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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
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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.

Gameday Gold logo

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”.