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
So am I happier today than I was all winter because baseball season is beginning?
Or because it's spring and the sun is shining and Minneapolis looks beautiful?
Nice debate to have, after the winter of bad weather and worse sports we had.
To catch up on what's going on around town, as I sit in the Target Field press box waiting for the home opener to start:
Wolves: Yes, Kurt Rambis has to go. It's not his fault that the Wolves are a joke. But it is his fault that a roster that is not devoid of talent played without intelligence or intensity most of the season.
But if Rambis goes, a few other people should go with him. Like, everyone above him in the Wolves' hierarchy.
Wild: I don't know if Todd Richards is a good NHL coach, or whether he will be a good NHL coach in the future. I do know that just two months ago he was pretty impressive. I can't flip from thinking he was a good, young coach to thinking he's deserving of being fired in this amount of time.
I just think the Wild lacks top-end talent and scorers and a productive farm system. Those are things the coach can't control, and things the organization can't change overnight.
Gopher football: Can we wait for Jerry Kill to win one stinkin' game against Macalester or somebody before we get all excited? Please?
I like the guy, but you don't learn anything about a football coach until he has to deal with real games, real game-plans, real problem-solving.
NCAA basketball: It's an ugly sport with a brilliant format.
The Masters: I miss being there. I love covering the tournament. But with Tiger less interesting, I just feel less compelled to spend my entire day watching. I wish that weren't true, but it is.
The Twins: Nishioka's hurt, Hughes rarely stays healthy, and Casilla has not impressed. This will be another year where the Twins try to figure out their middle infield all season.
Here's a fascinating lineup, though: Span, Mauer, Morneau, Young, Kubel, Cuddyer, Thome, Valencia, Casilla. That's with Cuddyer playing second base, where he's taking ground balls today in case he's needed.
You couldn't use that lineup every day, but I'd love to see it.
Mauer is the ideal No. 2 hitter. One thing I hate about traditional managing is the idea that you want a weak, slap-hitter in the two-hole. I want a high on-base percentage guy at No.2, ahead of my sluggers. Mauer will be ideal in that role.
Enjoy the game.
Twitter handle: @Souhanstrib.
This Sunday, the Gardenhire show starts at 9:30 a.m. on 1500espn, followed by Sunday Morning Sports Talk with Tom Pelissero and myself. Rick Spielman among guests. Will talk lots of Twins, Vikings draft, Masters, wrap up a few winter sports seasons.
Sunday Morning Sports Talk
Stopping and popping from downtown. Well, OK, downtown Lakeville: -Exchanged emails with Princeton University basketball coach Sydney Johnson, whose team upset Harvard on a last-second shot to make it into the NCAA Tournament. A reader noted that Johnson played two seasons of high school basketball for Moorhead State High School, and Johnson confirmed this in an email, writing: ``
Stopping and popping from downtown. Well, OK, downtown Lakeville:
-Exchanged emails with Princeton University basketball coach Sydney Johnson, whose team upset Harvard on a last-second shot to make it into the NCAA Tournament.
A reader noted that Johnson played two seasons of high school basketball for Moorhead State High School, and Johnson confirmed this in an email, writing: ``
I played two seasons for Chuck Gulsvig at Moorhead High School (my sophomore and junior years in high school). The Moorhead Spuds share the colors of orange and black with the Princeton Tigers...ironic...All the best...’’
Johnson was the Ivy League player of the year in 1997 at Princeton who then had a successful run playing in Italy. He worked as an assistant coach at Georgetown before taking over Princeton.
He became the Princeton coach at 32 and four years later remains the youngest coach in the Ivy League.
He took over a struggling program. His records as a head coach: 6-23, 13-14, 22-9, 25-6.
Johnson gives us one more promising semi-local basketball personality to watch during the tourney. Princeton faces Kentucky in Tampa on Thursday.
Received a tremendous amount of response from my Gophers athletic department column today.
I always get a voluminous response from readers. What’s amazing to me is that every time I write about the Gophers, I hear from so many former players and employees at the U who are fed up with the way the place is being run.
In addition to the decline of the revenue sports, which is detailed in the column, Maturi also presides over the mess that is the golf program, thanks to his hiring of John Harris and Harris’ treatment of associate women’s coach Katie Brenny.
I’ve never seen such a mess. And I cover the Timberwolves.
So now we’re nearing the end of another long Timberwolves season. Let’s check in on David Kahn’s pet projects:
1. Darko Mlicic. He may be a relative bargain for a skilled big man, but how much does he actually produce? Not enough. And does anyone think this man’s heart is in it, or ever will be in it? Can you see him actually caring enough to be a key player on a good team? Didn’t think so.
2. Anthony Randolph. Talented. Intriguing. And I’ll ask the same questions of him that I just asked about Darko.
3. Michael Beasley. Worth what he cost in the trade, a wonderful scorer, but...I’ll ask the same questions of him that I just asked about Mlicic and Randolph.
4. Kevin Love. Obviously, keeping him was wise. He doesn’t play much defense, but he is remarkably skilled and productive. So...why couldn’t Love, who plays facing the basket and loves to crash the boards, play alongside low-post scorer Al Jefferson? I’ve had some outstanding basketball thinkers tell me there is no reason they couldn’t co-exist.
5. Ricky Rubio. Who you gonna believe about his willingness to play in Minnesota, all those Spanish reporters and sources, Rubio himself (who seems less enthusiastic about this prospect every day) or Mr. Kahn?
6. Jonny Flynn. Steph Curry would be the Wolves’ best point guard as well as their missing shooting guard.
7. Wes Johnson. Wes could develop into a nice player. I continue to say DeMarcus Cousins, with his franchise-player potential, was worth the risk.
There is no doubt that Kahn has upgraded this team’s physical ability. But how many winning basketball players has he accumulated?
Yes, Adrian Peterson compared millionaire players to slavery. It was a stupid thing to say. He should avoid doing interviews until the season begins and then he should speak only on football.
But my impression of him, after having been around him for years, is that Peterson is a quality guy. It’s always dangerous for writers to praise athletes, because we rarely know them all that well, but my sense of Peterson is that he’s a good-hearted, standup guy.
So while he certainly said something stupid, I don’t think what he said is a reflection of who he is.
I picked Kansas to win it all, which is strange, because I don’t think Kansas is going to win it all. But I think it’s such a watered-down field that I couldn’t find anyone in the bracket I think is going to beat Kansas head-to-head. So I’m stuck with my arch-rivals (I attended Missouri.)
Working on a piece on St. Thomas basketball and longtime coach Steve Fritz, a great guy who has his athletic department rolling, thanks to his coaching and his hiring of Glenn Caruso as football coach. Also planning to cover the Wild on Saturday.
Putting together the Sunday Morning Sports Talk show for 1500espn. We’ll start at 9:30 a.m. Sunday with the first Ron Gardenhire show, followed by the big show with co-host Tom Pelissero.
Remember Jerry Glanville?
When I was covering the NFL, I flew to Houston for an Oilers-Steelers playoff game. Glanville took me aside and told me a bunch of funny stories. Had me laughing. I couldn't help but like the guy.
Then a friend who had covered Glanville for years told me he had heard all of those stories at least 25 times.
I remembered that late Monday night, as I was listening to Brett Favre.
The guy knows how to run a press conference. He's funny, smooth, quick, and relevant. He's the ideal press conference interview.
And there are always friendly faces in the audience. The national media love him, and there are always writers from other cities who don't get to see him often. They eat up his lines.
Me? I've heard them all too often. Even after his team gets destroyed, he'll go into the interview room and talk about his ``great run'' and that he has ``no regrets.''
Brett: It's really not all about you anymore. It's not. You helped ruin a good team this year. Save all of your funny stories and one-liners about how great you are, or how old you are, for the last game of the season. Your act is old and tired. We've heard this all before.
-The guys I feel for are Leslie Frazier and Joe Webb. Frazier is being forced to audition for a job under horrible circumstances - with a team that quit on the previous coach and is old, battered and defeated.
Frazier could end the season with a four-game losing streak, and I wouldn't necessarily hold it against him.
Webb was put into an impossible position. He thought he was starting. Then Favre big-footed him. Then he comes in cold in the second quarter, in a snowstorm, against a good defense. He didn't play well, but is anyone surprised?
-I keep saying the Wolves are intriguing, but will they try playing defense just once? Aren't they embarrassed enough by their record to try to stop someone once in a while? Geez.
-I'll be on 1500espn from noon-2 with Phil Mackey on Tuesday. Please call in and make fun of Phil. He can take it.
I'm sitting in the press box at TCF Bank Stadium, and the grounds crew is peeling a section of tarp off the 30-yard-line. The snow is coming down the way the flakes fall in a snow globe, swirling about. I'm not sure I've ever seen conditions quite like this.
The good news for the players is that snow means relatively warm temperatures, so the field shouldn't be too frozen. But it's going to be sloppy all night.
It will also be memorable. Whether you're in the stadium or watching on TV, you'll remember this game. Weather games are like that.
My new stadium recommendation: Add somewhere between 10 and 40 thousand seats to TCF Bank Stadium, and let the Vikings play here. Don't pump any more money into the Metrodome; the place is a wreck. Put whatever money you would have put into repairs and upkeep at the Dome into TCF Bank, and our problems are solved.
-What do you think Tarvaris Jackson and Joe Webb will be telling each other on the sideline if Brett Favre big-foots Webb out of a start on national tv? I'd love to hear that conversation.
-I'll be on 1500espn with Joe Anderson at about 6:15 tonight, and I'm filling in for Reusse on the station from noon-2 with Phil Mackey on Tuesday and Wednesday.
-I'm more intrigued by the Wolves than I have been for years. Love is an All-Star. Beasley is a gifted scorer. Darko is a solid inside presence (when he plays.) Martell Webster is a real find. Now all they need is a point guard and a willingness to play team defense.
Spoke with Wolves assistant GM Tony Ronzone on my Sunday radio show, and he said he believes this team is so talented that once these guys learn how to win, they could run off a bunch of victories. I'm not sure learning how to play defense comes that quickly, but if this team could find a way to get a key stop once in a while, it could suddenly look like one of the most promising teams in the league.
-I wanted the Twins to trade for Zach Greinke, but was told the Royals didn't want to trade inside the division - especially with a team that has dominated the division. Too bad. Greinke could have put a scare into the Yankees as well as the White Sox.
-We're all sitting here writing on deadline and eating really unhealthy food. (Judd doesn't seem bothered by this.)
-My column for the Friday paper focuses on the Vikings' trade of the 30th pick in the draft. Short version: I like the trade. I'm not sure I like who they traded with.
-There is the possibility that the Vikings could take Jimmy Clausen on Friday. I could be wrong, and we'll know soon, but I don't think so. I don't think Clausen is the right personality type for this team, a veteran team trying to win now. And I'm not as impressed with Clausen as the general public is.
At Notre Dame, his teams generally underachieved and faced mostly poor competition, and he had great receivers who could catch anything near them. I'm not sold.
I also think the Broncos are fools. They essentially traded Brandon Marshall for Tim Tebow. Marshall is one of the NFL's two best receivers. I don't believe Tebow will ever be a good NFL quarterback. And you don't spend a first-round pick on a Wildcat quarterback.
-Here's the column I wrote early in the evening, well before the Vikings picked. We in the business call it an ``early.''
Want to know how immensely popular the NFL has become?
On Wednesday, the NFL commissioner suspended a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback in his prime for six games for a sordid incident involving a bathroom, an underaged girl and alcohol.
On Thursday, the suspension of Ben Roethlisberger only added to the intrigue and suspense _ and thus the popularity _ of the NFL draft. Would the Steelers trade Roethlisberger? Which teams would trade their first-round pick for him? Would Bad Ben molest anyone between the announcement of the suspension and the end of the first round?
The NFL is so popular that it has become the first pro sports league in history to lend truth to the phrase, ``Any publicity is good publicity.’’
The draft itself has, over the last couple of decades, morphed from an oddity obsessed over by the kind of geeks who now invent fictitious acronyms so they can sound smart talking baseball into a prime-time television special that promised to garner an immense rating.
I had a buddy tell me he was going to try to put his kids to bed early so he could watch every minute, even though most of the players taken in even the first round of the 2009 draft made little or no impact on their team last season. In fact, looking back at that first round confirms that the Vikings would have been silly to consider anyone other than receiver Percy Harvin, even if they had known then the extent of his migraines.
In 1990, I covered my first NFL draft. I spent two days in the basement of Winter Park, the Vikings’ compound in Eden Prairie. The Vikings had traded just about all of their draft picks to Dallas for Herschel Walker (just thought I’d remind you) and it was pretty much a couple of writers, a couple of camera guys and a bag of chips killing an entire weekend.
At the end of each day, the Vikings’ draft gurus, Frank Gilliam and Jerry Reichow, would come downstairs from their office, shrug a few times, and say that some of the guys they took had a chance to make the team, but who could tell?
Mel Kiper had not yet been invented or laquered, and everyone’s favorite draft analyst was a guy named Joel Buchsbaum, who produced a draft pamphlet that every self-respecting writer treated as a bible, to the consternation of NFL personnel directors.
Thursday night, the Vikings were slated to make the 30th selection in the first round.
This column was written well before the Vikings made their first selection. In this case, you didn’t know who the Vikings took to know that their selection probably wouldn’t make much difference in 2010.
If they took a defensive back or an offensive lineman, that player was not likely to start Game 1 in New Orleans. If they surprised everyone (or maybe just me) and selected a quarterback, that quarterback would be at least a year away, and perhaps more, from being expected to contribute.
And that is the greatest compliment you can offer the Vikings’ braintrust: They have pieced together such a strong roster that the 2010 draft should be seen as a way to bolter future teams moreso than the current squad.
The Vikings have excelled in free agency, adding Bernard Berrian, Brett Favre (yes, he counts), Anthony Herrera, Steve Hutchinson, Ben Leber, Ryan Longwell, Visanthe Shiancoe, Pat Williams and Antoine Winfield since 2004.
Under Rick Spielman, the Vikings’ vice president of player personnel, the Vikings have excelled at hitting home runs at the top of the draft.
In 2006, Spielman & Co. took Chad Greenway and Cedric Griffin in the first two rounds. In 2007, it was Adrian Peterson and Sidney Rice.
In 2008, the Vikings traded three of their first four picks for Jared Allen, a brilliant move, and chose Tyrell Johnson _ a starter although not a standout _ in the second round.
In 2009, The Vikings took Harvin in the first round and Phil Loadholt in the second.
All of those move guaranteed that anyone the Vikings selected at the end of the first round on Thursday would play a supporting role.
-Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is complaining about the NFL preempting the NBA playoffs. Way to be a free-marketeer, Mark.
-On 1500ESPN with Joe and Pat at 2:35 Friday, then on at 6-ish with Joe Anderson before the Twins play the Royals. I have tomorrow off from the newspaper.
A video I shot with Mr. Reusse should be up at startribune.com.
You can follow me on twitter at Souhanstrib. If you followed me today, you know I think Jon Gruden is a fool when it comes to draft analysis. If I hear one more ``analyst'' try to tell me that Tim Tebow will be a good NFL quarterback because of his character, I'm going to regurgitate.
Ben Roethlisberger is a jerk, and he won two Super Bowls.
-I'm back to write about the draft Saturday for the Sunday paper, then on Sunday we've got the Gardy Show on 1500ESPN at 9:30, followed by Sunday Sports Talk with myself and Brad Lane. Trying for Twins and Vikings guests.
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