Friday, June 28, 2013
Every local media analyst seems pretty convinced the Wolves made a huge mistake. But there's a couple of problems with that, problems that have very little to do with how good Muhammad will be as an NBA player.
The first problem is that this wasn't a great draft. Everyone said so. There wasn't a guaranteed impact player in the bunch. Nerlens Noel, the guy everyone thought was going to be Top 2 fell to #6, and Anthony Bennett, a guy most people had sliding down the board went #1. There wasn't even a consensus Top 2. That's rare.
So, in a draft like that, how upset can anyone get? How can it go from "This draft doesn't feature a ton of talent, so it's kinda anyone's guess" to "OH MY GOD THE WOLVES HAVE REALLY SCREWED UP THIS TIME". (See MPR's Newsman Bob Collins' Twitter feed to see how little I'm exaggerating that). I'm not sure when CJ McCollum magically transformed from an undersized, injury-prone two-guard to the Savior of the Franchise, but that's the player most of these guys feel like we should have gotten.
The second problem is the bigger one in my mind, especially for those of us who listen to the experts on the radio, read their columns in the newspaper (they still print those!) and assume, because they are in the media, that they have some insight that we don't. Sometimes they do - particularly the inside politicking of a franchise. KFAN host Dan Barreiro and Star Trib Wolves writer Jerry Zgoda had a quick Twitter exchange in which it was clear that both had been told that Muhammad was not going to be a member of the Wolves. They had inside dope, but it was wrong, or rather the circumstances changed to make Muhammad a reasonable pick-up (namely, getting a second first-rounder to go along with him). But when it comes to evaluating talent, when it comes to judging ability, these experts on the radio and in the newspaper aren't any better at it than the average schmo.
They are often rather brazen about it. This morning on KFAN's morning show, with Paul Allen and Paul Charchian (a veritable nexus of credulous boobery, as has been discussed previously), they were "analyzing" Shabazz Muhammad's game, and both admitted they were basing it on some limited information. How limited? Paul Allen was basing everything he was saying on the one game that UCLA played against the Gophers in the NCAA's. Charchian was going off what he saw on YouTube. FOR REAL. Without doing a lick of work, I have researched Muhammad's game more thoroughly than the guys paid to talk about it? By watching 2 UCLA games last year? Incredible. Jim Souhan's article is more of the same.
Hell, Britt Robson, a basketball writer I love to no end, basically admitted to be working off completely received knowledge, because he doesn't watch college basketball. To his credit, Robson also points out that anyone thinking this draft was the Most Important Thing ever are kinda crazy.
Sometimes, they are just outright wrong. I can't believe these sentences are still up on the St. Paul Pioneer Press website, for example. Tom Powers writes the following about Muhammad: "And it was discovered that his birth certificate was purposely falsified and that he really was a year older than everyone thought. That's a big deal when you're a teen and able to dominate younger kids."
That's just factually wrong. His birth certificate was not falsified. It was his birth certificate that lead the LA Times to conclude that Muhammad's age was incorrect in the UCLA media guide. Finding this out takes about 30 seconds of Googling, which Tom Powers just doesn't have time for, because he's too busy not doing anything resembling basic research. Why should facts be important to a member of the media? I guess budgets cuts mean that Tom Powers, who was/is/will always be a Stupid Fat Fuck is allowed to write whatever he wants. And I'm not really sure how it is that big of an advantage Muhammad got all through his years in basketball, playing against people younger and older than him throughout high school and college. Was he beating up 10 year-olds on the court when he was sixteen? Nope. Again, Tom Powers is a Stupid Fat Fuck, who could maybe get sued for getting this very, very basic fact of the story so very wrong.
So, with that said, here are more observations from a person who doesn't know that much more than you do about the Wolves picks, but probably just as much as anyone else you've listened to (aside from the crazy people who run the full time Wolves blogs like Canis Hoopus or A Wolf Among Wolves - those guys use analysis and shit. (that sounded mocking. it wasn't. I love those blogs. They make charts, and I don't know how to do that)).
#14 - Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA). Perhaps one of the more divisive picks of the entire draft, leaving aside #1 Anthony Bennett, which made Bill Simmons poop himself a little, and Noel falling down to #6. Muhammad is a bit of a conundrum. But without getting into all the stats, he is a good to great midrange shooter, and was 42% from the three-point line in his one year at UCLA. The Wolves were the worst three-point shooting team in the league, needing to get hot at the end of the year to get above 30%. For every person who says he lacks a work ethic, there's another person who will swear up and down that he works as hard as anyone. For every critic who says he's a black hole on offense, and points to his terrible assists numbers at UCLA, there's a proponent who points out that his job was to shoot, not pass. My guess is that between Ricky, KLOVE, Rick Adelman, Shabazz will get sorted out in that regard. He's great in transition, but some folks worry that his high scoring percentage in transition means he's terrible in the half-court. Not from what I've seen. On a team where he'll be coming off the bench for at least his first year, if not first two, he'll be asked to do what he does well, which is score. He needs to work on his defense, but his cause there will actually be aided by the Wolves 2nd First Round pick:
#21 - Gorgui Dieng (Louisville). He's already the press' preferred first round pick (He loves cold weather!). Quick aside - remember when people argued that David Kahn screwed up terribly by drafting Ricky Rubio, because he'd never come here, because the winters are too damn cold? No? IT HAPPENED. I like Dieng, too. Here's why I like him - I have watched a ton of Big East Basketball (oh, and I hate Louisville), and I watched Dieng transform himself from awkward tall guy who could block shots into a much more complete player. He can absolutely block shots - his timing and wingspan (Jay Bilas says,"drink!") are a great combination. But over the past couple of years, he's learned to pass well, often triggering plays on the baseline from the top of the key. He's limited offensively, but he's learned that at his height, he just needs to go up aggressively to make a difference. He reads the floor extremely well. He's just a smart player, who is still learning and willing to do so. The Wolves haven't had a great shot blocker since Kevin Garnett. Dieng will provide a defense in the paint not predicated on taking charges, and we can applaud that, as taking charges is the kind of bullshit stat that the Joe Smith's and Shane Battier's of the world got their money. And with a shot-blocker in the middle, maybe Muhammad's perimeter defense doesn't have to be spectacular right off the bat. Put them on the floor together, and let Muhammad just filter his man into the middle into the waiting, go-go-Gadget arms of Gorgui. And it should be noted I haven't seen a player who doesn't appear at least 25% better offensively just by being on the court with Ricky Rubio (see Derrick Williams). Gorgui better like alley-oops (spoiler: he does)
#52 - Lorenzo Brown (NC State). I wish I could say I was shocked that Brown was still there at #52, but there's one thing College Basketball doesn't lack, and it is athletes. The fact that Rodney Williams of Minnesota and Khalif Wyatt of Temple are both signing free agent deals speaks to that. But I have watched a lot of Lorenzo Brown, more than any talking head in the Twin Cities, and I'm here to tell you that this kid is going to be something. He's a steal here. And I think he'll contribute right away - he's a tall-ish combo guard (6' 5") who gives the Wolves some options outside of the Short Combo of Luke Ridnour and feisty but annoyingly inconsistent JJ Barea. While not crazy explosive (no one the Wolves picked will be in the Dunk Contest) he's athletic enough to finish at the basket. He's not a great shooter, but the Wolves system is probably just fine with that at the moment, considering that their plan seems to be to run a traditional point. But I really can't wait for this kid's first steal and dunk in transition. I don't think I'll have to wait long.
#59 - Bojan Dubljevic - Essentially, no one in America outside of Pro Scouts know a thing about this guy. I'll just link to DraftExpress and leave it at that.
In my mind, the Wolves got three guys who will contribute something pretty much right away. They won't be starters - this wasn't a starters kind of draft. But they got three players who are worthy of more optimism than is being sent their way currently, particularly at the local level. (notable exception: the aforementioned geeks at A Wolf Among Wolves).
It wasn't a tranformative moment, but Michael Jordan wasn't in this draft. The Wolves did just fine, in my humble opinion. And at the very least, I know more about that Tom Powers, who is still just a stupid fat fuck.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
"A new Vikings stadium would, like Target Field, become a destination, another bragging point for Minnesota residents and job recruiters." **
This is almost always mentioned in arguments for why the Vikings are worth many hundreds of millions of dollars in public financing. Dan Barreiro on KFAN mentions it almost daily and he did again today. He uses (somewhat grudgingly) the words "cultural impact", and without much hint of embarrassment, the word "intangibles". "Cultural impact" for my money, should be reserved for museums and playhouses, and places that don't threaten to leave because they can make more money elsewhere. The Walker Art Center has never said, "If you love Spoonbridge and Cherry, and don't want to see it in Disneyland getting humped by an animatronic Sulley from 'Monsters, Inc', give us more money." And believe me, people would pay money to see that.
"Intangibles" is a word used in sports journalism when no one can really figure out why a player or an idea is any better than another player or idea. In that sense, it is totally apt. Why is important to spend over a half-billion dollars of public money on a professional sports stadium? "I can't really explain why, but the reason is there...it's like why Tim Tebow will be a great NFL QB, even though he can't throw...INTANGIBLES."
We, as the Twin Cities, the implication goes, need The Vikings in order to stay as great of metropolitan region as we are. Maybe so, I suppose, but it feels like a bit of self-loathing to me. Minnesota, employment-wise, managed the Great Recession as well as any state did, and has bounced back as quick as any state has. Minnesota is a solid 2.5% below the national average in unemployment, and a lot of those places have NFL teams, too. Shockingly, when people go looking for jobs, whether or not a city has a NFL team isn't their #1 deciding factor (otherwise, there would only be 32 major cities in the nation, and Green Bay would dwarf Los Angeles and Portland and Las Vegas).
The Twin Cities, whether the folks who packed the Metrodome to watch terrible football last year (and will again this year) care to admit this or not, will be just fine without the Vikings. The Cities will still have the NHL, the NBA, and MLB. I'm not rooting for the Vikings to leave and I don't think the Cities will be better without them, but let's be clear--the Twin Cities don't need the Vikings to recruit talented people to come work here. And let me also be clear--if the State of Minnesota can find over 400 million dollars, and the City of Minneapolis can find $150 million, they have bigger funding priorities that are more important to keeping both Minnesota and Minneapolis viable as a destination for the best and brightest in the nation than a funding a Jerry Jones-like monument to NFL excess.
The Chicken Littles calling into KFAN or 1500 ESPN keep fixating on a strange number for football fans to fixate on--metropolitan market size. "Holy poops," they yell (I paraphrase), "Los Angeles is the #2 or #3 metropolitan market, depending on how you measure it, and the Twin Cities are only #15! We can't compete with that." Hey, Twin Cities, #15 is really damn good, especially when you consider that if you head west from the Twin Cities, you don't hit another metropolitan region our size until you hit the West Coast. Be cool, Twin Cities, be cool. You don't have to be faster than the bear, as the old joke goes.
In my health classes in middle school, we were tasked with writing the letters IALAC on a piece of paper. After we had done so, were told that IALAC stood for "I am Lovable and Capable", and that the way we wrote those letters on a piece of paper--small in the corner? large, taking up the whole sheet? said a lot about how we perceived our individual selves. It stank like bullshit at the time, and it still does. But I've found it to be a helpful shorthand, when I need to reference emotional health in a way that no one else will understand. Well, now you know what I mean when I say that the Minnesota Sportswriter wants the Minnesota (particularly the Minneapolis) taxpayer to have a tiny, tiny IALAC.
**Don't be surprised if this quote reappears in another piece I'd like to write--Target Field, the false equivalency.
Thursday, March 08, 2012
And if you can count on one thing the local sports guys in the Twin Cities have in common (aside from girth), it is a given that with even the smallest window to bag on soccer, they will (Star Tribune Twins beat writer LaVelle Neal excepted).
Sure enough, Jim Souhan suggested that guards of the Wolves might be flopping a bit--Rubio is occasionally (not often) guilty of that charge, while JJ Barea is guilty of it about five times a game. But then Souhan said what I knew he was going to say, even as I was hoping against hope he wouldn't. He said, and I paraphrase*, "Well, of course they do--it's the influence of soccer. They come from soccer-influenced countries and they learn the flop there, and now they bring it to the NBA."
Which is a nice and tidy story, but also total bullshit. The flop and assorted other foul-drawing techniques were alive and kicking out their legs well before the wave of South American and European soccer-floppers were in the NBA or NCAA. Greg Paulus didn't learn how to flop from the Italian National Team; he learned from John Stockton. JJ Redick learned the leg kick flop from Reggie Miller. Reggie, who in his own self-produced ESPN 30 For 30 feature (which was awesome) basically admitted to transforming a John Starks glancing headbutt into one of the most violent acts witnessed in a NBA playoff game.
Not to mention, Bruce the damn Bowen!**
On the opposite side of the coin, I could easily mention that Steve Nash doesn't have a reputation for flopping, and seeing as he grew up loving soccer and watching soccer and playing soccer, and recognizes the obvious connections between basketball and soccer (myriad, by the way), he seems like he would be a great candidate for the Souhan Axiom. But he doesn't fit, because as I previously mentioned, the Souhan Axiom on Basketball Players who Grew Up With Soccer is total bullshit.
Not to say that soccer doesn't have flopping. Of course it does. It is often egregious. But to be fair, soccer can be much more violent than basketball as well. At least, I don't remember the last time I saw bone poking through a sock in a NBA game. I can't watch the video of Eduardo's leg getting broken, but maybe you can!
And it is worth stating that the best player in the World, Lionel Messi, never dives. Sometimes to his own detriment. I mean, for real, watch this highlight real of him getting savaged, and tell me that soccer players are all a bunch of flop artists who don't take real contact, or however that tired argument goes. Soccer isn't "The Beautiful Game" every single time it is played, but I think if you come away from a highlight package of Messi slipping tackles and shirt pulls and takedowns and go "Enh" then there is probably something wrong with you.
*You want his exact wording, you can go here.
** Yes, that was an odd reference to NewsRadio's Jimmy James "Kermit the Damn FROG" But seriously, Bruce Bowen was a flop-artist extraordinaire, and he didn't grow watching soccer, I'm guessing.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Last year, the Timberwolves finished with 15 wins. They have 13 now. That suggests improvement to me, though I clearly don't know as much about basketball as Jim Souhan does. Will the Wolves win at least 3 more games this year? It seems likely.
Souhan is full-on pissy after the loss to the Clippers right before the All-Star break: "In the enervating annals of Wolvesdom, we have suffered the Ebis and Averys of outrageous fortune, we have gagged on East Bay Funk and choked on that bitter candy known as Starbury, and yet today, your Minnesota Timberwolves might be the worst they've ever been."
Sorry, Jimmy Souhan, but that's a ridiculous proposition. They were obviously worse last year. They were probably even worse the year before. And in terms of being actually competitive, they were maybe never worse than Garnett's last year before we finally traded him away, and gave him a chance to win somewhere else. Or maybe Souhan reflects lovingly on the years of Masturbating, Suicidal Big Men and Ricky Davis.
The idea that this team, the youngest team in the NBA, is the worst team in the history of the Wolves is laughably stupid. Souhan is a reactionary idiot, as I've shown a number of times.
And thus, his solutions are predictably stupid:
#1. Fire the owner. I actually don't hate this idea, as dumb as it is. But it's a solid decade too late. And impossible. Glen Taylor really, really fucked the franchise when he pushed to resign Joe Smith in violation of NBA rules, and the Wolves lost draft picks in the process. That's when it was time to fire Glen Taylor. Now? He seems like he has a pretty solid management team that knows what it takes to get competitive in the NBA after years of crappy McHale managing.
#2. Fire the GM. This is a stupid, stupid idea. Around the league, forever, they've been mocking Kahn, but you know what? He got two first round picks for Al Jefferson. He held onto KLOVE, who is only putting together an offensive season that hasn't been seen in 30 years. He got Michael Beasley for nothing. He picked up Martell Webster; he signed Darko Milicic to a deal that still seems pretty cheap to me. He drafted Wesley Johnson. But what does Souhan say about all of those canny moves? "David Kahn's arrogance prompted him to run his first draft before hiring a coach and, presumably, without consulting anyone who knows anything about basketball. He is the boss who implements 100 bad ideas, knowing that if he lucks out with one innovation, he can build his entire reputation around it while the 99 failures are forgotten."
I'd love to have Souhan explain in detail all the bad moves that Kahn has made. For all the talk about the bad drafts that Kahn had, he drafted guards and a great small forward. I, for one, like Jonny Flynn and Wes Johnson and Wayne Ellington.
#3 Fire Rambis. So says Souhan. "We have reached this unimaginable juncture: Taylor has made us miss McHale. As a coach, McHale could have been great if he had wanted to be. Missing McHale as a GM is like missing eczema."
I couldn't disagree more, and the idea that Souhan thinks that is indisputable makes me think that he might be mildly retarded. No one misses McHale, except for those of us who remember him, fondly on the radio with a young Kevin Harlan.
The Timberwolves are the youngest team in the league; they have KLOVE and Michael Beasley. Those are tent poles, and Kahn positioned the team to hold on to KLOVE and get Beasley. They have drafted great young talent in Wes Johnson, Jonny Flynn, and Wayne Ellington. They haven't yet traded away defensive badass Corey Brewer. They have a ton of draft picks, still. Pissing on the youngest team in the NBA, halfway through their reclamation project is stupid. But if Jim Souhan is one thing, it is fucking stupid. No offense, Jim!
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Consider January 12th's headline:
Wolves are still bad, but at least they're bad and have a plan
Will the Wolves ever matter again?
Fascinating! Let's play Point-Counterpoint with reasonable 2 week ago Jim Souhan taking on today's reactionary Jim Souhan. Reactionary Jim Souhan, would you like to start?
Reactionary JS: The problem is that the Wolves, after a series of management and coaching changes, and the trade of the best player in franchise history, and loads of high draft choices and dramatic personnel moves, still stink.
Reasonable JS: This is a bad team, of course. There isn't enough chocolate icing in the world to make 9-30 taste good. But for the first time in years, this is a bad team with some semblance of a plan.
Reactionary JS: I want to believe that this team is making progress, but every time you think they're throwing you a steak bone, it turns out to be Styrofoam
Reasonable JS: The Wolves have been so bad for so long that we view every loss as the latest indictment of a criminally stupid organization, instead of recognizing that this year's failures are different from last year's failures, and all of the failures since '05.
Reactionary JS: I wish all of this weren't true. I want to believe that...Michael Beasley will find the kind of internal fire that stokes superstars
Reasonable JS: Beasley needs to improve defensively, but he's been better than expected offensively. He will, despite his teammates' teasing, pass the ball, and he scores more easily than any player in franchise history.
This is all to say that it is hard to take anything Souhan says seriously when he clearly has a hard time taking anything he says seriously himself. I've always had problems taking Souhan seriously, particularly when it comes to evaluating talent in almost any sport.
And again, I find it ridiculous that a team whose MVP's of the season so far are both 22 year old kids (Beasley and KLOVE) and who gives regular burn (and gets productive minutes out of) Wesley Johnson, Jonny Flynn, Martell Webster and Corey Brewer (all under 25 years of age) with little to no real veteran help does not have at its goal to win a bunch of games--not even a bunch more games than they did last year.
That said--the Wolves won 15 games last year. They have won 10 games this year, and seem to be a lock to win more than 15. But that's not the goal. The goal is figure out which of these guys, besides Love and Beasley, to build the team around. They have two 22-year old future All-Stars, and a solid young core to work with. Who cares how many games they win this year? The fans? The fans aren't coming to the games anyway, and that's despite the fact that this team is way, way more entertaining than last year. This is all about making sure they come next year, and I'm all for that, because I am paying attention, and even though I end up disappointed, I rarely end up turning off the game.
(Note: as I write this, the Wolves are currently winning a game Souhan predicted they would lose against the Thunder. It's a close game, and it is still in the 3rd quarter. But a close game in the 3rd quarter against a quality team didn't happen hardly at all last year, so there)
updated to clean up some horrible grammatical mistakes.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Jim Souhan, you make some good, reasonable points this time around! Congrats!
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Now, as the Twins head into the All-Star Break, with hopes of finding their starting pitching again (after playing really, really well for the first two months of the season), Souhan has the solution. Trade Delmon Young! That's his solution to everything, much like Homer Simpson's solution to everything is to live under the sea.
But wait, you might say--the Twins put together a pretty decent package for Cliff Lee (reports suggest that it involved Slowey and catching prospect Wilson Ramos) and didn't get him--who's left to trade for? That's a reasonable question. One that Souhan responds to with: Roy Oswalt. Even though Souhan himself ID's a lot of issues with that suggestion, even as he minimizes them:
Landing Oswalt would take some work, perhaps even some recruiting. He has a no-trade clause, probably favors pitching in the National League and the Mississippian probably wants to stay in the South.
Are those all the problems associated with getting him? Or has Oswalt also publicly stated that he hates Minnesota for all their constant bragging about all of their lakes, too? Because let's really put a nail in this coffin of an idea, already. That's never going to happen. Take some work? He has a no-trade clause! NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN.
But let's get back to the crux of the matter--Souhan's anti-Delmon issues.
Let's start at, logically enough, the beginning.
A farm system filled with unpolished prospects cost the Twins a chance to trade for Cliff Lee, the best pitcher available via trade. Finishing no better than third in the competition for Lee while watching their rotation crumble like aged bleu cheese should nudge our newly ambitious franchise toward these realizations:
That's not what killed the Twins chances of getting Cliff Lee at all. Their unwillingness to trade a player the quality of Justin Smoak is what killed their chances, and they were right to let it. The Rangers handed out some nice prospects to be sure, but it wasn't the prospects that made the deal--it was a willingness to give up a guy like Smoak--who isn't hitting for average very well, but is all of 23 years old, has 18 extra base hits, and promises to be a first baseman for the future. He's not a "prospect"--he's been in the majors, and shown he can do it.
The Rangers overpaid, and the Twins let them. That's cool.
But let's get to the belittling of Delmon, which is something that Souhan really excels at.
Young may never have more value, and whatever wonderful reviews he has prompted this season, he still may not be worthy of the franchise's trust, considering that his fielding has again become shoddy and that he's still less than a year removed from the day when he tried to charge into his own dugout to beat up Jose Mijares.
First things first--Mijares borderline deserved that charge.
"Whatever wonderful reviews"? Could there be a more dismissive way of describing a guy, who heads into the All-Star Break hitting over .300, with 10 HR, with 58 RBI, and a fielding percentage just below .980?
That's 2 less RBI than he had all of last year; he already has 2 more doubles than he did all last year. Hell, Young has stolen two more bases already (4 vs 2) than he did all last year. He's drawn more walks than he did all last year (and that's the key stat, folks)--Young has gotten more patient at the plate, he's dropped a ton of weight from last year, and has been keeping it off throughout the year. You may look at Delmon's age (24), and his stats, and see a young player who has learned to be patient at the plate, and has been rewarded for that patience. A player on the threshold of being an All-Star, even.
Not Jim Souhan, though. He sees a guy who is peaking at age 24, and will cost the Twins a lot of money to re-sign (as opposed to the rent-a-player, Roy Oswalt, who will cost $16 million next season). Don't worry about it, Souhan says--guys under the age of 25 who hit over .300, 20 HR, and drive in 100 runs (as Delmon is likely to do) grow on trees--"Replacing a corner outfielder is much easier than finding an ace, especially in an organization with Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Ben Revere and Aaron Hicks in the fold."
Hey, remember that time Souhan said that the reason the Twins couldn't get Cliff Lee was because they didn't have any good prospects in the minors? I do--it was earlier in this exact same column--and yet, here we've got Ben Revere and Aaron Hicks in the fold, who can easily do what Delmon Young does. Why aren't they trade bait? Because they haven't done anything?
But he's not done insulting Delmon Young--here's a comparison that goes without stats in a major newspaper column, because Jesus Christ, would the stats get in the way of the comparison:
The Twins need to treat Young the way they treated Bobby Kielty, another talented young hitter coveted by other organizations. After Kielty played horribly in right field during a series in Anaheim before the All-Star break in 2003 (much the way Young kicked the ball around in Toronto this week), the Twins traded him to Toronto for Shannon Stewart.
Bobby Kielty? Really? Where to begin?
Bobby Kielty had one year in which he hit over .280 (2002--.291). Delmon has had, at age 24, in five years in the Major Leagues, FIVE YEARS in which he has hit .280 or better.
Bobby Kielty, who played seven years in the Majors, had 53 career home runs; Delmon, in 4.5 years, has 48. Delmon already has more hits and doubles than Kielty finished his career with.
Bobby Kielty, in his best year, drove in 57 runs. Delmon Young has topped that total 4 times in his 5 years in the majors--the year he didn't was his rookie year, in which he appeared in only 30 games.
What else? Delmon has more triples than Kielty; more doubles; more than 100 more hits. In two years less playing time. Comparing the two is ridiculous.
"But wait a minute, Big Blue Monkey, you are being unfair--he's not comparing Delmon to Bobby Kielty; he's comparing him to Shannon Stewart," is maybe what you are saying right now. First of all, dear reader, fuck you--that's not what he's saying at all. Second of all, dear reader, fuck you, I'm getting to that.
Let's quickly bring into focus what Souhan says about that trade: That remains one of the best trades in Twins history.
Fair enough, but what did Shannon Stewart bring to that team? In that magical year of 2003, Shannon Stewart came in, and played great. Fielding wise, he was perfect for the Twins, and finished the year at .984, or .006 better than Delmon right now.
Shannon had 13 HR for the entire year--one more than Delmon does right now. Shannon had 73 RBI to finish the year; again, compare to Delmon's 58 right now. Shannon struck out 66 times; Delmon is right now at 36. I could go on and on, but the matter is completed, as far as I'm concerned. Delmon Young is better than the player the Twins gave up in 2003 (Bobby Kielty) and better than the player they got (Shannon Stewart) and he's all of 24 years old. Will he be expensive to re-sign? Yes, yes he will. But if this team is serious about contending, you have to ignore idiot newspaper men who think that giving away a .300 hitting, power threat who can drive in 100 RBI this year is a brilliant thing to do. It certainly makes more sense than giving that guy away for a 32 year old who will cost you more than $15 Million and who's Innings Pitched/Year has gone down for the last four years.
Jim Souhan has a hard-on for getting Delmon the fuck out of town, and I don't know why. Did Delmon banana tailpipe Souhan? Did he show him up in a particularly pitched battle of Settlers of Cattan? Whatever the reason for Souhan's dislike of Delmon Young, he should stop pretending it makes sense, and write about something else. Anything else.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
I will say that I've read a review or two of the game, and I can't find a writer more off target than Yahoo's Dan Wetzel.. Wetzel backed the wrong horse a couple of days ago, by writing a column about how Bob Bradley is the Coach, without doubt, for the USA. Wetzel called the last couple weeks of miracle recoveries, questionable starters, and odd substitutions, "the redemption of the doubted." So I guess it isn't a surprise that Wetzel's summary of the USA's exit is that the team just isn't that good, not that Bradley made mistakes.
That's bullshit--though to be fair, it should be noted that Wetzel doesn't know shit about soccer. He's like Souhan and basketball.
This is a team that, if it wanted to be, would be full of English Premiership, or at worst--French League quality players (where Asamoah Gyan plies his trade)--this wasn't some shitty MLS All-Star team we sent to South Africa. This is a team made of players that the big leagues will be looking at, and in some cases, drooling over. Jozy Altidore didn't score a goal, sure--but he hit post after a tough run at a defense; he assisted on a huge goal, and in general, gave defenses fits. You don't think he's back in England next season based on what he did here? The number of US players who have improved their stock abroad is impressive, in my mind. This is a team, that when the right Eleven were on the pitch together, played really, really well. What kills me is how rarely that happened.
I've hammered Ricardo Clark as hard as anyone in the world has, but you know what? His huge mistake isn't his fault. He has shown, time and time again, that he isn't World Cup caliber. More than a year ago, I wrote, "Rico Clark was, as he always is, super spazzy. I don't know how else to categorize his game. He runs around like crazy; he makes tackles, both good and bad, and takes shots that beggar description both in terms of their audacity and their stupidity. He's not to be trusted in the center midfield, especially as a "defensive" or "holding" midfielder."
We all finally thought Bradley stopped seeing what he thought he saw when he benched Clark against Algeria. But there he was to start the game against Ghana. And of all the curious moves Bradley made (Findley starting, no Gooch) the Clark start was the one that raised my ire the most. It is not Clark's fault that he isn't as good as Maurice Edu or Benny Feilhaber. It is Bradley's fault for not seeing what is so obviously true. Even John Harkes, commenting as delicately as he could said, basically, "Maurice Edu and Benny Feilhaber deserve a start in front of Rico Clark." He said that before Clark's massive fuck-up, which was a pretty narrow window. When Benny Feilhaber finally got on the pitch, and helped orchestrate attack after attack, Ian Darke, the British commentator paired up with Harkes said, "Feilhaber is a gifted player--I won't guess as to why he wasn't starting."
There was a reason the US made a couple of great comebacks in this World Cup before finally being sent home, and it isn't because the team isn't that good, as Wetzel claimed--it was because we didn't start our best Starting Eleven once in this tournament. We got our Best Eleven in at halftime, and played better every time. So why not start with that Eleven?
Bob Bradley may be a fine tactician; it is clear his players love him. But if he can't evaluate talent better than me, and it is clear now that he can't, it is time for him to hit the bricks. I don't care if Rico Clark brought a bird back to life on the practice pitch; he was obviously not ready for actual games at the World Cup, and might not ever be. It is Bob Bradley's fault that he was out there; it is Bob Bradley's fault that the US used a sub in the 30th minute. It is Bob Bradley's fault that Gooch wasn't used at all. It is Bob Bradley's fault that we didn't have a late sub to use to bring in Stuart Holden, whose pace at the end of a game may have made all the difference.
The US team didn't lose to a superior opponent; it wasn't Brazil or Argentina who done downed us. It was a capable, good Ghanaian team that was given the gift of not having to face our best team at the starting whistle. They took advantage of that gift--as England did; as Slovenia did; as Algeria almost did--our best team barely got to play, and that's on Bradley. And now we are left to wonder what Ruud Gullit, or Jurgen Klinsmann could have done with a midfield of Donovan, Bradley, Edu and Feilhaber, and a strike team of Dempsey and Altidore. We'll find out in four years, I guess, as there's no way that the US Soccer Federation does anything but fire Bradley and bring in a proven international coach.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
"In Oscar terms, they went with Walter Brennan instead of Marlon Brando."
Marlon Brando died six years ago, but is certainly famous for being a temperamental pain-in-the-ass genius. Walter Brennan? Walter Brennan? He died when I was less than a year old, and I'm 36 years old. Jesus Christ, Jim Souhan. Walter Brennan last won an Oscar in 1941. Seriously, Jim Souhan--you are not that old. Your writing is, but you are not.
I like Cousins too. I like him a lot. But hey, Wes Johnson is a polished, talented, multi-purpose small forward, something the Timberwolves haven't had in a long time. There's no bad news in that selection.
But Souhan persists, using the kind of logic you only find from a Jim Souhan type columnist:
"The problem is, the Wolves have tried this good-guy-from-a-winning-program approach before, and it helped them to 15 victories last year. Jonny Flynn (Syracuse), Kevin Love (UCLA) and Corey Brewer (Florida) are good guys from good college programs. Add three more guys just like them and the Wolves can contend for a Big Ten title."
Oh, hey, Jim Souhan--Did you just name three players under the age of 25? And two players under the age of 22? The Timberwolves team last year was designed to lose a bunch of games and give a young, talented core of players a lot of time in the NBA crucible. That was the publicly stated goal. By any measure, last year did exactly what it was supposed to do. Calling last year a failure because a bunch of kids didn't win 50 games is ridiculous. Jim Souhan is ridiculous. He writes this column, over and over again, regardless of the sport. Remember his bitchy takedown of the Twins for not ridding themselves of a then 23-year old Delmon Young? Delmon Young, who's now hitting over .300, has more doubles and walks than he did all of last year, and is closing in on 50 RBI's? Guess what, everyone--sometimes patience is actually a virtue. Who knew?
More Souhan: "Johnson could build a nice career. Cousins could become the best player in the draft." This is a common meme that is being circulated everywhere. But let's be clear here--Souhan isn't an evaluator of NBA talent. He doesn't know any more than you or I about it. He's spouting what he's heard other guys say. Meanwhile, other folks, who know basketball, like Dick Vitale (who is annoying, but does know talent) and Jon Berry think that Wesley Johnson is going to be a terrific professional. Souhan quotes no one who knows basketball in his evaluation. It's just so much bitching.
Combine that with jokes about Commissioner Stern's height, Ron Artest's sanity, and Ricky Rubio's wish to avoid the NBA lockout as being somehow the fault of the Wolves, and it combines into a wonderful goulash of whiny, lazy, self-satisfied, know-nothing crap.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
The story of the unlucky draft history might not work out, but that won't stop the Twin Cities press from repeating themselves.
Jim Souhan had his grumpy pants on, and access to jokes that were made 5 years ago, when he wrote his column reacting to the #4 news. The Target Center is empty, and cursed! Corey Brewer is skinny! The Cubs and Cleveland have curses! (Of course, the Target Center wasn't cursed when it had Garnett, Cassell, and Sprewell, but I suppose that's an issue of history not fitting in with the narrative, and thus, should be ignored).
He then segued into the worst read on this incredibly deep draft that I've seen: "All that painstaking losing and not playing defense and shooting like a drunken paintball team yielded the fourth pick in a draft that promises one star and one standout."
Jesus, that's not just cynical, it's just wrong, wrong, wrong. And hey, the last time I checked, the Wolves were rebuilding. The media here just don't seem to understand what that term means. If you drive by a construction site that is only halfway done, you don't yell out the window, "Hey, your building is extremely ugly, and I don't care for it." At least, sane people don't. "Rebuilding" is a nice way of saying "building all over again, after the previous owner burnt the building down for the insurance money." Criticizing the project before it is anywhere near completion is silly. And Kahn has done a nice job thus far, I think--when your oldest player at the beginning of the season is 26 years old, you are not thinking about the season at hand--you are looking a year or two into the future. But the Twin Cities press would like to know--why look to the future, when you can look to the past?
Tom Powers, speaking of old jokes, would like to remind you that the previous regime drafted some bad players. Why is that relevant? Wasn't it ousted VP Kevin McHale who picked Nbudi Ebi and traded Brandon Roy for Randy Foye? Who cares? It's all the same history, apparently. Let's blame Abraham Lincoln for all the mistakes that Franklin Pierce made.
Powers is more optimistic than Souhan--he doesn't think it is a 2 person draft with Wall and Turner. He thinks it is a 3 person draft, with Wall, Turner and Cousins. Of course, I've seen multiple mock drafts in which at least one of these guys falls to the Wolves. John Wall is locked in at #1, no doubt, but teams don't base their picks on what will hurt the Wolves most--they'll go with need. I'll be shocked if Cousins and Turner are both off the board before #4. And even if they are, there's plenty of options left--Wesley Johnson, for example.
It is just so damn easy to mock a team that is has some bad luck, but it doesn't seem right to do so here--the Wolves are rebuilding after a half-decade of negligence at the hands of Kevin McHale, who was always sure they were only one great free agent away from being good (ah, remember the Ricky Davis era? Me neither.) Kahn seems to have a plan, and that plan has resulted in 2 Top 10 picks in this years draft, with a core group of guys that I like.
When in doubt--if Tom Powers and Jim Souhan agree on something--go the other way.
Friday, December 04, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
When it comes to curb appeal, this is the most impressive coaching hire in the team's two decades of existence. That's because he is the first with enough leaguewide appeal to have other options.
Bill Musselman. Jimmy Rodgers. Sidney Lowe. Bill Blair. Flip Saunders. Dwane Casey. Randy Wittman. Kevin McHale (twice). They had this in common: When hired here, no other NBA team had an interest in them as a head coach.
Friday, August 07, 2009
"Rambis also fills one of the Minnesota criteria for endearing himself to casual fans -- he was a white guy of moderate talent who came off the bench. This ensures his popularity in a state that grew fond of Scotty Brooks, Mark Madsen, Derek Boogaard, Randy Bush, Gene Larkin and Bob Lurtsema."
"If you are made of the stuff of outstanding head coaches, you don't sit in the cushy chair next to [Phil] Jackson. You find an uncomfortable head coach's seat in the CBA, or at a high school, or a small college. You learn the craft of running a team, which is far different than the craft of running one or two aspects of a team."
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
"Other than ESPN annexing Winter Park, where's the downside?"
I only have this add: Dear Minnesota Viking fans. You are a sad bunch. But do you really think you will feel good about a Super Bowl that is won by Brett Favre? Do you? Really ask yourselves that. I bet you won't.
You'll be sullied. Deep in your hearts.