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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Sprinkling the infield and correcting frequent misperceptions...
1. This is the best Wild team in franchise history. Better goaltending, a defensive system that leads to offensive chances, most depth at forward ever, and excellent leadership. The team that went to the conference finals was an average team that played admirably when it mattered most. The Gaborik-Rolston Wild didn't have thsi depth or goaltending. This team has a chance to become the second conference finalist in franchise history.
2. That Reds manager Bryan Price should think that it's the media's job to support the team isn't surprising. I run into that from team employees, players and fans all the time. What's really shocking to me is that Price was stupid enough to embarrass himself on tape with an unprofessional outburst. He's the face of his franchise. He wanted that job. He made himself and his organization look ridiculous.
I'm also frequently shocked by how little teams and media directors do to inform their employees how this is supposed to work. I've had to explain the real dynamic to many athletes and coaches, and here's the deal: We work for our organizations, not the teams we cover. It's not our job to help the team win, or to make the team comfortable. It's that simple.
But I understand the confusion. The lines have been blurred by fan blogs, team web sites, sycophantic team partners and mainstream journalism shills. There are people in my business who should be professional, if not completely objective, and who act like fans. So while I blame Price for his unprofessionalism, I'm not shocked that either his organization or some of the people who cover the team gave him the impression that reporters should be there to help him.
3. Wrote about Steve Ott's buffoonery today. The Stanley Cup playoffs are phenomenal, but the way the game is officiated and overseen is often a joke. If a player is on the ice late in the game solely for the purpose of starting trouble, he should be suspended for the following game, minimum, and his coach should be suspended as well, and the general manager should face a six-figure fine. That's all it would take to stop this nonsense.
4. Will talk about Ott, the Wild, Minnesota sports and general and the Minnesota United FC in particular with United defender Brian Kallman tonight at 5 p.m. at Kieran's Irish Pub, across from Target Center. Can listen in person, live or later at SouhanUnfiltered.com. First 50 to show up and get a free pint of Guinness, plus a couple of other gifts. Follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib for updates.
Thanks for reading and listening.
Last Monday, the Twins played horribly in their home opener to drop to 1-6. They had lost Ervin Santana to a suspension and Ricky Nolasco to an injury. They were playing poorly in the field.
Then they won four of five to win two series on the homestand.
What changed? Often, fortunes change in baseball for no reason other than randomness or pitching matchups. A couple of players told me last night, though, that this change of direction may have been aided by manager Paul Molitor’s talk with the team after the home-opening loss.
According to the players, Molitor spoke of the inevitable ``storms’’ every team will have to weather, and that how a team handles such storms will determine its fate. He was calm, the players said, at a time when the team was frazzled.
That talk may have led to a winning homestand. Remember, the 2006 Twins turned their season around after Ron Gardenhire pulled Justin Morneau into his office for a meeting in Seattle. Morneau had been partying with his Vancouver buddies. Gardenhire merely asked him if he was dedicated to becoming a great player. Morneau went on to win the MVP award and the Twins were the best team in baseball for four months after that.
The right words at the right time can mean a lot in a clubhouse.
Two slumping Twins were rested on Sunday – shortstop Danny Santana and centerfielder Jordan Schafer. These are two very different cases.
The organization remains high on Santana and doesn’t want to move him from shortstop or keep him out of the lineup. Schafer, though, has compounded his erratic play with an erratic approach. Shane Robinson has impressed the Twins with his gamesmanship and has a chance to at least temporarily win the job.
I rarely write about home team advantages, because usually it’s a trite subject. I wrote about the Wild’s home-ice advantage today for two reasons: 1) It made a big difference in the playoffs last year and 2) the Wild was a lousy home team for most of this season.
The Wild regular-season crowd can be quiet and critical when the team isn’t playing well. I think the reason for the Wild’s poor home record this season is that the team has struggled on the power play, and when the power play doesn’t click immediately at the Xcel Energy Center, the crowd can become restless, even yelling ``Shoot the puck!’’ when doing so might not be the best idea.
That will probably change tonight. Sheer crowd noise made a difference during home games last year and should make a difference again this playoff season.
I picked the Wild to win in seven games. But given the Blues’ recent struggles in the playoffs on the road, and the Wild’s strong play the last three months, I wouldn’t be shocked if it were five or six.
Tuesday at 5 at Kieran’s Irish Pub in downtown Minneapolis, across from Target Center, I’ll have Minnesota United FC defender Brian Kallman on SouhanUnfiltered.com. Unlike some previous podcasts, we’ll have the show broadcasting live for those in attendance, will be giving away prizes and will take live questions. Show up, listen live or listen later at SouhanUnfiltered.com
The green jackets have stuck 13 pins within six paces of the edge for today. I just walked the course and what struck me were the placements on 12 and 13. Not that they're unusual, but they could be pivotal, once again.
On 12, the pin is back right. Anything short will probably roll back into the creek. Long leaves a delicate chip or pitch. If a player doesn't feel he needs a birdie there, he might be wise to hit it in the front bunker and take his chances at getting up and down.
On 13, the pin is front right. It's an easy target for a short club, because of the natural backstop of the ridge. It's a very tough target if you want to go for it in two, although the greens have been remarkably receptive this week because of the damp conditions.
At noon, I'll be live on SouhanUnfiltered.com talking about today ,and the week at The Masters.
Good morning from Augusta National, site of my favorite sporting event. It's a little overcast but not threatening this morning. The course should be a little damp but the pin placements are brutal. Will be fascinating to see how players like Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods approach this setup. They'll need to fire at pins, but doing so will bring in great risk.
My favorite quote from Tiger Woods that I didn't use in today's coverage illustrates that he's thinking about winning, even though he's 10 shots back.
``You saw what happened in '96,'' Woods said. ``You saw what happened with Rory in 2011. You never know around this golf course. Anything can happen.''
Woods references Greg Norman's epic choke job and McIlroy's disastrous back nine on Sunday.
Woods is trying to get into Jordan Spieth's head.
We'll find out this afternoon whether mind games make any difference with Spieth.
Remember, playing in the final pairing at The Masters last year, Spieth shot a 72. That wasn't good enough to beat Bubba Watson, but it wasn't a choke.
I'll be doing a live show from The Masters at noon today at SouhanUnfiltered.com. Please tune in, or listen later.
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