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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Let me recap this amazing Minnesota sports weekend:
1. Jerry Kill suffers a seizure.
2. The Gopher football team loses to gawdawful New Mexico State at home one week after inspiring hope (at least for a sucker like me) at USC.
3. The Twins take half-measures, firing two members of the Triple-A staff, while the big-league team continues to bumble around like drunks.
4. The Vikings unveil their new quarterback and offensive coordinator and manage two passing yards in the second half of a 24-17 loss.
Reactions to the four?
1. I wish Mr. Kill well, but please don't try the ``This puts things in perspective'' line on me.
Does that mean that because Kill was stricken in public that we should all pretend the games don't matter, or that sport doesn't matter?
Really? So the University of Minnesota is paying Kill and his staff millions for no reason? The billion-dollar industries that are the NFL and MLB don't matter? Kill's ability to create a great life for himself, his family and the coaches and players whom he values doesn't matter?
Bad stuff happens every day, all over the world. You know how these events help me ``put sports into perspective?'' By making me enjoy and value sports even more.
Sport is not a bunch of kids playing pickup ball while blowing off their homework. Sport is commerce. Sport is human drama. Sport is entertainment. Sport is a means by which many people improve their lives, either directly or vicariously.
Are they overdone sometimes? Certainly. But the only reason they're overdome sometimes is because so many of us care about them, and care about the people who play them.
A man falling ill doesn't ``put sports into perspective'' anymore than it puts theater, or car ownership, or eating donuts into perspective.
I admire Kill because of his story and his gumption. I wish him a speedy and full recovery. And when he's back, I'm sure he'll tell you that his seizure isn't reason to pity him or care less about the games. I'm sure he'll tell you that he's doing what he loves and plans to throw himself right back into the business of trying to win games and influence people.
That's what he's chosen to do with his life. Don't diminish it with this nonsense about ``perspective.''
2. I'm back to what I thought of the Gophers entering the season. They have few outstanding players and will struggle to win five games. Six would be a triumph.
I do believe that MarQueis Gray can help this team more as a slot receiver than a quarterback. I'd make the move now, putting in Max Shortell, and allowing Gray to play multiple roles, including Wildcat quarterback.
Gray was often spectacular at receiver last year. Shortell is the future, for the moment, at quarterback. You're not going to the Rose Bowl regardless of which one plays QB. Play for the future - Shortell's as a quarterback, and Gray as an NFL prospect at receiver.
3. How do you spell ``Bleeechhhh?''
4. I expected the Vikings offense to be somewhat boring. I'm shocked that it was this ineffective in the second half.
Donovan McNabb threw for two yards in the second half. Two. (2). Dos. Brett Favre on his worst day would do better. So would Fran Tarkenton - today.
I don't blame McNabb solely. The play-calling was highly predictable, especially on first down, from the end of the first half until deep in the fourth quarter. I counted running plays called on seven straight first-down plays.
After the game, Percy Harvin hinted and Mike Jenkins came right out and told me that the offense was predictable. (More in my Monday morning column.)
McNabb wasn't the only problem - Charlie Johnson and the lack of speed at receiver were also factors - but he's got to be a lot better than this. The Vikings ran for 159 yards and a 6.1 yard average, and McNabb and his receivers didn't come close to taking advantage.
I'm hearing the Wolves are negotiating with Rick Adelman. Two things I don't know:
1. Whether they're willing to meet his demands of a long-term deal worth $5 million a year or more, when they're still stuck with Kurt Rambis' contract and the league is in a lockout.
2. Who's their fallback? It's probably either Sam Mitchell or Don Nelson. I hope for Glen Taylor's sake that it's Mitchell. I keep hearing bad things about Nelson's last couple of stints. I think he'd burn out quickly and the Wolves would be going through this again next summer.
Adelman would be a great hire at the right price. Mitchell would be a promising hire and would make sense for this franchise. Nelson? Could be trouble.
Upcoming: My new slot on 1500espn is 2 p.m. each weekday. My twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
I know national media people would argue that Duke-North Carolina, or Pats-Colts, or Lakers-Celtics.
I'm provincial. My two favorite rivalries are Packers-Vikings, and Twins-White Sox.
Nothing matches the sheer intensity and incestuous anxiousness surrounding Packers-Vikings, especially following Brett Favre's grand betrayal.
But for a baseball fan who values the game's constant presence during the course of the summer, I'll take Twins-White Sox. In part because I know just how angry the White Sox get when the Twins beat them.
It's pretty funny, actually. I've had sources tell me that White Sox GM Kenny Williams used to sit in the Metrodome dugout, look up at the Twins' banners, and loudly and profanely ask how a bunch of bunters like the Twins could keep beating his stars.
You've got the friendly competitiveness between Gardenhire and Ozzie Guillen. You've got Ozzie's nicknames of the Twins' lineup. You've got A.J. Pierzynski trying to spike Justin Morneau, and, of course, putting himself in the middle of every imbroglio between the teams.
You've got Torii Hunter running over a no-name catcher in much the same way Buster Posey had his leg broken this season. And in modern baseball, you have all of these memories evoked 13 times a year.
Packers-Vikings is a great movie you're willing to see twice. Twins-White Sox reflects my favorite pop-culture art form - the serial TV show. It's always there for you.
-In the spirit of this rivalry, let me express how gratifying it is to see Michael Cuddyer and Paul Konerko on the same All-Star team. I know members of the White Sox organization and many people in Chicago media, and Konerko is the White Sox version of Cuddyer, with more offensive pedigree and less versatility.
Konerko is well known as a class guy and tremendous competitor, just like our guy Cuddy.
-I'll be on 1500espn from 2:40-6 today. Strib writer Phil MIller will join me, along with Waseca native and Rays scout Gene Glynn, and AP reporter Matt Apuzzo, who teamed on a great piece about the CIA's behind-the-scenes pursuit of Bin Laden.
-My twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
Greetings from Milwaukee. It's a beautiful day here, spent the morning walking down to the lakefront, running into dozens of Twins fans wearing their gear.
Milwaukee always feels, to me, like a smaller, slower Chicago.
I've read a bunch of excerpts from the Bill Simmons interview of David Kahn. Where else would Kahn cut open a vein, but on the BS Report?
The funny thing is, if there's anyone who has criticized Kahn more than me, it's Simmons. But Kahn is desperate to appear legitimate and to defend himself, and he can't find a bigger audience than by speaking with Simmons.
What's amazing is that Kahn can change his story from minute to minute. His first year on the job, I wrote about how I didn't think the triangle offense was a good fit for his team, and particularly Jonny Flynn, and he called me to explain that the offense wasn't necessarily the triangle and...well, I dozed off after a while, so I'm not sure what else he had to say.
Now he's telling Simmons that the triangle didn't work with this team, and damaged Flynn's progress, which is exactly the point he was trying to shoot down when I made it two years ago.
Kahn also repeats the ridiculous notion that he's still making a decision on Rambis.
I've had colleagues tell me they find all of this highly entertaining. I don't. I see a guy you can't trust running a team I want to care about.
People in my business use the ``Event X will define Person X's legacy'' line way too often, but I"ll say this: Kahn's decision on his head coach could determine whether he'll have the job two years from now.
If he keeps Rambis, he's in deep trouble. If he fires Rambis and make a ridiculous move like the rumored Bernie Bickerstaff hire, he'll be on his way out. If he fires Rambis and somehow lands a legitimate, quality, NBA coach, that coach could take an interesting group of young players, improve the team's record dramatically in part because there is nowhere to go but up, and make Kahn look like he knew what he was doing all along.
For example, what if the Wolves can land Rick Adelman? He's one of the best coaches in the game. I'm not sure he wants to work for this organization or endure a rebuilding project, but if the Wolves could land him, they'd improve dramatically over the next year or two.
But would Kahn be willing to hire someone who could wind up becoming the primary personnel voice in the organization? That's the big question surrounding the Wolves right now.
-Maybe Joe Mauer and Jose Mijares sniping at each other last night means nothing. These things do happen.
Or maybe Mijares' willingness to challenge the Twins' franchise player is a sign that Mauer, in the midst of a season in which many people in the organization have become frustrated with him, no longer commands unversal respect or receives the benefit of the doubt in the clubhouse.
I've always been told by Twins people that Mauer is not an exceptional pitch-caller. But when you hit .340 and throw out runners, nobody's going to complain very loudly about that.
Now, though, Mauer is swinging weakly and throwing poorly and at least some of his teammates have privately questioned whether he's willing to play with pain or discomfort, and now a less-than-established player like Mijares is calling him out?
Does that seem like a coincidence?
There is also the question of why Mijares didn't shake off Mauer if he didn't want to throw a 3-2 fastball to Prince Fielder. That is a good question. Mijares has final say.
But before that pitch was thrown, where would you have placed your faith: In the franchise player who is a veteran catcher, or in the wildly erratic lefty? Kind of like asking whether you want Brett Favre or Bernard Berrian making a call on third-and-5.
-I like the Wild's trade of Brent Burns for Devin Setoguchi for a very simple reason:
I like goals. With Burns gone and Setoguchi at forward, the Wild figure to score more, and allow more, goals, and defensive hockey bores me to tears.
Judging it more objectively, I still like it. Burns was a good guy and a real talent, but the Wild trading him when he was a year away from free agency for a talented winger who is signed for three years is exactly the kind of move the Wild needed to make.
-Still lining up guests for Sunday Morning Sports Talk. At this point I believe we'll have Derrick Williams, Chuck Fletcher and Milwaukee radio star Drew Olson. The Gardenhire Show starts at 9:30 a.m. on 1500espn followed by SMST from 10-noon.
-I'll be Twittering tonight from the Twins-Brewers game, @Souhanstrib.
So Ricky Rubio is coming to town. I’ll have more on this in the Friday paper. Here’s my capsule view:
I don’t think he’ll be great. Even if he’s just pretty good and can run an offense and a fast break, he could upgrade the Wolves’ weakest position and make his teammates better.
But I don’t want to see Kurt Rambis coaching this kid. I want to see a coach who handles young players well and is not married to the Triangle Offense. Which means just about anybody other than Rambis.
-I think Kevin McHale has a chance to be a good NBA coach. He has the charisma and knowledge to do the job.
But he faces obstacles and challenges. Does he really want to work this hard? Good coaches are grinders who study the game. Is that really Kevin at this point in his life?
And can he really coach better than Rick Adelman, one of the best coaches in the league?
I don’t doubt McHale’s ability to coach well. I doubt his ability to coach well for any length of time.
-If hockey players are so tough, why do they react like such whiners when they get hit, and why does Alex Burrows think he can get away with biting an opponent’s finger?
There are things I like about hockey, but when you see the overreaction to legal hits and moments like Burrow’s Overbite, hockey loses credibility.
-The Twins are pathetic. I've watched a lot of bad Twins teams, but I've never seen a team this inept.
Nice effort, Delmon.
-Kevin Love’s Twitter response to the Rubio signing was classic: ``I’ll believe it when I see it.’’ Think he’s been worn down by The Wolves Way?
-I’m probably like a lot of Americans. I don’t need another sport to watch. I’m not particularly interested in soccer. But the ManU-Barca final the other day intrigued me, and I watched, and I enjoyed it, and now Fox is saying that the game drew 4.2 million viewers in the U.S.
For me, soccer is like hockey: I need to see stars and scoring opportunities and a game with something on the line to watch. This game qualified.
-Poor Christian Ponder. Doesn’t he know that the Vikings don’t know what to do with a quarterback who shows up earlier than he has to?
-Upcoming: I’ll be on 1500espn at 2:40 today, and Tom Pelissero and I will run Sunday Morning Sports Talk from the studio at 1500espn. The Gardy Show starts at 9:30 followed by our show from 10-noon.
Random and not-very-deep thoughts on the day in sports:
-I don't know if Bill Musgrave will be a good offensive coordinator, but I like that he's interested in highlighting the Vikings' existing talent, and that he's not married to the West Coast offense. (That's the subject of my Friday column.)
-My NFL picks for Sunday:
AFC: The Steelers beat the Jets because their pass rush will get to Mark Sanchez, and because Ben Roethlisberger is that rare athlete who plays his best at the end of close games.
The Patriots didn't have enough athletes on defense to either stop the Jets running game or hassle Sanchez. The Steelers' defense is good enough to do both.
I believe the keys to modern football are having a quarterback who can make plays down the field and a defense that can disrupt the opposing quarterback. The Jets are talented enough to keep it close, but the Steelers win this one, say, 20-17.
NFC: The Bears are far better than I thought they were, but they're not as good as the Packers, not the way the Packers are currently playing.
Aaron Rodgers is better than Jay Cutler. The Packers' pass defense is better right now than the Bears'. For the Bears to win, Julius Peppers will have to have one of the great postseason games ever by a defensive end. I think Mike McCarthy is smart enough to find a way to limit Peppers' influence, and the Packers' passing offense will roll. Call it Packers 34, Bears 23.
-If hockey players are so tough, how come, when a team is getting beat, it displays the emotional maturity of a bunch of 8-year-olds who didn't get their naps?
The Wild gets up early on Edmonton, and what do the Oilers do? Start cheap-shotting the Wild.
Toughness is taking a hit and accepting that, as a hockey player, you are going to take hits. Toughness is not whacking an opponent in the ankle with your stick because you're losing.
-It wasn't long ago that there were rumors about Todd Richards' job status. I never thought he should be fired, and now I think he has a chance to be coach of the year.
The Wild lacks goal-scorers and has watched its two top goalies suffer injuries, and yet Richards has the team playing its best. His players almost always play hard, they move the puck, they play inteligently, and when they score a few goals, they get credit for how disciplined they are on defense.
-The re-visit my last column: I'm serious when I compare Mike McCarthy favorably to Vince Lombardi. Lombardi was great in his era; my point is that the modern era of football is much harder on coaches. It's much harder to win championships in a 32-game league, it's much more difficult to manage today's players and today's media and today's workload, and that football has become increasingly complex over the years.
I'm sure Lombardi would have found a way to be a good coach in today's environment, but there is no way he would have been adaptable enough to dominate the modern NFL.
-It's interesting to see Leslie Frazier adapt to his new role. I asked him about that, about going from being friends with his fellow assistant coaches to telling people like Darrell Bevell and Brian Murphy - both exceptionally nice people who had plenty of success in their roles - that their services were no longer required.
His answer: ``It's a difficult process, especially in this case where you worked with guys for a number of years like I have. Now you're making decisions that are going to affect peoples' lives. It's a part of our profession. I've been on the other side of it. I know what's required and I know that my purpose in being here is to bring a championship to Minnesota. Anything less than that and we'll be parting ways down the road. That's the way this business is. But it's hard because you have feelings. These are friends. It's a tough deal, but it's the business we've chosen.''
Hard to argue with that. Coaches complaining about getting fired is like sportswriters complaining about deadlines. It's what you signed up for.
-I liked what Musgrave had to say about his offensive philosophies. New special teams coordinator Mike Priefer startled me, though, when he talked about the possibility of kicking to Bears return specialist Devin Hester.
To quote John McEnroe, ``You cannot be serious!'' Priefer said that if a punt unit executes properly, it can handle a good return man. That's what everyone says until they see Hester make all of their players fall down. You cannot kick to Hester. He is the best return man ever, and the rare return man who has demonstrated longevity. Without him, the Bears might have been a .500 team. -In October, I spoke with a Twins official who said that the team would like to bring back Carl Pavano, perhaps to a two-year deal worth about $17 or $18 million. Then, as happens in free agency, Pavano solicited other offers, and tried to find a three-year deal, and watched Ted Lilly sign a three-year deal worth $33 million, and must have believed that his market value had risen. And then he signed with the Twins for two years and $16.5 million. That's some pretty good negotiating by the Twins, getting the best remaining pitcher on the free agent market for perhaps even a little less than they expected to spend. And for those saying the Twins need to spend more money to bolster their bullpen or their infield, please remember that the best Twins teams have not traditionally been those that had set rosters when they left for spring training. The best Twins teams have been those that have kept their best players healthy and developed key role players as the season progressed. Right now the Twins have three end-game relievers - Matt Capps, Joe Nathan and Jose Mijares - and six starters, meaning one of those starters could become the long reliever. Let's say that guy is Kevin Slowey, and let's say that Glen Perkins is at last a left specialist. That would leave the Twins with one bullpen opening and a bunch candidates, like Pat Neshek, Jeff Manship, Alex Burnett, Rob Delany, Anthony Slama and the fast-rising Carlos Gutierrez, as well as the two relievers arriving in the J.J. Hardy deal. This isn't a crisis. This is business as usual for almost any big-league team. Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 today, then on the station in Joe Soucheray's stead from 2:40-6 p.m. on Friday. On the station, Sunday Sports Talk will feature appearances from Kevin Seifert and Tom Pelissero, and I'm working on a Wild or Twins guest as well. Also, you can follow me on Twitter at Souhanstrib, although I wish you'd really just mind your own business. Please congratulate me: I didn't mention Brett Favre once.
To quote John McEnroe, ``You cannot be serious!''
Priefer said that if a punt unit executes properly, it can handle a good return man. That's what everyone says until they see Hester make all of their players fall down. You cannot kick to Hester. He is the best return man ever, and the rare return man who has demonstrated longevity. Without him, the Bears might have been a .500 team.
-In October, I spoke with a Twins official who said that the team would like to bring back Carl Pavano, perhaps to a two-year deal worth about $17 or $18 million.
Then, as happens in free agency, Pavano solicited other offers, and tried to find a three-year deal, and watched Ted Lilly sign a three-year deal worth $33 million, and must have believed that his market value had risen.
And then he signed with the Twins for two years and $16.5 million.
That's some pretty good negotiating by the Twins, getting the best remaining pitcher on the free agent market for perhaps even a little less than they expected to spend.
And for those saying the Twins need to spend more money to bolster their bullpen or their infield, please remember that the best Twins teams have not traditionally been those that had set rosters when they left for spring training. The best Twins teams have been those that have kept their best players healthy and developed key role players as the season progressed.
Right now the Twins have three end-game relievers - Matt Capps, Joe Nathan and Jose Mijares - and six starters, meaning one of those starters could become the long reliever. Let's say that guy is Kevin Slowey, and let's say that Glen Perkins is at last a left specialist. That would leave the Twins with one bullpen opening and a bunch candidates, like Pat Neshek, Jeff Manship, Alex Burnett, Rob Delany, Anthony Slama and the fast-rising Carlos Gutierrez, as well as the two relievers arriving in the J.J. Hardy deal.
This isn't a crisis. This is business as usual for almost any big-league team.
Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 today, then on the station in Joe Soucheray's stead from 2:40-6 p.m. on Friday.
On the station, Sunday Sports Talk will feature appearances from Kevin Seifert and Tom Pelissero, and I'm working on a Wild or Twins guest as well.
Also, you can follow me on Twitter at Souhanstrib, although I wish you'd really just mind your own business.
Please congratulate me: I didn't mention Brett Favre once.
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