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 Gophers players

A good idea realized

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: March 4, 2015 - 9:05 PM

Fort Myers, Fla.

Gophers baseball coach John Anderson said he got ``emotional'' on Wednesday afternoon, when talking with old Gopher teammate Paul Molitor about managing each other in the Twins' first game of spring training.

Molitor said, ``It was fun, especially once I got into the flow of the game.''

It was Molitor's first game as a manager. ``I was out there flashing signs the whole game, which is different,'' he said. ``Once I settled in, it was really enjoyable.''

The Twins used to open play against local Edison College. Then, because of the relationship between Ron Gardenhire and the Concordia staff, Concordia visited, even it for a scrimmage on the back fields.

Playing the Gophers is an upgrade in all sorts of ways. It gives more Minnesotans reason to visit Fort Myers. It pairs two famous Gophers - Molitor and Twins closer Glen Perkins - against their old school and their friend Anderson. It gives them a college opponent with high-end talent.

Some observations on the game, a 3-1 Twins victory:

-Perkins was fired up, saying he had more adrenaline than he's ever had in early March before. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning.

-MIguel Sano has tremendous bat speed. But we knew that. What was impressive was his foot speed. He stole a base and looked a little like a defensive end running a stunt when he steamed around second base.

-Byron Buxton hit doubles in his first two at-bats. The first was a hustle double on sinking liner to right-center. The left was a pulled shot down the leftfield line.

Molitor did address a mistake Buxton made, pulling Buxton aside after he scored on Kennys Vargas' two-out double in the first. Buxton coasted home, creating the possibility that if Vargas had been thrown out at second, Buxton may have crossed the plate too late for the run to count. ``He broke down a little early,'' Molitor said. ``You can't do that in that situation.''

-I felt sorry for the kids who had to face Michael Tonkin in the ninth. Tonkin has very good stuff, and it's time for him to be on the big-league staff.

-Watching Vargas take batting practice before the game, he responded well when asked to react to situations. Asked to foil an imaginary shift, he hit line drives the other way. Asked to advance runners, he produced ground balls to the right side.

-The Twins wil run something close to their ``A'' lineup out tomorrow in the true home opener against Boston at Hammond Stadium.

-My last 3 podcasts from spring training: Dave St. Peter, Eddie Guardado, Torii Hunter, all at SouhanUnfiltered.com.

@Souhanstrib

On deflated footballs, Rubio, missed shots

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 21, 2015 - 9:57 AM

Keep getting asked why it's such a big deal that the Patriots deflated footballs.

The questions I'm hearing:

-Why does it matter?

-Is it really an advantage?

-Isn't it just because the Patriots win, and nobody likes Belichick?

These questions are irrelevant.

If you cork your bat and strike out, you still corked your bat. If you take steroids and fail to perform, you still took steroids.

And there is a benefit to deflating footballs. It makes them easier to throw and catch. And if the Patriots knew they were going to play with deflated footballs, I'm sure they practiced with them all week.

The Patriots would have beaten the Colts with any form of ball in play. That doesn't mean they didn't cheat, or shouldn't be punished for cheating.

------------

Ricky Rubio is belatedly becoming in danger of being not only a draft bust, but a contract mistake.

He's been out for months with a sprained ankle. He does not appear close to returning. It's time for the young man to act like he cares about playing basketball.

The best thing that could happen to the Wolves at this point would be further tests on his ankle that reveal something more serious is wrong. Otherwise, this is the worst sprained ankle in sports history - or Rubio isn't particularly interested in playing basketball and fulfilling his contract.

------------

After their comebacks fell short against Ohio State and Iowa, Gophers players were crushed. They had played brilliantly late in the game to force dramatic endings.

Today, if they're still talking about being one shot away from a victory, they should be ignored.

They were within a shot of Nebraska last night because Nebraska played horribly all night. The Gophers lost because they played even worse. That wasn't a dramatic loss - it was a horrific loss. Neither team deserved to win.

That might have been the most important game of the season. Had the Gophers won, they would havre moved to 2-5. They would have had a two-game winning streak, with an easy upcoming schedule. They could have made a strong move toward .500.

Now they're just a lousy team in a mediocre league.

--------------

Tonight at 5 p.m. at Kieran's Irish Pub, great local rocker G.B. Leighton will be my guest for my podcast at SouhanUnfiltered.com.

Thursday at 3 p.m., Strib hockey writer Michael Russo will be my guest. Friday at 5 p.m. at O'Gara's, USA Today football writer Tom Pelissero will be my guest. Monday at 5 p.m. at The Local, Twins president Dave St. Peter will be my guest.

Thanks in advance to all of these people who have been so generous with their time. You can listen to the podcasts live, or anytime later, at the website.

And thanks for listening.

@Souhanstrib

Heckuva morning read

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 6, 2015 - 8:58 AM

I'll admit it: Even I, a lifelong newspaper person, sometimes blow off the morning paper.

I figure I"ll catch up on my phone or laptop later, and I usually do, scanning the major headlines and checking Twitter for updates.

Here's why that's stupid, for me and for you:

When I (or you) read the actual newspaper, I find things I would never seek out or notice online.

This morning, the front page of the Star Tribune featured a piece by veteran reporter Randy Furst on a Brooklyn Park man being accused of trying to overthrow the Gambian government.

It's a fascinating read, and not just because the code name he gave one of his cohorts was - I'm not making this up - ``Dave.''

The United States government is prosecuting a Gambian man who tried to overthrow what he believes to be a corrupt and sinister government in is home country. It's a movie plot spelled out on the front page of your local paper, with great details provided by Furst.

Also on our front page: Oil dipping below $50 a barrel, which could mean - get this - American families could have $115 billion more to spend this year in disposable income.

Also on the front page: Science proves that cold weather does indeed increase the strength of cold viruses.

In sports, on a slow news day, we have a perspective piece by David La Vaque on the dearth of female high school hockey coaches in girls hockey, and Phil Miller's interview with the always-entertaining Eddie Guardado on his inclusion on the Hall of Fame ballot.

On Page 2, we have a Nuggets nugget from Michael Rand on one of my favorite topics: Modern coaches' efforts to re-think traditional approaches. NBA and NHL teams hold shoot/skate-arounds the mornings of games in part to keep their players from staying out all night. Now the Nuggets are finding that their players are staying out anyway, and considering scrapping the morning shootaround so their players have time to sleep.

Here's my grander point:

None of those are stories I would have sought out online, and they may be my favorite stories of the day.

Somewhere along the line, newspapers became uncool. So my suggestion to modern readers is to look at the newspaper not as a newspaper, but as an amazingly cheap service: A printout of online stories you might love, and might have otherwise missed.

I've read a lot of studies that make the case that people are far better informed when they read the newspaper than when they rely on other outlets for information. It's easy to see why.

-On a completely different note, I found the words ``panic button'' in at least two stories this morning.

People: There is no such thing. I've never seen one. Asking an athlete or coach if it's time to push ``the panic button'' is inane and pointless. What is the best possible answer you will get to that question? Stop it. Thank you.

-Interesting week. I'll be at the Gophers-Ohio State game tonight and at Wild-Blackhawks on Thursday. It's rare to have two important games in hockey or basketball in early January, but these qualify.

-Wednesday night, Twins general manager Terry Ryan will be my guest at Kieran's Irish Pub, across from Target Center, at 5 p.m. for my podcast. You can listen live or anytime to that and my other podcasts at SouhanUnfiltered.com. Thank you.

@Souhanstrib.

Mike Grant on his future, Bud's past

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: November 21, 2014 - 2:51 PM

I’ve been interviewing people for a long time. The hour or more I spent with Eden Prairie football coach Mike Grant might represent the best on-the-record conversation I’ve had in 30 years.

Grant said he’s contemplating retirement, so he can write books. He may write about race relations, after watching the demographics of Eden Prairie change dramatically during his tenure. He may disappear into the woods with his father, Bud, the legendary former Vikings coach.

He also told me that his father came close to never playing sports or coaching football. When Bud graduated from high school, he told his father he wanted to live off the land, to hunt and fish and forgo college. Instead, he attended the University of Minnesota on the GI bill, subsisted on five-for-a-quarter candy bars and a all-you-can-eat-for-a-buck spaghetti at Café di Napoli in Minneapolis, and lived off the generosity of Star Tribune sports columnist Sid Hartman.

Bud is 87. Mike is 57. Mike says he wants to spend time hunting with his father while he can, and that may mean leaving a program that is trying for its fourth straight and 10th total state championship tonight at TCF Bank Stadium.

``My dad didn’t want to go to college,’’ Mike said. ``He got out of the war he wanted to go hunting. He just wanted to go live in the woods. My uncle tells the story of him and my grandfather arguing, fighting, my Dad saying, `I want to go into the woods and hunt. That’s it.’

``His brother says it’s truly what he wanted to do. He would disappear for days when he was 15 or 16 and be gone hunting and fishing, where he has his cabin now. My grandfather would say, what, you want to be a `Hunyuk’ your whole life? I don’t know what that is. Whatever a Hunyuk is, it can’t be good.’’

I’m writing about Mike’s future and Bud’s past tonight. It’ll be in the Saturday paper and online at startribune.com. If you want to hear our full conversation, in which Mike weighed in on race, Jerry Kill, college recruiting, Red McCombs, Rick Spielman, high school coaching, hungry kids, Tim Brewster, Glen Mason, Jeff Diamond, Sid, Tom Kelly and John Gagliardi, you can find it on my podcast at Souhanunfiltered.com, along with conversations with Paul Molitor, Michael Russo, Mark Craig, Ross Bernstein and Sean Barnard.

Thanks for reading, and listening.

@Souhanstrib

Teams stink, bosses don't?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: November 13, 2014 - 10:45 AM

Ok, let's call this more of an infant working theory than any kind of proclamation.

Our local teams are not exactly pinning championship banners on top of championship banners, but this year of seemingly perpetual losing feels different. Doesn't it?

There is no David Kahn, hopelessly overmatched and somehow oddly entertaining.

There is no Tim Brewster talking about hot chili or scoring last.

For a bunch of struggling teams, suddenly our towns have a lot of leaders you can believe in.

The Vikings are 4-5. But...

Mike Zimmer has already made players like Anthony Barr, Everson Griffen and Sharrif Floyd better. Harrison Smith is playing better than he was a year ago. Xavier Rhodes has improved. Josh Robinson ,when healthy, has been better.

Norv Turner is missing the two most important pieces of his offense, Adrian Peterson and Kyle Rudolph (who I thought would be the biggest beneficiary of Turner's arrival), yet has squeked out four victories while breaking in a rookie quarterback behind a surprisingly horrid offensive line.

If you can set aside his personal views, you'd have to admit that Mike Priefer is very good at his job. (Although Chris Kluwe is better than Jeff Locke. No contest.)

Rick Spielman has made a dozen shrewd moves the last couple of years, including trading Percy Harvin at the right time for the right value, and, along with Zimmer, identifying Barr as a worthy use of the ninth pick in the draft.

The Wolves are 2-5. But...

I love the enthusiasm Flip Saunders has brought to the job, and the way he has used his young players.

I picked this team to win 25 games this year. Maybe they're better than that. What really matters is that Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Anthony Bennett develop into quality NBA players. LaVine has acquitted himself far better in Ricky Rubio's absence than I would have expected, and Saunders seems to have a good working relationship with Rubio. This is a team worth watchng, if only because Wiggins is going to make more and more astounding moves as the season wears on.

The Wild is 7-7. But...

I don't fault Mike Yeo or Chuck Fletcher. I like this roster. Maybe they overestimated Thomas Vanek, but if Zach Parise had stayed healthy, Vanek's struggles might not have been as costly.

When Parise was healthy, I thought this team was continuing the play like it did down the stretch and in the playoffs last season.

The Twins are...never mind.

It's been four terrible years, and I know people are tired of my saying that Terry Ryan is one of the best GMs in the business, but that's what I believe. I also will continue to say that if Byron Buxton, MIguel Sano and Alex Meyer can stay healthy and get to the big leagues, they'll lead a resurgence that will have the Twins contending in short order.

I loved the hiring of Paul Molitor, the smartest player I ever covered. So far, I like the staff - Tom Brunansky did good work last year, Gene Glynn has always been one of my favorites, and Rudy Hernandez, born in Venezuela, could provide an important language link to Sano and other young players from Latin America.

I'd love to see Eddie Guardado hired as the bullpen coach.

The Gopher football team lost to Illinois, and Richard Pitino didn't make it to the NCAA tourney his first season, but...

Both were well down the original list of candidates. The Gophers chose wisely/lucked out with both. Kill has put the football team in position to play big games in November two years in a row. Pitino has brought energy and an entertaining style to the Gopher hoops program.

I don't know how successful any of the current cadre of coaches and managers is going to be. But there is a wealth of intelligence and expertise around town these days. That's a start.

-----------

I'll be doing my first podcast for @aliveandsocial network today at 3:30 from O'Gara's in St. Paul. Molitor will be my first guest, and I"ll also speak with local author Ross Bernstein about the ways we researched stories about Randy Moss in the past. We have different stories to tell than ESPN.

Planning on doing the second podcast at The Devil's Advocate on Friday night at 7. May even break out the guitars after that one.

You can follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

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