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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: The Minnesota Twins are no longer April fools

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By Eric Nelson
May 2, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the home of Trix...

 

•April Rebound: The Minnesota Twins were April fools in 2016 as they got off to a catastrophic 0-9 start that set the tone for a 59-103 season. This April, the Twins fared much better. They finished MLB’s first month of the season with a respectable 12-11 record and are just 1 1/2 games behind first place Cleveland in the AL Central. Minnesota capped off the month Sunday with a 7-5 win in Kansas City, and was 4-1 on the road trip to Texas and KC…

•Inv-A’s-ion: Minnesota begins a six-game home stand Tuesday night against Oakland (11-14) as former Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe returns to Minneapolis. Plouffe is batting .207 with four home runs and nine RBI for the A’s. Oakland LF Khris Davis has 10 home runs, which is tied for the AL lead…

Trevor Plouffe will return to Minneapolis as a member of the Oakland A’s – May 2, 2017

•Power Players: Minnesota and Milwaukee had two of baseball’s top offensive performers in April. Twins 3B Miguel Sano had an AL-high 25 RBI and Brewers 1B Eric Thames slugged 11 taters, which is tied for the MLB lead. Sano is the AL player of the week…

•Missing Aces: Two of the top pitchers in MLB are sidelined. San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner could be out until July after injuring his left shoulder in a dirt bike accident, and New York Mets star Noah Syndergaard is out indefinitely with a partially torn back muscle…

•Canada Dry: Montreal is the last team from Canada to win a Stanley Cup. That was way back in 1993 when the Canadiens defeated Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings. Will Canada’s cup drought finally end this season? Possibly. Both Edmonton and Ottawa lead in second round playoff series. The Oilers are up on Anaheim 2 games to 1 and the Senators lead the New York Rangers 2-0…

•Ratings Game: If the Oilers advance to the Western Conference Finals and the Senators do the same in the Eastern Conference, NBC will start to sweat. No way the peacock wants Edmonton and Ottawa playing in the Cup Finals on their airwaves…

•Yard Tracking: Just a hunch, but I have a feeling Viking fans will keep close track of how many yards Adrian Peterson and Dalvin Cook gain in the season opener on September 11. AP makes his debut for New Orleans that night and the rookie Cook will play his first NFL game for Minnesota…

•Comedy Central: Isn’t it funny how all 32 NFL teams think they had a good draft? This is nothing new and is the familiar spin we hear from coaches and GM’s after they fill out their draft cards. The truth is only a few teams selected well, but we won’t know which ones until three or four years from now…

•Party Central: The Golden State Warriors are not happy about playing Utah in the second round of the NBA playoffs. According to ESPN, Warrior players were disappointed the Jazz knocked the Clippers out of the post-season because the nightlife in Salt lake City is not as good as Los Angeles. That’s an odd reaction since Golden State’s focus should be on playoff wins, not post-game parties…

•Sightseeing: Forget the club scene, the Warriors should soak up the postcard-like views of Salt Lake City and the nearby Wasatch Mountains. SLC is one of the most scenic cities in the USA…

•Missed opportunities: The Clippers have failed to pounce on their chance to become a serious player in LA’s cluttered sports market. The once almighty Lakers are in chaos, which opened the door for the Clippers to cut into their immense popularity. But the Clippers have been unable to go on a serious post-season run, which means LA is still a Laker town…

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Green Bay and Pittsburgh thrive in the January elements

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By Eric Nelson

January 10, 2017

GAMEDAY GOLD

 

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the home of Wheaties…

•Pedigree Teams: Playoff football in Green Bay and Pittsburgh is special. The Packers and Steelers have great tradition and embrace playing in frigid January weather. That was the case on Wild Card weekend as Green Bay crushed the NY Giants 38-13 and Pittsburgh pummeled Miami 30-12. These 4-wheel drive teams thrive in any conditions and can adapt to the NFLements. It is always fun to see Green Bay and Pittsburgh play in the post-season…

•Ratings Bonanza: Next up for Green Bay is top NFC seed Dallas in Arlington, TX on Sunday. FOX has the broadcast and the network has to be drooling about the match up. The Packers and Cowboys have a playoff history and are both global brands. This game will garner huge television ratings…

•Home Run Heave: Aaron Rodgers has a knack for throwing Hail Mary passes – just ask Detroit and Arizona who were victimized by him last season. Apparently the Giants forgot about that because Rodgers connected with Randall Cobb on the final play of the second quarter on a 42-yard miracle touchdown. Somehow, inexplicably, Cobb got behind four New York DB’s and caught the arching pass nine yards deep in the end zone. Rodgers had 362 yards passing and  four TD’s against the Giants, and has 44 touchdown tosses this season. Cobb caught three of the touchdowns and had 116 yards receiving…

•Peaking and Streaking: The Steelers and Packers are scorching hot at just the right time. Pittsburgh has won eight straight games and Green Bay seven. The Steelers play the Chiefs on Sunday in Kansas City and Arrowhead will be rocking…

•Revved Up: New U of M football coach PJ Fleck has more slogans than Ben Franklin and enough energy to light up Dinkytown. Fleck led Western Michigan to a 13-1 record this season, with the only loss coming against Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. Fleck has lofty goals for Minnesota and is taking over a 9-4 team that won the Holiday Bowl. The cupboard is not empty, so there is no reason for the Gophers to not keep winning…

•Trophy Tests: To elevate Minnesota to the next level, Fleck’s Gophers need to defeat Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin on a consistent basis. Trophy games count and Minnesota has had little success against their rivals in the last three decades. Fleck has hit the ground running and has energized Gopher Nation. But, unless he wins, the catchy slogans and fast talk will seem hollow…

•Moving Up:Give the Gopher men’s basketball team credit. Minnesota (15-2/3-1) is ranked 24th in the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll  – the first time since February of 2013 that Minnesota has been ranked. The Gophers are tied for first in the Big Ten with Michigan State, Purdue and Nebraska. The Gophers and Spartans play Wednesday night in East Lansing…

•Playoff Vibe: Should be a lot of fun at the Xcel Energy Center on Thursday night when Montreal plays Minnesota. The Canadiens (56 points) and the Wild (55 points) are two of the NHL’s top teams, led by star goalies Carey Price (2.12 goals against average) and Devan Dubnyk (1.80 GAA). Price is fifth in the league in save percentage and Dubnyk is first in save percentage and GAA…

•Quick Turnaround: Minnesota United FC’s first-ever MLS game is March 3 at Portland and the home opener is March 12 against Atlanta FC at TCF Bank Stadium. Minn U has had the shortest ramp up period of any expansion team in MLS history – just seven months. That is a quick turnaround, especially considering that the soccer club has also launched a stadium construction project…

•Weather-Ball: Like the Packers and Steelers, the Loons embrace the elements. The MLS season runs from March to November. They will try and turn Minnesota’s theater of seasons into an outdoor advantage when playing at TCF Bank Stadium and eventually their new soccer specific home in St. Paul….

•Mogul Man: According to the Seattle times, Danny Miller of Carnation, WA has skied at least once for 277 straight months, which is a span of 23 years. Each month – winter through summer and no matter the snow conditions –  Miller hits the slopes. Most of his skiing is in Washington, but he has also skied in Oregon and Canada. Miller says October is the hardest month to find good snow…

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