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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Twins 44-50 at break; better than last 3 years

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Professional baseball, Target Field, Twins fans, Twins management, Twins offense, Twins transactions Updated: July 13, 2014 - 6:45 PM

The Twins reached the All-Star break at 44-50 after beating Colorado on Sunday.

Here's how that compares to their record at the three previous All-Star breaks:

2011: 41-48.

2012: 36-49.

2013: 39-53.

Slightly better starting pitching, due mostly to Phil Hughes and Kyle Gibson, has made the Twins a little better this season despite vital injuries to key hitters, like Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham, and the failure of Aaron Hicks to become a useful big-league hitter.

But the Twins' chances to finish strong could be handicapped by the innings limit on AAA pitcher Alex Meyer, and the expectation that the Twins will trade away a few valuable players as the trade deadline approaches.

Kaymer blowing away field

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Golf Updated: June 13, 2014 - 11:35 AM

Pinehurst, N.C. _ Martin Kaymer has reached 10-under par with a few holes left in his second round at the U.S. Open.

The last player to reach double-digits under par before the weekend at a U.S. Open? Rory McIlroy, when he set a record of 16-under when winning the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.

The last player before McIlroy to do it? Well, no one.

Kaymer reached 10-under on his 32nd hole of the U.S. Open. The only player ever to reach 10-under quicker was, again, McIlroy at Congressional.

It rained at Pinehurst on Thursday night, and that has led to more-receptive greens. Kaymer is hitting the ball so well he has had no trouble holding greens, and when he made a bad swing on the par-3 6th, he easily got up and down from the bunker.

He’s threatening to make this a one-man tournament.

Former Gopher Donald Constable is two-over today after shooting an 81 in his first round. (I incorrectly called it an 82 earlier.)

Fellow former Gopher Clayton Rask tees off in about two hours.

I’ll be on 1500ESPN at 12:15 from Pinehurst.

Good morning from US Open, Version 2

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Golf Updated: June 13, 2014 - 9:04 AM

Pinehurst, N.C. _ Martin Kaymer has taken a four-shot lead by dropping to minus-8 after his first seven holes of round 2 at the U.S. Open, and 49-year-old Fran Quinn is in second and minus-4.

Enough about them. Let's talk about the Minnesotans in the field.

Donald Constable is one over after three holes, and Clayton Rask is due to tee off at 1:42 (Central Time.)

Rask is currently tied for 60th. Constable is fighting to stay off the bottom of the leaderboard.

The former Gophers are both very likeable guys, and both tried to take positives from their first rounds. Rask birdied the first and the 18th, closing with a fist pump, before heading to the practice range.

Constable triple-bogeyed his 18th hole (the first, because he teed off on No. 10), but was gracious enough to make the long trek to the interview area.

That's no small thing, after shooting an 82 at a major. He could have declined interviews, and nobody would have blamed him. (I certainly wouldn't have.) He was frustrated, and spoke of how lonely the golf course can be when you're struggling.

But he closed by saying that  he's ``25 and playing in the U.S. Open. That's not a bad gig.''

I'll be following Rask and Constable today, and will have lots of coverage of the Open in the paper and on startribune.com through the weekend.

I'll be on 1500ESPN at 12:15 today from Pinehurst, and will co-host Sunday Sports Talk on 1500ESPN at 10 a.m. on Sunday.

Rask on leaderboard

Posted by: Jim Souhan under Golf Updated: June 12, 2014 - 10:29 AM

Pinehurst, N.C. _ Walked a few holes with former Gopher Clayton Rask. He made birdies on Nos. 1 and 4, then bogeyed 5 with a three-putt, and now stands at minus-1 as he plays the eighth. He's tied for fourth.

Pictures of him as a Gopher reveal a rather stocky guy. He looks like a pro athlete now, and he's near the tournament leaders (tied for third at the moment) with a driving average of 320 yards.

Fellow former Gopher Donald Constable tees off at 1:31.

You can follow Rask's round here.

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My first impression of Pinehurst No. 2 during the practice rounds? I kept waiting to be impressed.

While I like the fact that the organizers ripped up the thick rough, revealing sand and wiregrass, the course itself just is not living up to its reputation.

Now, I'm spoiled. Most of the majors I've covered have been at Augusta National. I covered the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, and I've visited Pebble Beach. These are places of breathtaking natural beauty.

Pinehurst No. 2 is revered by the golf establishment, but the emporer has no clothes.

With no significant water on the course, it's just a big, hot sandbox with crowned greens.

Usually, I'm especially spoiled when I cover majors. Usually, I have inside-the-ropes access, which allows me to follow players closely.

Here, I'm outside the ropes (I'm guessing the USGA is punishing my paper for not having covered the Open for a while), which means I'm getting the true fan experience.

And the true fan experience here stinks, especially on the front nine.

Most courses have perches that allow you to watch more than one hole at a time. Here, the course is flat and well-treed, so you can really only watch one shot at a time.

And the setup of the course means walking the course is like driving in St. Paul - usually you're going the wrong way, but don't worry, you'll hit a dead-end soon.

There are 20 public courses in Minnesota I'd rather play or walk than Pinehurst, including Hazeltine National and all of the resort courses up North. And I haven't even played all of the good courses in our state.

If PInehurst is worthy of a major championship, then Minnesota should get to host the Open every other year.

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I'll be on 1500ESPN at 12:15.

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