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 Football on TV

All-Star ideas, plus a baseball tweak

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 26, 2015 - 8:50 AM

The NFL held its Pro Bowl and the NHL held its All-Star game on Sunday.

Part of my job is to consume as much of newsworthy, noteworthy sports on television as I can. I didn't watch a minute of either.

Judging from today's reports, I didn't miss anything.

Here's how I would ``fix'' the All-Star events, or at least make them more watchable:

NHL: Hockey without defense is a bad idea. Goals in and of themselves are rarely pretty. They're exciting because they occured against a bunch of defensive players trying to stop the puck, or crush the shooter. Hockey requires intensity to be entertaining. So instead of paying each player a nice fee for making the All-Star game, throw all of that money into a pot, add a few million to make it enticing, and give all of the money to the participating players on the winning team.

Wouldn't you love to see the best players in the game playing hard for that last goal?

Basketball: Again, make it a winner-takes-all game, and tweak the rules. Install a four-point line to reward extra-long shots. And make dunks worth four points. Nobody wants to see mid-range jump shots in an All-Sar game, Reward the spectacular.

Baseball: This remains the best of the All-Star games, because it is the only one in which the defense is performing to the best of its abilities. One tweak: Allow players to reenter the game. The flaw of the baseball All-Star game is that the subs are in the game for the deciding innings, and it's possible for both teams to run out of players. If the bases are loaded with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, with the home team trailing by one, would you rather see the manager forced to use the player scheduled to bat...or would you like to see him call Miguel Cabrera off the bench, even though Cabrera left the game in the third inning?

NFL: Football without fully-engaged defenses might be even less entertaining than hockey without defense. My longstanding suggestion: Scrap the Pro Bowl and make the NFC and AFC battle in an old Superstars-style competition.

For the younger generation, Superstars would take star athletes and have them compete in events like sprinting, tug of war and the obstacle course. With the winners taking home loot

This format created one of the great moments in non-tradiational sports history. Here's a recap of it by ESPN and former St. Paul Pioneer Press writer Jim Caple:

``The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings met in Super Bowl IX in New Orleans in January 1975, a game that included 16 future Hall of Famers (counting coaches Bud Grant and Chuck Noll), Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain defense, Minnesota's Purple People Eaters and legendary quarterbacks Fran Tarkenton and Terry Bradshaw. That game, which the Steelers won 16-6, was not the most dramatic or memorable showdown between the two teams, however. That distinction goes to an epic, 16-minute tug-of-war on the sands of Waikiki held two weeks later as part of ABC's "Superteams" competition. After it was all over and the two teams lay moaning and exhausted in the sand, Dick Button -- yes, that Dick Button, the figure skating guy -- told a Sports Illustrated writer, "Nothing -- nothing, not even my own Olympic victories -- has ever moved me like that."

JEFF SIEMON, former Vikings linebacker: "It was the worst physical strain I've ever been under. It was the most intense, brutal abuse I've ever gone through -- and maybe by far."

DAVE OSBORN, former Vikings running back: "The tug-of-war was the toughest, most physical thing I've ever done, bar none. As far as being tired, I have never been more fatigued. I was always in great shape as a player. Practice was always a breeze. But when you have got to do something for a length of time and don't dare let up, it drains you. It was 16 minutes, but it seemed like 16 hours."

BEV OSBORN, Dave's wife: "You just wanted them to win the Super Bowl, but this was wondering if everyone was going to still be alive when it was over."

=============

I love that incoming baseball commissioner Rob Manfred had the guts to suggest that baseball's defensive shift might be outlawed.

I liked the shift when it was a novelty that rewarded progressive thinking. Now it's a common stratagem that takes away hits. I no longer like it. Make fielders stay in a rough semblance of order. Let's see good hitting rewarded.

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Latest podcasts at SouhanUnfiltered.com: 105.1 The Ticket's Bob Sansevere and I telling stories about the best characters in Vikings history; Strib hockey writer Michael Russo on the Wild; Twins GM Terry Ryan on his health, past and future; USA Today football writer Tom Pelissero on the Patriots, Seahawks, and the reaction he's received from scientists about the Deflatriots.

Next podcast: Today, 5 p.m. at The Local with Twins president Dave St. Peter.

My podcast network, The Alive&Social Network, now has a house containing a studio, and we're going to start doing live music shows as well as talking about music and sports. Follow @Aliveandsocial on Twitter to keep up to date.

Also, I'll be appearing on 105.1 The Ticket with Bob Sansevere every afternoon at 3:30.

Thanks.

@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.

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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

On DeflateGate, Vonn, Wilson, Wild

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 19, 2015 - 8:37 AM

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.

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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.

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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.

@Souhanstrib

An actual ``good'' morning in Twin Cities

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 18, 2015 - 10:04 AM

Twin Cities sports fans Let's enjoy today.

We wake to one of the best sports days of the year - NFL championship Sunday - after a day during which the Timberwolves, Wild, Gopher basketball team and Gopher hockey team all won.

While we can, let's cite a few positive developings in our winter of discontent:

-Andrew Wiggins keeps getting better. The Wolves' incompetence has given him and opening, and he has walked right through it, becoming more assertive as an NBA rookie than he ever was at Kansas.

-The Wild's trade for goalie Devan Dubnyk has paid off instantly. I believe the Wild would have been better off losing big this year, securing a high draft pick and resetting for next season, but Dubnyk has been better than expected. Maybe the positive development here is that the Wild gets to give Dubnyk a full tryout and decide whether he can become their goaltender of the future.

-It's been a terrible season for Gopher senior Andre Hollins. Saturday, he hit 7-of-10 three-pointers, and the Gophers won. That link shouldn't surprise. College basketball might be the most overanalyzed game in existence. The team that hits shots usually wins.

-Gopher hockey has been a disappointment. Saturday, the Gophers earned a blowout victory over a bad Wisconsin team.

As I wrote about in the Sunday paper, the four coaches and four quarterbacks in the NFL title games today all offer wildly different resumes. You never know who the next great quarterback or coach is going to be.

Strangely, of the four great or potentially great quarterbacks playing today, I think I'm most fascinated by Russell Wilson. Being a short, scrambling, running quarterback with average receivers is not supposed to be a formula for success in the modern NFL, but Wilson has made it one. He makes the right play at the right time, and is not only the best running quarterback in the NFL, he may be the only one who seems to know exactly how to avoid big hits.

Enjoy today...and yesterday.

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

Latest podcasts at SouhanUnfiltered.com: Strib hockey writer Michael Russo, former Viking Leo Lewis (who recalled that he and his father were both cut by Bud Grant), Twins GM Terry Ryan...and a lot of other fascinating people.

@Souhanstrib

NFL picks

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 16, 2015 - 1:02 PM

Between the NFL playoffs and the college football final four, I've picked winners in all but two games.

I missed on the Colts beating the Broncos, and I picked Alabama over Ohio State.

I'm not picking against the line, because that's fundamentally crazy. You're going to pick a team to cover a point spread that means nothing to that team? In other words, the team might blow it by taking a meaningless safety or pulling its starters late in the game? Not for me.

My picks for the title game weekend are admittedly boring. I'm taking New England and Seattle.

I would consider taking Green Bay if Aaron Rodgers and Eddie Lacy were 100 percent healthy, but they're not. I don't like an immobile quarterback, even the great Rodgers, at Seattle.

I think the Patriots could win by even more than the Seahawks. The Colts won last week because Peyton Manning couldn't get the ball down the field. That won't be a problem with Tom Brady. I think Brady will have a big game and then lose another Super Bowl. I think the Seahawks will be the rare team to repeat.

Think about that: Seattle will win it one year in part because they had Percy Harvin on the field, and may win another in part because they got rid of him.

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

Tonight's live podcast: Myself and Strib hockey writer Michael Russo from O'Gara's Bar and Grill on Snelling, just off 94;

Wednesday, 5 p.m. at Kieran's Irish Pub downtown (right across from Target Center, ignore the construction), I'll have great local rocker G.B. Leighton on stage. He'll play a few songs and we'll talk about sports and music. Next Friday, 5 p.m. at O'Gara's, locally-based USA Today football writer Tom Pelissero will join me to set up Super Bowl week and talk Vikings.

You can listen to any podcasts live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com.

Thanks.

@Souhanstrib

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