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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As Zach Parise has spent three days hearing pitches from teams, discussing deals with his agent and meeting with his family and advisors, I've heard fans accuse him of becoming the next Brett Favre, of actling like a diva and keeping teams, and the free agency process, on hold.
Give me a break. Give him a break.
He's a thoughtful guy who's taking all of these immense offers seriously and doing his due diligence before making one of the biggest decisions of his life. He has to weigh opportunities to win, money, cities and travel. I don't blame him a bit for taking his time.
Plus, it's been three days. Three days! If he had signed on Sunday, that would have meant that he knew where he was going before free agency even started. He spent much of Tuesday traveling.
The people complaining about Parise's patience are fans who think it's Parise's job to make them happy, and media members who didn't want to be bothered on July 4.
This really isn't about you.
The longer Parise deliberates, the more you have to believe he's taking all offers seriously. That can only help the Wild.
By next year, none of us will remember whether Parise took three or five days to make this decision., Only his decision will matter.
I'm writing about the Wild's pursuit of Parise for the Wednesday paper. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Instead of covering another Twins loss or NFL concussion, I was assigned to cover the Swarm game on Saturday night.
The Swarm lost, 15-3, to Edmonton.
If this were a major Minnesota sports team, I would be critical of this performance, but my willingness to criticize local athletes and teams is directly proportional to their earning capabilities and potential. I'm not going to pick on the little guys.
If you care about the Swarm, I can tell you they have 12 rookies and a bunch of high draft choices next season, and that they had the executive and coach of the year this year, and that the games are pretty high-energy. I have friends who like going to the games.
I played lacrosse in college and at the club level and have an appreciation for the skill of indoor players. Outdoor players get to shoot at a 6-by-6 goal with a goalie wearing minimal protection. Indoor players shoot at a 4-by-6 goal with a goalie who looks like the Michelin man guarding it. It takes a lot of skill and precision to score in the indoor game.
I have a column on the Swarm in the Sunday paper.
Tomorrow, I'll be back covering the Twins, starting the morning with the Ron Gardenhire Show at 9:30 on 1500espn, and followed by Sunday Sports Talk. We plan to have Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony, a Vikings executive and ESPN personality Michael Collins, a former caddy who's covering the Players Championship.
Antony is always good on the state of the Twins and the minor-league system, and Collins is a blast. And I'm sure our Vikings guest will be in a very good mood.
Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Kevin Love is embracing his role, perhaps embracing it better than any Wolves player since Sammy Cassell.
Against a good team, and a good defensive team, Love struggled for three quarters against Philadelphia. Then he won the game. He took over offensively, and he took the ball with a little more than three seconds left and his team down one, drove, drew the foul, hit the free throws and won the game.
As he has improved almost monthly over the last two seasons, Love has erased the reasons for doubting that he can be a superstar.
He's scoring like a superstar. He's rebounding like a superstar. He passes better than most superstars. He's improved defensively. And now he's leading his team.
This was a big victory for the Wolves, who only a handful of days ago looked like they had hit a wall.
Love, Rubio and Pekovich have all exceeded expectations this season. That's quite a compliment to Love, who faced high expectations coming in.
Covered the Wild game today, and wrote about Chad Rau's crazy day and his game-winning goal for the Monday paper.
I was left with this impression: Mike Yeo is not crazy. Sometimes he sounds a little wacky because he's so talkative and during this losing streak he's been so desperate to change his team's fortunes.
But every time I've been around him, I've liked him, and found him to be honest and blunt. Let's face it, no coach sounds good when his team is losing. This was an impressive win today, though, beating the defending Stanley Cup champs a day after looking like dogs in St. Louis.
I don't see this as a playoff team anymore, but I still believe, despite all of the struggles the last two years, that the braintrust of Leipold, Fletcher and Yeo has a chance to produce a winner in St. Paul sometime soon.
The reactions to my Joe Mauer column today were predictable. Many emailed to say they liked it. Some even took it to an extreme and attacked Mauer in ways I never would. Some criticized me for writing it, or for the way in which I wrote it.
I appreciate the feedback, and I'll answer a few FAQ's here:
-I don't write headlines. I didn't call him ``Clueless Joe,'' the headline writer did.
-No, I couldn't get anyone to go on the record criticizing Mauer. So I went through the team media guide, counting all of the people I've spoken with about Mauer since last summer. I counted 18 people who are either in key positions or who know Mauer well. Of those 18 people, 15 were either disgusted or confused by Mauer's demeanor. Three defended him, by saying he didn't know how to deal with his ailments or how to explain his predicament to the public.
But the people I've known the longest and trust the most expressed severe disappointment with Mauer, both because he did not seem in a rush to take the field, and because he didn't see anything wrong with his approach.
I think one possible excuse for Mauer could be that he feels he was misled or given poor advice by medical people employed by or used by the Twins, and was worried that playing with pain would cause reinjury. But he's never said that.
Maybe he can't say that.
But for every person who tried to find a way to defend Mauer, a bunch of other people just thought he didn't understand how important he is or how symbolic he is, now that he's a $184-million player.
-Thanks to all the people who wrote to say ``You'll never get another Joe Mauer interview!''
I don't think newspapers do a good job of explaining the different roles of different writers. Beat writers are employed to cover teams, to provide news and analysis. Sometimes they write opinion, but usually it's their job to simply cover the team.
I'm an opinion columnist. It's my job to write opinion, to write bluntly. Not always: I also write features and soft stories and nice columns. But I feel I owe readers my honest opinion, whether that opinion will please my editors or alienate readers or not. After talking with people about Mauer all winter - and in light of conversations I had myself with Mauer - this is a perspective I thought was important for our coverage of the Twins.
True, Joe probaby won't want to talk to me now. That's OK. If I wrote opinions only to endear myself to athletes and coaches, I wouldn't be doing my job.
-No, I don't hate Joe Mauer. I generally like him. I've been covering him since he was in high school. I like his family and friends a lot, although I'm sure they aren't pleased with me right now.
-How do I think he'll do this year? My guess is he'll bounce back and hit .330 and catch about 110 games. He's very capable of doing that for the next five years.
But that won't change the fact that, in my opinion, he did not fulfill the requirements of being a franchise player last summer.
I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 on Monday. I'm heading to spring training this week and will be in Fort Myers for a while. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
I like Mike Yeo. I'll take his side in his flare-up with Marek Zidlicky. I don't think he had much to do with his players choking against Nashville on Tuesday night,
I will take issue with this: He shouldn't have blamed the loss on his players being tired. The home team, playing with a big league, coming off the All-Star break, can't use that excuse.
Pressed on that matter, Yeo said that professional athletes, after a five-day break, are likely to be lacking in conditioning. I don't buy it. Hockey players who have been skating hard since last summer should benefit from a break, should come back with fresh legs.
Also, this is generally a young team. Fatigue should not be a factor with them.
Tuesday night, the Wild absolutely choked. No further explanation is needed.
I'm at the X tonight, writing about the Wild resuming its schedule and Marek Zidlicky complaining about Mike Yeo. Congratulations to colleague Michael Russo for breaking the story. We'll both have much more on this developing situation throughout the night and in tomorrow's paper.
Right now I'm sitting next to Michael and he's wearing all kinds of brown. Brown loafers with lighter-brown shoes with some kind of brown-check pattern, all of which mesh nicely with his brown jacket and pink shirt.
So, I'm jealous.
Fashion aside, I wanted to touch on something I tweeted last night while watching the Wolves dominate Houston.
I've always thought that Michael Beasley's best role would be as a Microwave-style sixth man who could come in with the second unit, jack up shots and be pulled if the opposing coach started running plays to victimize his defensive weaknesses.
But maybe the easiest solutions are the best. Maybe Beasley, a gifted shooter and driver who also can be a gifted passer when he wants to be, is the Wolves' solution at shooting guard.
No, he's not a perfect fit. He's not very good defensively, he sometimes shoots too much and holds the ball too long, and he's not really a guard.
But I'd rather have Beasley as an oversized shooting guard who can dominate opposing shooting guards on offense and give the Wolves another primary offensive option, than keep seeing Wes Johnson stumble around.
Beasley, despite his size, is a better ballhandler than Johnson. And he's a better passer. And if last night was any indication, he's learned that in Rick Adelman's offense, if you move the ball there will be plenty of quality shots for everyone.
Beasley's a likeable guy. Watch the way he interacts with Kevin Love and his other teammates. They're fond of him. And he is too talented for the Wolves not to explore just how good their lineup can be when he's playing correctly.
Having Adelman in place simplifies a lot of personnel decisions for the Wolves. If someone like Darko or Beasley can't perform well in this offense, with Rubio passing and Love spreading the floor with his three-point shooting, then the Wolves won't have to have any regrets getting rid of those guys.
But I think Beasley could find a niche here, soon.
Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 each weekday, and Tom Pelissero and I will run Sunday Sports Talk from 10-noon at the studio for a change this Sunday. I have a special guest planned, and we'll do our last NFL pick and speak with ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert.
Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
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