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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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.
Catching up on the day in sports while I wait for the three healthy Timberwolves to play Charlotte tonight at Target Center:
-I'm happy for Torii Hunter, and happy that he'll be visiting Target Field more often next season.
Hunter signed a two-year deal for $26 million with the Tigers. I think the Tigers were right to over-pay Hunter, who isn't the dynamo he once was but remains a valuable corner outfielder who will improve the Tigers' lineup and team personality.
He's still an excellent fielder with a strong arm, and he is driven to win a World Series before he retires. I don't know how to place a dollar figure on personality, but Hunter will be a positive influence in the Tigers' clubhouse.
When you're the Tigers and your goal is to win the World Series, it's reasonable to overpay for an older player who suits your needs.
-When will NFL players learn? The NFL fined Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins $30,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Jay Cutler, one of the most vicious plays of ths season.
Cutler had run toward the line of scrimmage and dumped off a short pass. As he relaxed while looking left, Dobbins smashed his helmet into Cutler's chin, leaving Cutler injured.
I don't think $30,000 is enough. So much money and prestige is at stake in the NFL that the penalty for illegally brutalizing the opposing quarterback should be far greater.
Dobbins excused his hit by saying that Cutler was running with the ball and that Cutler actually ran into him.
In other words, Dobbins, like so many NFL players, hasn't adapted to the concussion era. That's why the NFL should be as vicious with their punishments as Dobbins was with his hit.
-Speaking before the game, Rick Adelman sounded almost bemused by his team's injuries. He said he's never seen anything like this. He's down to nine healthy players and hopes to get J.J. Barea, Nikola Pekovic and Brandon Roy back soon.
He raved about Andrei Kirilenko's defense and hustle, saying he appreciates it even more after he watches game tape.
He also lamented the loss of Chase Budinger for months to a knee injury, saying, ``He was big for us.''
-Charlotte guard and former Wolf Ramon Sessions is scoring 16 points per game off the bench for Charlotte. Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is averaging 12.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists.
-Some readers of today's column on the Vikings' stadium deal asked why I wasn't hard on the Twins for selling personal seat licenses. Simple. The Pohlads invested lots of their own money in Target Field, more than they were required to, and they limited the PSLs to elite seats. The Wilfs are exploring PSLs for a large number of seats. I continue to be against that.
-I'll be on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. tomorrow.
I'll be covering Lochte-Phelps later, but right now I'm at the Olympic Park basketball arena watching the new Russian Wolves, Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved. It's halftime, Russia leads Brazil, 40-32. Kirilenko has 12, Shved 9.
Shved doesn't have a lot of rotation on his outside shot, but he's hit a very long three, and he has a great feel for when to drive and how to run an offense. Kirilenko continues to dominate.
We're somewhere near the midpoint of the Olympics. My highlights so far, in no particular order:
What a great city. Now, I've had better meals at my local McDonald's, but if I had the time, I'm sure I could find some good Greek and Indian cooking, and I still hope to at some point. My sister lived here, and said that if you go into the pubs, keep it simple, and if you want a good meal, go to an ethnic restaurant run by people of that ethnicity. Rachel Blount found a great meal at a Greek place by our hotel, and that's on my wish list.
Otherwise, it's a sprawling, diverse, beautiful, atmospheric city. And unlike New York city, even though there are throngs of people everywhere, it never feels overcrowded to me. I'd vacation here.
-Strawberries and cream
Or, as they say here, ``strawbries n cream.''
I was prepared to be disappointed, but the strawberries and cream at Wimbledon are excellent. But I couldn't bring myself to try the ``bangers.''
As I wrote the other day, it's a beautiful place that reminds me of Augusta National and Fenway Park, in terms of historic sporting events bleeding every shade of green.
Every Olympics brings its own transportation nightmares, but, going just by my personal experience, we have great choices here. You can take your time with a bus ride that could turn into a free, wonderful, guided tour of London, or you can jump on the Javelin (the high-speed train) or tube, and get where you're going very quickly.
In part because of all of the Minnesota connections, and in part because the United States teams tend to play very late at night, so I can catch them after covering other events, I've spent a lot of time at basketball.
I'ts been great stuff. The Russian Wolves are playing extremely well and are very personable. Kevin Love has emerged as a key player. And the three Lynx, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore, have been a treat, both for the way they play and because of the class with which they conduct themselves.
-Lindsey Berg, USA volleyball captain and former Gopher
Selfishly, she's exactly what writers hope for at the Olympics - a key player who is eager to promote her team and her sport.
Now I'm looking forward to track, and watching the US women's soccer team, assuming they make it to the semifinals.
Watching Usain Bolt in Beijing was one of the highlights of my career. As I write about for the Friday paper, he could reenact his dominance, or his recent problems could turn Yohan Blake or Tyson Gay into the new champion.
I'm checking in periodically with 1500espn from London. My next appearance will be at 2 p.m. with Reusse and Mackey, and I'll try to call in for part of Sunday Sports Talk, sometime between 10 and noon this Sunday.
Please follow on Twitter at @Souhanstrib
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