Posts pertaining to the National Football League.

Just like that, summer’s over!

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By Larry Fitzgerald
July 25, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

Summer — where did it go? Yes, it has been hot, humid and muggy. I was just getting used to it and bam! It’s over!
Yes, we are still in July, mind you, but the Vikings are in Mankato. And when the Vikings go to Mankato, you know what that means: back-to-school sales and the Minnesota State Fair.

They start playing pre-season games in a few weeks. The Vikings announced this is their final season training in Mankato. Mankato State University has been their summer home for 52 consecutive years. 2017 will be their last.
Training camp is all business. Ninety players each on 32 teams report at the beginning, and when September rolls around 57 players will have survived.

I must say training camp is not what it used to be. The players don’t hit as much as they used to. The teams, thanks to the NFLPA, actually show a greater concern for the players’ health.

Coaches for years built the mental toughness of their teams by working their players hard in the heat and humidity of late summer conditions. That meant lots of hitting during the twice-daily practices.

Everything the players do in camp except going to the bathroom is recorded on video. The contracts that the players sign don’t kick in until September, the start of the regular season. NFL players make about $400 each week during training camp.

Most of the jobs have already been won. However, for a few veterans who get challenged by rookies and second year players, this could be the end of the road.

It’s football, football, and more football — training, lifting weights, sprints and gassers. There is nothing to love about training camp. The coaches are seldom happy. They push you to the brink demanding that you show the potential or consistency they expect.

This is year four for Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer. Two years ago he won the NFL North title. Teddy Bridgewater was his starting quarterback; in 2017 the job, for now, belongs to Sam Bradford. General Manager Rick Spielman has one playoff win in 10 years.

With Super Bowl 52 in February at U.S. Bank Stadium, the pressure is on this team to really be good. If the Vikings are to be a playoff team, they will have to be much better on offense. Last year they could not run the football, and Adrian Peterson is gone. Eventually it caught up with them.

I’ll be making my final trips to Mankato over the next few weeks to gauge the potential of the 2017 Vikings. NFL pre-season football starts with the Hall of Fame game from Canton, Ohio on Thursday, August 3, Dallas vs. Arizona.
You thought I was joking? Summer is over. It’s football season.

 

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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Vikings believe it’s their year

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By Larry Fitzgerald
June 22, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

 

It’s about time, you might say. The Minnesota Vikings, born in 1961 with zero championships on their resume, believe 2018 is the year they finally win the big one. The first Sunday in February in U.S. Bank Stadium the Super Bowl will be here, a home game, and if you can play your games right, just maybe you can finally reward your long-suffering fans.

When I first started covering the Vikings in the fall of 1978, they had just completed a run of four trips to the Super Bowl. I was surprised to learn that I was the first Black sportswriter to cover the Purple People Eaters.

It was not easy. As a young Black single guy driving a yellow Corvette, I was accused of being a drug trafficker.

My persistence paid off. Several of the Black players — Ahmad Rashad, Greg Coleman, Matt Blair and others — liked seeing me around and demanded from Mike Lynn that I receive the same treatment the other reporters received.

Fast forward to 2017. I’m still covering the Vikings’ every great win or loss over the time I have witnessed, from Met Stadium in Bloomington to the Metrodome in 1982 to U.S. Bank Stadium in 2016.

Last week’s mini camp was successful. All the players were here: veterans, rookies, free agents, and Mike Zimmer returned. Zimmer took two weeks away from the day-to-day football business to rest his weary eye — he has had eight surgical procedures for a detached retina.

Quarterback Sam Bradford talked about his first mini camp.”It’s been good. I thought we got a lot of good work in nice to finish things up. I thought we had really good workouts and a good spring from start to finish and worked on a lot of situations. So I think we gained a lot.”

Bradford again is going to start at quarterback. Injured veteran Teddy Bridgewater is making progress, however. Last year the Vikings had six Pro Bowl players, five on defense and one on special teams. Adrian Peterson, who was hurt most of last season, is now gone, so offensively things will be very different in 2017.

Stefon Diggs, third-year receiver from Maryland, is ready to go. “It’s been good getting back with the guys,” said Diggs, “working on the fundamentals and working on the little things. Just doing the little things the right way just trying to be the best team player I can be.”

One of the NFL’s top defensive players is defensive end Everson Griffin. The Pro Bowler had a strong mini camp. “Camp for me is building that confidence over again and getting back to the details,” Griffin said. “The best teams, that’s what they do best. They pay attention to the details and they communicate the best.”

The Vikings announced that Randy Moss and Ahmad Rashard, two of the greatest Vikings receivers in franchise history, would both be honored as 2017 Ring of Honor inductees. There are 23 players in the Ring of Honor. Jim Finks, Bud Grant and Jerry Burns are also among those honored.

One day the late, long-deserving Dennis Green will be so honored, with eight playoff teams in 10 years and over 100 career wins. After all, it was Green who drafted Randy Moss when all other NFL teams passed on him. Moss is number two in NFL history with 156 career touchdown receptions.

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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Vikings make decisions, right or wrong

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By Larry Fitzgerald
May 3, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

When you miss the playoffs and you don’t even have a number-one pick in the next Draft, it can lead to dire straits, slumped shoulders and limited optimism. The NFL Draft can be a life-changer.

As ex-Minnesota governor turned actor, Jesse Ventura said, “I ain’t got time to bleed.” Not when you’re hosting Super Bowl 52. The Vikings continue to move forward, leaving the painful memories of a blown 5-0 start and third-place finish behind.

General Manager Rick Spielman made the best of a tough position. He identified the Vikings’ needs and desires in the Draft and worked his plan. Only seven offensive lineman were drafted among the top 64 players. That’s a record low.

Since 1961, no NFL Championships in Minnesota, Green Bay, Chicago (been there, done that) or Detroit with one playoff win since 1957. The Vikings believe they are close to being a championship football team. They were 8-8 in 2016 and have not been in this position since year four for Head Coach Mike Zimmer with zero playoff wins, Dennis Green in 1992-96. Green made the playoffs four straight years, yet the Vikings were 0-4 in the playoffs.

The Vikings went into last weekend’s Draft without a number-one pick knowing they had eight picks starting with number 48 of the second round. Spielman traded with Cincinnati to move up to number 41 and take Dalvin Cook, the gifted junior running back from Florida State.

Dalvin Cook carries the football for Florida State

Minnesota Vikings draft choice Dalvin Cook

“We’re very excited to get the quality of running back we were able to get,” Spielman said. “As we looked and he kept coming down the board, we felt that he was just too talented of a player not to take a swing and try to go up and get him. We feel that we have great value for where we were able to land Cook in the second round.”

He’s the highest drafted running back the Vikings have taken since Adrian Peterson in 2007. In three years, he rushed for 4,484 yards and 46 touchdowns, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. He’s versatile with 5,399 all-purpose yards, a game-breaker and a deep threat out of the backfield.

Character is important. Cook has been a follower. You ask why he was available and dropped in the Draft.

Questionable choices raised character issues at Florida State. The Vikings believe they did their homework into his background and history. Time will tell if they were right or the teams that passed on him were wrong.

Spielman and company obviously worked hard adding depth and wound up drafting 11 players total over the weekend.

They include center Pat Elflein (Ohio State), defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson (Iowa), linebacker Ben Gedeon (Michigan), wide receiver Rodney Adams (South Florida), guard Danny Isidora (Miami), tight end Bucky Hodges (Virginia Tech), wide receiver Stacy Coley (Miami), defensive end Ifeadl Odenigbo (Northwestern), linebacker Elijah Lee (Kansas State), and cornerback Jack Tocho (North Carolina State). All the players will be in town this week at Winter Park for Mini-Camp.

This Draft can best be described as risk-reward. The Vikings have added several talented young players with lots of potential.

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Cold and snow make for one cool MLS opener in Minnesota

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By Eric Nelson
March 15, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS -Sports Nuggets from the snowy Twin Cities…

Minnesota Loons MLS soccer team at TCF Stadium in Minneapolis

Minnesota Loons take the field

•Flakes and Loons: Minnesota United’s first-ever MLS game in the Twin Cities was a dud on the scoreboard. Atlanta United FC thumped Minn U 6-1 Sunday at TCF Bank Stadium. But in every other way the match was epic. The snowy day produced great visuals in the venue and on ESPN2. Snow and soccer are a rare combination, but thanks to the Minnesota elements, this historic match was a unique snapshot in time for Minnesota sports fans…

•Crowd Count: The attendance was an impressive 35,403 – the largest soccer turnout in the Land of Lakes since 1984 when the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Minnesota Strikers played before 52,621 at the Metrodome. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the temperature was 20 degrees, tying the 2013 MLS Cup in Kansas City for coldest game in league history…

MLS fans in the snow at the Loons home opener

Minnesota United fans at the home opener

•Slow Start: Minn U (0-2) has clearly struggled this season. In games against Portland and Atlanta the Loons have been outscored 11-2. Meanwhile, Atlanta – also an MLS expansion team – won its first-ever match. The snowy pitch did not deter F Josef Martinez who scored three goals for AUFC…

•Quality Opponent: It’s a good news, bad news scenario for the Minnesota basketball team. The good news is that the Gophers (24-9) are a 5th seed in the south region. The bad news is they face a solid opponent in 12th seed Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders are 30-4 and have won back-to-back CUSA titles. They are led by F Jacorey Williams (17.3 points per game and 7.3 rebounds per game), F Reggie Upshaw (14.5 ppg and 6.8 rpg) and G Giddy Potts (15.8 ppg and 5.5 rpg)…

•Quick Trip: The game tips off at 3 pm CT Thursday at Bradley Center in Milwaukee. It’s only 337 miles from Minneapolis to Milwaukee on I-94, so Gopher Nation should be well represented in Wisconsin…

•Purple Defections: The NFL is a revolving door league as players are always coming and going. Minnesota lost a couple of former top draft choices to free agency as WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Oakland) and OT Matt Kalil (Carolina) signed with other teams. Kalil was the fourth choice in the 2012 NFL draft and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. However, that was his pinnacle moment for the Vikings. In four other seasons, Kalil’s productivity dropped off because of injuries and sub-par play. Patterson, meanwhile, was a first round selection in 2013 and played in two Pro Bowls. He was very good on kickoff returns and punt coverage, but below average at wideout…

•Publicity Hounds: Give the NFL credit – the Shield has a knack for staying in the news cycle year-round. March used to be dominated by NCAA hoops, the NBA, NHL and MLB spring training. But, thanks to free agency, the NFL garners plenty of attention, stealing headlines from those other sports…

•Tasty Golf: Twin Cities restaurant mogul Wayne Kostroski has come up with another creative way to aid those in need. Kostroski – who started taste of the NFL during Super Bowl week – is staging the first-ever Taste of the Master Chefs in April. Kostroski has lured some of the top chefs on the globe to Augusta, GA for the Masters golf tournament. It’s a charity event, with all of the proceeds going to the Salvation Army of Augusta. Tickets cost $150. For more info go to www.tasteofthemasterchefs.com

•Fab Four: The NCHC’s fourth annual Frozen Faceoff starts Friday at Target Center. Western Michigan plays 2nd ranked UM-Duluth at 4 pm followed by North Dakota and top-ranked Denver at 7:30 pm. The defending champion Fighting Hawks won the Frozen Four last season and their appearance means plenty of No Dak fans will invade the Twin Cities…

•Pioneer Spirit: Denver (28-6-4) has won 13 games in a row and is paced by D Will Butcher, who is one of 10 players up for the Hobey Baker Award…

•Puck Stopper: Bemidji State G Michael Bitzer is also a Hobey Baker finalist. Bitzer is the WCHA player of the year and led the Beavers to their first-ever conference title and MacNaughton Cup. Bitzer had a sparkling goals against average of 1.40, a WCHA record…

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Chad Greenway’s trademark was consistent, solid production

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By Eric Nelson
March 8, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS -Sports Nuggets from the breezy Twin Cities.

•Solid Career: Minnesota Vikings, LB Chad Greenway was as dependable as a Maytag and as reliable as a sunrise. During his 11 seasons in Minnesota, Greenway played in two Pro Bowls, had 1,334 career tackles (4th most in Vikings history), 19 sacks and 11 interceptions. Greenway’s trademark was consistent, solid play. He wasn’t the flashiest player, just somebody you could count on each week. Greenway – who retired on Monday – grew up in South Dakota, played at Iowa and settled in Minnesota. He is the consummate Upper Midwest guy…

Chad Greenway sacks Cam Newton

Chad Greenway sacks Carolina’s Cam Newton -October 2013

•Coast to Coast: My favorite Greenway moment came in 2015 at TCF Bank Stadium against San Diego when he intercepted a Phillip Rivers, pass and huffed and puffed his way 91 yards for a touchdown. During the pick 6, Greenway had a convoy of Minnesota blockers who escorted him to the end zone…

•Good Fit: There is plenty of speculation about where former Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson might wind up. Just a hunch, but Seattle could be a good landing spot for AP. The Seahawks are one of the NFL’s top teams, but have not been the same since Marshawn Lynch retired in 2015. As good as QB Russell Wilson, and the Legion of Boom defense is, the Seahawks lost some swagger when Beast Mode left. AP might be able to give the Seattle running game a jolt…

•Classy Exit: Getting cut in the NFL can be a bitter and traumatic experience for some players. But not for WR Torrey Smith. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, when the 49ers cut Smith this week, he went on Twitter looking for an organization where he could donate his beds and tables. Smith also put up an Instagram post thanking everyone in the SF organization – including the 49ers front office, chefs, janitors PR department and equipment staff….

•Slippery Floor: I have been to three of the coldest games in NFL history, saw Minnesota and the LA Rams play in the Mud Bowl, was at a Raiders-Vikings pre-season game delayed by lightning, sat through a Super Bowl in a Miami monsoon, watched Minnesota and Iowa play in a Kinnick Stadium blizzard, and have seen the Twins play in rain, hail and snow. Now I have also been to an NBA game postponed because of weather. Monday night’s Portland-Minnesota match up was cancelled due to unsafe playing conditions. Because of mild temps, the ice under the court was melting and caused condensation on the floor. The game will be played in April…

•Cali Chaos: The NBA’s most dysfunctional team is the once powerful LA Lakers.  Jim and Johnny Buss were blocked last week in their coup d’é·tat attempt to remove sister Jeanie from her position as Lakers part-owner and president. Jeanie kicked Jim and GM Mitch Kupchak to the curb a couple weeks ago and replaced them with Magic Johnson

•Loss Angeles: This is bizarre stuff even for Hollywood. The Lakers have become a very public soap opera and lack the stability they had under Jerry Buss. The Lakers (19-45) are at the bottom of the Western Conference and have the second worst record in the Association…

•Ticket Update I: The Minnesota Twins are offering a new ticket option for the first two months of the 2017 season. The spring ballpark pass gives fans the ability to attend all games in April and May for just $99 – except for opening day. To purchase the new Spring Ballpark Pass go to www.twinsbaseball.com/springpass…

•Ticket Update II: According to StubHub, the cheapest ticket for Sunday’s first-ever MLS game in Minnesota is $19.98. Atlanta United plays Minnesota United at 4 pm at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis…

•Frozen Pitch: The forecast for Minneapolis on Sunday is 30 degrees with snow showers. We will see if the cold weather gives Minn U. an advantage over their fellow expansion team from Georgia…

•Popular in Portland: The Portland Timbers are one of the most successful franchises in all of MLS. The Timbers – who defeated Minnesota United 5-1 on Friday – have a passionate fan base. The Timbers season-ticket waiting list is 13,000 and the team is hoping to get approval for a $50 million expansion project at Providence Park. According to FOX Sports, the Timbers have sold out every regular-season and playoff home game since joining MLS, a streak of 108 games. Providence Park’s capacity is 21,144. The Timbers won the MLS Cup in 2015…

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: The Adrian Peterson-Minnesota Viking divorce was inevitable

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By Eric Nelson

February 28, 2017

GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the home of the Pillsbury Doughboy…

• Business Decision: The Minnesota Vikings divorce from Adrian Peterson was as predictable as a Kim Kardashian break up. Everyone saw it coming and no one is surprised it happened. This was purely business for the Purple. No way the Vikings were going to fork out $18 million to a RB who will be 32 on March 21…

•AP’s Legacy: The decision means that Minnesota has cut ties with one of the greatest players in team history. In 10 years AP ran for 11,747 yards and 97 touchdowns. His pinnacle season was 2012 when he gained 2,097 yards, had 12 TD’s and was NFL MVP. Making those numbers even more impressive is that AP suffered a major knee injury late in the 2011 season…

•Potential Landing Spots: AP is now an NFL free agent and will be pursued by multiple teams. Houston, the NY Giants and Tampa Bay could court him. But don’t discount, Dallas, Green Bay, Seattle or even Minnesota…

•NFL Nightmare: The worst-case scenario for Viking fans would be AP playing for the Packers. How devastating would it be for the Purple Nation to watch him go to Green Bay and lead the Packers to Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis..?

•Change of Fortune:The Minnesota Gopher basketball team was historically bad last season. The Gophers finished 8-23 overall and 2-16 in the Big Ten. HC Richard Pitino appeared to be in over his skis and his future in Minnesota was foggy at best. But, something remarkable has happened in Dinkytown. The Gophers (22-7, 10-6) have won seven straight games and have morphed into a top tier Big Ten team. Believe it or not, Minnesota is almost assured of going to the NCAA Tournament – which didn’t seem possible when season started…

•Trending Up: Pitino will likely win the Big Ten coach of the year award, which is remarkable considering that he was on a scorching hot seat when the season started and there was speculation about his job status. Now Gopher fans are hoping Pitino isn’t lured away to another program because of his recent success…

•Instant Impact: Freshman Amir Coffey is already one of the top Gopher players. Coffey is averaging 12.2 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists per game…

•Crowning Wins: It was a Minnesota sweep Monday night against teams named the Kings. The Wild won over the Los Angeles Kings 5-4 in overtime at the Xcel Energy Center, while the Timberwolves knocked off the Sacramento Kings 102-88 in Northern California…

•Fantastic Finish: Mikael Granlund scored the game winning goal just 12 seconds into OT, when he knifed through two LA defenders and put the puck past Kings G Jonathan Quick. Granlund leads the Wild with 20 goals and 56 points this season…

•Global Game: The once all white, mostly Canadian NHL is much more diverse these days. According to the LA Times, there are 16 blacks and players from 20 different countries in the league this season…

•Playoff Chase: Despite being 12 games south of .500 the Timberwolves (24-36) are just 2 1/2 games behind Denver for the eighth and final playoff spot in the NBA Western Conference. Minnesota has not been in the postseason since 2004 when the Wolves lost to the LA Lakers in the conference finals…

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Thomas U. Tuttle

Hope Springs Eternal…

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by Thomas U. Tuttle

A Couple of Thoughts

Adrian Peterson took his last hand-off for the Minnesota Vikings last year, and it’s a sad goodbye that is being played out in the press and behind the scenes. AP is owed serious money ($18 million for 2017) that the Vikings are not going to pay and the story should reach a conclusion in the next week, or two weeks at the latest.

There’s a major cap-hit upcoming that the Vikings are unwilling to take, and that’s going to prompt this near-immediate action. One may recall that Peterson made his big money in 2014 despite being suspended for the severe paddling of his 4-year old son, an event whose repercussions cast the Purple in a bad light; and was perhaps made more grievous when AP’s response was that the league (and to a lesser extent, the team) was coming down on him unfairly.

Minnesota General Manager Rick Spielman spent much of his recent exclusive press conference saying things like “Adrian will always be a Viking” when he wasn’t talking about the plethora of quality running backs available in this years draft. Folks, that is what you call the handwriting on the wall of Peterson’s career in the Twin Towns, a tenure that was spectacular, if now sagging to the finish line.

The powerful running back doesn’t believe he’s done yet, and the great competitor in him is determined to finish his NFL run on a higher note. No doubt he would like to compete for a Super Bowl championship in the twilight of his grand career. New York’s football Giants could be a landing spot for Peterson (at less money), as they have created salary cap space with a couple of high-profile player releases. The Giants came close in 2016 and a healthy AP could seriously assist Eli Manning’s pocket survivability.

He’s going to be 32 the next time he “suits up and shows up” on the Gridiron. A lot of hits have been rained upon Peterson’s phenomenal physique (maybe the most athletic and pound-for-pound powerful build this journalist has ever seen in any locker room). But time waits for no man, and it won’t wait for AP. The big business of the National Football League spares no one. It will be interesting to see where Peterson plays this fall. One thing is certain – it won’t be in Minneapolis.

 

ON THE BASEBALL FRONT, the Minnesota Twins are into the exhibition season down in Fort Myers and looking for improvement just about everywhere – which should be the case regarding a team that lost 103 games. With the notable exception of Brian Dozier (who hit 42 home runs, played excellent defense, and may be the best second baseman in the game) this is a team that needs to get better ASAP in every department.

The good news is that I believe they will show solid growth this year, and will provide Twin Cities baseball fans with some exciting baseball along with an additional 15-20 wins. When you are at rock-bottom, the only direction one can look is up. And so it is with Minnesota and its cast of underachievers, a number of whom should be ready to break out.

I’m talking about the speedy Bryan Buxton finally playing up to his billing, like he did in September of last year (he hit 13 homers between AAA and the Bigs). What a catalyst he could be at the top of the line-up, setting the stage for Dozier, Miguel Sano and Joe Mauer et. al. Bux needs to cut down on his strikeouts and show more general discipline at the plate – which he should, with skipper Paul Molitor working with him daily this spring.

The Twins have brought a bunch of old-timers down to camp, including Torii Hunter, Mike Cuddyer, Dave Winfield (for several days, he resonated big-time with Buxton) and a few others. Jack Morris will be around for the pitchers, along with Bert Blyleven. After last year, its all hands on deck for 2017! Molly is encouraging these guys to communicate and contribute as they see fit, within his guidelines.

I say, great! Let’s get Sano rolling and playing a solid third-base with about 30 homers and 30 doubles…the man has good-buddy David Ortiz written all over him! Max Kepler is the best-hitting German in the world – and he can play Major League Baseball. Kennys Vargas will finally emerge, and Jorge Polanco will turn into a major league shortstop, and  Jason Castro will be the answer at catcher…

Hey, spring training is for dreamers! But the Twins do have some talent to work with. Ervin Santana needs a little more luck than last year to win a cool 20 games, and Kyle Gibson is ready to shed his youth and man-up on the mound. Phil Hughes should be on a short-leash but could succeed, and let’s see Jose Berrios finally live up to his potential.

I’m in Florida soon, and will report back after watching a few ballgames. As of this writing, the boys have dropped their first two spring training outings. Mauer and Dozier haven’t played yet and spring games don’t count any more than wedding cake at a divorce. Yet, believe me, Molitor is watching things like a hawk. That HOF’er and World Series MVP takes 103 losses personally, and it’s not going to happen ever again.

In fact, just like 2015 when Las Vegas had the Twins to win 70 games, plus or minus, and they won 83 – LV has Minnesota at 70 again, which would mean they would lose 90+ games. Head to the bank! Those suggested betting numbers are not going to happen, and my money is headed out west on Minny. They will be a .500 club at least. Without my upcoming visit to Florida in hand, I nonetheless see improvement at every defensive and offensive spot, as well as the mound.

Yeah, call me a dreamer… but I’m not the only one. Bottom line; I just don’t believe they are very far from being a decent-to-good MLB team. An updated report in a couple of weeks.

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NBA family takes on Donald Trump

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By Larry Fitzgerald
February 14, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

Times are changing and the NBA, as we approach the 66th All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, had taken a strong stand. The game was moved a year ago, remember, to New Orleans from Charlotte because of the controversial House Bill 2, the law known as the bathroom bill of North Carolina.

It’s no secret that the NBA game has seen a spectacular growth spurt. Eight different players — Jimmy Butler, Demarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Isiah Thomas, Klay Thompson, John Wall and Russell Westbrook — have already scored 50 points or more in games.

Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple double: 30.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.2 assists per game. If he succeeds he’ll be the second player (after Oscar Robertson) in NBA history to accomplish the rare feat. So far he has 62 career triple doubles. Golden State is on a 70-win clip again, and the Timberwolves are, well, the Timberwolves.

Photo by Steve Floyd

Somebody said politics and sports don’t mix. However, since Donald Trump moved into the Oval Office, the NBA coaches and players have let the White House have it. So many of the NBA players are born in different countries, and the game invites many cultures. It’s clear that the policies that Trump is pursuing have angered many. Top NBA coaches Greg Popovich, Stan Van Gundy, and Steve Kerr have all made it clear that Trump is bad news.

LeBron James and the NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers refused as a team to stay in the Trump Towers Hotel while visiting the New York Knicks. The Cleveland ownership traveling party booked the hotel, but the players put up a red flag saying no way.

Stephen Curry, the NBA’s two-time MVP and last year’s scoring champion, disagreed with the CEO of Under Armor apparel company. Curry is paid handsomely by them — $4 million per year on his endorsement shoe deal. After hearing that the Under Armor CEO said, “Donald Trump is an asset,” Curry responded, “If he drops the ‘et’ I’m okay with that.”

The NFL Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, Head Coach Bill Belichick, and quarterback Tom Brady are friends with Trump. This puts many of their fans, particularly Black fans, in an uncomfortable position.
During Super Bowl LI in Houston, no mention of Trump appeared in any official NFL written distribution of interviews recorded by NFL personnel, by Super Bowl players or coaches from the daily media sessions. His name came up among the 5,000 accredited media in questions, but not on the record.

Trump apparently made a disparaging remark about Commissioner Roger Goodell in support of his buddy Brady after the four-game suspension related to the Deflategate controversy. Politics and policies and the mixing of billionaire owners and their comfort zones alienate millionaire players. Yes, they have put sports leagues and players on the front line.

With social media in the game, the world gets to keep score so to speak. Many Black players from the champion Patriots are letting it be known they will not visit the Trump White House.

 

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

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