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 Twins management

Now that was a press conference

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 29, 2014 - 4:55 PM

My column for tomorrow's paper (and online, of course) will address the Twins' managerial search. I have a nomination.

For the moment, though, let's acknowledge that what happened this afternoon was remarkable.

A pro sports organization fired a longtime manager, then held a press conference where the guy who did the firing and the guy who got fired sat next to each other, and the guy who got fired made bald jokes about him and his former boss.

The guy who got fired brought two of his kids to sit in the front row as he said his goodbyes.

The guy who got fired said he agreed with the decision.

At the end of the press conference, the guy who got fired got up, walked away, turned back and said, ``I'll see ya, boss.''

I think the Twins made the right decision. It was time for Ron Gardenhire to go.

For the moment, though, let's enjoy the uniqueness of this afternoon.

Gardy cracking jokes. Terry Ryan speaking bluntly about why he fired his old friend, and why he thinks he should stay on the job. A media relations department that set it all up on the fly.

My column will get into my evaluation of the organization and what it should do next.

For the moment, let's give the Twins and Gardenhire credit for being so remarkably gracious and blunt on what had to be a painful day for all involved.

Knowing how much losing eats at Gardenhire, and that he has had health scares over the years related to high blood pressure, it's my hope that he takes at least a year off and rests before his inevitable return to the dugout.

I frequently butted heads with Gardenhire over the years. I wasn't a fan of many of his strategical moves, and I thought he got too emotional in the late innings.

What I'll always appreciate about him is his sense of humor, his work ethic, his loyalty to his staff, and the way he treated people who can easily be mistreated in baseball clubhouses - the clubbies, the organizational worker bees, and women.

In the early 2000s, one Twins player said a few things to a female reporter that were inappropriate, at best. Gardenhire immediately addressed the player and apologized to the reporter, who wasn't even offended.

Having met plenty of Gardenhire's friends, I came to like Gardy the human much more than Gardy the manager.

So I hope he gets to spend a  little time being a human before he subjects himself to the rigors of managing a big-league team again.

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I'll be on 1500ESPN at 12:15 on Tuesday, and on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 a.m. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

Baseball finally delivers

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 28, 2014 - 1:50 PM

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.

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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.

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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.

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Here's how Glen Perkins got here...

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: July 16, 2014 - 12:40 PM

What a week. I thought Minneapolis and Target Field put on a great show all week, from the Futures Game through Glen Perkins getting the save last night.

All week, Perkins talked about pinching himself, that he wasn't sure this could be real - a local boy pitching at an All-Star game in his home ballpark.

Here's the link to the column I did this spring on the turning point in Perkins' career:

http://tinyurl.com/n4gsatu

Or, if you prefer text, here's the text:

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN
  • Star Tribune
  • February 24, 2014 - 11:03 AM

FORT MYERS, FLA. – Glen Perkins is an All-Star closer who has spent his entire life in Minnesota. He is the rare Twins player who lives in state year-round, has become a centerpiece of the Twins’ marketing campaign and has vowed to play for them as long as they will have him.

It’s easy to forget that three years ago the Twins considered trading him, and only Perkins’ intervention led to what he calls “a great life.”

Perkins butted heads with his coaches at the University of Minnesota, then quarreled with his Twins bosses. He was on his way to becoming another first-round bust when, late in the spring of 2011, he walked up to Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson.

“I can remember it like it was yesterday,” Anderson said. “He came to me right here and said, ‘Can I talk to you? I was born and raised in Minnesota, I’ve spent my entire life in Minnesota, I want to be a Twin. I want to be a better teammate, I want to be a better pitcher, don’t give up on me.’

“There was some talk of making a trade, then all of a sudden he saw the light.”

Perkins remembers traveling from Fort Myers to Clearwater, Fla., with the Twins and not pitching.

“That’s the first time that had ever happened to me,’’ he said. “I was angry.”

He walked into manager Ron Gardenhire’s office and asked why he hadn’t been informed he had made the team.

“I told Gardy, ‘I want to play here, if you’ll have me,” Perkins said.

Gardenhire said he would call Perkins later in the day. Perkins figured that was a brushoff. He picked up his father-in-law and headed to Sanibel to fish.

“The phone rang before we got to the causeway,” Perkins said. “Gardy said, ‘Pack your bags, you’re going north with us.’ ”

Perkins had a similar experience with the Gophers. The Stillwater High School product made lousy grades during his first semester in college. The Gophers redshirted him, and he spent his second semester “figuring out how to be a college student.” One day, Gophers pitching coach Todd Oakes called him about a rumor that Perkins wanted to transfer.

Perkins said that if he was going to leave, he already would be gone.

“I think that was the moment for Todd where he said, ‘OK, he’s committed, he just needs to figure out how to do it.’ I never had any more trouble.”

Why so much conflict? “I guess it’s a character flaw of mine,” Perkins said.

Now he’s Mr. Minnesota, or at least hangs out with someone vying for that title.

Perkins and Joe Mauer played for the USA in the World Baseball Classic and for the American League in the All-Star Game last year. They could play in the next All-Star Game, at Target Field.

With Mauer having twin daughters and wintering in Minnesota instead of Fort Myers, the two were able to enjoy the Polar Vortex together. “We played hockey,” Perkins said. “Well, it was more like ice dancing. No sequins, though.”

They talked about their kids. They talked about their futures, with Perkins signed through 2016 and Mauer through 2018. They talked about how losing feels, and what winning at home would mean.

“We agreed that if we had crappy season after crappy season it would be worth it if just once we could win it all here,” Perkins said. “That’s the carrot dangling in front of us. The experience of winning a World Series in your hometown — what Kent Hrbek did — makes it all worth it.

“I want to be the closer of this team when we get to the playoffs. I got to see Joe Nathan do that a whole bunch.”

In the last few days, Perkins became the centerpiece for Twins television and radio commercials, and has dined with the Gophers baseball staff, with the team playing in Florida. One conversation changed him from an anti-authoritarian trade chip into a representative of all that is right in Minnesota sports.

“Either I hinted to them that I didn’t want to be here, or they got that impression,” Perkins said. “I think they appreciated what I had to say. For a guy to say, ‘This is where I still want to be,’ no matter how rough the going was, I think they respected that.”

Jim Souhan can be heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10 to noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

Easy fix to derby

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: July 15, 2014 - 6:13 PM

Last night's home-run derby went on far too long, and yielded a final between Yoenis Cespedes and Todd Frazier.

Bo-ring.

But last night's derby offered an easy-to-find clue about how to fix the event.

There were two outstanding moments last night: The ovation that greeted Justin Morneau, and the home run that almost left the ballpark.

Giancarlo Stanton hit a shot estimated at 510 feet that reached the last handful of rows in the third deck of leftfield. That's what people will remember, and therein lies the lesson:

The Derby shouldn't be about hitting the most home runs. It should be about hitting the longest home runs.

Want to fix the derby? Make it quicker. Give each player 20 swings, with the guy who hits one the longest winning the whole thing. Then every swing would count, and every swing would be taken with the intent of hitting the ball out of the ballpark.

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Kent Hrbek said the All Star game gave him a chance to meet up with old teammates who came to town for the game. They ate at J.D. Hoyt's the other night. The guest list: Hrbek, Greg Gagne, Scott Erickson, Tim Laudner, Randy Bush, Scott Leius, Rick Aguilera and Roy Smith.

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I'll be on 1500ESPN at 12:15 tomorrow.

Twins players want chance to win?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: July 14, 2014 - 9:52 AM

In our Twins gamer today, players lobbied for general manager Terry Ryan to either stand pat or trade for help.

They're asking him not to trade off pieces.

This is why general managers should never listen to players.

The Twins aren't good enough to make the playoffs. Deep down, even the players know that. They're just mouthing words players are supposed to mouth this time of year.

Ryan made his bones as a general manager trading players he didn't need for prospects the franchise desperately needed. Any Twins player who has long-term plans with the franchise should want Ryan dealing at this time of the year.

He shouldn't trade just to trade, but if Kurt Suzuki, Josh Willingham, Jared Burton, Brian Duensing or Kevin Correia can bring value in a deal, then Ryan is obligated to do it.

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Covering All-Star interviews and events today. Will be on 1500ESPN at 12:15 with Mackey and Judd, and on WFGO with Mike McFeely in Fargo at 3:30.

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