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GDG rundown for Easter and Passover weekend (Apr. 14-16)

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It’s another loaded week of sports across the country.  Let Eric and Larry condense it all down for you.  They pour through all the bits and pieces to bring you the big news from the Downtown Minneapolis studios.  The Wild begin their postseason run, while the Wolves get set to watch another playoff season at home (Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio offers his thoughts).  The Twins continue to impress early on.  Out west, Oakland just can’t seem to hold on to its sports teams.  And former NFL player (and Super Bowl champion) Ryan Harris discusses the importance of Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney.

The Disappearing Oakland Sports Scene

Segment 1: The reaction is still pouring in from last week’s announcement that the Oakland Raiders will be heading to Sin City.  Our hosts revisit the impact that this move will have on the east side of the Bay Area.  And what’s up with Oakland’s struggle to keep sports franchises?

 

Steel to the Core: Remembering Pittsburgh Owner Dan Rooney

Segment 2: The NFL world is mourning after the death of Pittsburgh Steelers CEO Dan Rooney on Thursday.  Larry reveals a familial connection to the owner, while Eric explains how he embodied the franchise that he ran.  Plus, will St. Louis be successful in their pending lawsuit against the NFL?

 

K.C. Connections & Triumphant Twins

Segment 3: Falling back on memories of days past, the guys revisit their respect for Kauffman Stadium.  The Royals, however, haven’t had a glowing start to the season.  A lot of that had to do with the Twins.  Speaking of…what are the reasons this edition of the team has seen some early success?

Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

Kauffman Stadium – Kansas City, Missouri

 

Eric, Larry, & Ricky Rubio Lament Lost Chances for the Wolves

Segment 4: The Timberwolves’ season has come to an end.  Larry briefly discussed this lost campaign with point guard Ricky Rubio.  Then, our hosts recap another season where the organization missed out on the playoffs.

Minnesota Timberwolves new Logo displayed on giant scoreboard above court at Target Center - Minneapolis, MN

Timberwolves unveil new logo at Target Center

 

GDG Chats with Ryan Harris About a Legendary Owner and a Puzzling Free Agent

Segment 5: One man that got to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Dan Rooney is Twin Cities native Ryan Harris.  The former offensive lineman discusses the owner’s legacy.  Plus, what does he think of Colin Kaepernick’s inability to find a new team?

 

A Wild Tussle to Open the Playoffs

Segment 6: The fellas take a minute to look into the hot button topic of the man that was dragged off of a United Airlines flight.  After that, the Wild were bogged down in Game 1 of their First Round postseason series against St. Louis.  What should we expect from the rest of the series?  Eric and Larry break down the angles.

 

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Believe it — we did it again!

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By Larry Fitzgerald
April 13, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

April has started with a bang! It’s been an incredible week, one I call the greatest week in sports. I saw North Carolina win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Monday night with a 71-65 win over Gonzaga in Glendale, Arizona. North Carolina matched what Clemson did — they came back and beat Alabama in the college football playoff championship.

As you’ll recall, LeBron James led Cleveland to win over Golden State in the NBA Finals rematch last year. And two years before that, Kansas City came back to win over New York in the World Series. In each case, the teams returned to grab the title after the heartbreak of losing a championship the previous season.

Locally, the Twins started the season fast by sweeping the Kansas City Royals 7-1, 9-1 and 5-3 at Target Field.

Members of the Fitzgerald family at the 2017 CFMF event (front, l-r): Mercedes Johnson and Jaylen Fitzgerald (back, l-r): Marcus Fitzgerald, Larry Fitzgerald, Sr., and Larry Fitzgerald, Jr.

Finally, Sergio Garcia grabbed his first major title by beating Justin Rose, the Gold Medal winner, in a dramatic playoff at Augusta to capture his first Masters title. This, after failing over 19 years and 74 major championships.

To cap off the week, the 13th Annual Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund (CFMF) Benefit & Celebration drew several hundred people for dinner and fellowship. The sports-themed events, with remarkable and priceless memorabilia and auction items, honored the great memory of my late wife Carol.

The events drew rave reviews, with the highlight being the return of native son Larry Fitzgerald, Jr., a 10-time Pro Bowler and Co-NFL “Walter Payton Man of the Year.” Artist Mike Phillips headlined the event, bringing soulful yet funky grooves to the celebration.

The benefit at the Minneapolis Event Center April 7, raised thousands for organizations in the battle against breast cancer, and in support of HIV prevention and urban education. An after-party at Seven Ultra Lounge followed. The community celebration took place Saturday, April 8, at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in Minneapolis.

The 2017 grant winners were: Horizons Youth Program at Sabathani Community Center, Minneapolis North Boys Basketball, New Beginnings Church After School Program, Page Education Foundation, Plano Child Development Center, Summit University Teen Center, Swish Dreams, Xavier University Alumni, HAS Program, Minnesota African American Women, Pillsbury HIV Health Education Program, African American Breast Cancer Alliance, Butterfly 4 Life Support Network and the Pay It Forward Fund.

North Point Heath & Wellness CEO Stella Whitney-West delivered an impassioned message about her late friend Carol and how it has impacted her career path.

The Fitzgerald family is appreciative of family and friends (Faith-Focus-Finish) who came from all corners of the United States to support this remarkable cause. We again thank you.

 

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 Apr. 7th-9th

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It’s the week where some things wind down in the sports world, while others are just getting wound up.  This week, Eric and Larry are back together at the Downtown studio in Minneapolis (well, at least, most of the time).  They dig right into the story of the week…those lovable, winnable Minnesota Twins.  How did the Twinkies score wins in their first three games of the new year?  GDG’s own Tom Tuttle has his thoughts, along with some on the playoff-bound Wild.  Plus, did Tony Romo just get a sweeter gig than quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys?  The Timberwolves will look to next season…again.  And the college basketball season wraps up in thrilling fashion.

Break Up Those Twins

Segment 1: Opening Day has not been kind to the Twins over the last few years.  Boy, did they turn that around this week.  Eric and Larry are in studio to recap the team’s opening series sweep over the Royals.  Can the team build momentum?  And, with so many event options, can they draw fans back to Target Field?

 

The GDG Trio: Eric, Larry, and Tom Tuttle Get Into the Weekly Headlines

Segment 2: There’s a lot to discuss as the guys invite GDG CFO Tom Tuttle on the air for some sports chatter.  They touch on the Twins’ impressive start, the NCAA basketball championship game, and the latest edition of an annual charitable event.

 

Three’s Never a Crowd: Eric, Larry, & Tom Talk Twins and Wild

Segment 3: The trio dives back into the Twins’ opening series of the regular season.  What are the expectations after the sweep of Kansas City?  Then, the Wild are gearing up for another postseason appearance.  Are they finally ready to make a deep run into May?

 

Analyzing Tony Romo’s Move to Analyst

Segment 4: The Tony Romo sweepstakes is over, and the winner is…CBS.  Our hosts talk about the former Dallas QB’s decision to retire from the game and walk straight into the broadcast booth.  Speaking of quarterbacks, will some of the former NFL starters be able to get picked up out of the free agent pool?

 

Jeter the Owner?  And the Wolves Wind Down

Segment 5: Derek Jeter was one of the faces of Major League Baseball for the last 20 years.  Could he become the next former player to turn his career path to ownership?  The fellas look into which team he may be buying into, and whom his competition could be.  After that, the Timberwolves will once again miss the playoffs.  What can the franchise do to break their postseason-less streak in 2018?

 

Evaluting the End of the College Hockey and Hoops Seasons

Segment 6: Larry had pressing business to attend to, so GDG producer Jonathan Lowe steps in to chat about college sports with Eric.  How good does the NCHC look as they represent half of the NCAA’s Frozen Four?  Then, they put a wrap on the college basketball season (both men’s and women’s).

 

 

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Greatest week in sports?

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By Larry Fitzgerald
April 4, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

It’s arguably the greatest week in sports. The cry of “play ball” is ringing across the United States with the boys of summer. Major League Baseball kicks off, all 30 teams, and in Minnesota the Twins open against the Kansas Royals at Target Field.

Last year, the Twins dropped 103 games, while the Royals have been in two of the last three World Series. The Twins play 162 games — baseball is indeed a marathon not a sprint.

The NCAA Men’s basketball championship game takes place this week as North Carolina 32-7 goes for their 6th National Championship against Gonzaga 37-1.

The Tar Heels lost last year’s title game to Villanova at the buzzer. They will try to do what Kentucky did in 1997-98, win the title after losing it the year before.

It’s also Masters week, the un-official beginning of the golf season. Due to back issues, Tiger Woods will miss the historic 20th anniversary of becoming the first Black man to win a major championship. He won the Masters by a record 12 shots.

Friday, April 7, is the 13th Annual Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund Benefit (CFMF). The event is one of the biggest local happenings in Minneapolis, in honor of this journalist’s late wife and mother to Larry Fitgerald, Jr. and Marcus Fitzgerald.

Carol was a tireless Minnesota Department of health STD investigator. She had passion for caring and sharing and fighting for people. She died April 10, 2003 of breast cancer. Since that year, through the CFMF and Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund annual events, the Fitzgerald family has raised close to $2 million to benefit organizations locally and nationally that assist in HIV prevention, breast cancer awareness and urban education.

The sports-themed gala features NFL Man of the Year and 10-time Pro Bowl star Larry Fitzgerald, Jr. He is the first Minnesota-born athlete to win the Walter Payton award; he will be on-hand to sign autographs. Also, CFMF grants will be awarded to this year’s winning community organizations.

The event features a live and silent auction of incredible sports memorabilia. North Point Health & Wellness CEO Stella Whitney-West, one of Carol’s best friends, will be the keynote speaker, with Mike Phillips as the headline entertainer.

Phillips has played with Michael Jackson, Prince and Stevie Wonder, and at the inaugural balls for both President Clinton and President Obama. It’s an incredible sports week highlighted by this annual event.

The 13th Annual Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund Benefit Gala takes place Friday, April 7, at the Minneapolis Event Center, 212 SE 2nd St., Minneapolis. All proceeds go to the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund Benefit. Call 612-770-4575 for more information.

On Saturday, April 8 from 12 to 3 pm, community members are invited to the 13th Annual Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund Community Celebration at Martin Luther King Center, 4055 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis. For tickets call 612-619-0102.

 

 

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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Four teams desert-bound for Final Four

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By Larry Fitzgerald
March 30, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

Over the years I’ve grown very fond of Arizona with so many golf courses and resorts, and between November and March you can get away from the stress that goes with winter and the bad weather. Arizona is the spring home of 15 of Major League Baseball’s training sites in Tempe, Scottsdale, Tucson, Mesa and Phoenix from February to April — MLB baseball from sun up to sun down virtually all over the state.

Father & Son at the Final 4 ..North Carolina and Gonzaga reach the final…

Arizona is loaded with things to do, and it’s crowded this week, Sunday, March 26 through Wednesday, with the NFL Annual Spring Owners meetings at the historic Biltmore Resort where many presidents and royalty and the elite have stayed over the years when they are in town. The owners are expected to vote on the Oakland Raiders’ proposed move to (Sin City) Las Vegas.

If Oakland were to receive approval of the league, they would be the third NFL team in 12 months to move. Previously, the Rams left St. Louis for Los Angeles and the Chargers left San Diego for Los Angeles.

The National Hockey League just placed an expansion franchise in Las Vegas. For professional sports, this is the first time. The controversial move appears to open the door for potential issues and problems related to gambling.

This weekend’s NCAA Men’s Final Four is set for Saturday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, the home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. Four of the best basketball teams in the nation and their fans are making plans for the Final Four.

The NCAA Men’s Final Four features North Carolina, the Tar Heels, in their record 20th Final Four. With just two number-one seeds remaining, North Carolina, with their remarkable history and rich tradition, are clearly the favorite. Close your eyes and just think for a minute if South Carolina, the clear Cinderella of the four teams, found a way to first beat Gonzaga and then North Carolina.

The other number-one seed, Gonzaga (36-1), at the Final Four for the first time, has one of the country’s strongest basketball programs but never a Final Four. They were the country’s last unbeaten team and were ranked number one in the nation for several weeks.

South Carolina, another first-time Final Four team, knocked off Duke early and have remained hot and focused. Oregon (33-5) from the Pac 12 have had a remarkable season. This is the first Final Four for the Ducks since 1939. That was the year the NCAA tournament began, long before the theme of March Madness.

Again, the players play, and as exciting as this is for CBS, TBS, TNT, the sponsors and the NCAA, fans and media alike, the reality is this: Only the coaches get rewarded financially.

Roy Williams of North Carolina gets $5 million a year as Tar Heels coach plus another $200,000 for getting his team to the Final Four and $250,000 if the Tar Heels win. Frank Martin of South Carolina makes $2.5 million per year. He is getting a $100,000 bonus for getting his team to their first Final Four. If he wins the title he gets another $200,000.

In the middle of all the excitement, look at this system of amateurism which the NCAA exploits. This is grossly unfair to the hard-working players, and it’s been this way for far too long.

 

 

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: Despite what the NCAA says, Minnesota played in the 1997 Final Four

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By Eric Nelson
March 30, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

MINNEAPOLIS – Sports Nuggets from the home of Post it Notes…

• Eyewitness Account:  I don’t care what the hypocritical NCAA says, the Minnesota Gophers played in the 1997 Final Four. I know because I was in Indianapolis. I saw a quartet of teams – Minnesota, Arizona, Kentucky and North Carolina – play at the RCA Dome. It really did happen. That is why Gopher fans should celebrate the 20-year anniversary of Minnesota’s only trip to the Final Four – despite the fact that the NCAA wiped out the achievement because of an academic fraud scandal…

• Revisionist History: The ’97 Final Four run remains the pinnacle moment in U of M basketball history. But, the power-hungry NCAA airbrushed everything connected with that team from the record books. In their warped world, all those magical memories never happened and Minnesota forfeited every win. Cheating is wrong and the Gopher program suffered because of it. However, erasing  history makes no sense…

• Invisible Season: Of course, this is how the almighty NCAA operates when a school cheats. The Gophers are just one of many programs who saw their athletic accomplishments vanish in the wake of a scandal. USC’s remarkable run with Reggie Bush and Pete Carroll was expunged from the record books because of violations. Same with Michigan’s famed Fab Five. The penalties were doled out long after the NCAA profited from packed venues, huge television ratings and media attention generated by those schools…

• Money-Ball: Did the NCAA refund Minnesota fans who bought tickets to games that were forfeited? Did they return money to folks who snapped up Wolverine caps, Bush jerseys, Gopher jackets, Final Four pennants and other souvenirs associated with tarnished programs? No way. Those checks got cashed…

• Just Asking: Why can’t the Oakland Raiders share Levis Stadium with the San Francisco 49ers? Yes, the Raiders and 49ers are polar opposites. Yes, they are Mars and Venus when it comes to organizational philosophies. But Santa Clara is a lot closer to Oakland than Las Vegas. The NY Giants and Jets co-exist in the NJ Meadowlands, despite being an NFL odd couple, so it can be done. Besides, it would be good for Santa Clara to get a guaranteed 10 extra NFL dates in their $1.3 billion venue…

• Greener Pastures: For those of you keeping score at home, three NFL franchises have relocated in the past 14 months. The St. Louis Rams moved to Los Angeles in 2016. The San Diego Chargers moved to LA earlier this year. Now the Raiders are off to Vegas…

• Desert Digs: The Raiders new Las Vegas playpen will be a $1.9 billion, 65,000 seat retractable roof stadium. There will also be end zone windows that open and provide panoramic views of the strip. Too bad Minneapolis did not have this kind of vision with US Bank Stadium. Minnesota should have a roof that opens and shuts – not another dome…

• Super Stage: Look for Las Vegas to get a Super Bowl in the future. The NFL likes to reward cities who build new stadiums or renovate old ones. Just ask Arlington, TX, East Rutherford, NJ, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis or Santa Clara…

• Oakland Exodus: When it comes to pro sports, Oakland will soon be a one-team town. The Raiders are moving to Las Vegas in 2019 or 2020 and the NBA Warriors will cross the Bay Bridge and move into a waterfront arena in downtown San Francisco in 2019. The MLB A’s will be the only team left…

• New Digs: Like the Raiders, the A’s have wanted a new stadium for years. Now they have some leverage. We will see if Oakland builds the A’s their coveted new ballpark…

• Sputtering Start: No one is happier to see April come than Minnesota United. It was nothing but March sadness for the Loons in their first month of MLS play. Minn U (0-3-1) was outscored 18-6 and has given up the most goals in the league. The Loons host Real Salt Lake (0-2-2) on Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis…

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Eric Nelson

SPORTS NUGGETS: The Minnesota Twins need a bounce back season

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By Eric Nelson
March 23, 2017
GAMEDAY GOLD

FT. MYERS, FL – Sports Nuggets from the southern tip of Twins Territory...

• On the rebound: The Minnesota Twins are hoping for a bounce back season in 2017. The Twins were historically bad in 2016 posting a 59-103 record and finishing 35 1/2 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central. Putting that debacle in the rear view mirror and not repeating it, is the team’s main goal this year…

• Spring Cleaning: Minnesota is busy prepping for the upcoming season here in the Florida Grapefruit League. The Twins are focused on fundamentals such as defense and base running, and are trying to put together a pitching staff that can elevate the franchise back into contention. Hope and optimism bloom in the spring like the lush, green SW Florida landscape. The Twins believe they will be better. Goodness knows they better be better…

• The Great Unknown: Plenty of questions are swirling around the Twins. Can Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano fulfill their potential? Can Phil Hughes and Kyle Gibson become solid starting pitchers? Can Brandon Kintzler be an effective closer? Will new school, sabermetric front office guys like Derek Falvey and Thad Levine micromanage every move of old school manager Paul Molitor? The answers will be revealed in the coming months…

• Off the Grid: Because of their woeful ways, there is little buzz about the Twins in the sports-saturated Twin Cities. They are getting lost in the shuffle. The only way to change that is to start winning ASAP…

• March Mellow: While NCAA March Madness whips the nation into a frenzy, Spring Training in Arizona and Florida continues at its own leisurely pace. One cool thing about the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues is that games are played in smaller, intimate minor league venues. Fans often mingle with their favorite players and ticket prices are cheaper than the regular season…

• Saluting Dallas: The Twins defeated the Phillies 4-2 on Thursday in Clearwater, FL. Before the game Philadelphia paid tribute to former manager Dallas Green who died earlier this week. The 82-year old Green was the Phillies skipper when they won their first World Series title in 1980…

• Baseball Marriage: Philadelphia has definitely had more than a spring fling with Clearwater. The Phillies have been training in the city since 1947…

• Bolt City: Btw, Clearwater has more lightning strikes per capita than any city in the US. Clearwater is part of the Tampa Bay metro area which often gets hit by lightning. Guess it’s no surprise that the NHL team is nicknamed the Lightning…

That’s Creative: Ft. Myers is located close to the iconic Florida Everglades. So, the ECHL hockey team based in this city is known as the Florida Everblades…

• Spectacular Span: Going from Ft. Myers to Clearwater means traveling up I-75 to I-275 and crossing over Tampa Bay on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. This spectacular span is the world’s longest cable-supported concrete bridge…

• Panoramic View: The apex of the SSB is 430 feet high. The Gulf of Mexico, Tampa Bay and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg are all visible from the top…

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