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.
Find him on Twitter
Thursday night, I watched the Twins and Rangers from the press box, while watching the A's and White Sox on my Ipad, while tracking the NBA game on espn.com, and then got to the Twins' clubhouse in time to ignore Michael Cuddyer's post-game interview while watching the NBA finals on one of the big-screen TVs that hang over the players' lockers.
So, for a moment, Alexi Casilla trumped LeBron James.
Even if this stretch of competent baseball winds up meaning nothing, you had to sense, if you were at Target Field last night, that seeing Alexi Casilla drive in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth, then run to first with his right fist in the air, brought back a lot of memories.
As horrid as this team has played for most of the season, this is the same manager, coaching staff and system that has produced three of the greatest comebacks in franchise history in the last eight years. The Twins were buried at the All-Star break in 2003, in early June in 2006 and by a few games in the waning days of the 2009 season, and won the division all three times.
If you care about math at all, you'd have to write this team off. They're 11 games out of first in mid-June, and 10 games behind a loaded Detroit team, and most of their quality players remain on the disabled list, and their bullpen, whatever its recent results, remains a tire fire.
If you looked at any other team this far out this far into the season, you'd write them off. Nobody would take Houston or the Cubs seriously in this situation.
And yet, the Twins are making themselves compelling once again, even though they have the second-worst record in baseball.
If you want to spend the summer watching meaningful baseball, this is wonderful news. If you think the Twins' farm system needs help, this is dicey. The worst-case scenario here is that the Twins play well enough to prevent them from trading for prospects in July, and yet not well enough to truly contend for a playoff spot.
Let's not overlook the business of baseball, though. The Twins will be much more willing to carry a hefty payroll next spring if they sell a lot of tickets this summer. You'd like to see the Target Field honeymoon last for more than a year and a couple of months. With Ben Revere and Casilla playing like latter-day piranhas, at least the Twins are making us watch right now.
-I want to believe that Ricky Rubio will be a decent NBA player, but he's stinking it up in Spain right now, and while he stinks it up, the Wolves continue to fail to make a decision on Kurt Rambis.
I want to believe that this group has some chance of making the Wolves competent, but I just don't think there's anybody in a decision-making position in the organization who can make a good decision. How can the status of their coach remain undecided this close to the draft? How can Rambis have a chance to keep his job after the way he coached the last two years?
-I love that Billy Beane fired manager Bob Geren today. Here's a guy who pretends that managers don't matter, and yet he fires his manager before the movie ``Moneyball'' can make it into theaters. Will the release of the movie be delayed until the A's are out of last place? Will theaters even exist then?
-Only caught a bit of the NBA game, but saw enough to catch LeBron doing what he so often does: Putting up an impressive stat line without making big shots down the stretch.
I picked Miami in seven games, and I'm sticking with that. My guess is that these tremendous playoffs, this tremendous Finals, will culminate with James taking the game-winning shot. Despite lots of evidence suggesting otherwise, I'm guessing he makes it.
Of course, I wrote that before I saw this statistic from ESPNStatsInfo on Twitter: ``Dirk Nowitzki has now outscored LeBron James 52-11'' in the fourth quarter this series, including 8-2 on Thursdahy night.
-Wrote about Joe Mauer for the Friday paper. I'm not sure I've ever heard so much criticism of a popular local athlete of great accomplishment who hasn't broken any laws or called out any teammates. Mauer simply has given people reason to believe that he's putting his own personal comfort over the needs of his team. In the sports world, that's a bigger crime than a DUI.
-Had a chance to speak with Leslie Frazier this morning while working on an upcoming story. I've had the opportunity to have a couple of lengthy talks with him, and I can see why he'd be so good with players and fellow coaches. He's one of those guys who has ``It,'' that combination of confidence, charisma and friendliness that compels people to follow.
-I'm passing on a note I received from Harmon Killebrew's longtime PR rep Molly Mulvehill Steinke:
``Although the Kwik Trip Harmon Killebrew Classic is sold out, there is still a chance for the public to honor Harmon on his 75th Birthday.
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.
I've done some homework on the possibility of the Twins trading ace Francisco Liriano, or signing him to a long-term deal.
After talking to a few people, I believe that the Twins have no intention of trading Liriano - or signing him to a long-term deal.
Liriano will start the season with the Twins. The only way they'd trade him this season is if they fall out of contention and a contender makes a great offer for him.
The fact that they had trouble even agreeing on a one-year deal for Liriano this year is one of the many indications that the Twins aren't going to give him big money long-term, at least not right now.
The Twins are over budget, so if Kyle Gibson continues to impress and the other starters stay healthy this spring, they could deal one of their righthanders - Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn or Kevin Slowey - before the end of spring. My guess would be Slowey going to a National League team.
-If Twins manager Ron Gardenhire hadn't casually mentioned that Joe Mauer was getting a shot to lubricate his surgically-repaired knee, we may not have ever found out about it.
Mauer hates talking about his injuries, and has been remarkably successful, in an era when most sports news breaks with minutes, at downplaying his ailments.
But Gardenhire did mention that Mauer received a shot in his knee and on Wednesday morning Mauer confirmed that he will receive a series of four shots.
I don't think there is any reason to be alarmed in terms of this season. Remember, the year Mauer missed all of April because of a back injury, he went on to win the MVP. I think keeping him from behind the plate in spring training is a good idea.
Long-term, this is the latest sign that a 6-5, 230-pound catcher may not last forever at the position. While he needs to play catcher to help justify his $23-million a year salary, I highly doubt that his knees will last too many years at the position.
Michael Cuddyer is likely in his last season as a Twin. Jim Thome could be gone after this season. (He told me the other morning, ``I know this doesn't go on forever.'' The Twins will have to make a decision on Jason Kubel after this season. And Delmon Young is a volatile stock - he could become an All-Star...or relegate himself to DH duties if he has another poor season in the field. And none of this even considers the possibility of further problems for Justin Morneau.
So there will be openings for Mauer to play in the field if he has to shift from catcher in the next few years. I don't see it happening in the next two seasons, but at some point, those knees are going to get tired of squatting beneath all that weight.
-Gotta love David Kahn. After trading for Anthony Randolph, he explains that the Wolves need Randolph to match up with Western Conference power forwards like Pau Gasol and Blake Griffin.
Because, you know, when it's the seventh game of the Western Conference finals, that Randolph-Gasol matchup could be vital.
My god. Kahn's brain may be headed to the Western Conference finals, but the team he put together is putting together the most embarrassing season in the history of a frequently-embarrassed franchise.
Pau Gasol will be long gone by the time the Wolves have to worry about matching up with the Lakers in a big game. And by gone, I mean he may have perished due to natural causes.
-Another stunningly beautiful morning here at Hammond Stadium. The weather in Fort Myers has been incredible. Not trying to make you jealous, just expressing my appreciation for spring training. This is quite a gig.
-As I tweeted last night, Sunday Sports Talk generated huge ratings the last couple of books. Thanks to everyone who listens. This Sunday, partner Tom Pelissero will be in Indy at the NFL combine and I'll be in the press box at Hammond Stadium. The show is 10-noon, and we'll have at least one Twins guest, and probably an NFL figure or expert.
-Because we couldn't get the games on TV last night at the Star Tribune rental house in Fort Myers, I was following them on GameCast with La Velle. Late in each game, here was my best guess:
-The Gophers would blow the lead.
-The Wild would gut out a victory.
-The Wolves would play a lousy fourth quarter and lose.
Now, I'm wrong a lot. Anyone who makes predictions and frequently states opinions is going to be wrong a lot. But these were pretty easy.
-My twitter name is Souhanstrib. I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 today with Phil Mackey and Patrick Reusse.
Again, thanks for listening, and reading.
Trading Corey Brewer for Anthony Randolph and Eddy Curry's expiring contract certainly makes sense.
Brewer was never going to play significant minutes for a winning team. He looked so good this year because the Wolves have so few energetic players, so few players who even attempt to play defense, that Brewer stood out.
Trading him makes sense. Acquiring a talent young underachiever, in Anthony Randolph, also makes sense.
Aquiring Michael Beasley, signing Darko Mlicic and trading for Randolph are all moves that make sense in terms of the outgoing and incoming assets. Beasley could become a star. Randolph could become a force. Mlicic has given the Wolves a presence at center.
What's problematic is David Kahn's desperation to make a splash. He is filling his roster with talented young players who may not ever figure out how to play winning basketball. He is creating cap space for free agents who will never sign with the Timberwolves. If Randolph or Beasley becomes a star, Kahn can claim he's a personnel genius, but will either ever be a star on a good team, or, at their best, will they be spectacular athletes on bad teams?
I still say if the Wolves are ever going to turn the corner, it will be because they begin drafting well. Kahn's horrific first draft is still the defining moment of his tenure, and even though DeMarcus Cousins has been a pain in the butt, I"d still take his talent, especially if he were playing for the right coach.
-Justin Morneau took batting practice for the first time in camp today, wearing a batting helmet (most players just wear caps when facing coaches throwing BP.)
He looked OK. He hit a few shots to rightfield, but looked rusty. I guess that's to be expected.
In terms of putting on a show in batting practice, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Jim Thome and Danny Valencia were impressive. Delmon Young looks impressive physically - I tweeted earlier than his arms are bigger than Mark Rosen's massive head. Rosie didn't think that was nice.
-I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 every weekday. My twitter name is Souhanstrib.
Quick thoughts on a Saturday afternoon in New York:
-The Twins got pretty much nothing in return for Johan Santana. Saturday, that didn't look like such a bad deal.
Santana's stuff just isnt' that good right now. He says it's because of last year's elbow surgery, but I don't know. I thought when the Twins traded him that he would have a couple of dominant years before started fading.
When you stand next to Johan, you realize he's probably about 5-11, 180 pounds. There just isn't a lot of mass behind his pitches, so I figured he would eventually lose velocity, and that his elbow wouldn't be able to handle the tremendous torque his changeup puts on those ligaments.
He's 5-5 with a 3.55 ERA while pitching in the National League. Not impressive. By laying off his changeup on Saturday, the Twins scored four runs in the first before Santana settled down. I just wasn't impressed with Santana. I wrote about him and his woes for the Sunday paper.
-I was joking with Joe Mauer about his big Saturday night in New York, and he laughed and said, ``You know me.''
Me: So you'll be asleep in two hours?
Joe: ``Pretty much.''
-I asked Morneau if he's pretty comfortable seeing Carl Pavano on the mound. ``Almost as comfortable,'' Morneau said, ``as seeing him in the batter's box.''
Pavano went 2-for-3 while pitching a shutout. He's also become a very good quote for we in the media. Heckuva move by the Twins, trading for him last year and re-signing him this winter.
-Santana said Jason Kubel's first-inning double was the key to the game.
-So David Kahn is admitting publicly that he's going to trade Al Jefferson.
Let me say it again: Big mistake. Why would you trade your best player when he's still young and while his trade value is at its lowest point?
I know he needs to get better defensively. I know he's not athletic. But the guy can score and rebound. How about working with him a little?
-Can we really take American soccer seriously when we lost to Ghana? After barely beating Algeria? Who were we going to face next, Grenada? Antartica?
-Got this sad note from Molly Mulvehill Steinke of Nemer Feger, who works with Harmon Killebrew on his charitable efforts:
Harmon Killebrew's granddaughter, Caitlyn May White, was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy with WPW Syndrom just two weeks before her 9th birthday. (Mid-April)
Caitlyn now has to wear an AED vest all day, every day, in case her little heart stops. If the medications don't work, she will need a heart transplant. Because of her "severe" condition, her cardiologist immediately put her on the heart transplant list and began what he called "long-shot" immediate medication treatment to try and shrink her heart.
Harmon is asking his friends and fans to help raise money for Caitlyn's care and medical treatment.
He is hosting a golf tournament in Arizona on Wednesday, June 30.
They are also setting up an online auction. Nita and Harmon are first asking for everyone's prayers and secondly, asking for any auction items, prize or cash donations.
All proceeds will go into a care and medical treatment trust account for Caitlyn set up at Wells Fargo Bank.
For more information, could you please send your readers, listeners and viewers to www.harmonkillebrewfoundation.org <http://www.harmonkillebrewfoundation.org/> ?
Direct monetary donations can be made to: The Caitlyn May White Trust, c/o Megan Aubrey, Trustee, 6748 N. Double Eagle Lane, Meridian, ID 83646.''
-My twitter name is Souhanstrib.
-On 1500ESPN on Sunday, we have the Gardenhire Show at 9:30 a.m. followed by Sunday Sports Talk from 10-11. It's a short show because the Twins' pregame shows begin at 11 for a noon start.
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