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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So the Vikings' season is over. What now?
Wrote my column for the Monday paper on the Vikings' predicament, so I'll leave that subject (and a stunning statistic regarding the Vikings' record) for that edition.
What was troubling on Sunday - and what made this a difficult game to write about, as the fourth successive loss - was that the Vikings keep having the same problems every week.
The defense has forced three turnovers in four games. That's not going to cut it.
Donovan McNabb actually made a couple of nice deep throws, targeting Devin Aromashodu and Percy Harvin down the sideline. Maybe the Vikings coaches have found the right combination of routes/receivers to encourage McNabb to take the occasional shot.
What's strangest about the Vikings' 0-4 start is that they are not horrific statistically. McNabb has thrown just two interceptions. Adrian Peterson is having a representative season. Percy Harvin has been dynamic running and catching. Toby Gerhart has done well in limited duty. The Vikings have five receivers with seven or more catches.
But the Vikings neither make enough big plays, or make enough positive plays at important times.
The Chiefs are not a good team. They were 0-3 and missing safety Eric Berry and running back Jamaal Charles. They lacked a competent running game, and quarterback Matt Cassel looks very average when you watch him in person. And yet this collection beat a desperate Vikings team featuring a handful of stars.
I keep coming back to two positions: Quarterback and offensive coordinator. Both were actually a little improved on Sunday, but they still weren't good enough to sustain drives, and it's amazing how many unforced errors this team makes. There were two plays when the running back and quarterback didn't seem to be on the same page.
Also, I think head coach Leslie Frazier should have managed the clock better at the end of the game. If he had called a timeout before the Chiefs punted, that would have saved 45 seconds, and then if the Vikings had gone into hurry-up mode, they could have saved a couple of minutes and had a chance at another drive.
I don't think those decisions cost the Vikings the game, but they cost the Vikings an opportunity.
-The Detroit Lions are 4-0. They remind me of the Tampa Bay Rays - a team that finally found good management and started taking advantage of all of its high draft picks.
The Lions will have to develop more of a running game and become better in pass coverage to become a threat to win a playoff game, but right now they're the best story in the NFL.
-Once I get home from KC, I"ll be covering the Lynx in Game 2, 3 and (if necessary) 4 of the WNBA Finals, including coverage next weekend from Atlanta.
-I highly recommend taking in games at the KC sports complex. Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadium are still state of the art, and the tailgating before a Chiefs game is excellent - friendly people and great barbecue.
-Typical Wolves luck that if they were heading into a season right now, they would be the best story in town. Instead, Rick Adelman and Derrick Williams are locked out indefinitely.
-I'll be on 1500espn with Reusse and Mackey at 2 p.m. every day this week (I believe), and I"ll join my Sunday radio partner, Tom Pelissero, a couple of times this week on his new show, which is 6-8 p.m. weekdays.
My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
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.
-Upcoming: I’ll be flying to LA for the weekend to cover the Gophers at USC and the Twins at Angels. My twitter name is @Souhanstrib.
Haven't posted much lately, been switching out laptops while having mine serviced.
Let's catch up:
-A Twins official told me Donovan McNabb is at Target Field tonight. I haven't seen him myself but have gotten confirmation. I'm told he's a big baseball fan.
-Really wishing Jim Thome had hit his 600th home run at Target Field. When the Twins went in the tank this season, I know the front office was desperately hoping Thome would give the fans that to look forward to.
But as I wrote the other day (http://tinyurl.com/3ufpwz2), the setting was almost fitting.
-Joe Mauer in rightfield? I like it. The guy has looked natural at first base and in the outfield with very little preparation. This is a big development for the Twins, because they can't allow him to catch if he's going to constantly miss games or complain about taking a beating at the position. They need the ability to say, `OK, you're sore today? You're in rightfield.' ''
-Tsuyoshi Nishioka is in contention for becoming the worst major league baseball player I've ever seen. He's Butch Huskey with speed.
-Andruw Jones smashed a homer off Brian Duensing on Thursday night, but it was sad to see him round the bases like an old man.
I was in Yankee Stadium in 1996, for the first game of the World Series, when Jones hit two majestic home runs as a 19-year-old. He was a brilliant centerfielder, lean and lithe. Now he's hit 415 homers. If he had taken better care of himself, he could have been a Hall of Famer.
-The Lynx just beat the Mystics, 81-62, to improve to 19-6. That's the best record in the WNBA and the most victories in franchise history.
-My topic for tomorrow's column is the woeful shape of the Twins as they look toward next year. Unlike many of you, I don't think they need to clean house of decision-makers, but those decision-makers will have to operate shrewdly to get this team back into contention.
-I have never seen a Twins team make so many fundamental mistakes. Nishioka looks like he's playing soccer. Trevor Plouffe might develop into a good major-league hitter, but he can look lost at any position. Danny Valencia makes too many unforced errors.
At least the Twins have Justin Morneau back. He has turned himself into a wonderful first baseman.
-The Twins have to make big decisions on Michael Cuddyer and Joe Nathan. Cuddyer will test free agency and almost certainly receive offers far bigger than the Twins'. The Twins can keep Nathan by picking up his $12.5 million option.
It's easy to say that Cuddyer isn't worth $10 million to $12 million a year, and that Nathan isn't what he once was, but this team not only can't afford to lose Cuddyer's bat and Nathan's arm, it will have trouble putting together a professional team without their personalities.
Cuddyer and Nathan are the rare current Twins who are determined to do whatever they need to do to compete, are determined to set an example for younger players. Believe me, this clubhouse needs more like them, not fewer.
-Before Thursday, Brian Duensing's career record against the Yankees was 0-1 with a 6.59 ERA. Then he gave up three homers, and six runs in five innings, to the Yanks.
This is an example of why the Twins struggle against the Yankees. Against most teams, Duensing has a chance to outsmart a few hitters and bust a few lefties inside and earn a quality start. Against the Yankees, he's a batting-practice pitcher.
-I miss Delmon Young.
-Ok, no, I really don't.
-There were a few boos when Derek Jeter batted in the first.
Folks: The guy reached 3,000 hits while playing shortstop his entire career, brilliantly handling the pressure of big games and never embarrassing himself in a market constantly looking for tabloid headlines.
You can cheer for the guy. He's been a classy and admirable competitor. This Twins season should make you more appreciative of athletes like him. The guy never wants a day off or fails to run out a ground ball.
-My take on the Vikings' first preseason game: Donovan McNabb and Christian Ponder better be in shape. They're going to need quick feet to survive behind that line.
-I'm hearing the Wolves are whittling their finalists in the coaching search, that Don Nelson, Sam Mitchell and Rick Adelman are the primary targets, although there's still no confirmation that Adelman wants the job.
I'm pulling for Mitchell. I think he could help this team improve immediately, and be willing to stick around long-term if he had success.
-Yes, I just finished a Wolves item without taking a shot at David Kahn.
The Twins didn't trade away players at the deadline because they think they can still win the division. They didn't trade for players because they don't want to pay the high prices required for them to acquire a bullpen arm when they're in the fourth place in the division on Aug. 1.
They're stuck in the middle. I've heard outrage from both sides, that the Twins should have traded their players headed to free agency, and that they should have sold out trying to win this year.
I'm just not surprised that they did neither. To trade an everyday player or a prospect for a reliever could damage their long-term plans without dramatically increasing this team's chances of winning. to trade away Michael Cuddyer, their most valuable player on the trade market, when they're still in contention would be one way of telling fans not to show up at Target Field for the rest of the season.
From a purely logical standpoint, I believe the Twins should have traded Cuddyer. But the Twins care about their clubhouse culture and rewarding the right players, and Cuddyer is the best organizational player they've had, in terms of being a personification of everything they teach and value, in a long time.
We all begin our evaluation of teams by gauging their ability to win a championship, but there is more to sports than that. If keeping Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Matt Capps around gives this team a chance to win the division and encourages people to buy tickets, then maybe this is the right approach.
I'm on record saying I would have sold pieces off to try to rebuild the franchise's talent base. But while I disagree with the Twins' decision, I also, on a gut level, like it when franchises stubbornly insist on winning, and keep trying to keep a good thing going.
As for the Vikings, this is a strange set a circumstances. They have a first-year coach, a free-agent quarterback trying to learn the offense in a short period of time, a new offensive coordinator, and a slew of very good players who might not have many effective years left in their legs.
Like the Twins, the Vikings are stuck in the middle. To win nine or 10 games, they'll need surprising performances from Donovan McNabb, Bryant McKinnie, John Sullivan, Steve Hutchinson, Cedric Griffin, Jared Allen, Brian Robison...just about every veteran on the team.
How many of their best players are sure things, presuming good health? Adrian Peterson, Chad Greenway, Antoine Winfield...and that's about it. All of their other name players are either aging or coming off disappointing seasons or injuries.
So why should the Vikings avoid a true rebuilding process? Because sport is unpredictable. I still don't think the Bears were all that good last year, but they wound up on the right side of the Calvin Johnson ruling, got to face the Seahawks in the playoffs and suddenly found themselves with a chance to win the NFC title game against the team that would eventually win the Super Bowl.
So my attitude toward the Vikings is the same as it is toward the Twins: It might be smart, in a clinical sense, to rebuild, but neither franchise is willing to give up. And there's something to be said for trying to win every year, regardless of the circumstances. Remember: Rebuilding sounds good until you try it and it doesn't work.
-News just broke, via ESPN, that Randy Moss is retiring.
I think the Vikings should hold a ceremony to honor him. He can stand on a podium at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., and then, as he begins his speech, everyone can walk off, and into the locker room.
And then Matt Birk can finally beat him up.
-Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:40 today with Pat and Phil, then on with Phunn in the 6 o'clock hour. I'm also hosting the Phunn House on Tuesday night from 6-8:30 on 1500.
I'm in Mankato until Tuesday afternoon, and I'll tweet as warranted at @Souhanstrib.
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