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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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GDG rundown for the weekend of May 12th-14th

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There’s a lot of fun to be had during this week’s edition of the show, with some serious notes mixed in.  Eric and Larry dish it all out from the Downtown Minneapolis studio.  They jockeying back and forth from the Vikings’ new additions to the stories making waves in the MLB, with some insight on the NBA and NHL playoffs to boot.  Can baseball get back to its glory days?  How about some love for a few other squads, including MN United, the Gopher softball team, and the Lynx?  Plus, Boston Red Sox broadcaster Joe Castiglione discusses the good (and sometimes bad) that Beantown has had to offer lately.

On the Road to Traffic…& Greatness

Segment 1: You can’t get around it, past it, or through it.  Road construction continues across the region, and the guys use this time to vent a little more on all of the orange barrels and cones.  Then, they get into the ongoing NBA and NHL postseasons, including a preview of the Stanley Cup “Semifinals”.

 

More Offseason Moves for the Vikings

Segment 2: The Vikings have brought a local kid back home…but not without raising a couple of eyebrows.  Eric and Larry give their opinions on the signing of St. Paul native and Super Bowl-winning wideout Michael Floyd.  Is there any comparison between this situation and the controversial draft selection used to take running back Dalvin Cook?  And was this move initiated due to the inaction of rookie Laquon Treadwell?

 

Diamond-Lights: Highlights from the MLB

Segment 3: The fellas look around the Major Leagues to pick up some headlines.  Are the Yankees going beyond respectability and getting back to the good ol’ days of domination?  Then, what do they think about Albert Pujols approaching the majestic milestone of 600 home runs?

 

Can MLB Regain Its Past Luster?

Segment 4: Does the MLB still have a foothold on the American sports conscience?  The guys look at how America’s Pasttime got passed by on the road to now.  Where did it all slide for the guys representing the diamond?  And is Commissioner Rob Manfred taking the right steps to make it more popular?

 

The Voice of Sox Nation: Joe Castiglione Chats with GDG

Segment 5: He’s seen some of the biggest heartbreaks and celebrations in the history of Red Sox Nation.  Joe Castiglione has been behind the mic for the franchise for over three decades.  He was in town last weekend, and Eric caught up with him to chat about the team and the ugly incidents that took place at Fenway Park recently.

 

A Segment Filled with Shoutouts

Segment 6: MN United appears to be gaining some positive traction after last weekend’s win over Sporting KC.  Then, it’s time to show a little love for the ladies.  The Gopher softball team is experiencing an historic season as they enter the Big Ten tournament.  And the Lynx begin their journey to redemption this weekend as the WNBA regular season gets underway.

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: It’s a pinnacle moment for Minn U against Sporting KC

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By Eric Nelson
May 10, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the Land of Loons...

•Signature Win: It took Minnesota United just 10 games to produce a pinnacle moment in their inaugural MLS season. Minn U blanked Sporting KC 2-0 at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday, getting goals from Abu Danladi and Christian Ramirez, and a shutout from GK Bobby Shuttleworth. SKC (18 points) is an MLS powerhouse and is tied for first in the Western Conference with FC Dallas. The much-improved Loons (11 points) have two wins, 1 draw and 1 loss in their last four games…

•Oh Canada: On Saturday Minn U battles another top-tier club as the Loons play Toronto FC in Canada. Toronto is on top of the Eastern Conference and has an MLS-high 19 points…

•Shock-Off: It was a stunning finish in Minneapolis Friday night. Joe Mauer hit his first career walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning against Boston giving the Twins a 4-3 win. The game-winning tater produced some rare emotion from Mauer, who pumped his fist into the air as he circled the bases. It was one of the most unlikely endings I have ever seen at Target Field…

•Hick Ups: NY Yankees CF Aaron Hicks is off to a sizzling start. Hicks is batting .338 with six home runs and 16 RBI, and making the Twins look silly for giving up on him…

•Well-Written: USA today MLB columnist Bob Nightengale recently wrote an outstanding article on the 1992 Los Angeles riots and the impact the violent uprising had on the city, the nation and sports in the wake of the Rodney King verdict.

•Job Hopping: The Vikings have hired Tina Holmes as Chief of Staff and Strategic Advisor. Holmes has spent the last four years in a similar role at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota…

•Eight Ball: It’s looking more and more like the NBA Finals will be the sequel to the sequel. Cleveland and Golden State have already logged a pair of four-game playoff sweeps and are both 8-0 this post-season. The Cavs and Warriors are on an apparent collision course to meet in the Finals for a third straight season…

•Tip-Off Time: The Minnesota Lynx open their WNBA season Sunday night at 6 pm against the Chicago Sky. The game is at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, which is the Lynx temporary home this year while Target Center is being renovated…

•Juggernaut: Congrats to the U of M softball team. The 3rd ranked Gophers (51-3) won their first Big Ten title since 1991 and have a 22 game winning streak. Top seed Minnesota plays Northwestern or Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament on Friday in Ann Arbor, MI…

•Giving Back I: Minnesota Vikings LB Eric Kendricks will present a $20,000 check to The Sheridan Story on Friday at Westview Elementary School in Apple Valley. The Sheridan Story runs weekend food programs at more than 140 schools across the Twin Cities. The funds were raised in Kendricks’ “Sacks for Kids” campaign last season, which asked fans to pledge money for each Vikings sack…

•Giving Back II: The annual Taste of the Vikings charity event is Wednesday June 14 from 6:30-10 pm at US Bank Stadium. Second Harvest Heartland and Land O’Lakes are the main sponsors, which raises awareness and funds to combat childhood hunger. Minnesota players, coaches and alumni will be participating…

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