We field a lot of questions in this business, some of which are printable after heavy editing:

Q: How did you become such a jerk?

A: Practice, practice, practice.

Q: You predicted that the arrival of David Beckham in the United States would fail to elevate soccer's popularity. Ready to eat your words?

A: Yes, Beckham has been a powerful instrument of change. He doesn't do many interviews, doesn't promote his sport, can't stay healthy and has become irrelevant on two continents unless he's selling really tight underwear, but at least he helped the L.A. Galaxy last year by scoring that goal.

You don't have to ask, "Which goal?'' There was only one.

Q: Why is there so much corruption in sports?

A: In the immortal words of Deep Throat, "Follow the money.'' There is corruption in politics because of money. There is corruption in the oil industry and in the military-industrial complex because of money. Enron was about money. Insider trading was about money. Beckham models really tight underwear for money. Why would athletes pursuing tens of millions of dollars in billion-dollar industries display better ethics than heads of state and commerce? Because their Little League coaches made them run laps?

Q: Do you believe Roger Clemens?

A: I feel for the guy, because I, too, have family members who are constantly doing HGH without my knowledge. You should see my kids mow the lawn.

Q: Why hasn't hockey, a sport combining skill and violence that is captivating in person, gained more mainstream American popularity?

A: Hockey (like soccer) doesn't feature what I call a "sports suspense mechanism.''

In baseball, every pitch is recorded and every at-bat and inning has a natural suspense mechanism -- three balls, or two strikes, or two outs -- when you can expect a result. These are minidramas that play out within the context of the drama of the game and the sweeping drama of the season.

In football, you have third down -- once every three plays, at the least, you will have a play that determines whether a team will advance, score or be forced to give up the ball. In basketball, you have the shot clock and constant scoring.

Hockey and soccer, even at their best, don't tease the television viewer into believing that an important moment is imminent. And attracting TV ratings and revenues is what sets major sports apart.

Let's face it -- Americans need stimuli every few seconds or we tend to lose ... what was I writing about again?

Q: Why do sportswriters seem cranky this time of the year?

A: It's SSD -- Seasonal Sports Depression. Football is over, baseball has yet to begin and the winter sports are far from the playoffs. The sports world this time of the year lacks suspense mechanisms.

Q: Why would you call this a rebuilding year for the Twins?

A: All decade, the Twins have emphasized starting pitching depth. Now they're entering the season with Livan Hernandez and a bunch of kids in the rotation, and we're supposed to think they have a chance in what might be the best division in baseball?

Q: Not impressed with Hernandez?

A: At first I liked him in theory, as an innings-eating starter. Then you look up his ERA, which has shot up each of the past three years, and he starts looking like Ramon Ortiz before Nutri-System.

Q: What's Dwane Casey doing these days?

A: You mean other than laughing?

Q: Will Mike Tice ever get another head coaching job?

A: I suspect not. He's good enough, but he'll always be labeled as the guy who scalped tickets (which is fair) and enabled the Love Boaters (which is not).

Q: What's up with our guy Devean George, the Augsburg alum, killing a blockbuster NBA trade because it could hamper his negotiating leverage next offseason?

A: This is great for the Auggies -- they'll become the first team in the country to recruit elite players because of their economics department.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. jsouhan@startribune.com