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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Minnesota is no longer the North Pole of the NBA

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By Eric Nelson
July 25, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@Ericinminny44

 

MINNEAPOLIS -Sports Nuggets from Timberwolves Nation...

•Trade Demand: Kyrie Irving has had enough of Cleveland. The superstar PG is tired of being solar eclipsed by LeBron James and wants to leave the King’s galaxy. Irving’s goal is to force a trade to one of four teams – Miami, Minnesota, New York or San Antonio…

•Hot Spot: By simply listing the Timberwolves as one of his fab four, Irving gives the franchise legitimacy. Apparently Minnesota is no longer the North Pole of the NBA…

•Butler Bounce: Of course, the T-Wolves can thank Jimmy Butler for this perception change. Once Minnesota acquired Butler from Chicago, the Wolves got instant street cred…

•Young Talent: In the last seven days the Minnesota Twins have gone up against two of the most prolific rookies in recent MLB history. Last week the Twins faced Aaron Judge and the NY Yankees in a three-game series in Minneapolis. This week it’s phenom Cody Bellinger as the Twins and LA Dodgers play three in So Cal…

•Dodger Dinger: On Monday night the Twins found out just how good Bellinger is. Bellinger slugged a three-run home run in the 9th inning to give LA a 6-4 win. Bellinger has 28 taters and 67 RBI this season..

•Fun is Good: The St. Paul Saints continue to be one of the best sports bargains in the Twin Cities. Scenic CHS Field is a gem, the ball club is highly successful (34-27 and 1 game behind Winnipeg in the AA North) and the goofy, in-game shtick is comical. The Saints hallmark is baseball mixed with entertainment and they pull that off that better than anyone…

•Lowertown Boom: This is year three for the Saints at CHS. They are part of the reason why Lowertown St. Paul is now a hip spot. There are cool parks and trendy restaurants near CHS and a good vibe in the area…

•Oh Maya: Not many athletes have a trophy case with more hardware than Minnesota Lynx G Maya Moore. On Saturday Moore collected another trophy after being named MVP of the WNBA All-Star game in Seattle. Moore scored 23 points to lead the West to a 130-121 win over the East. It’s the second straight season Moore has been ASG MVP…

•Vanishing Act: There are plenty of things to focus on as the Minnesota Vikings begin training camp this week in Mankato. One focal point is second year WR Laquon Treadwell – who had just one catch last season. Treadwell was persona non grata as a rookie and the Vikings need to get much more from their 2016 first round draft choice…

•Done Deal: Even though this is just the start of training camp for all 32 NFL teams, one thing is certain – New England will win the AFC East. The Patriots have won eight straight East titles and 14 since 2001…

•Name Game: Golden Valley, MN-based Allianz Insurance Company has acquired naming rights for Minnesota United’s future stadium in St. Paul. Allianz Field becomes the 1st Allianz-sponsored stadium in North America and 8th in eight countries on four continents. The soccer specific venue opens in 2019 and will cost $200 million. Capacity is 19,400…

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: The X Games is X-treme fun

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By Eric Nelson
July 18, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@Ericinminny44

 

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the Sota sauna..

•Xtreme Fun: I had a chance to see the X Games on Sunday in Minneapolis and was impressed by the product. There was a cool vibe inside US Bank Stadium and the athletes on skateboards, BMX bikes and motocross cycles put on a spectacular show…

•Airborne: The final event of the X Games was punctuated by Colby Raha, who took gold in the Moto X quarter pipe. Raha can elevate better than Michael Jordan and thrilled the crowd with gravity-defying stunts. Three times Raha raced his 250 pound motorcycle up a steep ramp and soared into the air reaching heights equivalent to the upper deck of USBS…

US Bank Stadium interior - July 2017

US Bank Stadium plays host to the X Games – July 2017

•Sealed Up: The only caveat to the entire experience was being stuck inside a dome on a gorgeous July day. Temps outside were in the mid-80’s, but inside the Glass House it was air conditioned and sterile. The pivoting doors on the west side of USBS were even closed – which absolutely made no sense. Opening the doors would have at least brought in some natural air to part of the venue…

•The Sequel: If you didn’t go to the X games, or couldn’t get enough of the event, there is good news. The 2018 X Games are also in Minneapolis…

•Flashback: The Minnesota Twins will salute their 1987 World Series title team this weekend when they host the Detroit Tigers. Many of the ’87 Twins alumni are scheduled to appear…

•Major Legal: NY Yankees star Aaron Judge is a perfect fit for MLB’s all-time legal name team. Others include David Justice, Vance Law and Matt Lawton

•Power Ball: We all know about Judge’s prolific power at the plate (he leads MLB with 30 home runs), but the guy has a bazooka too. Judge threw out Minnesota’s Brian Dozier at home plate in Monday’s game with a one-hop strike from right field…

•Vanishing Breed: New Twins P Bartolo Colon is the last active MLB player to play with the Montreal Expos. Colon – who is in his 20th season – pitched for the Expos in 2002…

•Goodbye ‘Kato: The Vikings long-time marriage with Minnesota State is coming to an end. Next season the Purple will move training camp to the brand new Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan, MN. That means this will be the 52nd and final year for Vikings camp in Mankato…

•No Surprise: The decision to leave Mankato is hardly shocking. Once the Vikings began building their state-of-the-art facility in Eagan, their days of camping in Kato were numbered…

•Soccer-Centric: Blaine, MN is the center of the soccer universe this week as the annual USA Cup is being played at the National Sports Center. The tournament began in 1985 with 69 teams but has ballooned to a global event. This year there are 1,168 clubs from 15 nations, 5 Canadian provinces and 15 US states…

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Twins among MLB’s surprise teams

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By Larry Fitzgerald
July 13, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

 

An old cliché that has stood the test of time is “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” With this in mind, look at the two best teams in baseball as we have reached the mid-summer classic.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are on fire with the best record in the big leagues, 61-29, winners of 26 of their last 30 games. Pitching ace Clayton Kershaw is 14-2 — that’s tops in MLB.

Rookie sensation Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees with 30 home runs is the talk of baseball. The slugger has hit several long home runs. For a franchise with a history of legendary sluggers, the buzz has many dreaming and comparing him already with the past greatness of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Reggie Jackson, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle.

Houston has the best record in the American League, 60-29, with a 16-game lead in the AL West. The Dodgers are 39-11 at home and are +163 in runs scored. The Astros are +162 and 33-11 on the road. Both the Dodgers and Astros are clearly playoff-bound.

The 2017 All-Star Game is in Miami, Florida. The 45-43 Twins are two and half back of Cleveland in the AL Central and have three All-Stars this year. Third baseman Miguel Sano has carried this team; he leads the team with 21 home runs and 61 RBI.

Ervin Santana, 10-6, has been lights out, the ace of the staff. His ERA is 2.99 and he leads the Majors with four complete games. Closer Brandon Kintzler has 22 saves, among the best in baseball. Joe Mauer leads the team with seven game-winning RBI. His back has flared up on him, and he is currently on the disabled list.

With 30 teams in MLB and only 12 of those having winning records, the fight for the playoffs will be the story of the season’s second half.

I would like to see some of the teams that were expected to be in the playoffs play better, like the Chicago Cubs, who won 103 games last year and the World Series. So far they have been a major disappointment, 5½ games back of Milwaukee in the National League Central.

We have a long way yet to go, and I pointed out, it’s not always how you start but how you finish. However, some teams have dug some deep holes to climb out of in the second half. Just five teams in the National League have winning records. The Cardinals, Pirates, Blue Jays, Texas and Baltimore have not played consistently this year.

The Twins will have a chance to stay in the race in the second half; however, they need Mauer back healthy.

Pitching and defense have carried them so far. Young Jose Berrios is 8-2 and looking good. He and Santana give the Twins a solid one-two punch at the top of their starting rotation.

 

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: Northern exposure is great, but the Minnesota Gophers need to go north in the Big Ten West

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By Eric Nelson
July 12, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@Ericinminny44

 

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the home of Post-It Notes…..

•Northern Exposure: U of M football coach PJ Fleck is trying to change things up at TCF Bank Stadium. Fleck wants the Gophers to switch from the southern sideline to the northern sideline. That’s great, but I will be more impressed if Minnesota starts going north in the Big Ten West standings…

•Doubling Up: All this sideline chatter conjures up memories of Milwaukee’s County Stadium and Met Stadium in Bloomington, MN. Green Bay occasionally played in Milwaukee and the Met was Minnesota’s original home. The bench areas for both teams at those venues were on the same side of the field…

•Name Change: Now that the U of M hockey team will be playing at 3M Arena it is time to clear up some rumors. The Gophers don’t have to use Scotch tape on their hockey sticks and HC Don Lucia does not have to draw up plays on Post-It Notes…

•Maiden Voyage: The state of Florida is used to hosting major sporting events. There have been 10 Super Bowls in Miami, four in Tampa and one in Jacksonville. There have been countless NCAA bowl games, PGA Tour stops and the annual Daytona 500. However, Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game in Miami was the first mid-summer classic ever played in Florida. Hard to believe considering that Florida has two MLB teams – Miami and Tampa Bay – and that 15 teams flock there every year for spring training…

•Good Show: Even though it’s just an exhibition, the MLB All-Star game still has juice. Compared to the NBA, NFL and NHL, MLB’s star show is actually worth watching…

•Candy Man: Now that Aaron Judge is the next NY Yankee superstar, does that mean he will get a candy bar named after him like Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson..?

•Standing Tall: Right now the only thing in NYC larger than Judge is the 104 story One World Trade Center…

•Ivy Costs: According to the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs are selling approximately 2,016 pieces of ivy that fell from the Wrigley Field outfield wall after the 2016 World Series championship season. The tab is $200 per leaf, plus $15 shipping and handling…

•One and Done: Based on the way the Cubs are playing in 2017, pedaling ivy won’t be an option next year. Chicago is 43-45 and 5 1/2 games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central…

•Soccer Signing: Minnesota United has inked 22-year old midfielder Sam Nicholson to a contract. Nicholson played the last four years with Heart of Midlothian in the Scottish Premiership League…

•Cool Look: The more I see the Minnesota Timberwolves new logo, the more I like it. The “Aurora green” north star mixed with the “lake blue” basketball is a creative concept…

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: The Minnesota Twins are MLB’s most unlikely success story this season

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By Eric Nelson
July 7, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@Ericinminny44

 

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the North Star State...

•On the Rebound: The marathon MLB season has hit the halfway point. The surprise team so far is Minnesota. The Twins are 44-41 and just 1 1/2 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central. This is an epic turnaround from 2016 when the Twins finished with a 59-103 record and couldn’t see the first place Indians with a telescope…

•Tater Time: Monday’s home run derby in Miami has the potential to be a great show. With guys like Miguel Sano, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton swinging for the fences, baseballs will be flying into orbit all night long…

•Ball Hawk: Twins broadcaster Dan Gladden was the LF ball boy for the LA Angels-Minnesota game on July 4 at Target Field. Gladden, who played on two World Series title teams for the Twins, is 60-years old…

•Changing of the Guard: I am not surprised Minnesota peddled Ricky Rubio to Utah. This was bound to happen. The Timberwolves were looking for greener grass in the PG pasture which is why they immediately signed Jeff Teague

•Playoffs or Bust: The future is now for the T-Wolves who look a lot better with the additions of Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Teague. Minnesota hasn’t been to the NBA playoffs since 2004 and that has to change this season. The Wolves can only expect their loyal fan base to wait so long…

•Money Ball: This just in – Steph Curry now has more money than the San Francisco mint….

•Cashing In: Last week Curry signed a 5-year, $201 million contract with Golden State – the largest deal in NBA history. Truth is, the Warriors got Curry for a bargain. Golden State can’t pay the two-time NBA champ and two-time MVP enough. Curry is the new face of the NBA – an incredibly popular superstar who fills up arenas. Curry has raised the value of the Golden State franchise and his presence is one reason why the Warriors are getting a new waterfront arena in downtown San Francisco in 2019…

•Coast-to-Coast Popularity: Forget about the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Cubs or New York Yankees, Golden State is America’s team. Thanks to Curry and his superstar cast, the Warriors are ultra-popular across the US…

•Off-Season Bounce: The NBA Draft and free agency has been more exciting than the just completed regular season and playoffs. The Association has been NFL-like with a knack for staying in the news cycle and garnering media attention…

•Purple Stars: My top five all-time Minnesota Vikings based on impact and production are – Alan Page, Chuck Foreman, Fran Tarkenton, Randall McDaniel and Randy Moss

•Oh My: ESPN the magazine has come out with its 2017 body issue. The group shot of the US women’s Olympic hockey team is my favorite photo…

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Thanks to AL parity the Minnesota Twins are in the playoff chase

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By Eric Nelson
June 21, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS -Sports Nuggets from the North Star State...

•MLB Geography: Baseball is a lot like real estate. It’s all about location, location, location. Because of that the Minnesota Twins have a chance to remain in the AL playoff chase. Yes, the Twins are far from a polished product, and yes they have slipped into second place (trailing Cleveland by 1 1/2 games in the AL Central). But, the division is mediocre and there are two wild card spots available. Houston is the only dominant team in the league – every other club has flaws. Being part of the parity-laden AL is a good thing if you have post-season dreams. The Twins are one of just six teams in the league with an above .500 record…

•Small Progress: The Twins got a rare win at Target Field Monday night as they out slugged the Chicago White Sox 9-7. Kennys Vargas (483 feet) and Miguel Sano (425 feet) hit monster home runs in the game. Minnesota is 15-24 at home in 2017…

•Brew Crew: Milwaukee is a major surprise in MLB this season. The Brewers (38-35) lead the World Series champion Chicago Cubs by a half game in the NL Central. 1B Eric Thames – who was playing in South Korea last year – is one of Milwaukee’s top players. Thames has 20 home runs, second most in the NL…

•Power Points: Thames and NY Yankees slugger Aaron Judge are two of the better MLB stories in 2017. Judge is a legitimate triple crown threat who leads the AL in home runs (24), is second in RBI (54) and second in batting average (.333)…

•Duke Connection: Two of pro basketball’s most powerful individuals share a common bond. NBA commissioner Adam Silver and WNBA Commissioner Lisa Borders both went to Duke. Borders was in the Twin Cities last week and watched the Connecticut-Minnesota game at the Xcel Energy Center on Saturday…
•Tray time: For the first time in eight years, there will be a three-point contest at the WNBA All-Star Game. The event takes place during halftime of the game on Saturday, July 22 at KeyArena in Seattle…

•Draft Month: If you like sports drafts then June is your month. The MLB Draft was last week and the NBA and NHL Drafts are this week. This is a dream come true for sports geeks and analytic freaks who love this kind of stuff…

•Jerry’s Journey: The remarkable career of NBA legend Jerry West has come full circle. West is back in Los Angeles, the city where he starred for the Lakers and became a front office genius with a knack for building title teams. However, West’s new employers are the Clippers, not the Lakers – which should make their intra-city rivalry even more intense. West had been with Golden State as an advisor in the Warriors front office…

•Parade Payday: According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Golden State owners Peter Guber and Joe Lacob paid for the entire Warriors’ championship parade last week in Oakland. Normally a city covers some of the cost, but because Oakland has a huge budget deficit, Guber and Lacob picked up the tab, which was close to $4 million…

•Viva Las Vegas: After their parade in Oakland, the Warriors continued their celebration with a team trip to Las Vegas. The good news for Golden State fans is, unlike the Raiders, the Warriors visit to Vegas was temporary and they are returning to the Bay Area…

•Cool Refuge: Too bad the expansion Vegas Golden Knights aren’t playing NHL games this week. The temp in Las Vegas on Tuesday was a scorching 117 degrees and the forecast high for Wednesday is 115. T-Mobile Arena (the Knights new venue) has plenty of cool air and an ice rink – making it a perfect place to escape the heat…

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