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 All-Stars and honors

Why I don't hate the HR derby

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: July 16, 2013 - 10:12 AM

Here's why I don't hate the home-run derby as much as most baseball writers:

It's on cable TV.

Modern-day cable.

Are we really going to start enforcing old-school standards on modern cable?

Have you seen what becomes a hit on modern cable TV?

Duck Dynasty: A show about inbred southerners who make duck calls. (It's actually pretty funny in small doses, but Shakespeare it ain't.)

Cooking shows: Get one angry chef and a bunch of lowlife wannabe chefs and have 'em cook stuff. Brilliant!

Reality TV about wives: I'd review this genre if I could bring myself to watch any of it.

By these standards, the home-run derby IS Shakespeare.

Chris Berman is an embarrassment to himself and his profession, but the home-run derby is mediocre cable TV stretched out long enough to fill prime time. It's not awful. It's just not as good as ESPN and MLB want it to be.

It's like the NBA all-star game. There's no defense, but it can be interesting if the right personalities are involved.

The Josh Hamilton-Justin Morneau duel was fascinating theater. Seeing Yeonis Cespedes win the Derby on the same day that the San Francisco Chronicle published a wonderful story about his and his family's struggles to make it to America was heartening. Seeing Bryce Harper hit homers off his father's nasty cutter gave us insights into what made Harper such a prodigy.

It ain't Mad Men or Breaking Bad, but even those brilliant shows offer a few bad episodes.

The home-run derby is like most cable television: A decent way to kill time when nothing better is on.


I'll be on 1500ESPN at noon with Judd & Dubay. Planning a couple of name guests for Sunday Sports Talk, 10-noon on Sunday on 1500ESPN, following the Ron Gardenhire Show at 9:30. (We will take a lot of calls this week if you'd like to ask the manager anything.)

Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

What a lousy game

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 11, 2012 - 10:51 PM

Twins lose, 9-1, tonight. The Twins announced 28,993, which might have been within 10,000 or so of being correct.

It was ugly. Josh Willingham says he lost a fly ball in the twilight. That led to a three-run inning that goes on Scott Diamond's record. And that was about all that happened.

A few tidbits-

-Ben Revere continues to play with a lot of life. He went 3-for-5, his 38th mutli-hit game. Joe Mauer leads the team with 43. Revere also made a fine running catch in left-center.

Revere got a handshake and a few sentences of praise from Tom Kelly in the dugout before the game. Kelly doesn't offer false praise.

I think Revere should be this team's centerfielder next year. But I've been saying that for a while.

-Justin Morneau went 2-for-3 and is hitting .326 in his last 62 games and .357 in his last 17 games. Some of my insiders say he still struggles to cover the whole plate, but I see him getting hits to leftfield, which is always the sign that he's staying back and swinging well.

-The Twins have scored one run or fewer 24 times this year. While their rotation is the most important area of concern, that's a pathetic statistic for what should be a professional lineup.

-Scott Diamond allowed four runs in six innings, but I thought he battled pretty well despite Willingham's mistake and without his best stuff.

-Pedro Florimon continues to dazzle on some plays, but I see him being a little too lax on relays. He could have thrown one or two runners out at third tonight had he been alert on one play and had he thrown accurately on another.


To chime in on a popular national debate, I think the aspect of the Stephen Strasburg debate that is too often missing is that the Nationals aren't shutting down someone who would likely have dominated in the postseason. They're shutting down a young pitching coming off Tommy John surgery who likely would have been hitting a wall in October, even if the Nationals had rested him to stretch his workload into the postseason.

In my view, it's unlikely he would have pitched well against top competition while fatigued. The Nationals have a deep rotation without him. Whether or not the Nationals handled Strasburg correctly, they'll be better off with starting pitchers in the postseason who aren't reaching their physical limits.


I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 p.m. tomorrow. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

Bonus TK

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: September 7, 2012 - 10:24 AM
I covered Tom Kelly as a beat writer for five years, all of them losing seasons, and worked as the Star Tribune’s baseball writer at-large during Kelly’s last years as Twins manager.
Kelly will have his number retired Saturday at Target Field, and I have a column in today’s paper on him. Anyone who knows Kelly knows that if he is inspired to speak, he has a lot to say. He's one of the most intense thinkers I've encountered in sports.
He had a lot to say to me the other day at his house, so I’m including here his thoughts on a few topics that didn’t make the column, including what I find a hilarious take on his work as an announcer. (That’s near the bottom.)
Kelly was known for being hard on reporters. He was very good to me. We had our disagreements and bad days, but over the years he acted as a de facto baseball tutor to me, sharing insights I couldn’t have gotten anywhere else.
These days, there are many more reporters in the Twins' clubhouse and less access to the clubhouse. When I covered the Twins, Kelly waived the rule that reporters couldn't be in the clubhouse more than 3 1/2 hours before the game. I had many of my best conversations with him at 2 in the afternoon, when he had time to talk about the game in general before that night's game consumed him.
Kelly and Paul Molitor are the two smartest baseball people I’ve ever met.
Terry Ryan has a unique eye for judging talent, but Kelly and Molitor could see a pitcher’s glove twitch and know what the next pitch would be.
That I watched this baseball savant manage so many awful teams is one reason I don’t appease the masses by calling for Ron Gardenhire’s firing. I do believe managers need to be fired occasionally, if they lose their competitive fire, or their control of a clubhouse. I never saw that as a problem with Kelly, and I don’t see that as a problem with Gardenhire.
Managers control only so much. Kelly and Gardenhire are proof that no manager can overcome a bad pitching staff.
Here’s some bonus Tom Kelly on the day before his big day:
-On long acceptance speeches: ``I’m going to try not to thank everybody in the world. I’ve heard enough of those. There’s always a few mandatory people you’ve got to thank, but other than that let’s keep it moving.’’
-Who took losing harder, you in the ‘90s or Ron Gardenhire the last two years? ``It bothers him. I think he takes it harder than I did. I remember once in Baltimore, one night back then, Andy MacPhail said to me, `You know, I’ve given you the worst team I’ve ever given you, and there hasn’t been any in-house fighting or one guy stabbing another in the back. That’s pretty good, he said.
``I think you’ve just got to be realistic. In the spring, when everyone gets together to talk about how many games you’re going to win that year, and the manager says 82, and the GM says 81, and the owner says 79, well, then, OK. But if somebody says 92 and you think 72, now we’re going to have a problem.
``I didn’t have any of that. But I’ve talked to managers who went through that.
``You know who has it figured out? The people in Vegas. They should be running the country. They’re within a game or two. They’ve pretty much got it nailed. That’s why they’re in business for so long.
``Once you know what the number in Vegas is, then you’ve just got to go beat that number. And we did that for a lot of years. I used to hang my hat on that. If they had you down for 64 and we won 66, I was sort of happy.’’
-Did he have any regrets about his career? ``Only one, to be honest. Andy and Terry Ryan, they wanted to change players more than me. I guess I was stubborn, where you come out of spring training with your 25 guys, and these are the ones you picked, and you go with them.
``After the fact, they were right. They were absolutely right. I should have been more willing to change players, just watching how things operate now, especially with the bullpens.
``This (Jeff) Gray, the reliever, he’s been a wonderful addition. Wonderful. Don’t misunderstand. These kinds of guys, him and Fien, they’re borderline pitchers, whatever you want to call them. They’re pitching well and then they ‘re going to hit some bumps and get worn down, and you’ve got to change them out.
``You have to bring someone else in and get some mileage out of the new guy and then, boom, he’s done, and you bring the other guy back. You’ve got to keep maneuvering and keeping people fresh.
``That keeps a lot of interest at the other (minor-league level). To think you’re going to go through the whole season with the same 12-13 pitchers, it’s just not going to happen. I’m told from a couple of the convesations I’ve had this week that some of the Yankees are falling apart. So nobody’s immune to this.
``That’s why you have to have a good farm system to keep bringing these guys up. Like Terry and Rob (Antony, the Twins’ assistant general manager), did this year, and (minor-league field coordinator) Joel Lepel, did, too. They were able to get some six-year free agents and add some depth. Really impressive.’’
-How does he like working as a TV analyst? ``It’s hard. It’s not easy. You have to get your points across fairly quickly. I tend not to do that. I sometimes need a little time to explain it. They’d like you to speak to the dad and the son who’s sitting there watching the game, and he’s 8-10 years old, and you have to try to speak to the 8-10 year old and explain what happened.
``That’s not easy to do, in my mind. Your partner there, he’s calling the game and now you try to get it in there what you think , and sometimes it’s a little different, the way you see it. And you have to try to explain that in 18-20 seconds and here comes the next pitch.
``When the game’s good, it’s easier. When the game’s not so good, it’s hard. A couple of years ago, we’re in Chicago, and Nick Blackburn is having a hard time. He didn’t pitch good.
``Marney (Gellner, the FSN reporter) said, `Well, he’s back in Chicago, let’s remember he pitched that great game over there.’ And he did. And I tried to explain to Marney, `That don’t mean anything.’ I tried to say it nicely. Well, I don’t do that too well. I’d rather just tell you. It’s easier.
``Blackburn was awful, but he won the game, even though he could have been out of the game in the first inning. It was hard to say in that first inning, when Dick (Bremer, the Twins’ play-by-play announcer), kept asking, it was hard to say eight different wants that he stinks.’’
``I’m not kidding anybody. If you’re watching, you can see he’s getting his rear handed to him.’’
I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 today. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

What was up with Denard Span?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: July 13, 2012 - 11:02 PM

Denard Span on Friday got picked off in the first inning, got caught off base on a line drive in the third inning, and dropped a fly ball that preceeded the grand slam that ruined Francisco Liriano's otherwise dominant outing.

For all the time we spend analyzing statistics, new-wave statistics and pitching matchups, it's amazing how often games are won and lost on baserunning plays, and mistakes that don't count as errors, and what I would call ``awareness'' plays - throwing to the right base, backing up throws, taking the extra base.

Span improved his batting average on Friday night but may have cost the Twins the game.

Span's a quality guy. I think he's also sensitive to chatter. I wonder if he was a bit off because he's worried about getting traded.

The Twins are desperate to upgrade their starting rotation and their organizational pitching depth. The Twins wouldn't trade Span because they don't like him; they would trade him because he's a valuable and affordable player, and teams like the Washington Nationals are New York Yankees are looking to aquire outfielders with speed and respectable on-base percentages.


Yes, Liriano was dominant, striking out 15 in eight innings. Yes, he's pitched very well of late.

But do I trust him? No.

That's the subject of my column in the Saturday paper. To sign someone to a long-term deal, you have to trust them. Liriano has been erratic for years now. And if the Twins don't sign him to a long-term deal, they need to trade him now, while his value is at its highest point in more than a year.


No, I don't think Adrian Peterson did anything wrong.


Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

Tom Pelissero and I will host Sunday Morning Sports Talk outside the ballpark from 10-noon this Sunday, after running the Ron Gardenhire Show from 9:30-10.

And if you're interested in the London Olympics, Rachel Blount and I will have a series of profiles running between now and the start of the games. On Sunday, we'll run my feature on Hugh McCutcheon, the women's volleyball coach of the US Olympic team who will take over the Gopher program in the fall.

Cool, very interesting guy. And, no, the feature is not all about the attack on his in-laws in Beijing.


Souhan: That was disgusting

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: May 10, 2012 - 11:04 PM

Here's what went wrong during the Twins' 6-2 loss to Toronto on Thursday night:

-The Twins fell to 8-23, worst record in the bigs by 2 1/2 games.

-Starter Jason Marquis threw 39 balls in 87 pitches and lasted just four innings. He was brought to Minnesota to throw strikes and eat innings and did neither.

-Trevor Plouffe, in the first game of a tryout at third base that could determine the course of his career, ran into a tag play at second base and failed to call for a popup that he should have caught, a popup that fell between him and Marquis.

-Centerfielder Denard Span forgot how many outs there were.

-Erik Komatsu failed to pick up the third-base coach and, with the ball in rightfield, stopped at second before getting thrown out at third.

-Alexi Casilla got a forceout at second base and forgot to look home to prevent a runner from scoring.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he saw things that you don't see ``in high school ball.''

This was disgusting. This is a flat, unintelligent team filled with guys who shouldn't be in the big-leagues.

Plouffe is not a winning big-league player. Casilla is not an everyday big-league player. The starting rotation is awful, and the best competitor among them, Carl Pavano, hasn't cracked 90 mph this season, indicating he's probably pitching with an injury or in pain.

The bullpen has actually been pretty good. Brian Dozier looks like a player. Josh Willingham has produced. Joe Mauer has stayed healthy.

Other than that, this season has been a washout.

To think the Twins played this poorly the day two key players were demoted - Francisco Liriano to the bullpen and Danny Valencia to AAA.

It may be time to trade Denard Span. The Nationals are still interested and have a surplus of pitching. Make the deal.

And if the Nationals want Plouffe or Casilla or a part-time outfielder, so much the better.

-I'm hearing the Twins like Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton in the June draft. While the Twins are desperate for pitching, Buxton projects to be a big-league star.

-Wrote about the Vikings' stadium for the Friday paper. My take: Minnesota will have an amazing array of sports venues once ZygiDome gets built.

-Joe Mauer is hitting .270 with one homer. Being healthy doesn't help a whole lot if he can't swing the bat with authority.

-Bring up Ben Revere. If you can write a lineup with Komatsu and Darin Mastroianni, you can find enough playing time for Revere.

-I'll be on 1500espn at  2:05 tomorrow for my daily update with Reusse and Mackey. Tom Pelissero will run the Gardenhire Show and Sunday Sports Talk from 9:30-noon on Sunday.

-If the Twins keep looking for competent outfielders, they could give Matt Carson a look. He's a veteran minor-leaguer who's hitting .295 for Rochester.

-Thank you, Tiger Woods, for making me feel better about my golf swing.

-I really wish the Twins had been lucky enough to land Bryce Harper. This team needs someone who competes like that.

-The Timberwolves, when semi-healthy, were so much more entertaining than most of the teams in the NBA playoffs.

-Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.



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