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Gophers ‘rowing the boat’ at 3-0

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By Larry Fitzgerald
September 19, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@FitzBeatSr

 

Little did I know about the name P.J. Fleck until recently. My time might be drawing to an end.

Back in 1992, while doing talk radio on KFAN, the Gophers’ flagship station, I told my broadcast partner Eric Nelson and our listening audience that things were so bad here in the culture of the program at Minnesota that the football program would not go to the Rose Bowl in my lifetime. Here it is 2017 and the team has not won a Big Ten title since 1967 and has not been to the Rose Bowl since 1961.

Imagine three Gopher head football coaches in three years. That sounds as if the program is drifting away in trouble, right? Last year’s sexual harassment issues led to big change for both players and coaches. P.J. Fleck is the new big man on campus; he was hired shortly after Tracy Claeys was fired after going 9-4 and winning back-to-back Bowl games.

Not many Gopher head football coaches over the last 50 years can say that. Fleck was hired by Mark Coyle, the new Minnesota athletic director. “When I was athletic director at Syracuse,” said Coyle, “that’s when I first had a coaching search, and that’s when his name came up. I talked to a couple of coaches, and his name kept coming up.
“When I came to Minnesota a year later,” Coyle continued, “I saw what he did at Western Michigan University, starting 1-11 and then the next year going 13-1. That was awesome, but what really impressed me was [that] academically that team went from a 2.5 to a 3.0.

“I knew that he would take care of things on the field and off the field academically. We had a sense of urgency, so we thought he would be good for our program.”

It is early, but after three weeks the Gophers under Fleck are 3-0, winning 17-7 over Buffalo. At Oregon State the next week the Gophers dominated 48-14. And last Saturday I witnessed at TCF a complete domination of Middle Tennessee 34-3.

Some have been critical of Fleck and his methods. He is very confident when he talks. It’s about faith a lot and about the culture of a program. And “rowing the boat.”

Proof has been in the fast start and what the players are saying, and more importantly what they are doing and the changes. Not many head coaches across this country have won 16 of their last 17 games. P.J. Fleck talks the talk.

His style is different. He came on campus and right away threw away some prized football trophies. That has upset some alumni players. Not everyone is buying what he’s selling, but so far he’s “rowing the boat.”

 

 

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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Vikings’ Bradford stars in 29-19 win

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By Larry Fitzgerald
September 14, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@FitzBeatSr

 

It does not get much better than this for the Vikings. With questions everywhere, the Vikings sent a prime-time message to the rest of the NFL and their fans that they are better.

Quarterback Sam Bradford out-dueled one of the NFL’s all-time greats, Drew Brees, with a sterling performance. Bradford looked like one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

Bradford was 27-32 for 346 yards and three touchdowns in the Vikings’ 29-19 win over the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football, spoiling the return of the Vikings’ all-time leading rusher Adrian Peterson to Minnesota. Peterson was not much of a factor; in fact, he was seldom used. He had only six carries for 18 yards and was not at all happy about the way he was used by Saints Coach Sean Payton.

The Vikings did not miss Peterson. Rookie sensation Dalvin Cook was brilliant, setting a Vikings rookie debut mark with 127 yards rushing on 22 carries. His explosive ability to get outside with a burst reminded us of Peterson.

The Vikings and Saints were locked in a tight battle at U.S. Bank Stadium, Saints up 6-3 late in the second quarter when the Vikings opened up the offense. Bradford suddenly started winging it, throwing the ball down the field to receivers Adam Thielen, with nine catches for 157 yards, and Stefon Diggs showing the fight and spirit with seven catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns.

Bradford and the Vikings, with back-to-back TD passes, both to Diggs, took a 16-6 lead at halftime and never looked back. The Vikings seized control because their defense never let Brees and the Saints offense establish the running game. The Saints were held to just 60 yards rushing, and they committed a couple of unsportsmanlike penalties that helped the Vikings keep drives alive.

Brees threw for 291 yards and one touchdown. The Vikings had 470 yards in total offense, great balance, and the offensive line punched holes in the Saints defense, giving Bradford the time to stay in the pocket and hit his receivers.

The Saints are certainly not the 1985 Chicago Bears on defense. They allowed 454 points last year, but the measuring stick is to pass the test with each opponent. Next for the Vikings are the 1-0 Pittsburgh Steelers, the Vikings’ first road test of the season against a 2016 playoff team listed among the best in the league.

Randy Moss, the ex-Vikings great, was honored by the organization by being inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor. Moss delivered a spirited and passionate speech about his career, thanking the Vikings and fans and Dennis Green and his teammates. He invited as his guests Marie Green and Patti Green, Coach Green’s widow and daughter, to return to Monday Night Football and share in his Ring of Honor induction.

The NFL has seven owners who gave President Donald Trump $1 million each for his presidential run. I wonder if the Wilf ownership was one of the seven. Protest continued around the NFL over quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s failure to be offered a contract by owners.

Randy Moss is honored in Minneapolis

Randy Moss enters the Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor -September 11, 2017

 

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: The Minnesota Vikings opening act was an impressive one

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By Eric Nelson
September 12, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

 

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the Purple Nation...

•Fast Start: The Minnesota Vikings made quite a splash in their NFL opener on 9/11 against the New Orleans Saints. The Purple’s offensive line was solid, the running game productive, the aerial attack sensational and the defense was lights out. The result was a 29-19 Vikings win as they sparkled under the Monday Night Football spotlight…

•Dalvin’s Debut: In the much-hyped showdown between Dalvin Cook and Adrian Peterson, Cook was the superior running back. The Minnesota rookie gained 127 yards on the ground and caught three passes for 10 yards. Meanwhile, AP had just 18 yards on six carries and was rarely used by Saints HC Sean Payton. One of the greatest Vikings ever, became a bit player in his return to the Twin Cities…

•Different Roles: One game is a small sample size, but it appears that Cook is Minnesota’s go-to back, while AP will get limited touches with New Orleans. That’s exactly why the Vikings cut the cord with their all-time leading ground gainer and turned the page. The Purple believe AP’s days as a stallion runner are in the rear view mirror…

•Sam Shines: Minnesota QB Sam Bradford out-dueled New Orleans gunslinger Drew Brees. Bradford threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns, while Brees was limited to 291 yards and a cosmetic TD toss late in the game. It was an impressive win for Minnesota before a charged up crowd of 66,606 at the Glass House…

•Trench Success: The Vikings offensive line deserves plenty of credit too. The Purple People Protectors kept Bradford upright most of the game – allowing just one sack and providing Cook with daylight and running lanes. Good stuff for a unit that has been banged on like a pinata by fans and media…

•Dominant D: Minnesota’s defense bottled up the Saints most of the night and was very stingy in the red zone. Brees – who will someday be in the HOF – never looked comfortable…

•Randy Ratio: At halftime the Vikings inducted WR Randy Moss into their Ring of Honor. Moss is one of the most electrifying players in Minnesota history and received loud cheers from the fans…

•Throwback Games: Today’s NFL has morphed into video game football. Cartoon-like scores are now common as the shield has tried to phase out defense. But, if week 1 is any indication, low-scoring games could be vogue again. Check out these results: Green Bay 17, Seattle 9. Dallas 19, NY Giants 3. Jacksonville 29, Houston 7. Baltimore 20, Cincinnati 0. Buffalo 21, NY Jets, 12. Carolina 23, San Francisco 3. Pittsburgh 21, Cleveland 18…

•Trending Up: Oklahoma and USC were the big winners in college football last week. The Sooners are now ranked second in the AP Top 25 and third in the coaches poll after their 31-16 thumping of Ohio State in Columbus. The Trojans moved up to fourth in both rankings after crushing Stanford, 42-24 at the LA Coliseum…

•Sports-Centric: Fans in the Twin Cities have plenty of options this week. Washington and Minnesota play in the WNBA semifinals on Tuesday and Thursday at The Barn. The Twins pursuit of an AL wild card spot continues as they host San Diego and Toronto Tuesday through Sunday. On Saturday it’s Middle Tennessee against the U of M in NCAA football action at TCF Bank Stadium…

•A Tale of Two Teams: The sizzling Cleveland Indians have won 19 straight MLB games. To put that in perspective the NFL Browns have won a grand total of 20 games since 2012…

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Scott Taylor

Vikings Win

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Scott Taylor

Peterson Looks Lost as Vikings Ravage Saints

By Scott Taylor

September 12, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@staylorsports ‏

Adrian Peterson looked lost. In fact, as the game between the Minnesota Vikings and Peterson’s New Orleans Saints (it feels weird just to write that) dragged on through 2 ½ hours of TV commercials, he seemed even more bewildered.

He had returned to downtown Minneapolis to be a hero. He was there to visit old friends and show Saints coach Sean Payton and his staff that he was more like the 2012 Adrian Peterson than the injured, tired 2016 Adrian Peterson.

And on his first carry, he looked pretty good. He gained four yards and made a nice move at the line of scrimmage to avoid a tackler. But that was about it. From that point on, he was exactly what Coach Payton told him he was going to be – a bit-part player on rebuilding team that already had two decent runningbacks, Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara and was going to rely on a passing game with Drew Brees at the helm anyway.

So when the Minnesota Vikings finished with an impressive 29-19 win over Brees and the Saints, the numbers told a sad story. Peterson finished with six carries for 18 yards, didn’t catch a pass and played on only nine snaps. According to the NFL statistics folks, that’s the lowest of his career. I’d be surprised if Peterson finishes the season.

All he had left for the effort was a loss and about a dozen stink-eyes that he sent laser-like directly at his head coach during the game. He obviously doesn’t like to be a bench-warmer.

Look, to be fair, it’s not that Peterson is done, necessarily, but he’s certainly done in New Orleans — unless three or four other guys get hurt. He got to start Monday Night’s game and then even carried on the first play, but after that, if the TV cameras hadn’t been interested in him, we would likely have never noticed that he didn’t play much. He was a footnote in the end and the real story was on the other side of the ball.

The real story was Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford and the fact he completed 27-of-32 pass attempts for 346 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. The real story was Adam Thielen, the undrafted receiver from Minnesota State who caught nine passes for 157 yards. The real story was Stefon Diggs who caught seven passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns – the second was a highlight-reel catch that we’ll be watching on NFL Network for a while.

And the real, real story was Dalvin Cook, the second round draft pick in 2017 out of Florida State. He was taken in the draft by the Vikings to replace Peterson and on Monday night, he announced his arrival with authority. He finished with 22 carries for 127 yards and his last run of the night was a 33-yarder around the right side that sealed the victory.

With 127 yards, he broke Peterson’s Vikings record of 107 yards by a rookie in his first game with Minnesota, set back in 2007.

And that’s a very important number – 2007.

Time catches up to all of us. On Monday night, it caught up to the great Adrian Peterson. After 10-plus years as a runningback in the NFL he’s had a Hall of Fame career. But he hasn’t been a Hall of Fame RB since 2014. He’s been injured, banged on the head, run over by 300-pound linemen and, of course, had his troubles off the field.

It’s kind of too bad he came back – to all the boos – in a Saints uniform on Monday night. He probably should have called it a career after the 2015 season (but, of course, it’s damn hard to leave all that money on the table) and the Vikings should have probably been looking for their next Adrian Peterson after the 2013 season.

But here we are.

The Vikings were great in their opener, Dalvin Cook looks like a keeper and with a re-vamped offensive line, Sam Bradford looks like the quarterback that the St. Louis Rams believed he could be, three teams ago, back in 2010.

Fact is, if Bradford gets time to throw this season, the Vikings will be a contender. If he doesn’t, we all know what happens. Unless, of course, Dalvin Cook actually turns out to be the next Adrian Peterson.

Then it could really get exciting.

 

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Will this be a Vikings Super Bowl season?

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By Larry Fitzgerald
September 5, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@FitzBeatSr

 

The preliminaries are over. The rosters have been trimmed to 53 players, and all indications are that the 2017 Vikings are good but not good enough. The worst running team in football last year has Sam Bradford at quarterback.

Bradford has a career-losing record as a starter. He’s never won a playoff game. You find me a QB with a career-losing record as a starter who won the Super Bowl.

“I think the pressure is on Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur,” said former NFL running back Marshall Faulk. “I look for an offensive team to establish an identity. For 10 years their identity was Adrian Peterson. It’s his show. Shurmur advocated for Bradford. He had him in St. Louis, Philadelphia, and now Minnesota.”

Florida State rookie running back Dalvin Cook will start at running back. He has looked great. Latavius Murray, the Pro-Bowler from Oakland, has not. He has to come through big with his talent and experience. The offensive line is better.

In recent years, history tells us teams with Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks win the big games. Last year Tom Brady was suspended the first four games. No problem — New England still won the Super Bowl for the fifth time, 34-28, with the mother of all rallies after trailing by 25 points.

Mike Zimmer’s defense is loaded. He has five Pro Bowlers! The team invested over $100 million in guaranteed money, a franchise record, in three of the Pro Bowlers. Can you say the heat is on?

Last year the NFL lost 10 percent of its following audience. It was an election year. This year, quarterback Colin Kaepernick was not hired by any NFL team. No job the first week of September, all because he protested cops getting away with killing innocent Black men. The team owners have spoken: We don’t care about talent, we want no part in protest directed at the national anthem on NFL Sundays.

Playing and singing the national anthem at sporting events did not start until 1918, 17 months after the United States was in the war to end all wars. Over 100,000 Americans were killed in action. Chicago Cubs vs. Boston Red Sox were in the World Series. Ball players and others had to fight to defend their country.

Francis Key’s lyric “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” better known as the national anthem, was written after the bloody attack by the British in the war of 1812. Patriotism and tradition came together to rally Americans in unity hip to hip.

Several players continue to protest today. Marshon Lynch of Oakland has been protesting for years and nobody noticed. Eric Reid of San Francisco as well. Kaepernick has his supporters. Some will be protesting against the NFL this season, like Spike Lee, several New York police officers, and the great Henry Aaron, who can’t believe the NFL is denying him the opportunity and a job.

Kaepernick made a business decision to leave San Francisco. He bought out his remaining contract, becoming a free agent. Had he not bought out his contract, it’s conceivable he would still be with the 49ers. Once he was not under contract anymore, the politics of the NFL owners have spoken loud and clear.

For what it’s worth, this is my 39th season covering the NFL and the Vikings. Here’s what I think will happen:

NFC North
1) Green Bay, 2) Vikings, 3) Detroit, 4) Chicago
NFC West
1) Arizona, 2) Seattle, 3) San Francisco, 4) Los Angeles
NFC South
1) Atlanta, 2) Tampa Bay, 3) New Orleans, 4) Carolina
NFC East
1) New York Giants, 2) Dallas, 3) Philadelphia, 4) Washington
AFC East
1) New England, 2) Miami, 3) Buffalo, 4) New York Jets
AFC South
1) Houston, 2) Tennessee, 3) Jacksonville, 4) Indianapolis
AFC West
1) Kansas City, 2) Oakland, 3) Denver, 4) San Diego
AFC North
1) Pittsburgh, 2) Baltimore, 3) Cincinnati, 4) Cleveland

 

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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Mayweather stops McGregor by TKO

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By Larry Fitzgerald
August 28, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@FitzBeatSr

LAS VEGAS — The legend of Floyd Mayweather, Jr. grows after defeating mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor in the 10th round by TKO in a marvelously entertaining Las Vegas spectacle.

McGregor is the biggest name in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and his flair and showmanship has made him a name that sparks fire in fans and the entertainment business of the UFC.

Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Conor McGregor

Likewise, we live in a violent world and Mayweather has learned the good and bad side of violence. He does not hide from it. He’s a great 50-0 undefeated champion.

Although his character is damaged due to having served time for the domestic abuse of the mother of his children, Mayweather has rebounded and found a way to make a fortune being demonized by millions. That’s part of Mayweather’s genius: He accepts that he’s flawed with talent and zeal and God-given skills.

Make no mistake about it: he is a brilliant business man.

Just like when sports fans years ago wanted to see Larry Bird beat Magic Johnson — two great players, one White, one Black — it gets the coals hot and stokes the rage, and in many cases, the frenzy is fueled by racial differences.

It’s not personal, it’s business, and part of hyping the fight was the desire of thousands to see McGregor and his on-the-edge personality beat up Mayweather.

Mayweather has shown a history of struggling with southpaw-style fighters. McGregor was a little bigger with just enough awkwardness to sell this first-time fight as a win-win.

But McGregor’s youthful flair (he’s 29; Mayweather is 40) and surge of confidence ran into Mayweather’s superior boxing experience. McGregor has never fought more than five rounds before, and Mayweather stuck to his plan and allowed McGregor to burn so much energy being the aggressor.

As the fight wore on, Mayweather was then able to take the fight to McGregor. He started sticking jabs to a worn out McGregor’s face to win by TKO.

Not many thought this fight would go past five rounds, and certainly not 10 — nobody but Mayweather, that is. Mr. 50-0!

 

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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Vikings: How good will they be?

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By Larry Fitzgerald
August 25, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD
@FitzBeatSr

 

So much is riding on this 2017 Vikings season it makes you nervous even thinking about it. Playing the Seattle Seahawks in the pre-season last week was a measuring stick game. You know how good and consistent Seattle is, and how well-coached they are, and they seldom lose at home.

Seattle 20, Vikings 13 — not exactly what Vikings fans wanted. I was honestly surprised how successful they were running. It was a defensive game. I thought the Seahawks were better: they were more physical and ran the ball when and where they wanted to consistently.

I am disappointed right now in running back Latavius Murray. He was signed as a free agent from Oakland and can’t get on the field. If he doesn’t play this week against San Francisco that is a bad sign.

Rookie Dalvin Cook has been impressive but he is so young with much to learn. Last year, as we know, the Vikings could not run the football at all when Adrian Peterson got hurt. Now he’s gone and you don’t win in this league unless you can consistently run the ball.

Sam Bradford looks good at quarterback, throwing to Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, and Kyle Rudolph. But his career win-loss record in St. Louis and Philadelphia concerns me and that is hard to ignore. I do like tight end Bucky Hodges, however; he a keeper.

With three weeks before the opener, the Vikings have time to get better. The NFL is a dictator league, so you have to force your will on your opponent. The players and coaches are all good, so good that they are able to figure out your game plan and your scheme.

Since 2001, the Vikings have been in the playoffs just five times, with just one playoff victory in 2009.

When you have the Super Bowl in your home stadium, you really hope your team can be good. My expectations are for this team to blow the roof off U.S Bank Stadium.

How realistic is that coming off of an 8-8 season? I’ll keep drinking the purple Kool-Aid because they do have a solid foundation with lots of talent on defense and special teams.

But the early signs bug me. I have concerns over talented Michael Floyd’s suspension for four games. Murray has done nothing yet, as I mentioned. They gave this guy $15 million to watch? And Laquon Treadwell, last year’s number one pick, is still a big question mark.

The offensive line is better, but can they jell and become a solid versatile group?

No reason to be alarmed just yet — the Vikings lost on the road to a good football team that made the playoffs. But there are legit reasons to share with you my concerns.

 

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 5th-7th

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You know?  There hasn’t been a ton of baseball talk lately, let alone optimistic baseball talk.  Eric and Larry convene at the Downtown Minneapolis studio this week to fix that.  They go heavy into diamond chatter, including a major dose of the Twins.  And you don’t just hear from them.  Third baseman Miguel Sano and center fielder Byron Buxton have their say.  Plus, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale offers his perspective on the team, the division, and some ugly incidents in Boston this week.  Oh, and our hosts also get to the NBA Playoffs, the NFL Draft, and revenge on the mind of a former Vikings star.

Not All Twins are Riding High

Segment 1: The Twins wrapped up another successful series, despite losing to Oakland on Thursday.  The fellas look back on the wins that Monday and Tuesday brought.  Plus, how will Kyle Gibson respond after his demotion to Triple AAA ball in Rochester.

 

More Diamond Talk

Segment 2: We haven’t had our share of baseball talk this Spring, so it keeps going into this segment.  The guys take a page from yesteryear when they compare Byron Buxton with center fielders from the recent past.  They also chat about some legends in the MLB press box.

 

NBA Playoff Smorgasbord

Segment 3: The NBA has reached the second round of the postseason.  How good has this generation’s Isaiah Thomas been?  Eric and Larry give their take on Boston’s point guard.  Is LeBron James primed to lead another title run and top the record books?  Then, there’s no nightlife in Salt Lake City?  The Warriors believe so.

 

The Young Bucks: GDG Talks with Miguel Sano & Byron Buxton

Segment 4: We get back into Twins talk, this time on a first-hand basis.  Larry got to ask a few questions to young stars Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton.  After the interviews, our hosts assess the progress of this roster that features a youthful core and some cagey veterans.

 

Around the League: Bob Nightengale Broadens Our Horizons

Segment 5: So, what does USA Today’s Bob Nightengale think of the Twins?  We find out when he joins the program.  Plus, we get his thoughts on the rest of the AL Central contenders.  And he was front and center for the tense series between the Orioles and Red Sox.  He explains the frenzy surrounding what happened to O’s center fielder Adam Jones.

 

A.P.’s Get-Back and A Drafty Chat

Segment 6: Adrian Peterson is licking his chops for a chance to take on his former team.  But will that opener versus the Vikings be a successful one?  After that, the guys recap the Vikings’ scorecard and other tidbits from last weekend’s NFL Draft.

 

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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: Minn U soccer at TCF is a cool event

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By Eric Nelson
April 25, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the land of 10 million potholes...

•Cool Vibe: I had a chance to see my first Minnesota United game at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday and was very impressed. The flag-waving, towel twirling crowd of 17,491 was involved and vocal the entire match. It was good theater. Midway through the second half there was a sunlight/shadow mix on the pitch, producing some spectacular visuals – which is another advantage to playing outside…

Minnesota United MLS soccer

Minnesota Loons at TCF Stadium
-April 2017

 

•Doubleheader: The Loons got their first-ever MLS shutout as Minn U blanked Colorado 1-0. The game-winning goal came when Johan Venegas used a header to get the ball to Miguel Ibarra who scored on a sprawling head shot. In this case, two heads were better than one..

 

•Money-Makers: According to the LA Times, the top 10 selling jerseys in MLB are:

  1. Kris Bryant (Chicago Cubs),
  2. Anthony Rizzo (Cubs),
  3. Clayton Kershaw (LA Dodgers),
  4. Javier Baez (Cubs),
  5. Kyle Schwarber (Cubs),
  6. Noah Syndergaard (NY Mets),
  7. Corey Seager (LA Dodgers),
  8. Buster Posey (SF),
  9. Gary Sanchez (NY Yankees)
  10. Mike Trout (LA Angels)

 

•Barefootball: According to the LA Times, the Chargers have been conducting some of their off-season workouts barefoot. What’s next, practicing on the beach..?

•PJ’s pitch: New U of M football coach PJ Fleck has been making his pitch to Gopher fans and potential recruits since being hired in early January. On Saturday he made another kind of pitch as he threw out the first pitch before the Detroit-Minnesota game at Target Field…

•Homecoming Hype: Now that Adrian Peterson has signed with the Saints, let the buildup begin. New Orleans and Minnesota open the season on September 11 in Minneapolis, meaning AP’s first game as a Saint is against his old team. ESPN is carrying the Monday night broadcast, which means the network will probably start hyping the telecast in July…

Adrian Peterson changes direction

•Standing O: Btw, AP deserves a loud ovation from the Purple Nation when he jogs onto the USB field turf. In 10 seasons with the Vikings AP ran for 11,747 yards, scored 102 touchdowns, played in seven Pro Bowls and was the 2012 NFL MVP when he gained 2,097 yards. That kind of production should garner him plenty of cheers…

•Cone Zone: Driving on I-94 through Brooklyn Center and Minneapolis these days means dodging orange barrels and cones, and driving over craters and potholes. “Minnesota’s Main Street” has been reduced to a couple of lanes in some parts because MNDOT has begun the monstrous $46.3 million project. Phase one of the I-94 construction will be finished by late October or early November and have no impact on Super Bowl LII. Construction will resume in late March or Early April of 2018…

•Capable and Qualified: Golden State HC Steve Kerr is one of the best in the business. But, with Kerr out because of a back injury, assistant Mike Brown took over the Warriors coaching duties for game 3 of their NBA playoff series against Portland. Golden State did not skip a beat, winning 119-113 and has a commanding 3-0 series lead. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Brown’s resume includes two stints as HC in Cleveland (2005-10, 2013-14) and with the LA Lakers (2011-12). Brown has coached in 83 playoff games, including the 2007 NBA Finals when San Antonio swept Cleveland in four games…

•Marathon Man: Joe Gagnon has accomplished his daunting goal of running six marathons on six continents in six days. Gagnon began his incredible journey in Australia on April 10 and finished up in Southern California on April 15. He ran in Sydney, Singapore, Johannesburg, London, Sao Paolo and Los Angeles…

•Mile Count: Gagnon did this to raise money for Project Bright Light which is part of LA-based Chimein.org, an organization that aids impoverished youth. He ran 156 miles, logged over 40,00 air miles in coach and did not stay in a hotel the entire trip…

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Podcast

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Gameday Gold Radio – March 24, 2017 – s.3

AP’s Journey & A Jersey Comes Home

Segment 3: Adrian Peterson is still out on the free agent market.  Will he find a home for next season?  The guys look into the favored candidates to land the former NFL MVP.  Then, our long, national nightmare is over.  Tom Brady’s Super Bowl jersey has been found.  Whom gets a bad name during this happy ending.

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Gameday Gold Radio – December 16, 2016 – s.2

Purple Looking To Push Towards the Playoffs

Segment 2: The Vikings hope to continue their postseason push as they host Indianapolis on Sunday.  Will they get some help in the form of Adrian Peterson?  The fellas monitor the All-Pro running back’s return to the practice field.  And where do the Vikes stand in the P.P.P.O. (Potential Playoff Pecking Order)?