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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Bob Kravitz, the former Indy Star columnist now working for Indy TV station WTHR, broke the news that the Patriots may have used deflated balls during the AFC title game.
Deflated balls can be easier to grip, throw, catch and control in rainy conditions, and it rained and sleeted during the game.
Kravitz is a pro, and the NFL has confirmed it is investigating, so I wouldn't dismiss this as a provincial reaction to getting blown out. The Colts can't make the case they would have won under any conditions. If proved true, this will further mark Bill Belichick as the kind of coach who will do anything to win, and with two weeks before his latest Super Bowl appearance, will give everyone time to reflect on SpyGate.
The simplistic will paint Belichick as someone who wins because he cheats. He doesn't win because he cheats, but his willingness to bend rules is part of the mentaility that makes him a great and yet thoroughly unlikeable coach.
I've forgotten most of what I ``learned'' in college, which for most people is just a transitional boarding school, but I remember taking a class called ``African American Literature.'' I read Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois, James Baldwin, Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison.
On Martin Luther King Day, this is a good time to remember what is spelled out so beautifully and achingly in their works: That America treated black people as slaves, then as subhumans, not long ago and for a very long time.
One of the things I always loved about sport was that it can be a pure meritocracy blind to skin color. But it wasn't long ago in the history of our nation that black men were not allowed to play sports alongside white men.And a shockingly short time ago NFL teams didn't feel comfortable with black head coaches and quarterbacks.
Let's honor today by continuing to chop down the stereotypes that enable racism. Next time you hear an announcer talk about a white player who ``works hard'' or has a lot of `grit,'' turn the channel.
When the Seahawks were getting whipped yesterday, and before Russell Wilson had completed a pass, I Tweeted that ``I still think Russell Wilson is great.'' I meant it.
He's never going to set passing records, but he has produced more fourth-quarter comebacks in his first three seasons than any quarterback in NFL history - 10. He is the first NFL quarterback to start in two Super Bowls in his first three seasons. He is winning despite a shocking lack of help from his receivers.
Wilson should wni the I-Just-Made-It-Up Herm Edwards Award. You play to win the game. Wilson finds so many ways to win so many games.
It was heartening to see the photo on the back page of the Strib sports page today, of Lindsey Vonn surrounded by her entire family.
I first met her before the Turin Olympics, and when I asked about her family, she said she no longer spoke with her father. Her father woultn't return my calls while I researched a long story about his daughter. I did get to visit her mother at her home in Apple Valley.
The photo shows both parents and Vonn's sister all smiling i nthe same photo.
This morning, Vonn broke the record for the most women's World Cup victories, an amazing achievement for anyone, but especially for someone who started at Buck Hill in Burnsville.
My impression of Vonn, having covered her at two Olympics: She's a powerful person, physically and emotionally.. Her ability to persevere without a relationship with her father and while traveling the globe to compete says something about her resolve.
Latest podcasts at SouhanUnfiltered.com: Michael Russo, Leo Lewis, Terry Ryan, Jeff Munneke. The Alive and Social Network, the podcast company owned by Sean Barnard, now has a studio in Minneapolis, which will enable us to do more frequent podcasts, and to bring in guests via phone from around the country. Thanks for listening.
My buddy Roy Smalley isthe new president of Pitch In for Baseball (www.pitchinforbaseball.org). I'm going to have him on Sunday Sports Talk at 10:20 this week, to discuss spring training, the Twins, and his work with this charity, which supplies baseball equipment to children who might not otherwise be able to play the game, whether because of financial hardships, natural disasters or a lack of exposure to baseball.
Pitch In For Baseball recently distributed its 100,000th piece of equipment. Roy told me he hopes the organization's influence will only grow.
Here's a portion of the press release provided to me by Roy's daughter, Catherine Smalley:
-The organization’s new President Roy Smalley III and Executive Director and Founder David Rhode announced this week that Pitch In For Baseball (PIFB) had recently shipped its 100,000th piece of equipment since its founding in 2005.
-I don't know if I can explain how beautiful the drive from Vancouver to Whistler, British Columbia. This area is lush, verdant, atmospheric, with spectacular views of the bay to your left and sheer rock mountains to your right.
-Lindsey Vonn crashed in her first run of the giant slalom. Teammate Julia Mancuso, randomly selected to ski right after Vonn, had begun her run when she was told by course officials that Vonn was down and she would have to start over.
Mancuso, who won the gold in giant slalom under similar, rainy conditions in Turin, complained on Twitter about the decision. When she realized that her complaint - which was too graphic to repeat in this space - appeared to be a complaint about Vonn, she tweeted that she was upset about the decision, not about Vonn.
But it's well-known that Vonn and Mancuso's rivalry isn't always friendly. They are quite different personalities who do not spend time together away from the slopes. My column for tomorrow's paper will delve into that subject.
-Congratulations to my buddy Jim Petersen, who has been re-hired as a Lynx assistant coach for the upcoming season. I promised to get out and do something on Jim last summer; this summer I'll actually follow through.
-Vancouver is beautiful, but I have to admit it feels strange to be in Canada when the Twins are starting one of their most intriguing and promising spring trainings in franchise history. I've been told by a lot of sportswriters up here who have covered Orlando Hudson that we're going to enjoy having him around.
-The US and Swiss are tied in their quarterfinal hockey game. It's scoreless and, to me, the US looks as tight in this game as Canada did against the US. I still think Canada is the favorite in this tournament. The Canadians did out-play the US, and now that Roberto Luongo is in the nets, Canada should still be the strongest team in the tournament.
The only team I would pick to beat Canada in an elimination game in this tournament is the team I picked to win it at the beginning - Russian, with its speed, looseness, and the incredibly driven Alex Ovechkin. I'm in the mountains today, but I'd kill to be at the Russia-Canada game.
-I'll have another Olympic update tomorrow morning at 8:05 on am-1500. On Sunday Sports Talk, we'll have Dick Day, Roy Smalley and perhaps a hockey guest, from 10-noon on am-1500.
I'm also on at 7:45 am on WJON in St. Cloud. With the am-1500 shakeup, I think my call-in times will be altered. I'll let you know when I know.
-You can follow me on Twitter at Souhanstrib.
Enjoy the hockey. In a strange way, Olympic hockey makes me more interested in the Wild.
-I've always thought bottled water was a ridiculous idea, and now this: My hotel room offers free Starbucks coffee, but charges $6 for a bottle of water. That makes my head hurt. Can't complain about the accomodations. I'm at a nice Sheraton. In Turin, I was in a ``dorm room'' that I believe was about to become a ``prison.'' In Beijing, they built media condos that were actually very nice. -A lynx ran across the Alpine courses and a bear threatened the bobsled run already this week. I wish I had a joke, but I'd be plagiarizing Stephen Colbert, the God Of The Winter Olympics and Bear Attacks. -Russo, my tour guide for Vancouver, introduced me to a new beer last night. Kokanee. Local brew. Made from glacier water. Very good, very clean-tasting. They have a tiny Sasquatch on the label, but he's not easy to find and they move him around, so it's a beer that doubles as a drunk-driving test. I didn't see the Sasquatch at first. After a few Kokanees, I saw eight. -I just attended the U.S. snowboarding team's press conference. It was wonderful to hear all these serious journalists trying to ask deep questions of Hannah Teter about her sport's place in the pantheon. One interviewer used the word ``genuine'' in his question. Teter said, ``Genuine? I don't know what that means. I didn't go to school much.'' I did not hear a snowboarder use the word ``Dude.'' I did hear Shaun White say he's pretty much done with the ``Flying Tomato'' nickname and has moved on to ``Animal'' - like the Muppets' drummer - or, as one of his teammates suggested, ``Red Zeppelin.'' -A first for me: A Canadian TV station showing highlights of minor-league hockey games from across the country. -The Canadians at the press center keep apologizing for the rain. No need. This is a beautiful city. Reminds me of San Francisco and Seattle, and with Victoria Island looming, it's like Sausalito is swimming distance away. -My view of Lindsey Vonn's injuries? Yes, she's hurt. Yes, it will hurt to ski. But for her to suggest that she would miss any races was, to me, overly dramatic, and a sign that she wants to dampen some of the expectations surrounding her, after she spent the last four years heightening those expectations. To me, that's not a promising sign. -You can follow me on Twitter at Souhanstrib. I'll be on KSTP AM-1500 at 6:40 a.m. Friday, then on at 8:05 a.m. weekdays for the rest of the Olympics. I'll try to contribute to my Sunday show, but may be on a bus to Whistler, so Brad Lane will invite a special guest host to keep my mic warm.
-I've always thought bottled water was a ridiculous idea, and now this: My hotel room offers free Starbucks coffee, but charges $6 for a bottle of water. That makes my head hurt.
Can't complain about the accomodations. I'm at a nice Sheraton. In Turin, I was in a ``dorm room'' that I believe was about to become a ``prison.'' In Beijing, they built media condos that were actually very nice.
-A lynx ran across the Alpine courses and a bear threatened the bobsled run already this week. I wish I had a joke, but I'd be plagiarizing Stephen Colbert, the God Of The Winter Olympics and Bear Attacks.
-Russo, my tour guide for Vancouver, introduced me to a new beer last night. Kokanee. Local brew. Made from glacier water. Very good, very clean-tasting. They have a tiny Sasquatch on the label, but he's not easy to find and they move him around, so it's a beer that doubles as a drunk-driving test.
I didn't see the Sasquatch at first. After a few Kokanees, I saw eight.
-I just attended the U.S. snowboarding team's press conference. It was wonderful to hear all these serious journalists trying to ask deep questions of Hannah Teter about her sport's place in the pantheon. One interviewer used the word ``genuine'' in his question. Teter said, ``Genuine? I don't know what that means. I didn't go to school much.''
I did not hear a snowboarder use the word ``Dude.'' I did hear Shaun White say he's pretty much done with the ``Flying Tomato'' nickname and has moved on to ``Animal'' - like the Muppets' drummer - or, as one of his teammates suggested, ``Red Zeppelin.''
-A first for me: A Canadian TV station showing highlights of minor-league hockey games from across the country.
-The Canadians at the press center keep apologizing for the rain. No need. This is a beautiful city. Reminds me of San Francisco and Seattle, and with Victoria Island looming, it's like Sausalito is swimming distance away.
-My view of Lindsey Vonn's injuries? Yes, she's hurt. Yes, it will hurt to ski. But for her to suggest that she would miss any races was, to me, overly dramatic, and a sign that she wants to dampen some of the expectations surrounding her, after she spent the last four years heightening those expectations.
To me, that's not a promising sign.
-You can follow me on Twitter at Souhanstrib. I'll be on KSTP AM-1500 at 6:40 a.m. Friday, then on at 8:05 a.m. weekdays for the rest of the Olympics. I'll try to contribute to my Sunday show, but may be on a bus to Whistler, so Brad Lane will invite a special guest host to keep my mic warm.
Catching up after taking a break. I'm on my way to Vancouver, and will post updates and observations here. You can follow me on Twitter at souhanstrib.
-Reason No. 20,291 I don't bet on sports: Who could have predicted that the key moments in the Super Bowl would be Pierre Garcon dropping a third-down pass in the second quarter, an onside kick to start the second half, or a former Big Ten cornerback (Tracy Porter, from Indiana of all places) picking off Peyton Manning and returning it for a touchdown.
Everybody in my business spends a lot of time researching and making predictions. If sports were predictable, though, we wouldn't care so much about them.
The Vikings' blowout over Dallas? A surprise, even if, like me, you thought the Vikings would win.
The way in which the Vikings lost to the Saints, playing superbly for much of the game but fumbling six times and throwing two interceptions? Utterly unpredictable, unless you believe the Vikings are cursed, in which case you may continue to wallow in self-pity. Just don't expect me to join you.
The Saints beating the Colts after failing on a fourth-and-goal from the one, getting lucky on an onside kickoff and beating Manning with a key interception? I didn't see it coming. If you did, congratulations.
This postseason demonstrated why the NFL is the No. 1 sport in America. It's such a spectacle. I've never been more impressed by a game atmosphere than I was in the Superdome for the NFC championship game. And the ratings were immense throughout the playoffs, even when so-called lesser markets were involved. New Orleans, Indianapolis and Minneapolis aren't exactly New York and LA, yet the ratings were huge.
The plays, the momentum swings, the coaching decisions, the personalities are so dramatic, and let's be honest, the specter of violence and injury makes the action that much more compelling. You wouldn't watch an action movie in which nobody got hurt.
-My prediction: Brett Favre returns. Eventually.
Last summer, all of the variables entering into his decision were negative. He didn't know how he'd adapt to a new set of teammates. He couldn't be sure he still had ``it.'' He was required to undergo surgery, and he hates surgery.
This summer, all of the variables will be positive. Once his ankle heals, and his ankle will heal, he'll be healthy. His teammates love him and will begin texting him soon to beg him to return. He and Darrell Bevell worked extremely well together. Despite the ``schism'' and ``spat'' talk, he gets along fine with head coach Brad Childress. He is coming off one of the best seasons of his career. And please don't assume he doesn't need or crave the money. He will never again have the chance to earn $12 million for six months of work. The team he plays for could give him a chance to end his career with a Super Bowl appearance or victory.
I don't think there's any doubt he'll come back. Eventually.
-I'm starting to revisit my thoughts about the Wolves eventually trading Al Jefferson. I thought it might be a necessity. Now I think they should trade him only if they get back excellent value in return.
Here's why: The Wolves have spent the last five years desperately seeking NBA-quality players. To trade their best player just to clear a spot for another good player would not represent progress. I'd rather see Kevin Love and Al Jefferson continuing to play together, continuing to learn how to play together, than see the Wolves trade Jefferson to bring in an average wing or center.
We've seen all kinds of different combinations of players win big. We've seen three-guard sets and point forwards and hybrid guards. I'd rather see the Wolves try to make this work than trade Jefferson just to trade him.
-I don't know if I've been as impressed by a Twins winter since the Twins brought in Chili Davis and Jack Morris. They didn't just add good players who should fit well; they did so without compromising their future, trading away valuable assets (since I consider the Gomez-for-Hardy deal to be the best move of the winter), or committing money that will hur them in the future.
Fans always want the Twins to spend big right now, but they will always operate under some sort of payroll limit, and landing good players on one-year deals is still the smartest way for them to operate. I'd love to see them sign an everyday third baseman, but leaving that position in flux does give them the opportunity to see a player - Harris, Tolbert, Casilla, Hughes, Punto or Valencia - surprise them. And the Twins always have at least one pleasant surprise. (My pick this year is Casilla. There's too much talent there for him to continue to flounder, and he'd be the perfect No. 9 hitter for a manager who still wants to play small-ball on occasion.)
-I may write about this more later, but I think the idea of being offended by a female athlete's bikini photos is ridiculous. so Lindsey Vonn posed for some provocative shots.
Female athletes wear provocative clothing when they compete, if you want to look at them that way. Would you let your daughter leave the house wearing one of those figure skating costumes? Or a skin-tight ski suit? Or a body-hugging speedskating outfit?
I'll say the same thing to the women's groups decrying Vonn's photos as I would say to the mouth-breathers who spell out their sophomoric pantings in the comment section of stories referring to Vonn's photos: Grow up, and get a life. The human instinct to be attracted to and by well-toned muscles isn't exactly what's wrong with the world.
-I land in Vancouver tonight and will start writing for the paper in Friday's editions.
This week, I"ll continue to appear at my usual radio times - at 6:40 a.m. on KSTP-AM with Reusse and Co. Next week, we'll move that time back.
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