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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I'll admit it: Baseball has turned me off this year.
With the Twins becoming irrelevant for a fourth straight season, I could barely stand to watch the game once the All-Star game bunting was pulled off of Target Field.
This week made me watch again.
Thanks to two former Yankees.
Derek Jeter delivered as only he can. He came to Target Field in mid-summer of his last season, and delivered a double in his last first All-Star at-bat.
He came to the plate for his last first at-bat in Yankee Stadium, and doubled again.
Then, after the Orioles scored three runs to extend the game to the bottom of the ninth, he got his first game-winning hit in seven years in his last at-bat at Yankee Stadium.
Sunday, Jeter hit an infield single at Fenway, then was removed, after raising his career batting average to .310.
Baseball gives us these moments more than any other sport.
Wednesday, another former Yankee did himself proud, too.
A rain delay kept Hughes from earning a $500,000 bonus for innings pitched.
On Friday, the Twins offered him a chance to pitch in relief to earn his bonus. He refused. It was the rare moment in modern pro sports when everyone involved in a supposed controversy came out looking good.
The Gophers' victory over Michigan on Saturday was the most impressive outing by a Gopher football team in my 24 years working at the Star Tribune.
Not since the program's glory days has the Gophers lined up against a power program and whipped them physically the way the Gophers beat up Michigan. It was a mismatch.
The Gophers had by far the better coach, by far the best running back, the better quarterback ,and the stronger roster. That shouldn't happen against Michigan even when the Gophers are at their best.
Jerry Kill is to be commended for putting this program together with basic building blocks: A sound, well-coached defense, a power running game, and a roster filled with well-conditioned athletes.
Brady Hoke is at the opposite end of the spectrum. He is an embarrassment to his profession. Even an average coach should be able to act as a caretaker of the Michigan program. Hoke can't even do that.
That he would re-insert a limping, concussed quarterback into a game shows that he's not just a bad football coach, he is clueless.
Mike Zimmer's challenge today: Limiting Julio Jones. Jones is the Falcons' best player, and maybe the second-best receiver in the NFL. Zimmer did well to limit the Saints' big plays last week. If he can keep Jones from putting up big numbers, the Vikings could make this a game. Jones is the one player who can turn this into a blowout.
After writing about Jerry Kill's latest seizure, I received a few thousand emails expressing anger. I'll address some of the most frequently-asked questions here:
-Yes, I understand that the University of Minnesota can't and shouldn't fire Jerry Kill because he has epileptic seizures. I do believe the administration should ask him to step aside, and believe Kill should do so.
-No, I don't believe it's OK for everyone to accept that Kill will not be able to coach frequently because of his seizures and that his assistants can handle his duties. The U didn't hire Kill's assistants for more than a million dollars a year to handle his duties. They hired Jerry Kill with the assumption that he could handle the job.
-Yes, I am sympathetic to Kill. I expressed that in my column. But his is not the average job. He can't pretend to be the same as someone who works 9-5 in a cubicle. He is in the entertainment industry. He is the face of a program and by extension a University.
-No, I don't think I'm being cruel, I think many of you are being cruel. Kill has had four seizures on game days in 16 home games at Minnesota. The stress of the job seems to have a negative effect on him. You shouldn't want him to put himself in that position for your entertainment.
-No, my criticism of Kill has nothing to do with his coaching. I think he's a solid coach who has a chance to succeed here. But he's not doing the program or himself or his family any favors by risking his health.
-No, I don't write the headlines.
Thanks for reading.
Today's Series of Random Thoughts:
-Carlos Gomez just made an amazing running catch against the Phillies. If only he could have learned to take a decent at-bat...
-For those emailing today, asking why my column didn't recommend firing David Kahn...well, I've actually recommended that often over the last few months. Today's column was an attempt to figure out how the Wolves could improve if he is retained, which is what I expect to happen.
-I also received a bunch of emails asking why I didn't include the Twins in today's ``prescription'' column. C'mon, can't we have a little perspective? The Twins stink right now. They're awful right now. They've been similarly awful at various points over the last 10 years, and being lousy for a couple of weeks, or a month, or half a season, hasn't prevented them from being very successful overall.
They stunk for half a season in 2003 and won the division. They stunk for two months to start the 2006 season and won the division. They stunk for much of 2008, and much of 2009, and wound up in Game 163s. And they went through a midseason slump last year and won the division.
They have lots of worrisome problems. Right now they don't know what they're going to get from their three best players - Mauer, Morneau and Nathan - or the entire bullpen. But they've been in far worse straits than this and survived. I'd just wait a while before burying them.
They have played as poorly as can be imagined, and yet are just two games behind Detroit and one behind Chicago. That's not exactly a crisis. It would be if the Twins played in the AL East, but they don't.
-Interesting that the NFL seems to have front-loaded its schedule with intriguing games, and rivalry games. Either the NFL brass expects the season to be played in full, or wants to pressure the players by making the public hot for those early-season games to be played on time.
-OK, this is purely selfish, but couldn't the Vikings play in Detroit in September and San Diego in December? Please?
-As I wrote today, Ken Hitchcock would be a godsend for the Wild. He's smart, funny, personable, accomplished and shrewd. He might be able to squeeze a playoff appearance out of this mediocre roster.
If the Wild hired Hitchcock and the Wolves hired Rick Adelman or Sam Mitchell, those franchises would be in far better shape.
-Watching the Sharks-Kings games last night, it occured to me that hockey is at its best when defenses are disorganized or inept. I'll take a wild shootout over a conservatively-played 1-0 game anytime in this sport.
-Been debating with Patrick Reusse on 1500espn how many pitchers the Twins will use this year. He originally said 18, and I said 20, and we might both be conservative. I see frequent callups and a trade or two before the end of August.
-There is a reason NBA players don't play this hard on defense during the regular season: None of them would be healthy for the playoffs. The level of defense in this league's playoffs is ferocious.
-As for the rampant Gopher-fan enthusiasm over the hiring of Jerry Kill, can we at least wait until he proves he can win the spring game?
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