September 12, 2007

Jim Souhan, Sex Machine

The beautiful man pictured above is Jim Souhan, Minneapolis Star Tribune sports columnist and sex machine. Once LaVelle E. Neal III's tag-team partner on the Twins beat, Souhan became a columnist when Dan Barreiro left the Star Tribune several years ago. Since then he's distinguished himself by forcing out-of-date pop-culture references and lame attempts at humor in the form of hacky one-liners down his audience's throats.

Last September, approximately 6-7 years after anyone had watched Ally McBeal, Souhan wrote that the Vikings "play in a division that could be thinner than Calista Flockhart." An apparent poultry fetishist, Souhan opened a column about the Twins back in May by writing that "this position is about as fashionable these days as cell phones the size of Cornish hens" and less than a week later described Geoff Jenkins as having "holes in his swing the size of butterball turkeys."

Within a single 655-word column that was presumably about the Vikings last fall, Souhan referenced back acne, hedge funds, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Scarlett Johansson, Pee-Wee Herman, Jesse Ventura, colonists, Manchester United soccer, shiny trinkets, Borat, the French's inability to win wars, Kenny Rogers, the Russian timekeeper from the 1972 Olympics, wardrobe malfunctions, global warming, asbestos-aloe gel, and getting drunk in Union Square. Seriously.

When the Vikings played the Redskins with Tom Cruise in attendance last season, Souhan wrote: "Put Cruise on the shoulders of 'Skins owner Danny Snyder, and they might be tall enough to get on the rides at Disney World," before adding that Brad Johnson "looked so excited he could have jumped all over Oprah's couch ... and I don't think he was defending Brooke Shields to Cruise." Not limiting himself to Cruise references, he also wrote that the Redskins "have more problems than FEMA."

Following the Vikings' first preseason game last month, Souhan's column began with this:

There is only one possible explanation for the Vikings' offensive futility under Brad Childress: invisible fencing. You know those collars you put on your dog, so if the mutt wanders beyond the confines of your yard a small shock sends Spot yelping home?

Apparently, Vikings opponents have surreptitiously placed similar sensors into the uniforms of Vikings "skill" position players. Why else would a pro football team treat the end zone like a minefield?

There are several million more examples like those, plus plenty of instances where Souhan's actual analysis and opinions would make your brain melt, but you probably get the point. Souhan's columns often feel as though they were written using some sort of pop-culture version of Madlibs, with jokes stolen out of a Jay Leno monologue from 1998, and in honor of his never-ending stream of one-liners I nicknamed him "Shecky" a while back. I'm happy to report that the nickname has stuck in some circles.

I've often tried to simply avoid reading his work, but my e-mailbox fills up each time Souhan references Paris Hilton in a column about the Gophers or mentions the Pamela Anderson-Tommy Lee sex tape in a column about the Twins. Plus, I've never been one to look away from a car wreck. Along with regularly being mocked by me in this space, Souhan's work has also been featured by Will Leitch as part of Deadspin's "Why Your Local Columnist Sucks" series.

Anyway, I bring all of this up today because it appears as though Souhan is fighting back against the silly bloggers who point out what a hack he is (although, if the e-mails that I received on the subject are to be believed, Souhan claimed on the radio last week that he doesn't read blogs). In a column about hockey that began with Souhan writing that the Wild's training-camp locker room "is starting to smell like an industrial-sized bag of Fritos," he notes the following about the team's center, Wes Walz:

He's an exceptional skater and fitness freak who has survived since his NHL debut in 1989 even though he scores about as often as a sports blogger.

Rimshot! Like most of Souhan's references, that one was a non-sequitur jammed into a column that for the most part attempted to be serious and thoughtful. Unlike most of Souhan's references, that one is at least somewhat current (although he missed an opportunity to talk about how most bloggers live in their parents' basements). Stick and Ball Guy is quick to point out that many Twins bloggers have gotten engaged or produced offspring recently, which seems to imply that they "score" occasionally.

However, Souhan is certainly right to suggest that as a group "sports bloggers" aren't exactly known for their sexual exploits. On the other hand, we can now assume that Souhan is quite a ladies man. Fat people don't make jokes about other fat people and short people don't make jokes about other short people, so it seems obvious that Souhan feels comfortable mocking sports bloggers for not "scoring" because he's putting the puck in the net all the time (sorry, I was channeling my inner-Shecky there).

Which makes sense, of course, because sportswriting has long been considered the world's sexiest occupation. Picking up women locally must be a breeze with Sid Hartman and Patrick Reusse as your wingmen, and I can't even begin to fathom the amount of damage that the trio of Souhan, LEN3, and Joe Christensen must have done on the road together covering the Twins before the latter pair ended all the fun by joining the sexless ranks of sports bloggers.

(The Star Tribune's leading scorers: Hartman, Souhan, Reusse. Watch out ladies!)

Toss in Souhan's stunning looks and it's really not even fair. After all, if you compare every pitcher to Johan Santana they all seem like bums. Souhan should realize that not everyone is blessed with his magnetic personality, endless charisma, razor-sharp wit, raw sex appeal, or a business card that produces animalistic reactions from the opposite sex. It's long been obvious that we're all just living in Shecky's world, but Tiger Woods doesn't go around calling everyone else a hacker.

Once you're done here, check out my latest "Daily Dose" column over at Rotoworld.

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