly found themselves with a chance to win the NFC title game against the team that would eventually win the Super Bowl.

So my attitude toward the Vikings is the same as it is toward the Twins: It might be smart, in a clinical sense, to rebuild, but neither franchise is willing to give up. And there's something to be said for trying to win every year, regardless of the circumstances. Remember: Rebuilding sounds good until you try it and it doesn't work.

-News just broke, via ESPN, that Randy Moss is retiring.

I think the Vikings should hold a ceremony to honor him. He can stand on a podium at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., and then, as he begins his speech, everyone can walk off, and into the locker room.

And then Matt Birk can finally beat him up.

-Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 today with Pat and Phil, then on with Phunn in the 6 o'clock hour. I'm also hosting the Phunn House on Tuesday night from 6-8:30 on 1500.

I'm in Mankato until Tuesday afternoon, and I'll tweet as warranted at @Souhanstrib.

Looks like a long, nasty night at Target Field

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: April 22, 2011 - 5:54 PM

Tonight's Series of Random Thoughts, from an enclosed press box at Target Field, watching umbrellas sprout like dandelions...

-I understand that owners want to appear sympathetic as possible during the lockout. But the idea that they will cut the average NFL employee's salary by 12 percent to save money during the lockout should embarrass each of them.

These are billionaires who make huge profits with their latest plaything, an NFL franchise. The average fan might not realize this, but an NFL team's offices contain lots of mid-management and grunt types who are not being paid all that well. To cut their pay as a way to save a few thousand bucks or to make the owners' plight seem worse than it really is, is the height of arrogance.

Zygi Wilf shouldn't engage in this stunt. He's been a good and generous owner for the Vikings. He should be better than this.

-I ordered an IPad2, and Michael Cuddyer was gracious enough to show off his original Ipad to me in the clubhouse.

Friday afternoon, having returned from a road trip to Baltimore, he was using it to show me pictures he took of Camden Yards (he's a pretty good amateur photographer) and the weather radar. He also watches other games live on MLB.com, and said sometimes his son will ask to watch a West Coast game on the IPad when he's going to sleep.

Just about then, Jim Thome and Jason Kubel came over to Cuddyer's locker to tease him about his inability to hit Fausto Carmona, the Indians' scheduled starter for Friday night.

Cuddyer has made another for-Twins-only t-shirt. It shows the father figure from the movie ``The Incredibles,'' with his lantern jaw, as Jim Thome. The caption reads: ``Jimcredible.''

-The St. Paul Pioneer Press ran a feature on Vikings tackle Bryant McKinnie playing tennis with the Williams sisters. I love it. What could be better for McKinnie than a sport that requires conditioning and footwork? Plus, it shows that he's dedicating himself to improving, even during a lockout. Maybe there's hope for McKinnie after all.

-I've never seen a team as depleted as the current Twins. Think about the caliber of players they're missing right now: Two former MVPs (Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer), a Japanese league All-Star (Tsuyoshi Nishioka), one of the best run-producers of 2010 (Delmon Young), an All-Star closer (Joe Nathan, who is effectively without a role right now) and Kevin Slowey, who could have helped this team as a versatile righthander.

They are lucky the White Sox and Tigers have played almost as poorly as the Twins have so far. I still don't see the Indians or Royals lasting long. I did get a chance to chat with Indians broadcaster Tom Hamilton, who raved about the influence of Orlando Cabrera on the young Indians.

Cabrera is one of those players who seems to have a greater impact on teams than his statistics and limited range would suggest. The Twins loved him when he helped them win in 2009. He is a highly competitive personality, something the Twins could use right now as they shrug and shiver their way through April.

-Great to see bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, the longest-tenured coach in Twins' history, back in the cliubhouse on Friday. He missed spring training and the beginning of the season with a series of retina surgeries.

-Kevin Slowey has altered the Twins' plan for his rehab work in Florida. I don't know if I've ever seen a player work harder to alienate everyone in an organization. The Twins regret not trading him this spring when they had the chance.

-Upcoming: I'll be covering the Gophers spring game (or scrimmage, or practice, or whatever) on Saturday, then the Twins' game on Sunday. Tom Pelissero and I will host the Gardenhire Show at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, followed by Sunday Morning Sports Talk from 10-noon. My twitter name is @Souhanstrib.

Favre on the ``heated discussion''

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 21, 2009 - 12:03 AM

When Vikings coach Brad Childress was asked about the ``heated discussion'' between himself and quarterback Brett Favre during the third quarter, he didn't deny it took place, but he didn't elaborate much.

Favre elaborated.

My column for the Monday paper (not the early column that some of you got, the one without quotes, but the one I wrote for our later deadline) contains all of the quotes Favre offered on the subject on Sunday night. To summarize: He wasn't happy that Childress considered benching him, for whatever reason.

Again, my column on the subject delves into the subject and contains all of Favre's quotes on the topic. It's in the Monday paper.

My short take: Favre wasn't the problem Sunday night. His offensive line (particularly Bryant McKinnie) was awful. The Vikings' defense got ripped in the fourth quarter, but even when it was limiting the Panthers in the first three quarters, it wasn't making enough big plays. As a couple of defensive starters said after the game, there's nothing wrong with a defense scoring some points, too.

Steve Hutchinson and Jared Allen, in particular, sounded mildly disgusted by the team's performance, although they didn't say anything too harsh.

My short take No. 2: The Vikings have lost three of their last four games on grass, with the only victory in that stretch coming at Green Bay, in a game Favre was desperate to win, a game that the team wanted to win for Favre.

Since they moved into the Metrodome, the Vikings have struggled on grass. Even their good teams have struggled on grass. Their lone regular-season loss in 1998 came at Tampa, on grass.

I wouldn't be surprised if the last two losses, at Arizona and Carolina, are the product of an overconfident team playing on an unfamiliar surface.

Here are the two real problems with the loss:

1) Favre is incredibly strong-willed, for better and worse. If he senses a lack of trust on the part of Childress, their relationship could go south in a hurry, and with it the season. I don't think that will happen, but that possibility was raised Sunday night.

2) The Vikings no longer are assured of a first-round bye, because they are only one game ahead of the Eagles, and neither of their remaining games look like gimmes. The Bears stink, but the Vikings just lost a cold-weather game on grass to a mediocre team, so they shouldn't exactly be cocky about this one. And the Giants, for all of their problems, are talented and well-coached.

To me, the elite teams in the conference _ the Saints and Vikings _ no longer look all that much stronger than the teams they may have to face in the playoffs _ the surging Eagles, the talented Cowboys, the mercurial Cardinals, the intriguing-if-flawed Packers.

This is going to be quite interesting the rest of the way.


Upcoming: I'll be on with Reusse at 6:40 on am-1500 to recap the Vikings game. I'm on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:14. Flying home tomorrow, taking a few vacation days from the paper, although I'll continue to do the radio spots.

I have a big piece running in the Friday paper on the Star Tribune Sports Person of the Year.

You can follow me on Twitter at Souhanstrib.

 

      

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