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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You can bash David Kahn for any number of reasons, but bashing him for trying to joke about the draft lottery being fixed is to take yourselves - and his comments - way too seriously.
We tend to overanalyze everything in sports, but we shouldn't parse every public comment made by every public figure. We need to allow these people to make an attempt at humor - successfully or not - and extemporaneous speech. The alternative is living in the worst that is fast-approaching - a world of canned, processed quotes issued in press releases.
Get off Kahn's back.
Unless you want to pick on him for the way he does his job. Then, fire away.
-If the NBA draft lottery were fixed, the Cleveland Cavaliers would not have gotten the first and fourth picks in this draft. If the NBA draft lotterhy were fixed, the Los Angeles Clippers would be a marquee team. If the NBA draft lottery were fixed, Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard wouldn't have wound up in Orlando, and David Robinson and Tim Duncan wouldn't have wound up in San Antonio and the Knicks wouldn't have been so bad for so long.
-What's scary about Kahn landing the No. 2 draft, is it creates an opportunity for him to get creative. If he would have landed the first pick, he might have been obligated to take Kyrie Irving. If he had landed the third pick, he might have been obligated to take the best big man available, or trade the pick.
At No. 2, he should take Derrick Williams, adhering to the philosophy that a team this bad should always take the best availabel player. At No. 2, with Williams playing the same position as Kevin Love and Michael Beasley, Kahn could try to swing some 16-team trade that lands him Ralph Sampson, Hosea Crittenden, 12 second-round draft picks and lots of ``cap space'' he can use to not sign star free agents.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
-I was so happy to see that Sandy Stephens will be inducted into the college football hall of fame. This is a well-deserved honor.
-After watching the Twins this season, I will no longer be able to make fun of soccer for its lack of scoring and long periods of uninteresting play. In fact, now that I'm conditioned to watching the Twins, I'm not sure my heart would be able to bear the excitement of watching soccer.
-Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 on Thursday and Friday. Sunday morning, Tom Pelissero and I will return to the studio at 9:30 for the Ron Gardenhire Show (we'll take more calls this week; please ask a short question and withhold your stories) followed by Sunday Morning Sports Talk. We hope to have a former Twin and an NBA analyst on.
-Belated congratulations to St. Thomas basketball coach Steve Fritz, who is retiring from the sideline to concentrate on his duties as athletic director.
Received a number of interesting emails in the wake of our Joe Mauer package in today's paper. (Yes, we still print a newspaper.)
The most interesting came from a reader who noted that a position change wouldn't necessarily keep Mauer off the disabled list. After all, players at positions other than catcher get hurt, too.
While that's true, I'm basing my premise - that Mauer needs to shift positions to be an everyday offensive force - on years spent around Mauer, observing his routine and his habits. I see a guy who invests an incredible amount of time and thought in catching. I see a 6-5, 235-pound man with a long history of leg ailments. I also believe that modern athletes over-train.
While we all make fun of the odd pro athlete who proves to be an irresponsible slacker, most modern athletes are remarkably dedicated. They spent 12 months a year working on their bodies and their jobs. Mauer is such a modern athlete, and I think getting out of the crouch, and spending fewer hours every day, all year, would allow him to fulfill his offensive potential.
Here's a guy (to borrow a phrase from Frank Caliendo mimicking John Madden) who has won three batting titles and an MVP without even concentrating on his offensive capabilities. His current numbers are remindful of Rod Carew's, and I believe that relieved of the burden of catching, Mauer would become one of the greatest average/on-base-percentage hitters in baseball history, and he may even increase his power production.
What's fascinating about all of this is that noone knows. Not Mauer, not the Twins, not his teammates, not us. Noone can predict exactly how his body will react either to continued catching or a position change. But I'd rather see him change positions than continue to be worn down. And, of course, I get into all of this in today's column.
-Congratulations to Kevin Love on winning the NBA's Most Improved Player award.
He deserves it. What's strange about Love as a phenomenon is that I don't think I've ever encountered a player who is more celebrated nationally than locally. It usually works the other way around.
ESPN loves love. The Dan Patrick Show loves Love. And yet locally, he's more of an oddity than a celebrity.
This is, of course, another example of how far the Wolves have fallen in the public's eyes. If I had told you a few years ago that a white player would win the rebounding title and run off a remarkable string of double-doubles for the Wolves, you would have thought that the guy would be our No. 1 celebrity.
He isn't, and that's because nothing trumps winning in pro sports. I covered Kirby Puckett in his prime, Dave Winfield and Terry Steinbach near the ends of their careers, and Paul Molitor as he pursued 3,000 hits and a berth in the Hall of Fame, and those Twins teams didn't draw, because they didn't win.
Until Love becomes part of a winner, he will remain, locally, more a pleasant oddity than a star.
-Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn today at 2:40 p.m. Tom Pelissero and I will run Sunday Morning Sports Talk on the Target Field plaza at 10 a.m., right after the Gardenhire Show starts at 9:30 a.m. Feel free to visit, but the woman who pressed her chest against the window is not welcome back.
The elderly man who walked up to our poster and shook his cane at our faces, however, is welcome to come in the booth and join the show.
This weekend, I"m covering the Gopher spring football game, where I believe Gopher fans will induct him into the Hall of Fame, and covering the Twins on Sunday. I know, it's Easter, and my kids are mad at me for working, but it's the first-place Indians!
Quick thoughts on a Monday afternoon, awaiting the kickoff of the only college football bowl game that really matters:
-I’m most interested in how Cam Newton handles tonight’s game. The pressure of being the Heisman Trophy winner. The layoff between games. The hectic schedule required of a Heisman winner. The increasing awareness that he could have made money playing for Mississippi State and now he is, of course, trying to win a national title for a school that would never, of course, ever consider paying him.
-I hate college football’s system, but I love college football, and tonight’s matchup is an example of why this can be the most unpredictable and atmospheric sport of all. Auburn and Oregon never play each other, so the matchup is filled with mystery. Cam Newton will never get another chance at a national title. Few of the participants will get another shot at a national title. This is like Game 7 of the World Series, only with both World Series teams graduating or losing most of the players that made a World Series berth possible.
-Love the Oregon uniforms, and that’s not like me. i generally prefer staid, traditional unis, like Alabama and Penn State. To me, simplicity bespeaks class. But these uniforms work for Oregon. They’re named the Ducks, for one thing. They have little tradition of which to speak. They play in a college football outpost and compete with grander programs like USC, UCLA and Washington, and they play an innovative, breakneck style. Most teams would look silly wearing their garish colors and fake wings. For Oregon, it works.
-I think Chip Kelly is the best coach in college football. Others might say Nick Saban, but it’s easier to wake a giant than to build one. If you watch Oregon play, they’re really not all that fast. Or big. They have been coached to play with great skill and pace, in a system that creates huge running lanes and open receivers. I’d take Kelly over anyone.
-I missed on my Saturday NFL picks and nailed my Sunday NFL picks. I thought Dom Capers would find a way to limit Michael Vick, and I feel this is the postseason in which Aaron Rodgers will place himself among the top handful of NFL quarterbacks, if he hadn’t already. I love that Packers coach Mike McCarthy went to a power running game with an obscure back because he knew power running would work against the Eagles’ overrated front.
-I still don’t know why Jim Caldwell called timeout. His timeout late in the Colts-Jets game, as Cris Collinsworth said, gave a rattled young quarterback time to go to the sideline for a pep talk, and allowed the Jets time to realize that Braylon Edwards was matched up one-on-one with a smaller cornerback. I’m always amazed at how even good coaches (Andy Reid, McCarthy, Caldwell, Tubby Smith) can screw up clock management at the end of games. And Rambis, too.
-The Bears are receiving almost a free pass to the NFC title game. We should have known it was their year after the Calvin Johnson call, still the worst call I’ve seen, ever, in sports. You know why it was so bad? Because the officials all knew he had caught the ball and scored a touchdown, but on the field and then after reviewing the play, decided to make an example of Johnson to aggressively enforce a new rule. Also, that call has me trailing Brad Lane by one pick in our Sunday Morning Sports Talk NFL picks. Not that it matters to me. Just thought I’d mention it.
-Quite a week for me. Last Wednesday, my daughter had her wisdom teeth removed. Today, it was my son. Thank god for Tivo, and ice cream.
-The Big Ten Network has been a dramatic success in terms of ratings, but the announcing can be awful. When Talor Battle hit a big shot to beat Michigan State, one of the bozos yelled - in an outburst that I’m sure was in no way premeditated - ``You sunk my battleship!’’ I’m not making that up.
-Anyone else think the Wolves could be 5-10 games better if they had a coach who knew how to run a team in the fourth quarter? Maybe Kurt Rambis is learning on the job. But is he really going to get much better after all these years of learning under Phil Jackson, after all these years of playing for and working as an assistant coach on championship teams? Shouldn’t he know what he’s doing by now?
-Yes, Kevin Love is an All-Star. The guy leads the league in rebounding by about 2.5 a game, and he’s scoring in the 20s. What more can he do?
-I’ll credit the Gophers’ interior defense with taking Ohio State out of its comfort zone and turning the game ugly enough that the Gophers had a chance to win it late. But the most intriguing part of the day was Al Nolen’s assertion that his team should run more, trying to create more easy baskets. I could not agree more, especially since the Gophers seem so unsure of themselves once they set up in half-court. If they didn’t have Mbakwe attacking the offensive boards, they would be even worse offensively.
-Matt Garza to the Cubs? I like it for both teams. The Rays have to be aggressive in trades, so they don’t get stuck with overpaid players killing their payroll and leaving in free agency, and the Cubs have no reason not to spend money on pitching. Especially now that the Brewers have dramatically upgraded their rotation. I can’t ever think of the Cubs without remembering a conversation I had with Andy MacPhail after he took over in Chicago. We were talking in spring training, and he said he didn’t believe in the `C’ word. That was before Bartman. I think he believes in curses now.
Let's get right to it:
-My take on Mark McGwire: If you're going to confess, you might as well go all the way. Yes, you took steroids to improve your performance. Just admit it already. The more honest your confession, the faster the story recedes into history.
I will vote for McGwire as a Hall of Famer for the same reasons I've always stated I would vote for Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez: They are the players who excelled in the context of the era in which they played. To ban them, in my mind, would be the same as banning white players who didn't have to compete against black players, or pitchers who had the advantage of a tall mound and lifeless baseball, or home-run hitters who excelled in smaller parks.
I am not defending them. I am not condoning their actions. I just think public humiliation is its own punishment, and I think they belong in the Hall not as a reward to them but as an example of players who excelled in their era. They are the best of the steroid era.
If you want to keep them out, then I believe you should keep out everyone from this era, because I believe a high percentage of players from this era used steroids or some other performance-enhancing drug. I believe McGwire and his ilk go into the Hall, and their plaques include mention of their steroid use as well as their accomplishments.
I know this is an unpopular stance, but this is what I believe has to happen, unless we're all willing to blackball an entire generation of players.
-Lane Kiffin is getting bashed all over the country. Dislike him if you want, but I believe that if the contract you signed is not binding, then you are entitled to seek the best deal for you and your family.
USC is a better job, at least for Kiffin, than Tennessee. It's a better football program in a better location with less competition and a better recruiting base. He doesn't have to face Urban Meyer and Nick Saban. And the fan base won't threaten bodily harm if he decides to leave.
These are two-way relationships: Coaches get fired all the time, even when they're ethical. So they are entitled to cut the best deal possible, and for Kiffin, USC is a much better deal.
The only part of these stories that bothers me is that recruits are the only people who can't cut their own deal. I believe scholarship athletes should be as free as everyone else in America. They should be able to leave without penalty at any time, just like an employee.
Why should a commitment made by an 18-year-old be binding if commitments made by adults and professionals are not?
-I believe Pete Carroll will win big in Seattle. All he needs is a franchise quarterback. He's in a lousy division that could become even worse if Kurt Warner retires. I think Carroll is smart and adaptable and will be a better NFL coach this time around - and he wasn't bad last time around.
-The farther we get into the week, the more I think the Cowboys are overrated and the Vikings will win on Sunday.
It wasn't that long ago that the Cowboys lost to a Giants team that quit against Carolina at home and didn't show up at the Metrodome. I sense a big game from Favre.
-Upcoming: Working on a historical column for the Friday paper on the Vikings-Cowboys rivalry. I'm writing for Saturday and Sunday, too. I'll be on with Reusse at 6:40 a.m. Thursday and Friday on am-1500, and on WJON at 7:14 a.m. every weekday in St. Cloud. My FSN debate is Friday night in the Timberwolves' pregame show.
You can follow me on Twitter at SouhanStrib.
I'll be posting daily this week. Seems there's a big game in town.
One of the bogus reasons offered by college presidents for defending the BCS status quo is that college football's regular season is unique, meaningful and worth protecting.
One question: Why?
Where are all the wonderful regular-season games that are worth protecting?
College football is down this season. The elite teams aren't dominant, and we have less reason than ever to believe that there is a clear gap between the best traditional powers and the best non-traditional powers, like TCU, Cincinnati and Boise State.
Instead of viewing the final weeks of the regular season as a natural ramp toward what would be a fascinating eight-team playoff, we are watching mediocre, mostly meaningless games, most of which will be meaningless in determining the national champion.
I really want to love college football. With the current setup, the only game that really matters to me is a national championship game that won't necessarily determine a true national champion.
College football is superior to the NFL in terms of pageantry and emotion, but the NFL offers meaningful games with clear-cut ramifications. I'd rather attend a college game, but I'd rather watch an NFL game.
I'm at Kinnick Stadium today, covering the Gophers-Iowa game. I"ll be at the Vikings game tomorrow. I'll be on Sunday Sports Talk, 10-noon on Sunday.
You can follow me on Twitter at SouhanStrib. I'll use Twitter during the Gophers game today.
Sid has written that Tim Brewster will return no matter what happens today. I don't believe that. Do you really think if the Gophers lost 55-0 today that Joel Maturi would bring Brewster back? And if he did, would that be justifiable?
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