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
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.
Greetings from Milwaukee. It's a beautiful day here, spent the morning walking down to the lakefront, running into dozens of Twins fans wearing their gear.
Milwaukee always feels, to me, like a smaller, slower Chicago.
I've read a bunch of excerpts from the Bill Simmons interview of David Kahn. Where else would Kahn cut open a vein, but on the BS Report?
The funny thing is, if there's anyone who has criticized Kahn more than me, it's Simmons. But Kahn is desperate to appear legitimate and to defend himself, and he can't find a bigger audience than by speaking with Simmons.
What's amazing is that Kahn can change his story from minute to minute. His first year on the job, I wrote about how I didn't think the triangle offense was a good fit for his team, and particularly Jonny Flynn, and he called me to explain that the offense wasn't necessarily the triangle and...well, I dozed off after a while, so I'm not sure what else he had to say.
Now he's telling Simmons that the triangle didn't work with this team, and damaged Flynn's progress, which is exactly the point he was trying to shoot down when I made it two years ago.
Kahn also repeats the ridiculous notion that he's still making a decision on Rambis.
I've had colleagues tell me they find all of this highly entertaining. I don't. I see a guy you can't trust running a team I want to care about.
People in my business use the ``Event X will define Person X's legacy'' line way too often, but I"ll say this: Kahn's decision on his head coach could determine whether he'll have the job two years from now.
If he keeps Rambis, he's in deep trouble. If he fires Rambis and make a ridiculous move like the rumored Bernie Bickerstaff hire, he'll be on his way out. If he fires Rambis and somehow lands a legitimate, quality, NBA coach, that coach could take an interesting group of young players, improve the team's record dramatically in part because there is nowhere to go but up, and make Kahn look like he knew what he was doing all along.
For example, what if the Wolves can land Rick Adelman? He's one of the best coaches in the game. I'm not sure he wants to work for this organization or endure a rebuilding project, but if the Wolves could land him, they'd improve dramatically over the next year or two.
But would Kahn be willing to hire someone who could wind up becoming the primary personnel voice in the organization? That's the big question surrounding the Wolves right now.
-Maybe Joe Mauer and Jose Mijares sniping at each other last night means nothing. These things do happen.
Or maybe Mijares' willingness to challenge the Twins' franchise player is a sign that Mauer, in the midst of a season in which many people in the organization have become frustrated with him, no longer commands unversal respect or receives the benefit of the doubt in the clubhouse.
I've always been told by Twins people that Mauer is not an exceptional pitch-caller. But when you hit .340 and throw out runners, nobody's going to complain very loudly about that.
Now, though, Mauer is swinging weakly and throwing poorly and at least some of his teammates have privately questioned whether he's willing to play with pain or discomfort, and now a less-than-established player like Mijares is calling him out?
Does that seem like a coincidence?
There is also the question of why Mijares didn't shake off Mauer if he didn't want to throw a 3-2 fastball to Prince Fielder. That is a good question. Mijares has final say.
But before that pitch was thrown, where would you have placed your faith: In the franchise player who is a veteran catcher, or in the wildly erratic lefty? Kind of like asking whether you want Brett Favre or Bernard Berrian making a call on third-and-5.
-I like the Wild's trade of Brent Burns for Devin Setoguchi for a very simple reason:
I like goals. With Burns gone and Setoguchi at forward, the Wild figure to score more, and allow more, goals, and defensive hockey bores me to tears.
Judging it more objectively, I still like it. Burns was a good guy and a real talent, but the Wild trading him when he was a year away from free agency for a talented winger who is signed for three years is exactly the kind of move the Wild needed to make.
-Still lining up guests for Sunday Morning Sports Talk. At this point I believe we'll have Derrick Williams, Chuck Fletcher and Milwaukee radio star Drew Olson. The Gardenhire Show starts at 9:30 a.m. on 1500espn followed by SMST from 10-noon.
-I'll be Twittering tonight from the Twins-Brewers game, @Souhanstrib.
Two trips to Detroit in a month.
I forget, is that the second or third ring of Hell?
A reader emailed me last night, asking why we don't hammer Bernard Berrian more for being a slacker and one of the worst free-agent signings in franchise history.
He's right. All I can say is that Berrian is blessed to be shielded by low expectations.
Brad Childress made a lot of great personnel decisions, and Berrian helped the Vikings go to the playoffs in 2008 and added an occasional threat last year. This year, he's been worthless. In a normal year, where Brett Favre, Randy Moss, sexting, a stadium implosion, migraines, and a systemic failure (love that phrase) hadn't dominated headlines, we might very well have spent the season castigating Berrian.
He's lucky to be only No. 32 on the list of what's wrong with this year's Vikings.
Remember the good ol' days, when we thought losing Chester Taylor was going to be the worst thing that ever happened to this team?
Right now Berrian is testing his sore (fill in the blank) on the field. I'm sure he'll gut it out and play.
The Winter Classic was great. Take a sport in which you can't see the puck, and play it in a stadium where noone can even pretend to see the puck.
Actually, I think the Winter Classic is a good idea. Anytime the NHL can break up the monotony of its regular season and give the casual viewer a reason to watch, I'm all for it. But hockey is just a weird sport to try to promote. Those who love it will love it no matter what form it takes. Those who don't love it will always be ambivalent because even superstars like Sidney Crosby play only a portion of their games and can't even control when they touch the puck.
I feel for anyone who has gone through the health problems Don Lucia has experienced, but I can't excuse his coaching or the way his team has played.
This was supposed to be a weekend of fattening up on weak opponents. Instead, he loses to Union (is that a brand of jeans or a college) at home, then blows off a shootout so he won't lose to Ferris State (named after Buehller, I hope?).
If only the Gophers athletic department had someone in charge, maybe someone named an ``athletic director'' who could take charge of the program. Someone should look into that.
I fear the Wilfs are going to blow this. I fear they're going to take a good coaching candidate they know and like and let him explore the market, and lose him, and start another coaching search with no guarantee that they'll hire anyone as good as Leslie Frazier.
This is one of those decisions that can be screwed up only by overthinking. Hire Frazier tonight, announce it tomorrow, give Rick Spielman the GM title, and move forward.
Wrote about Brett Favre's last appearance on a Viking sideline in the Sunday paper. Yes, I'm asking you to go buy a stinking paper, which costs less than a foo-foo Starbucks drink, or a gallon of gas.
Here's my newspaper rant: They're the last bargain in America. For a small price you get tons of coupons, funnies, crosswords, Soduku, op-eds, news, and a packed sports section. And if you subscribe to the paper, the premium stuff is all free.
I can't decide whether signing Carl Pavano would be a good thing or a bad thing. He'd flesh out the rotation and provide innings, but is he really worth $10 million a year?
I think the Twins are playing it right. I'd give him two years, but not three.
I still think the biggest issue facing the Twins is whether Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan can be what they once were.
I'll check in after the game. Because what else would I do in Detroit?
Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 p.m. each weekday. My twitter name is Souhanstrib.
-Brett Favre wouldn't talk about the NFL's investigation into him after the game.
-Think the Vikings made the right decision in letting Matt Birk go? Every time I watch the Ravens, Birk is falling into the end zone on a Ray Rice touchdown run. Every time I watch the Vikings, I see a center screwing up.
-Those criticizing Brad Childress for his game plan are confusing planning with execution. Favre had receivers open in the first half, and either he missed them or the Vikings committed a penalty.
If you want to criticize Childress for anything in this game, it would be his indecisiveness when facing a two-point deficit after scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
It's obvious you go for two there. Childress agreed, but only after sending the kicking team onto the field and then calling a timeout to send his offense back out there.
Also, Randy Moss wasn't on the field for the two-point conversion. Then again, Tahi was wide open in the end zone and Favre didn't throw to him. Childress wound up making the right decision, it's just that he cost himself a timeout and then had trouble explaining the decision after the game.
-The Vikings are 1-3, but I think they're in big trouble only if Favre's elbow or the NFL's investigation into him go badly. If Favre is healthy, he and Moss will develop more of a rapport each week, and the Vikings' talent will win out eventually. I think they beat the Cowboys on Sunday, and their game at Green Bay looks winnable considering the Packers' injuries.
Players often say ``It's a long season,'' and often that's a poor excuse. In this case, I think that's the right way to look at this year. If the Vikings can get to week 8 still in contention, their soft second-half schedule and the mediocrity of the division should give them every chance to go to the playoffs, and if they make it to the playoffs healthy, they'll be very dangerous. Of course, that's all predicated on Favre staying healthy and un-suspended.
-Moss spoke after the game, and, for what it's worth, he's saying all the right things and saying them with a smile on his face. He even talked about mentoring Percy Harvin.
-During Favre's post-game presser, he kept waving his left hand around, and running his left hand through his hair. His wedding ring was shown prominently on national TV. I'm sure that was a coincidence.
-The Vikings' safeties continue to be the weakness of the team (along with the center position and third receiver.) They never make plays.
-Childress took the blame for the team looking sluggish at the start while coming off a bye. I, like all good Minnesotans, blame Ron Gardenhire.
-The Vikings need to get Greg Camarillo involved. If they're not going to use Bernard Berrian - and it certainly looks like they're not going to use Bernard Berrian - then they need a third receiver who can make a play. Camarillo, a catch-and-run guy with good hands, should be able to handle that.
-I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 tomorrow (and every weekday afternoon.) Yesterday, we had Childress on Sunday Sports Talk and he admitted the timing of the deadspin report - just before the Vikings play in New York - was ``curious.''
-Moss has lost a step, but he picked up a trick, probably from former teammate Cris Carter. He pushed off slightly on Antonio Cromartie on his touchdown catch, but did so in a way that would be difficult to call.
-While we've all assumed this four-game stretch would be brutal, the Vikings had a chance to beat the Jets on the road, the Cowboys are 1-3, the Packers are beat up and the Patriots...won't have Randy Moss.
-Moss also thanked Tom Brady for sending him an encouraging text before the game.
-We're all sitting here writing on deadline and eating really unhealthy food. (Judd doesn't seem bothered by this.)
-My column for the Friday paper focuses on the Vikings' trade of the 30th pick in the draft. Short version: I like the trade. I'm not sure I like who they traded with.
-There is the possibility that the Vikings could take Jimmy Clausen on Friday. I could be wrong, and we'll know soon, but I don't think so. I don't think Clausen is the right personality type for this team, a veteran team trying to win now. And I'm not as impressed with Clausen as the general public is.
At Notre Dame, his teams generally underachieved and faced mostly poor competition, and he had great receivers who could catch anything near them. I'm not sold.
I also think the Broncos are fools. They essentially traded Brandon Marshall for Tim Tebow. Marshall is one of the NFL's two best receivers. I don't believe Tebow will ever be a good NFL quarterback. And you don't spend a first-round pick on a Wildcat quarterback.
-Here's the column I wrote early in the evening, well before the Vikings picked. We in the business call it an ``early.''
Want to know how immensely popular the NFL has become?
On Wednesday, the NFL commissioner suspended a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback in his prime for six games for a sordid incident involving a bathroom, an underaged girl and alcohol.
On Thursday, the suspension of Ben Roethlisberger only added to the intrigue and suspense _ and thus the popularity _ of the NFL draft. Would the Steelers trade Roethlisberger? Which teams would trade their first-round pick for him? Would Bad Ben molest anyone between the announcement of the suspension and the end of the first round?
The NFL is so popular that it has become the first pro sports league in history to lend truth to the phrase, ``Any publicity is good publicity.’’
The draft itself has, over the last couple of decades, morphed from an oddity obsessed over by the kind of geeks who now invent fictitious acronyms so they can sound smart talking baseball into a prime-time television special that promised to garner an immense rating.
I had a buddy tell me he was going to try to put his kids to bed early so he could watch every minute, even though most of the players taken in even the first round of the 2009 draft made little or no impact on their team last season. In fact, looking back at that first round confirms that the Vikings would have been silly to consider anyone other than receiver Percy Harvin, even if they had known then the extent of his migraines.
In 1990, I covered my first NFL draft. I spent two days in the basement of Winter Park, the Vikings’ compound in Eden Prairie. The Vikings had traded just about all of their draft picks to Dallas for Herschel Walker (just thought I’d remind you) and it was pretty much a couple of writers, a couple of camera guys and a bag of chips killing an entire weekend.
At the end of each day, the Vikings’ draft gurus, Frank Gilliam and Jerry Reichow, would come downstairs from their office, shrug a few times, and say that some of the guys they took had a chance to make the team, but who could tell?
Mel Kiper had not yet been invented or laquered, and everyone’s favorite draft analyst was a guy named Joel Buchsbaum, who produced a draft pamphlet that every self-respecting writer treated as a bible, to the consternation of NFL personnel directors.
Thursday night, the Vikings were slated to make the 30th selection in the first round.
This column was written well before the Vikings made their first selection. In this case, you didn’t know who the Vikings took to know that their selection probably wouldn’t make much difference in 2010.
If they took a defensive back or an offensive lineman, that player was not likely to start Game 1 in New Orleans. If they surprised everyone (or maybe just me) and selected a quarterback, that quarterback would be at least a year away, and perhaps more, from being expected to contribute.
And that is the greatest compliment you can offer the Vikings’ braintrust: They have pieced together such a strong roster that the 2010 draft should be seen as a way to bolter future teams moreso than the current squad.
The Vikings have excelled in free agency, adding Bernard Berrian, Brett Favre (yes, he counts), Anthony Herrera, Steve Hutchinson, Ben Leber, Ryan Longwell, Visanthe Shiancoe, Pat Williams and Antoine Winfield since 2004.
Under Rick Spielman, the Vikings’ vice president of player personnel, the Vikings have excelled at hitting home runs at the top of the draft.
In 2006, Spielman & Co. took Chad Greenway and Cedric Griffin in the first two rounds. In 2007, it was Adrian Peterson and Sidney Rice.
In 2008, the Vikings traded three of their first four picks for Jared Allen, a brilliant move, and chose Tyrell Johnson _ a starter although not a standout _ in the second round.
In 2009, The Vikings took Harvin in the first round and Phil Loadholt in the second.
All of those move guaranteed that anyone the Vikings selected at the end of the first round on Thursday would play a supporting role.
-Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is complaining about the NFL preempting the NBA playoffs. Way to be a free-marketeer, Mark.
-On 1500ESPN with Joe and Pat at 2:35 Friday, then on at 6-ish with Joe Anderson before the Twins play the Royals. I have tomorrow off from the newspaper.
A video I shot with Mr. Reusse should be up at startribune.com.
You can follow me on twitter at Souhanstrib. If you followed me today, you know I think Jon Gruden is a fool when it comes to draft analysis. If I hear one more ``analyst'' try to tell me that Tim Tebow will be a good NFL quarterback because of his character, I'm going to regurgitate.
Ben Roethlisberger is a jerk, and he won two Super Bowls.
-I'm back to write about the draft Saturday for the Sunday paper, then on Sunday we've got the Gardy Show on 1500ESPN at 9:30, followed by Sunday Sports Talk with myself and Brad Lane. Trying for Twins and Vikings guests.
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