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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Because Brett Favre is a fickle and mysterious human, you have to wonder how the Saints' bounty on him affected Vikings history and his career.
If the Saints hadn't badly injured his ankle in the 2009 NFC title game...
-Would he have run for the first down after the 12-man-in-the-huddle call? He had room. He instead tried to force the ball to Sidney Rice and was intercepted. Another first down and I would have bet a lot of money that Ryan Longwell would have kicked the game-winning field goal. Well, OK, I would have bet a little money.
-If he had either advanced to the Super Bowl or left Superdome healthy after a close loss, would he have been more eager to play in 2010? It was Favre's passive-aggressive attitude about playing that helped ruin that season. I can't even guess on this one.
What SpyGate and BountyGate have taught us is that the NFL is a dirty, dirty business. Even when defensive players aren't offered rewards, they often enter the game intent on injuring or intimidating offensive players.
I covered Floyd Peters when he was the Vikings' defensive coordinator. Great guy. And he wanted his defensive linemen to knock every quarterback unconcious. Sound harsh? These were the days before concussion awareness, when that was an explicit goal of every defense.
Football hasn't changed. It's become even more violent and profitable. I can't pretend to be offended by the Saints' bounty system because I believe that all defensive players are incentivized to brutalize offensive players. The Saints were just stupid enough to create a traceable system, and stupid enough to get caught.
Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Before I get to the news of the week, I'd like to share a thoughts from Tom Kelly that didn't fit into my Wednesday newspaper column.
I spoke with TK on the phone yesterday. He was at home, and that was a reminder that Kelly retired when he could have easily kept working and making $1 million a year or more. His friends have always told me that he's managed his money extremely well. The last time I visited Tom at home, he showed off an amazing backyard garden that he and his wife must spend hours on, and he seemed remarkably relaxed and happy.
Meanwhile his old friend and sparring partner, Tony La Russa, has padded his resume to the point where there's no doubt he'll be in the Hall of Fame, even if he keeps making mistakes the way he did on Monday night.
When I asked Kelly about the fact that some national writers are comparing this World Series to the 1991 classic, Kelly didn't seem too impressed. But then he mentioned something I didn't expect.
``I thought we pitched pretty well in '91,'' Kelly said. ``Scotty Erickson had some trouble, but we all know he was pitching with a bad elbow. He went out there when maybe he shouldn't have, and that's something I'll have to live with.''
It is well-known that Erickson pitched through elbow pain. And after dominating in 1991, Erickson was never quite the same. I thought it was remarkable that after all this time, Kelly would still feel regrets about Erickson putting himself at risk.
Next time you want to celebrate that '91 team, you might want to remember Erickson's guts, as well as Puckett's homer and Jack Morris' glare.
My old Dallas Morning News colleague Blackie Sherrod used to write a Sunday notes column called ``Scattershooting.'' Well, ``colleague'' is too strong a word. I don't know if Sherrod knew who I was.
But ``scattershooting'' is a good way to get to the news of the day today...
1. It's easy to bash Bernard Berrian today. He deserves it. He's been an unproductive pain in the butt for too long. But before we all rip the Vikings for ever signing him, let's remember that he had a very good season in 2008 while playing with Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson. He caught 48 passes for 964 yards and seven touchdowns, averaging an impressive 20.1 yards per catch.
His career turned when Brett Favre came to town and decided he didn't trust Berrian a whole lot. If Favre had thrown to a wide-open Berrian in the NFC championship game, instead of forcing a pass to Sidney Rice that was intercepted, Berrian could have been a part of a Super Bowl winner.
I'm not excusing Berrian's play or behaviour the last two years. He deserved to get cut. I'm just saying that the guy wasn't a complete bust until 2010.
2. The Vikings made the right move, suspending Chris Cook without pay. I don't know if much more needs to be said.
3. After speaking with a few people, I think Joe Nathan probably is gone for good. I sense that he wants to pitch for a winner, and I don't think the Twins currently qualify. I also think that once he hits the open market his feelings of allegiance to the Twins will disappear. Just a guess at this point, but that's the guess I'm going with.
4. Yes, the Jerry Kill contract is a joke. The man agreed to five-year deal. Then he started 1-6 while his team was embarrassed in every Big Ten game it played. Also: He suffered a seizure on the sideline.
I think the University should have stuck to its five-year deal. Adding two more years, and offering a raise, is foolishness.
5. Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 today with Reusse and Mackey.
6. I'm hearing Game 6 of the World Series will be postponed. There's also rain in the forecast for tomorrow night. This could be a long week, and I think the longer it lasts, the more of an advantage the Cardinals have, because every day of postponement is a day of rest for ace Chris Carpenter.
7. Tom Pelissero and myself will conduct Sunday Sports Talk from Carolina on Sunday. We'll be there to cover the Vikings game, and will be on from 10-noon locally.
My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib, and I"ll be tweeting from Winter Park today.
Rapid-fire reactions to some of hte biggest stories in local sports:
-I'm not thrilled by the arrival of Donovan McNabb; neither am I disgusted or concerned. Look at McNabb's track record, and talk to NFL people about his legendary off-season workouts, and I have to believe he'll bounce back to being a pretty good quarterback this year, if healthy.
He's talented, experienced and motivated to prove that last year was a fluke. For what the Vikings need, and what they gave up for him, his acquisition makes sense. Christian Ponder shouldn't be thrown into the starting job under these circumstances.
-The departure of Sidney Rice hurts the Vikings' chances of winning this year, but, when it comes to long-term contracts, I always say that the key factor is trust, not talent.
Do you trust Sidney Rice to stay healthy. to play with pain, to be productive year-in and year-out? He's capable of doing so. I just don't trust him to do so. So while his departure has to sting the Vikings, they may benefit, long-term, by not being stuck with him making huge money.
-I would not trade Denard Span to the Nationals for a relief pitcher. Now, I defended the Twins' trade of Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps last year because of unique circumstances. The Twins looked like they were one bullpen arm away from winning the division and perhaps making a playoff run. Ramos was blocked by Mauer, who had yet to be stricken by bi-lateral-post-concussion-schizophrenia-disorder. Some Twins officials were not nearly as high on Ramos as people who don't watch him play every day.
It was the wrong kind of deal - an every day player at a key position for a reliever - but I understood it.
This one, I would not understand, unless the Twins are getting more than a reliever out of the deal.
What makes Span intriguing to the Nationals - that he's a high-on-base leadoff hitter who is also a pretty good centerfielder and a reliable human - is exactly what should make the Twins intent on keeping him. Span is signed to a reasonable contract through 2015.
With the Twins seven games under .500, in fourth place and six games out of first on July 29, I'd like to see them trade their veterans and re-stock for next season. But Span shouldn't be on the way out; he should be one of the few players the Twins are counting on for next season.
-David Kahn has interviewed a fascinating array of coaching candidates. My quick take:
-Rick Adelman would be a slam-dunk winner. If Kahn can land him, he should, regardless of price.
-Don Nelson would fit Kahn's running philosophy and make the Wolves much better and much more entertaining immediately. I don't think he'd last long, but he'd give people reason to buy tickets next year.
-Larry Brown is old, stuck in his ways, hard on young point guards and expensive. He's a great coach but he's the guy you bring in to win a championship, not to rebuild.
-Mike Woodson would dramatically improve the Wolves' defense. I'd rank him as the second-best long-term candidate behind Adelman.
-Bernie Bickerstaff. I'm not knocking the man as a coach. He's very accomplished. I just hate the idea of hiring someone so he can groom his son. Kahn may not even be around long enough to see J.B. Bickerstaff replace him.
This would be a move that Glen Taylor should block.
-Tim Brewster saying this Gophers team has lots of talent is another way of him telling us how fraudulent and painfully shallow he is. He left Jerry Kill with one outstanding athlete, Marqueis Gray. Otherwise, the cupboard is bare.
It's one thing to be a ridiculous shill, it's another to be a ridiculous shill who continues to lie to the Minnesota sports fan after someone was stupid enough to hire him for a media job.
Shut up, Timmy.
-Upcoming: I'll be running Sunday Morning Sports Talk with Tom Pelissero from Boomtown in Mankato on Sunday from 10-noon, following the Ron Gardenhire Show from 9-9:30. My twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
Also, I got to spend some time with Leslie Frazier in his hometown of Columbus, Ms., and my story on Frazier's life will be in the Sunday Star Tribune.
If the Twins wrap up the division in the next week, they'll be faced with a delicate decision. Do they rest the players who need resting, or push for the best record in the American League?
Joe Sheehan of SI.com reports that since 1998, when the current postseason format came into play, the No. 1 seed in either league has reached the World Series just 8 times in 24 chances.
And that since '98, the teams with home-field advantage are 45-39 in series overall, not an impressive rate considering the team with the home-field advantage usually had the better record over 162 games.
Also: The two times in the last 10 years the Twins have had home-field advantage in the playoffs - against the Angels in 2002 and the A's in 2006 - they got pummeled.
Perhaps the only way home-field advantage could prove crucial would be if the Twins faced the Yankees. The Twins play markedly better at home than on the road against the Yankees. And if there were a Game 1 in Yankee Stadium, the entire focus would be on how poorly the Twins have played in the Bronx. If the opener is at Target Field, the national media would be more likely to focus on the Twins' successes and new stadium.
-The injury rate and increased awareness of the debilitating effects of concussions are having quite an impact on the NFL. Already, many of the most promising teams have serious injury issues - the Jets with Jenkins, the Packers with Ryan Grant, the Eagles with Kevin Kolb, the Vikings with Sidney Rice.
The question is, what's the tipping point here? At what point do we start to feel guilty that grown men are sacrificing their brains and other body parts for our entertainment?
Probably never. We love our entertainment, no matter what the cost.
-After talking to a few people, my guess is the Twins' playoff rotation would look like this: Frankie Liriano, Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn.
The only tough decision is who to start in Game 1, because that person would also start a potential Game 5. The Twins love Liriano's stuff and recent dominance, and Pavano's composure. I think I'd lean toward Pavano.
-Reminder: My band, the Media Jackals, plays Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. at O'Gara's Garage. We're playing a short set, probably be off the stage by 9-9:15, then Beautiful Noise, a Neil Diamond cover band, takes the stage.
-Reminder: I make daily appearances on 1500espn with Joe and Pat at 2:40 p.m.
This Sunday, we'll have the Ron Gardenhire Show from 9:30-10, then Sunday Sports Talk from 10-noon, with guests including Kevin Seifert of espn.com, Tom Linnemann with a small-college update and NFL picks, a Twins player and FS North basketball analyst Mike McCollow to talk about the world championships and David Kahn's literary career.
La Velle and I will shoot another video late tonight, after the game.
I'm at Whistling Straits this week, and I'm writing Thursday morning while waiting out a fog delay.
I walked the course yesterday, and it's a bear. I mean, it's a bear to walk, much less to play. I no longer play golf, but if I did, I'd need three dozen golf balls and a therapist to get around this track.
It's a beautiful course, and the views of the lake are stunning. I don't know if I've ever seen a course that's more visually intimidating, though.
On heavily-wooded courses, you can get a lucky bounce off a tree. You aren't going to get many lucky bounces on this kind of a links-style course. Gorse, sand and lakewater are not forgiving.
We've just been notified that the first round will begin at 10:10 a.m., meaning there will be players who don't finish their rounds today. The morning grouping of Y.E. Yang, Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh will tee off at about 11:30.
My pick, although it's become a little too chic for my tastes, is Rory McIlroy. He's long, accustomed to links courses, and seems ready to peak. Steve Stricker, the Wisconsin native, will be under too much pressure to win this week. Tiger Woods is a mess, although I could see him starting to right himself this week. Phil Mickelson usually doesn't play well at British Opens, and this is more of a British Open course than the kind of Americanized course he usually plays well on.
So my pick is McIlroy, which means the winner will probably be someone like Ian Poulter. Hunter Mahan or Paul Casey.
-My pick for Brett Favre's return: He'll either announce that he's coming back, or will show up in Eden Prairie, on Aug. 23. That way he gets to skip the trip to San Francisco for preseason game No. 2, but will have time to fully prep for the third preseason game.
-I thought the Vikings were an 11-win team heading into training camp. With the Favre drama playing out in an even more annoying way than anticipated, and Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice and Adrian Peterson missing camp time, and Toby Gerhart looking like he's far from ready to be Peterson's backup, I'd have to scale that back a game or two.
As of this moment, I'd pick them to go 9-7.
If they go 12-4 or better after having all of these key players miss time at camp, then I'd say the Vikings and every other NFL team should just stop holding training camps altogether.
-So Jon Rauch has a black-and-blue toe. Is it a bruise, or did all the ink from his tattoos just obey gravity?
-I'll be on 1500espn with Joe and Pat at 2:40 today, and all weekdays when the show isn't preempted by a Twins game.
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