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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The Twins didn't trade away players at the deadline because they think they can still win the division. They didn't trade for players because they don't want to pay the high prices required for them to acquire a bullpen arm when they're in the fourth place in the division on Aug. 1.
They're stuck in the middle. I've heard outrage from both sides, that the Twins should have traded their players headed to free agency, and that they should have sold out trying to win this year.
I'm just not surprised that they did neither. To trade an everyday player or a prospect for a reliever could damage their long-term plans without dramatically increasing this team's chances of winning. to trade away Michael Cuddyer, their most valuable player on the trade market, when they're still in contention would be one way of telling fans not to show up at Target Field for the rest of the season.
From a purely logical standpoint, I believe the Twins should have traded Cuddyer. But the Twins care about their clubhouse culture and rewarding the right players, and Cuddyer is the best organizational player they've had, in terms of being a personification of everything they teach and value, in a long time.
We all begin our evaluation of teams by gauging their ability to win a championship, but there is more to sports than that. If keeping Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Matt Capps around gives this team a chance to win the division and encourages people to buy tickets, then maybe this is the right approach.
I'm on record saying I would have sold pieces off to try to rebuild the franchise's talent base. But while I disagree with the Twins' decision, I also, on a gut level, like it when franchises stubbornly insist on winning, and keep trying to keep a good thing going.
As for the Vikings, this is a strange set a circumstances. They have a first-year coach, a free-agent quarterback trying to learn the offense in a short period of time, a new offensive coordinator, and a slew of very good players who might not have many effective years left in their legs.
Like the Twins, the Vikings are stuck in the middle. To win nine or 10 games, they'll need surprising performances from Donovan McNabb, Bryant McKinnie, John Sullivan, Steve Hutchinson, Cedric Griffin, Jared Allen, Brian Robison...just about every veteran on the team.
How many of their best players are sure things, presuming good health? Adrian Peterson, Chad Greenway, Antoine Winfield...and that's about it. All of their other name players are either aging or coming off disappointing seasons or injuries.
So why should the Vikings avoid a true rebuilding process? Because sport is unpredictable. I still don't think the Bears were all that good last year, but they wound up on the right side of the Calvin Johnson ruling, got to face the Seahawks in the playoffs and suddenly found themselves with a chance to win the NFC title game against the team that would eventually win the Super Bowl.
So my attitude toward the Vikings is the same as it is toward the Twins: It might be smart, in a clinical sense, to rebuild, but neither franchise is willing to give up. And there's something to be said for trying to win every year, regardless of the circumstances. Remember: Rebuilding sounds good until you try it and it doesn't work.
-News just broke, via ESPN, that Randy Moss is retiring.
I think the Vikings should hold a ceremony to honor him. He can stand on a podium at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., and then, as he begins his speech, everyone can walk off, and into the locker room.
And then Matt Birk can finally beat him up.
-Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 today with Pat and Phil, then on with Phunn in the 6 o'clock hour. I'm also hosting the Phunn House on Tuesday night from 6-8:30 on 1500.
I'm in Mankato until Tuesday afternoon, and I'll tweet as warranted at @Souhanstrib.
Two trips to Detroit in a month.
I forget, is that the second or third ring of Hell?
A reader emailed me last night, asking why we don't hammer Bernard Berrian more for being a slacker and one of the worst free-agent signings in franchise history.
He's right. All I can say is that Berrian is blessed to be shielded by low expectations.
Brad Childress made a lot of great personnel decisions, and Berrian helped the Vikings go to the playoffs in 2008 and added an occasional threat last year. This year, he's been worthless. In a normal year, where Brett Favre, Randy Moss, sexting, a stadium implosion, migraines, and a systemic failure (love that phrase) hadn't dominated headlines, we might very well have spent the season castigating Berrian.
He's lucky to be only No. 32 on the list of what's wrong with this year's Vikings.
Remember the good ol' days, when we thought losing Chester Taylor was going to be the worst thing that ever happened to this team?
Right now Berrian is testing his sore (fill in the blank) on the field. I'm sure he'll gut it out and play.
The Winter Classic was great. Take a sport in which you can't see the puck, and play it in a stadium where noone can even pretend to see the puck.
Actually, I think the Winter Classic is a good idea. Anytime the NHL can break up the monotony of its regular season and give the casual viewer a reason to watch, I'm all for it. But hockey is just a weird sport to try to promote. Those who love it will love it no matter what form it takes. Those who don't love it will always be ambivalent because even superstars like Sidney Crosby play only a portion of their games and can't even control when they touch the puck.
I feel for anyone who has gone through the health problems Don Lucia has experienced, but I can't excuse his coaching or the way his team has played.
This was supposed to be a weekend of fattening up on weak opponents. Instead, he loses to Union (is that a brand of jeans or a college) at home, then blows off a shootout so he won't lose to Ferris State (named after Buehller, I hope?).
If only the Gophers athletic department had someone in charge, maybe someone named an ``athletic director'' who could take charge of the program. Someone should look into that.
I fear the Wilfs are going to blow this. I fear they're going to take a good coaching candidate they know and like and let him explore the market, and lose him, and start another coaching search with no guarantee that they'll hire anyone as good as Leslie Frazier.
This is one of those decisions that can be screwed up only by overthinking. Hire Frazier tonight, announce it tomorrow, give Rick Spielman the GM title, and move forward.
Wrote about Brett Favre's last appearance on a Viking sideline in the Sunday paper. Yes, I'm asking you to go buy a stinking paper, which costs less than a foo-foo Starbucks drink, or a gallon of gas.
Here's my newspaper rant: They're the last bargain in America. For a small price you get tons of coupons, funnies, crosswords, Soduku, op-eds, news, and a packed sports section. And if you subscribe to the paper, the premium stuff is all free.
I can't decide whether signing Carl Pavano would be a good thing or a bad thing. He'd flesh out the rotation and provide innings, but is he really worth $10 million a year?
I think the Twins are playing it right. I'd give him two years, but not three.
I still think the biggest issue facing the Twins is whether Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan can be what they once were.
I'll check in after the game. Because what else would I do in Detroit?
Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 p.m. each weekday. My twitter name is Souhanstrib.
If the Twins wrap up the division in the next week, they'll be faced with a delicate decision. Do they rest the players who need resting, or push for the best record in the American League?
Joe Sheehan of SI.com reports that since 1998, when the current postseason format came into play, the No. 1 seed in either league has reached the World Series just 8 times in 24 chances.
And that since '98, the teams with home-field advantage are 45-39 in series overall, not an impressive rate considering the team with the home-field advantage usually had the better record over 162 games.
Also: The two times in the last 10 years the Twins have had home-field advantage in the playoffs - against the Angels in 2002 and the A's in 2006 - they got pummeled.
Perhaps the only way home-field advantage could prove crucial would be if the Twins faced the Yankees. The Twins play markedly better at home than on the road against the Yankees. And if there were a Game 1 in Yankee Stadium, the entire focus would be on how poorly the Twins have played in the Bronx. If the opener is at Target Field, the national media would be more likely to focus on the Twins' successes and new stadium.
-The injury rate and increased awareness of the debilitating effects of concussions are having quite an impact on the NFL. Already, many of the most promising teams have serious injury issues - the Jets with Jenkins, the Packers with Ryan Grant, the Eagles with Kevin Kolb, the Vikings with Sidney Rice.
The question is, what's the tipping point here? At what point do we start to feel guilty that grown men are sacrificing their brains and other body parts for our entertainment?
Probably never. We love our entertainment, no matter what the cost.
-After talking to a few people, my guess is the Twins' playoff rotation would look like this: Frankie Liriano, Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing, Nick Blackburn.
The only tough decision is who to start in Game 1, because that person would also start a potential Game 5. The Twins love Liriano's stuff and recent dominance, and Pavano's composure. I think I'd lean toward Pavano.
-Reminder: My band, the Media Jackals, plays Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. at O'Gara's Garage. We're playing a short set, probably be off the stage by 9-9:15, then Beautiful Noise, a Neil Diamond cover band, takes the stage.
-Reminder: I make daily appearances on 1500espn with Joe and Pat at 2:40 p.m.
This Sunday, we'll have the Ron Gardenhire Show from 9:30-10, then Sunday Sports Talk from 10-noon, with guests including Kevin Seifert of espn.com, Tom Linnemann with a small-college update and NFL picks, a Twins player and FS North basketball analyst Mike McCollow to talk about the world championships and David Kahn's literary career.
La Velle and I will shoot another video late tonight, after the game.
If the Colts get to play the Jets in the AFC title game, will they rest their starters?
I take back anything nice I ever said about Wade Phillips. He and his staff were outcoached to a ridiculous extent today in the Dome.
Every Viking player I talked to said they knew what the Cowboys were going to do all day. I thought the Cowboys actually dominated the game physically in the first quarter and got nothing out of it.
They missed two field goals. They asked an iffy kicker to try a 48-yard field goal on fourth-and-inches when they were driving almost at will. They went to the Wildcat formation when Tony Romo was picking apart the Vikings' secondary, short-circuiting another drive. They didn't attempt to make any plays down the field. And Romo caved in under the Vikings' pressure, looking like Old Brett Favre on Favre's worst days.
Watching the games on Sunday, if you're a Vikings fan, should make you appreciate Ryan Longwell. He's not just accurate - he inspires confidence. As great as Gary Anderson was, you would feel a lot more confidence in Longwell lining up for a game-winning field goal. (My apologies to the Longwell family for jinxing him.)
As I wrote the other day, Vikings' defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier should land a head coaching job after this. He held the hottest offense in football to three points.
That's 25 touchdowns and two interceptions for Favre in the Dome this season. Yes, I think he's coming back.
I think the Vikings will be able to score on the Saints. What I'm not sure is whether the Vikings' secondary will be able to hold up when the Vikings' pass rush doesn't have the advantage of crowd noise on its side.
I don't know who I'm going to pick yet, but I see a high-scoring game.
I dominated in the KSTP Sunday Morning Sports Talk picks. I think I'm beating Reusse by five games at this point, with three left. Unless, as Reusse suggested, we decide to pick the Senior Bowl. (I'm going to take the Northeast.)
Sorry I don't use Twitter or blog more during Vikings games at the Dome. The wireless never works well enough to do so.
Upcoming: I'll be on with Reusse on am-1500 at 6:40, then WJON in St. Cloud at 7:14. I'll be writing Vikings all week. My Monday column focuses on Favre, of course. The Vikings' defense was probably the story of the game, but Favre is the story of the season. The entire NFL season.
You can follow me on Twitter at Souhanstrib.
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