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 Vikings

New LPR

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: March 17, 2013 - 3:49 PM

Doug Mientkiewicz wanted to add one thing to our conversation that was the basis of today's column: ``My biggest regret in baseball is that we didn't win a World Series when I was with the Twins. We thought we would.''

On to today's Local Power Ranking of the seven local revenue sports, which have shifted since the last time I did them:

1. Gopher men's hockey

This team is skilled enough to win the national title. Is it tough enough?

2. Minnesota Wild

I'm quite impressed with the way Mike Yeo has melded incoming stars, holdover veterans and promising youngsters. He's gone from hot seat to coach of the year candidate in my book. Ryan Suter has played brilliantly ever since his first two, quite nervous, weeks in a Wild uni.

3. Minnesota Vikings

Didn't like seeing a team in a passing league lose its only dynamic receiver and best cornerback, but Rick Spielman has a chance to make his plan work. If he can complement Greg Jennings with another quality receiver or two (I vote for Cal's Keenan Allen and one more free-agent pickup), the offense could be better, and if he can use the draft to land a couple of defensive starters, the defense could be more talented.

His plan will only be as good as his execution.

4. Gopher basketball

I'm rooting for Minnesota facing VCU in the first round. Tubby vs. Shaka Smart. Tubby vs. the man who should replace him. Bring it on, please.

5. Minnesota Twins

I'm encouraged by a handful of individuals in spring camp, but not by the pitching staff, and the pitching staff will determine this team's fate.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves

I love the way Ricky Rubio has played, knowing the season is lost and his teammates aren't good enough.

7. Gopher football

Jerry Kill is 4-12 in the Big Ten. Facts are so annoying.

 

Draft mistakes last forever

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: March 15, 2013 - 7:24 PM

This isn't to pick on NFL general managers or scouts. This is to emphasize how difficult it is to draft well, how difficult it is to differentiate between a guy who's going to become a star and a guy who's going to become a barista, and how a choice that seems inconsequential at the time can alter a division or league.

In the 2006 draft, the Vikings used second-round picks on cornerback Cedric Griffin, center Ryan Cook and quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Griffin became a starter, Cook did not, and Jackson became a mediocre quarterback.

The Vikings chose Griffin with the 48th pick, and Cook with the 51st. With the 52nd pick, the Green Bay Packers chose Greg Jennings.

The Vikings just signed Jennings to a five-year deal worth, presumably, lots of money to fill their remarkable void at receiver.

Imagine the 2009 Vikings with Jennings on the field, or the 2012 Vikings.

The Bears chose Devin Hester with the 57th pick. The Jaguars got Maurice Jones-Drew with the 60th. And the Broncos chose Brandon Marshall with the 119th.

I used to make fun of the enormous attention paid to the NFL draft. I can't anymore. Seemingly innocuous picks can alter the league's landscape.

 

Molitor on Birk

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: February 20, 2013 - 12:17 PM
One element of my conversation with Paul Molitor that didn’t make it into my Wednesday column: His appreciation for what fellow Cretin High alum Matt Birk experienced this year.
Molitor grew up in the Brewers’ organization, and made a painful decision to leave Milwaukee for Toronto. As a Blue Jay, he won a World Series ring at the age of 37.
Birk grew up in the Vikings’ organization and was forced out of the organization, in part by then-head coach Brad Childress. They didn’t get along. So Birk signed with the Baltimore Ravens, and this season, at the age of 36, he won a Super Bowl title.
Molitor said he doesn’t know Birk well. ``But we have met a couple of times and like most people that meet him, I think he’s an impressive guy,’’ Molitor said. ``I admire his humility and intelligence and I respect his opinions and his outspokenness. I played in his golf tournament a couple of years ago.
``His is just a story of perseverance for a guy who wasn’t sure what he was going to do when he got pushed out of here, and he got a chance to reach the top. I can relate to that, his first championship coming late in his career. I’m happy for him.’’
And one more thought from Molitor on his current ``special assistant’’ position, in which he works primarily with minor-league player development.
``I’ve got talented people to work with, in terms of our other player development people,’’ he said. ``As part of the organization, I’m hoping that we’ve hit bottom and that the trend forward continues. It’s nice for me to see some of these kids on the verge of getting the opportunity to play in the big leagues.’’
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My new radio schedule: I'm on 1500ESPN at 12:20 on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday with Judd Zulgad and Jeff Dubay. Sunday Sports Talk remains the same, 10-noon on Sundays. We'll host the Ron Gardenhire Show again this year from 9:30-10. Thanks for listening, as always.
 

This week's LPR

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: February 7, 2013 - 3:45 PM

Today's local power rankings look far different than my last attempt to rank local revenue-generating sports teams:

1. Minnesota Vikings

Great week for the local NFL franchise, and its legacy. Adrian Peterson wins the MVP Award, then admits he played at the end of the season despite a sports hernia.

When I was talking to him Saturday night, I asked when he'd work out again. He said ``In four weeks.'' When I asked whether that was doctor's orders, he said, ``You got that right.'' Of course, I thought we were talking about his knee. Wish I had asked whether it was his ``abdomen,'' as the Vikings listed the injury.

Cris Carter made the Hall. Matt Birk won a ring.

Great stuff.

2. Gopher hockey

Fun team to watch. Why No. 2? Because the Gophers need to win the WCHA to fulfill their potential, and until they move into first in the conference, they don't move into first here.

3. The Wild

Disappointing start, but the team's at .500 while sorting out a lot of new combinations in a season without a true training camp.

4. MInnesota Twins

Fans are going to get sick of me saying `Wait until next year,'' but...wait until next year.

5. Gopher basketball

They're at .500 in the Big Ten, which would be fine for a team lacking such high expectations. But it's to the point now where this team isn't even fun to watch. They can't get a clean look in the half-court offense, and they refuse to run, so they're stuck with their lousy half-court offense.

Next time they play a quality opponent that slows down the pace, count how many baskets they score that aren't a result of a covered three-point shot or an offensive rebound. You won't need both hands.

6. Timberwolves

It's sad, seeing what has become of such a promising roster. Wait til next year. Again.

7. Gopher football

I think the idea that the Gophers can't win because there isn't enough talent in the state is bogus. If the Gophers consistently landed a good percentage of the best players in Minnesota, the Dakotas and Western Wisconsin, and occasionally landed an out-of-area gem like Maroney, they'd have more than enough talent to compete.

-Sunday Sports Talk will run from 10 to 12:30 this week on 1500ESPN.

My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

 

Carter in, Peterson waiting

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: February 2, 2013 - 5:35 PM

I covered Cris Carter's arrival in Minnesota. He had earned his dismissal from the Eagles, abusing drugs and alcohol. The Vikings picked him up on waivers because Jerry Burns thought he could turn into a great receiver. Burnsie was right.

Carter was your classic underperforming diva wide receiver when he arrived. He and I hit it off the following training camp. He agreed to a long sit-down interview. He told me if I told his story honestly, we'd get along fine, and if I didn't, he'd punch me in the eye.

I didn't pull any punches, and he didn't throw any. He wanted to make his story public, and he was my go-to guy in the lockerrom until I left the Vikiings beat to cover baseball following the 1992 season.

When I began covering football again, in 1998, Carter and I didn't have the same relationship, but I loved watching him play. Dennis Green gave perhaps the quiintessential quote on Carter: He said Carter expanded the field. It was an early version of the ``catch-radius'' idea. Green meant that with Carter, a quarterback could throw the ball three feet out of bounds, or five feet over his head, or at his toes, and Carter would catch it.

Near the end of his career, I asked Carter how he played so long, as a guy who was willing to go over the middle to make catches. He began listing the people he employed: Nutritionist, physical therapist, chiropractor, chef, personal trainer...the list went on for a while.

I'm not sure I ever covered a more dedicated athlete.

His downside was linked to his greatest strength: He put so much into playing football that he couldn't stomach those who didn't match his commitment.

I think he was deserving of the Hall of Fame. He was elected to the Hall on Saturday in New Orleans.

I'm at the NFL Awards Ceremony, awaiting word on whether Adrian Peterson will win the MVP award.

Carter and Peterson have very different personalities. They have this in common: There is or has been any doubt about their desire to be great.

I stopped Vikings coach Leslie Frazier on the red carpet and asked if he's talked with Peterson about the award. ``Oh, yeah,'' Frazier said. ``He's still upset that he didn't win the Heisman. He'll be the first to tell you he should win this.''

Mark Craig and I will have all the Hall of Fame and NFL award coverage from New Orleans in tomorrow's paper and at startribune.com.

 

 

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