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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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
It's raining in London. This is news only because of an amazing run of uncharacteristically spectacular weather.
Doesn't affect me. I just watched Brazil beat Australia, 75-71, and I'm waiting on US-France and, later, Russia-Great Britain. I'm here to watch three Wolves - Kevin Love, Alexey Schved and Andrei Kirilenko.
London is a great city, and one of my favorite aspects of this trip is the language. A few translations, with the British version first, followed by the American English translation:
1. Mind the gap/Watch your step
3. Spot of bother/annoyance
6. Black coffee/Espresso without milk or cream (Brewed coffee is not common here. The best coffee shops serve espresso drinks. A few have ``filtered coffee'' listed at the bottom of choices, as an afterthought)
11. Good bits/Most attractive portions of the opposite sex
12. Pint/Serving of beer or ale
In fact, I had porridge just before walking through the rain today, so I'm feeling very Bri'ish.
Also, the English love their adjectives. This is the home of the television series ``Absolutely Fabulous,'' after all.
You hear a lot of ``Brilliant,'' ``Fabulous'', ``Re-Markable,'' ``Absolutely.''
What's really cool is hearing a 3-year-old speaking like Sir John Gielgud. (Google him, youngsters.) This makes the tots sound very mature even when they're screaming for ice cream.
Love the White Sox's approach on Francisco Liriano: Beat him up, reduce his trade value, scare off other suitors, then trade for him at a reduced price. Brilliant!
Hearing that the Wolves were the only team willing to give Brandon Roy two years of guaranteed money. I love the addition of Roy to a team desperate for a quality shooting guard, but that's scary, that no other NBA team would give him a second year. Wolves fans have to hope this wasn't another example of David Kahn overreacting to the chance to be associated with a big NBA name.
I'll be calling in to 1500espn this morning between basketball games, probably at 11:35 or so. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
Who would have imagined a few months ago that our most prominent winter sports teams would add Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko?
The Wild, one of the most boring teams in the NHL the past two seasons, should now be entertaining, and should make the playoffs.
The Wolves now feature a starting lineup that, when the knees of Roy and Ricky Rubio are willing, will look something like this: Rubio, Roy, Kirilenko, Love, Pekovic. With a bench of Budinger, Ridnour, Barea, Stiemsma and Derrick Williams.
In short, the Wolves have added depth and talent without sacrificing Williams or trading away first-round draft picks. Kirilenko will add length to the Wolves' defense, and can score and get to the line without hogging the ball. He should mesh well in Adelman's offense.
The Wolves could have made a bigger splash, by trading for Pau Gasol or Nic Batum. But they would have had to sacrifice valuable assets to get those players. They may be better off, long-term, by adding Kirilenko as a free-agent and helping Williams develop into either a starter or a more valuable trade chip.
The Wolves will also be improved because they won't be relying on Wes Johnson, Mike Beasley, Anthony Randolph and Darko to play important minutes. This is the definition of addition by subtraction.
Could we see the Wolves and the Wild in the playoffs? I think so. Especially if Rubio recovers well and Roy can play valuable minutes.
I hope to watch the Russian team with Kirilenko and Alexey Schved on Sunday, and get Kirilenko's thoughts on playing for the Wolves.
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.
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