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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Posts about Wolves training camp

Good day for tying up loose ends

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: November 1, 2011 - 11:18 AM

There are certain questions I get asked repeatedly. Let me provide a few answers:

1. I don't write headlines. If you love the headline, I don't get the credit. If you hate the headline, I'll take the blame if you like, but I didn't write it. And while we have a dedicated team of editors who do their best to capture the spirit of a column in the headline, please don't read the headline and fire off an angry email. The opinion expressed in the column might be slightly different, or less vehement, than the headline suggests.

2. I don't write ``articles.'' I write ``columns.'' The difference, and my business does a terrible job of differentiating these things, is that articles are supposed to be based in objectivity and reporting, while a column allows the auithor to express opinions and his or her perspective. It's my job to write opinion pieces, so if you're shocked to see me writing opinion, well, we in my industry haven't done a very good job of explaining to you that that is my role.

The line has blurred over the years, with more beat writers (people assigned to cover specific teams or leagues) writing more opinion pieces, but essentially my job is to do my homework and then tell you what I think. A beat writer's job is to bring you the news.

3. I don't dislike Jerry Kill, and I wouldn't be surprised if, in three years or so, he's fielding a competitive Big Ten team. In fact, I like the guy. I like open, honest, intense people.

I criticized the timing of his contract extension because it looks to me like another amateurish decision by the overseers of Gophers athletics. I'm not calling for him to be fired; I'm saying that he should be forced to prove himself like anyone else in any line of work before he's rewarded.

Sorry, a one-point win at home over Iowa doesn't justify the extension. It was a nice moment and a sign that Kill hasn't lost his players, which is a positive development. But as I've said before, if beating Iowa at home is such a monumental achievement, why didn't Jeff Horton get the job?

4. I haven't been as hard on Leslie Frazier as many of you would have liked because I had low expectations for this team entering the season. I figured this was a 7-9 team, and I wouldn't be surprised if that's about where this team ends up.

I think Frazier is learning on the job, and that should be expected. To me, the key to his tenure might be how his offensive coordinator, Bill Musgrave, handles the offense now that Christian Ponder is in place. Musgrave is highly respected around the league as a quarterbacks coach. Now he has to prove he can run an offense effectively. Sunday was a start, with Musgrave using Percy Harvin creatively and getting Adrian Peterson involved in the passing game.

5. I haven't been as hard on Ron Gardenhire as many of you would like because I think the average fan is nuts when it comes to evaluating managers. Take the World Series. Both managers made egregious strategical errors, and yet Ron Washington almost guided his team to a title, and Tony La Russa won the title with a team that shouldn't have even been there.

All managers, even the greats, make moves that make us scratch our heads. And no manager can win without pitching depth and talent.

I didn't see Gardenhire performing any differently this season than he did when the Twins were considered baseball's model franchise. He's not the X factor.

6. Don't take my predictions any more seriously than I do. After all, I thought the Twins were going to be good last year.

7. I'm hearing that the NBA lockout will end within three weeks, and that the owners will get pretty much the deal they wanted all along. They always planned to make the players miss a paycheck or two, knowing that would bring them all the leverage they need to finalize a deal.

8. I don't expect the Twins to re-sign Joe Nathan or Michael Cuddyer. The Twins value them both, but once a player hits the open market, someone is going to bid more than the Twins. That's just reality. If the Twins really wanted Cuddyer back, they wouldn't have offered him $16 million over two years, which was bound to insult Cuddyer's agent if not Cuddyer himself.

9. Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 p.m. today, and all weekdays, with Reusse and Mackey. My twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

 

Make it stop, please

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 18, 2011 - 6:01 PM

It's silly to pretend that a city or state's sporting teams are all somehow linked by anything other than geography. The Twins don't affect the Vikings who don't affect the Gophers who don't affect the Wolves, and so on.

But this is getting a little creepy.

The Wolves are on one of the most remarkable five-year runs of ineptitude in NBA history. The Twins are headed toward 100 losses. Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and, I believe, TC Bear are all done for the season. The Wild has fired two coaches since it last made the playoffs. Gopher football lost last week to New Mexico State, which just lost at home to UTEP.

Sunday, the Vikings blew a 17-0 halftime lead to lose, 24-20. They've now been outscored in second halves this season, 41-3.

Since Brett Favre threw that fateful interception, the Vikings are 6-12, including 3-5 under Leslie Frazier.

In an easier division, starting 0-2 might not be such a big problem, but the Vikings probably have the fourth-best team in the NFC North.

I'm not sure I've ever seen two poorer performances from a quarterback who didn't throw an interception than I've seen from Donovan McNabb the last two weeks. He's the anti-Tarvaris: He isn't making killing mistakes, he's just a little off, whether in timing or accuracy.

He threw for 228 yards and no interceptions on Sunday, but made so few positive plays in the second half that the Vikings lost again.

It's hard to lose when you run for 186 yards, throw for 228 yards and commit zero turnovers. But an inability to pick up the occasional first down under pressure is almost the same as committing turnovers.

--------------------------------

Maybe I should be more sensitive, but I have a hard time believing that Joe Mauer couldn't play another game this season.

Let me ask you one question: If Derek Jeter had the same illness as Mauer today, do you think he'd take off the rest of the season?

Me, either.

--------------------------------

I said this on Twitter earlier, and I believe it: The Wolves' hiring of Rick Adelman makes them the biggest winner of any sports team in town this week.

How often, over the last few years, could the Wolves have said that?

Given the state of disrepair of all the other teams in town, I could see Adelman making the Wolves one of the most popular draws in Minnesota. I believe he can immediately improve the Wolves from 17 wins to 30-some wins, and this town will embrace a young, fun, up-tempo team in the heart of our downtown.

I went to see the Gear Daddies at the Fine Line on Friday, and, as someone who doesn't spend a whole lot of weekend nights downtown, I was stunned at how many people were on the street around midnight. (Or later.)

That's the Wolves' demographic. I've gotten the feeling the last couple of years that there are tens of thousands of people who will pack Target Center if the Wolves can just give them a little hope. And I think Adelman represents hope.

-----------------------------------

My twitter handle is @Souhanstrib. I'll be on 1500espn at 2 p.m. weekdays, plus on at 6:15ish on Monday and Friday (Twins schedule permitting) with Tom Pelissero, my Sunday Morning Sports Talk partner, who will be hosting a nightly show from 6-8 p.m. on the station.

 

Sam Mitchell?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: August 9, 2011 - 8:43 PM

I'm hearing that Sam Mitchell has emerged as the frontrunner for the Timberwolves' head coaching position.

To me, this is a sign that Glen Taylor has exerted his influence on the hiring process. Mitchell is an old favorite of Taylor's, and in the absence of a sure-thing candidate like Rick Adelman (who appears to be ready to sit out next season), Mitchell, with his local ties and tough-guy persona, makes a lot of sense.

-It's been a brutal year for the Twins and their medical staff, so let me point out something nice:

Ryan Hedwall, the athletic trainer for the Elizabethton (rookie-league) Twins, has been named as the minor-league athletic trainer of the year for the Appalachian League. Hurry to the bigs, buddy: This team needs lots of healing.

-Baseball is so often wonderfully strange. The Twins had drawn just one walk in their previous 182 plate appearances before Tuesday's game. They drew four walks in the first inning against Red Sox starter Erik Bedard. Including a bases-loaded walk by Delmon Young. I'm not making this up.

Ball four to Young looked like a strike. Young's reputation for patience must have won over home-plate umpire Tim McClelland.

-It was a blast catching up with former Twin Gene Larkin on the radio on Sunday. Gene was always one of my favorite players, a pro who never complained about anything and took great pride in preparing himself to play.

-I believe this trivia question originated with ESPN's Jayson Stark, and the Red Sox beat writers were kicking it around before the game: Name the five active big-leaguers who have hit 20 or more home runs with four different teams. The answer is at the end of this post...

-What are the Twins going to do with Tsuyoshi Nishioka? He struck out in his first two at-bats on Tuesday, looking helpless each time. He's hitting .213 as I write this. If I were the Twins, I would offer to buy out part of his $6 million-plus in remaining salary, and let both parties off the hook. This has to be tremendously embarrassing for a guy so revered in his home country.

-This from Twins' PR wizard Dustin Morse: Jim Thome now ranks eighth all-time in homers and walks. He has 10,003 career plate appearances (through four innings on Tuesday night), with 1,708 walks and 598 homers. That means he has homered or walked in 23 percent of his big-league plate appearances.

-Believe it or not, I agree with the Twins' decision to call up Kevin Slowey, my old pal, and stick him in the rotation, now that Scott Baker is headed to the disabled list.

Slowey won't or can't pitch out of the bullpen. If this were a contending team, I wouldn't want a guy with his attitude around. Now that this team is no longer in contention, allowing Slowey to reestablish his trade value by pitching in the big leagues makes sense.

If he can pitch decently, Slowey should be able to bring a reasonable price in a trade this winter. A lot of teams are looking for affordable bottom-of-the-rotation help in the winter.

-Beautiful night at Target Field, whatever the outcome. There is something relaxing about going to the ballpark and knowing the game doesn't mean anything. It's like spring training in August.

-Trivia answer: Jim Thome, Alfonso Soriano, Mike Cameron, Adrian Beltre and J.D. Drew. (I didn't do very well on this one.)

-I'm really hoping Jim Thome hits his 600th home run at Target Field. A lot of fans are paying a lot of money to watch bad baseball this year; seeing Thome reach that milestone would be a nice reward to them.

But if he can't hit it at Target Field, I'd like to see him hit it in Cleveland, where he started as a rawboned third baseman who heard Charlie Manuel, then the Indians' hitting coach, barking in his ear.

Even in this awful season, Thome remains the nicest man in baseball.

-Upcoming: I have columns on the Vikings, Gopher football and Lynx in the works, and I'll be in the studio on Sunday for the Gardenhire Show and Sunday Morning Sports Talk, while Tom Pelissero checks in from the road.

 

Rubio impresses at press conference. But can he play point guard in the NBA?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: June 21, 2011 - 12:01 PM

Initial impressions from Ricky Rubio's introductory press conference:

-Would we think of him differently if his name were ``Rick'' and his voice was an octave deeper?

-David Kahn said Rubio would go 1 or 2 in this year's draft if he were draft-eligible this year. I doubt it. If someone's going to take a project in this draft, it's going to be Enes Kanter. And after the way he played in Spain, I think Rubio would be lucky to be a top-10 pick.

-Kahn wouldn't elaborate on Kurt Rambis' status. I kept waiting for Rambis to show up, dressed like the Unabomber (like most media members), hide in the middle of the pack and ask Kahn what he was going to do for a coach.

-Rubio handled himself very well during the presser. He was composed and funny. I have no idea if that matters in terms of his NBA career. I remember everyone liking Jonny Flynn a lot, too, until he took the court.

-Kahn said that if the Cavs take Derrick Williams No. 1, the Wolves will take Kyrie Irving No. 2. That's the right approach. Take the best player available. Your team isn't good enough to worry about having too many players at a particular position, even if the national media will make Kahn-point guard jokes the rest of the summer.

-I've never seen a team bad be this intriguing.

-Kahn ruled out trading Rubio or Kevin Love. I believe him this far: I don't think other NBA teams will make a worthwhile offer for either, so keeping them will be an easy decision.

-Rubio defended his poor statistics by saying that he often made the pass that led to the pass that led to the basket. That's probably true to an extent, because running an offense is Rubio's strength.

But you don't build around the guy who makes the first pass, you build around guys who can make the direct pass, or who can make a shot. Rubio has so much to prove in a league stocked with physical, athletic point guards. I think at best he's going to be a project, not matter how charming or polished he may seem.

-I'm writing more about Rubio for the morning paper, and will be covering the NBA draft on Thursday. I imagine Mr. Kahn will do something intriguing.

-I'll be on 1500ESPN at 2:40 today to talk Rubio Fever and Twins Plague.

 

Rubio impresses at press conference. But can he play point guard in the NBA?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: June 21, 2011 - 12:01 PM

Initial impressions from Ricky Rubio's introductory press conference:

-Would we think of him differently if his name were ``Rick'' and his voice was an octave deeper?

-David Kahn said Rubio would go 1 or 2 in this year's draft if he were draft-eligible this year. I doubt it. If someone's going to take a project in this draft, it's going to be Enes Kanter. And after the way he played in Spain, I think Rubio would be lucky to be a top-10 pick.

-Kahn wouldn't elaborate on Kurt Rambis' status. I kept waiting for Rambis to show up, dressed like the Unabomber (like most media members), hide in the middle of the pack and ask Kahn what he was going to do for a coach.

-Rubio handled himself very well during the presser. He was composed and funny. I have no idea if that matters in terms of his NBA career. I remember everyone liking Jonny Flynn a lot, too, until he took the court.

-Kahn said that if the Cavs take Derrick Williams No. 1, the Wolves will take Kyrie Irving No. 2. That's the right approach. Take the best player available. Your team isn't good enough to worry about having too many players at a particular position, even if the national media will make Kahn-point guard jokes the rest of the summer.

-I've never seen a team bad be this intriguing.

-Kahn ruled out trading Rubio or Kevin Love. I believe him this far: I don't think other NBA teams will make a worthwhile offer for either, so keeping them will be an easy decision.

-Rubio defended his poor statistics by saying that he often made the pass that led to the pass that led to the basket. That's probably true to an extent, because running an offense is Rubio's strength.

But you don't build around the guy who makes the first pass, you build around guys who can make the direct pass, or who can make a shot. Rubio has so much to prove in a league stocked with physical, athletic point guards. I think at best he's going to be a project, not matter how charming or polished he may seem.

-I'm writing more about Rubio for the morning paper, and will be covering the NBA draft on Thursday. I imagine Mr. Kahn will do something intriguing.

-I'll be on 1500ESPN at 2:40 today to talk Rubio Fever and Twins Plague.

 

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