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GDG rundown for the weekend of June 16th-18th

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The skies cleared up to provide beautiful conditions for a ballgame.  Eric and Larry took advantage of that to broadcast this week’s show from Target Field.  Of course, the Twins are front and center right now.  We hear about their continued success and the odd way they’ve sustained it.  Which teams were crowned Stanley Cup and NBA champions?  Then, Vikings mode kicks into gear.  We hear from QB Sam Bradford, WR Stefon Diggs, and DE Everson Griffen as the team gets back on the field.  Then, Viking legends will soon be honored and Lynx stars are piling up the recognitions.

Road-Dog Twins Look for More Bite at Home

Segment 1:  The Twins are back in town after another successful road trip.  But did the home woes continue?  The guys talk about the team’s perplexing home/road splits, including an offensive showcase from Tuesday night.

 

Title-Worthy Teams

Segment 2: The NHL and NBA finished their respective seasons earlier this week.  Our hosts recap Pittsburgh’s repeat as Stanley Cup champions.  Then, they wrap up Golden State’s return to the top of the NBA mountain.  Could the Finals trilogy have a fourth installment next year?

 

A Diss?  A Taste.  An Anxious Feeling?

Segment 3: Now that the Warriors are NBA champs, will they make that annual trip to the White House?  After that, the fellas explain the growth and impact of the Taste of the NFL.  And is Minneapolis ready to host their second Super Bowl?

 

Back in the Swing: GDG Talks with Members of the Vikings

Segment 4: Speaking of the NFL, the smell of Mini Camp is in the air.  Larry sat down with a trio of Vikings (Sam Bradford, Stefon Diggs, and Everson Griffen) as they get the wheels in motion preparing for the 2017 season.

 

Purple Pride for the Newest Ring of Honor Inductees

Segment 5: There will be two new members of the Vikings Ring of Honor.  Randy Moss and Ahmad Rashad will be inducted this season.  Eric and Larry describe the impact of these two legends on the field.

 

Lynx Keep on Rollin’

Segment 6: The Lynx continue their torrid start.  The guys tell us about the team’s motivation, as well as some well-earned accolades for a couple of team members.  Plus, the Twins host their first-ever Draft Party.

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GDG rundown for the weekend of June 9th-11th

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The heat is coming to the Upper Midwest, but not before the “hot-takes” that Eric and Larry give during this week’s program.  They’re reunited in the Downtown Minneapolis studio to discuss all sports.  The Twins continue to lead the A.L. Central.  GDG’s Tom Tuttle joins our hosts to see if that can last.  Are the NBA Finals creating intrigue for the league?  A Packers player hitched a ride to Green Bay, thanks to a couple of fans.  And some legendary sports names make it on to the show…but not as guests.

Turning the Heat Up

Segment 1: It might not officially be Summer, but this weekend will definitely feel like it.  The guys prepare for the weekend heat.  After that, they get into a little soccer action, with MN United beginning play in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup this weekend.

 

The Anti-Climactic Culmination of the NBA Postseason?

Segment 2: The NBA Finals gave us the matchup we all wanted to see.  But did it come at a price?  Is the Association suffering from a lack of competition to Golden State and Cleveland?  Our hosts offer their differing opinions.

 

The Kindness of Strangers

Segment 3: A Green Bay Packers cornerback gave some thanks to a couple of local fans after they drove him from MSP Airport all the way to Lambeau.  Then, Larry & Eric regale their own stories of using alternate plans after initial travel arrangements fell through.

 

GDG’s Tom Tuttle Discusses the Twins’ Rise

Segment 4: So, how are the Twins keeping it together as we roll into June?  And how long can they keep up their first-place ways?  The guys welcome in GDG’s Tom Tuttle to discuss what the Hometown Nine can do to stay on top of the division.

 

Famous Names with Bits of Infamy

Segment 5: Eric and Larry get into some controversial, outspoken figures in this segment.  What makes Charles Barkley so polarizing to many?  What could we expect when Al Pacino plays the late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in an upcoming movie?  And Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops steps away from the sideline.

 

A Heroic Act, Another Draft Party, & A Well-Received Return

Segment 6: Former World Series hero Luis Gonzalez became a real-world hero last week.  The Twins are getting set to host their very first MLB Draft party.  Plus, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer returns to the team after his latest eye surgery.

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GDG rundown for the weekend of June 2nd-4th

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If it’s early June, then it’s time for our hosts to part…temporarily.  Eric is in the Downtown Minneapolis studio this week, while Larry is out in Oakland to cover the NBA Finals.  The guys take a look at Game 1 of the series, which turned out well for Golden State.  They also dive into the sudden popularity of the dynamic Warriors, and we hear Game 1 reaction from Cavs forward Kevin Love and NBA.com writer Steve Aschburner.  But it’s not just about hoops.  GDG’s Scott Taylor joins the proceedings to break down the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.  Plus, the Twins and Lynx hope to continue their winning stretches as they both head West over the weekend.

A Lopsided Start to the Finals

Segment 1: The 2017 NBA Finals got underway on Thursdaynight.  Larry is out in the Bay Area covering the series, and he & Eric dissect Golden State’s convincing victory in Game 1.  How historic is the run that the Warriors are on?  And how much does the “revenge” factor play in this series?

 

The Warriors Come Out to Play

Segment 2: The fellas continue to chat about the Finals.  Specifically, they focus on the impact that this successful Warriors run has had on the city of Oakland (and how the city has embraced that team).  Plus, why has Stephen Curry been the centerpiece for this team’s rise in popularity?

 

Penguin Power: Scott Taylor’s Take on the Stanley Cup Final

Segment 3: It isn’t just the NBA that’s playing its championship series.  GDG’s Scott Taylor joins the program to break down the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final.  How did Pittsburgh hold their own at home, despite being behind on so many stats?  And how good of a story is Penguin rookie and Woodbury native Jake Guentzel becoming?

 

The Ice Stretches Further South

Segment 4: The conversation stays on pucks as Scott Taylor sticks around for another segment.  How did Pittsburgh and Nashville get to a place where they are Stanley Cup contenders?  How important has the NHL Draft been in building not just these two rosters, but other contenders over the past decade?

 

NBA Finals Reaction from Kevin Love and Steve Aschburner

Segment 5: Larry got a chance to catch up with some well-known names after Game 1 of the NBA Finals.  Former Timberwolves star Kevin Love tells us how his Cavs can rebound after going down 1-0.  Then, former Star Tribune reporter Steve Aschburner (now a writer for NBA.com) talks about if a tight Finals might make up for a rather lackluster Playoffs, to this point.

 

The Twins and Lynx Hit the Pacific Coast

Segment 6: Larry isn’t the only local entity out West this weekend.  The Twins are also in California, taking on the Angels.  Can they get the bad taste out of their mouths due to a sweep by the Houston?  Eric and Larry discuss how impressed they were by the team with MLB’s best record.  After that, the fellas look at the undefeated start for the Lynx.  Are they in a similar position, roster-wise, to the NBA’s Warriors?

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: Astros-Twins is a tale of two top prospects

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By Eric Nelson
May 30, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the home of Gold Medal Flour...

•Prized Prospects: There are plenty of good angles in this week’s Houston-Minnesota series that is a battle between two first place teams. One is the comparison of Astros SS Carlos Correa and Twins CF Byron Buxton. Correa – the top pick in the 2012 MLB draft – is batting .309 with eight home runs, 30 RBI and three errors. Meanwhile Buxton – the second choice in the 2012 draft – is batting .194 with two home runs, eight RBI and one error. On Monday, Correa crushed a 430 foot home run for the Astros off Minnesota ace Ervin Santana

•Pure Power: In the same game, Minnesota 3B Miguel Sano smashed a 417 foot tater onto Target Field’s grassy knoll in center field. Left, center or right, Sano’s ability to hit long balls to all fields is impressive…

•7-11: There were plenty of fireworks in the Memorial Day game as Houston rallied to win 16-8. The Twins scored seven runs in the 5th inning and led 8-2 late in the contest. But, Houston erupted for 11 runs in the top of the 8th to stun Minnesota. The half inning was also interrupted by a brief 10-minute rain delay. The last time Houston had an 11-run inning was 1994 and it’s the first time ever the Astros have won when trailing by six runs entering the 8th inning…

•Amazing Astros: Houston clearly has the look of a potential World Series team. The Astros (36-16) have the top record in MLB and lead Texas and the LA Angels by 11 games in the AL West. With a galaxy of stars such as Correa, 2B Jose Altuve, CF George Springer and P Dallas Keuchel, Houston has the building blocks for a possible title run…

•Trending Up: After a sputtering start at the plate, Twins 1B Joe Mauer has slowly raised his average. Mauer is batting .289 and reached base seven times in Minnesota’s 15-inning loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday…

•Minnesota Marathons: The Twins last three games have been lengthy affairs. On Saturday, Minnesota knocked off Tampa Bay 5-3 in a 3 hour and 35 minute game. On Sunday, the Rays outlasted the Twins 8-6 in a 15 inning contest that dragged on for 6 hours and 26 minutes. Monday’s Astros-Twins slugfest took 3 hours and 44 minutes to play, which does not include the rain delay…

•Sparse Turnouts: Despite being on top of the AL Central, the Twins are 23rd out of 30 MLB teams in attendance. In 27 dates Minnesota is averaging just 23,119 fans per game…

•Basebrawl: Just a hunch, but I am guessing that Washington RF Bryce Harper and San Francisco P Hunter Strickland won’t be exchanging Christmas cards this year…

•Trailblazer: Kudos to the St. Paul Saints for saluting Ila Borders on Saturday in the Capital City. In 1997 while pitching for St. Paul, Borders became the first female player in minor league history. The Saints also gave out Borders bobblehead dolls to fans before their game against the Kansas City T-Bones…

•Goal-oriented: Minnesota United F Christian Ramirez is tied for third in MLS with eight goals. Ramirez scored the only goal last week in Minn U’s 1-0 win over Orlando City SC. After he scored, Ramirez celebrated with Loons HC Adrian Heath, who was unceremoniously dumped by Orlando City SC last July…

•Repeat Crowns: It doesn’t happen often, but there is a chance the NBA and NHL will have back-to-back champs in back-to-back seasons. Cleveland is trying to make it two straight titles in the Association and Pittsburgh is trying to repeat in the NHL and leads Nashville 1-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals…

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GDG rundown for Memorial Day Weekend 2017 (May 26th-29th)

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It’s a long weekend for many across the country as we pay tribute to our Veterans, past and present.  While many of us will relax over the holiday, the world of sports continues on.  Eric and Larry keep us informed, broadcasting this week’s program from the Downtown Minneapolis studio.  As a matter of fact, there’s so much crammed into this edition, we had no time to bring on a guest.  The guys dive into the surprising Twins, the upcoming NBA Finals, the Lynx playing in a new venue, the misfortune surrounding the Vikings, and the new NFL rules that are raising some eyebrows.  Plus, how important are the stadiums the house all of these games?

Twins Staying On Top

Segment 1: The Twins are best in the MLB in something.  The guys look at the team’s impressive road record.  Could starter Ervin Santana and slugger Miguel Sano be candidates for some recognition later in the season?  What are some of the other factors that have led to first-place status in the division?

 

New Digs, Same Successful Lynx

Segment 2: The Minnesota Lynx may have changed home venues this season, but the winning continues.  Eric and Larry dig into the start of the team’s campaign.  How has the environment changed with them playing at Xcel Energy Center?  And what are the guys’ thoughts on Charlotte receiving another chance to host the NBA All-Star Game?

 

Final-ly: The NBA Matchup We’ve Been Waiting For

Segment 3: It hasn’t provided a lot of drama, but the NBA postseason might change very soon.  The fellas offer up their preview analysis of Round 3 in the Cleveland vs. Golden State trilogy.  Plus, have these playoffs held any intrigue to this point?  Maybe not as much as some of the tension that some famous sports TV personalities are experiencing.

 

More Injury News for the Vikings

Segment 4: We have a sighting!  Our hosts dig into the video showing Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater tossing the pigskin around.  But is Teddy’s knee the most pressing injury for the organization?  We hear more about another eye surgery for coach Mike Zimmer.  Then, does the NFL’s plan to shorten overtime periods make sense?

 

Some Changes are Coming for the Shield

Segment 5: The NFL changes don’t stop with just OT.  The guys give their opinions on the easing on penalties for end zone celebrations.  After that, they dive into the prolonged unemployment of QB Colin Kaepernick.  Is he being shut out of finding a job?

 

The Value of an Arena

Segment 6: There’s a lot of sports news that involves the fans…or their seats, at least.  We hear the latest stadium news in California and closer to home.  Which stadium is getting naming rights for the first time?  What can the Lynx do to improve the ambiance over at the X?  And how much increase in value could the Warriors see just by moving across the Bay?

 

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: The Minnesota Twins are thriving on the road

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By Eric Nelson
May 24, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

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

•Travel-Tested: The Minnesota Twins apparently love packing their bags, hopping on jets and staying in hotels. After their 2-0 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night at Camden Yards, the Twins are 13-5 on the road, which is much better than their 11-13 home record. The Twins (24-18) continue to be an early season surprise as they lead Cleveland by one game in the AL Central…

•Mound Magic: Twins P Ervin Santana was outstanding against the Orioles, throwing a complete game, two-hit shutout. Santana (7-2) is tied with Houston’s Dallas Keuchel and the LA Dodgers Clayton Kershaw for the most wins in MLB. Santana’s 1.80 ERA is the lowest in the majors…

•Sano Show: On Monday Miguel Sano put on a power display at Camden in Minnesota’s 14-7 win. Sano had four hits (including a home run), scored three times and drove in three runs. Sano has 37 RBI which is tied for the AL lead with Seattle’s Nelson Cruz

•Sunday Saturation: There was sports gridlock in the Twin Cities on Sunday. Kansas City and Minnesota played a double dip at Target Field, Gary and St. Paul played two games at CHS Field and the LA Galaxy took on Minnesota United at TCF Bank Stadium. The Royals-Twins games drew an announced 27,852 fans, the Railcats and Saints played before 7,511, while LA and Minn U attracted a crowd of 19,107. Not bad considering temps were in the mid-40’s and there was rain or mist coming down part of the day…

•Just Asking: What will happen first, the Golden State Warriors losing in the playoffs or Keuchel losing a game? The Warriors are 12-0 in the NBA’s postseason while Keuchel (currently on the 10 day DL) is 7-0…

•Ho Hum: The Minnesota Lynx (4-0) are off to another fast start. The Lynx squeaked by the Connecticut Sun 80-78 on Tuesday night in St. Paul. Sylvia Fowles scored 21 points and had 13 rebounds for the Lynx who have spoiled their fan base with consistent success…

•Hockey-Tonk: Music City is Hockey City now that Nashville has advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history. The Predators are the 14th sun belt team to play for the Cup and suddenly have become a trendy team in Tennessee…

•Fun is Good: Kudos to the NFL for easing up on player celebration penalties. The stuffy and buttoned up league that frowned on dancing and frolicking, is now going to let players be more expressive. Goal post dunks, snow angels and choreographed end zone dances will be en vogue again thanks to rule changes approved at the NFL spring meetings in Chicago…

•Coliseum Upgrades: According to the LA Times, the historic LA Coliseum is going to get a $270 million renovation. USC – the venue’s primary tenant – has raised $225 million for the project which will be finished in 2019. The Coliseum makeover includes new seats, wider aisles in some areas, a tower with luxury boxes and club seats on the stadium’s south side. Coliseum capacity will shrink from 94,000 to 77,000. The LAC is also the temporary home for the LA Rams…

Los Angeles Coliseum

Los Angeles Coliseum

•Name Game: The Times also reports that Coliseum naming rights have been sold to United Airlines. That means the 94-year old facility will have a new name for the first time ever…

•Prep Palace: According to the Houston Chronicle, Legacy Stadium in Katy, TX opens this fall. The tab is $72.1 million – making it the most expensive high school football venue in Texas history. Legacy’s capacity will be 12,000…

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GDG rundown for the weekend of May 19th-21st

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It was a good day for two over at Target Field on Thursday.  Eric and Larry decided to take advantage and broadcast this week’s show from the ballpark.  Along with the steady Twins, we hear the guys discuss the NBA Playoffs, the Stanley Cup surprises, the mash-up of sports & politics, and the lack of credit given to the Gopher softball team by the NCAA.  Plus, we’ll get some opinions from long-time Pioneer Press writer Charley Walters.

Baseball Fever is Among Us

Segment 1: Eric and Larry took in some of Thursday’s doubleheader over at Target Field.  They look at how the Twins have stayed near the top of the AL Central.  Plus, they take a tour around the MLB.

 

A Lack of Respect?

Segment 2: Did the Gopher softball get jobbed by not receiving a seed in the NCAA Tournament?  The guys look into it.  And why is an NFL running back suing a local financial company?

 

Building to the Crescendo

Segment 3: Is the NBA Finals’ matchup a foregone conclusion?  Our hosts discuss the impressive playoff runs of Cleveland and Golden State.  Then, what can the Timberwolves do with the 7th overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft?

 

Does Speaking Their Minds Matter?

Segment 4: Throughout the history of sports, athletes have used their platform to speak on social and political issues.  Do the fellas think that this is a good thing?

 

Shootin’ the Breeze: Pioneer Press Writer Charley Walters Joins the Show

Segment 5: Pioneer Press writer Charley Walters has seen a lot over his four-plus decades reporting on sports.  But has he seen such a crowded sports market?  He stops by the program to discuss the Twins, the St. Paul Saints, the Vikings, and Gopher softball.

 

NFL in dee-LA & Unfamiliar Names

Segment 6: There’s yet another delay concerning a football stadium being built in Los Angeles.  The Stanley Cup Playoffs have some surprising names in its Conference Finals.  And there is another incident involving a racial slur in baseball…this time, on the field.

 

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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: 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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Thomas U. Tuttle

Wild ghosts of days gone by…

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by Thomas U. Tuttle

 

When I was a young guy, there was a youth hockey team called the Minor Hawks that played out of Chicago and traveled around playing the best teams that could be found. Unlike the famous NHL Blackhawks, indoor ice time was at a premium and outdoor rink hockey was at the whim of the weather spirits. Still, this early traveling all-star team was about as good a squad as any in the Midwest.

Or should I say “lower” Midwest. Because of a fair amount of local-area success, the coaches decided to play some more serious competition late in a 1970’s-era season, so up we went to Madison, Wisconsin, where the competition ramped up and the losses, while consecutive, were fairly competitive.

Then it was on to tournaments in the Twin Cities and Duluth, and soon a whole new understanding of the  game of hockey was brought to our attention – along with fast skating, solid checking, tape-to-tape passing, wicked wrist-shots, solid slap-shots and serious goaltending. There was a group realization by the Chicago kids that not only were we overmatched and outscored – we really really didn’t belong in the same building with the guys from Minnesota. They might have been 13 and 14 years old, but the dudes from the State of Hockey schooled us big-time and the numbers on the scoreboard reflected that.

I’m not sure this reminiscence has much to do with the Minnesota Wild’s demise in the first round of the NHL playoffs, although the Wild ended up being schooled in five games by the St. Louis Blues and coach Mike Yeo. Yes, goalie Jake Allen was stellar in the nets – particularly in the first game when he stood on his head in making 51 saves on 52 shots – and the Blues were timely on offense, but it seemed like Mike Yeo knew what needed to be done for victory and executed his plan perfectly.

While Allen certainly deserves all the credit for the victory in game one, Yeo ramped up his defense for the rest of the series, using his knowledge of Minnesota and its players to turn up the heat on the Wild scorers. The Blues played a super-physical brand of hockey and made the Wild work hard to get any scoring opportunities, using guys with names like Bortuzzo and Bouwmeester, Pietrangelo and Parayko to clog up the middle and make sure the W’s offensive threats knew what they were up against.

And actually, this reminded me of our best guys on the Minor Hawks, Ray and Eddie and Big Al, being shut-down in the Twin Cities and Duluth on our trip up north. Every time our top players started to move up the ice, looking for some space to execute, here would come two or three big kids ready to bust things up. In our case, we had never seen pressure like that, and it didn’t let up. Just scoring a goal was a cause for major celebration (I think we scored six during our week in Minnesota).

The Wild have been in tight checking games, and they are not young kids. But take a look at the production of Minnesota’s top offensive threats in the playoffs versus the regular season. Leading scorer Mikael Granlund was almost invisible, with no goals in the playoffs. Nino Niederreiter and Zack Parise were largely neutralized, as was the power play – and the normally strong blue line contribution was minimal. Hey, Minnesota scored just five goals in the first four games of the series – a mere 1.25 goals a game. When they finally busted loose for three goals at home in game five, it fell short again in a 4-3 overtime loss.

Bruce Boudreau’s history of getting knocked off in the playoffs continues (this was his ninth playoff exit, four with the Washington, four with Anaheim, and now the Wild) and the pressure on the coming season will be intense. Part of his problem is the perception that he’s a great coach (leading the Mighty Ducks to first place each year of his tenure; the Wild to their best record ever) who simply can’t win in the playoffs – a leader who is unable to  “win the Big One,” if you will.

You have to know this dilemma will carry over to next year and, unfortunately, lead to the regular season being a kind of tune-up for the “real” season: the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It really is a different deal in post-season hockey, with the top-seeded Blackhawks vanishing in four straight against the Nashville Predators and the number two Wild departing to the Blues – sayonara to Montreal as well.

Us old Minor Hawks kids know the feeling of getting beat, if not by close scores. Ray and Eddie, our leaders and most talented players, never quit (unlike accusations that Parise and Ryan Suter cost Mike Yeo the locker room prior to his exit from Minnesota) and I don’t believe the Wild gave anything less than their best. But it simply wasn’t enough against a tough defensive team that knew how to play the Wild and executed a solid game plan. And it is hard to argue that Yeo wasn’t the better coach in the series.

Mike Yeo was genuinely classy in victory, as many of us in the media knew he would be. Minor Hawks coach Atkinson was classy, too, when we succumbed to defeat by big numbers. We never won the big one (or any big game), but we learned a great deal and still had fun.

Unfortunately for coach Boudreau, he needs to win a big one badly, and that rough road is going through Chicago or St. Louis or somebody tough – that just how NHL hockey goes in the springtime. Fun only accompanies winning.

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Gameday Gold Radio – May 18, 2017 – s.1

It was a good day for two over at Target Field on Thursday.  Eric and Larry decided to take advantage and broadcast this week’s show from the ballpark.  Along with the steady Twins, we hear the guys discuss the NBA Playoffs, the Stanley Cup surprises, the mash-up of sports & politics, and the lack of credit given to the Gopher softball team by the NCAA.  Plus, we’ll get some opinions from long-time Pioneer Press writer Charley Walters.

Baseball Fever is Among Us

Segment 1: Eric and Larry took in some of Thursday’s doubleheader over at Target Field.  They look at how the Twins have stayed near the top of the AL Central.  Plus, they take a tour around the MLB.

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Gameday Gold Radio – May 11, 2017 – s.1

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”.