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Athletes must weigh risks vs. rewards

When you measure the risk versus the rewards of the price that ultimately must be paid by all athletes to compete, sometimes that sacrifice is overlooked or forgotten. Somehow a love for competing takes over and athletes, regardless of the sport or competition, don’t even consider some of the risk they take on to play a game.

The X Games were created by ESPN, and so many of the events that the athletes compete in require them to challenge themselves in ways where you sometimes scratch your head saying to yourself, “No way can I do that or no way I would even try.”

Over 100,000 fans poured into U.S. Bank Stadium over the last week. You seldom hear about the injuries, but believe me, they happen.

Just two weeks ago in one week of NBA free agency, NBA team owners signed off on over one billion guaranteed dollars in salaries to NBA players. In the NFL we have for years been hearing about the horrors of many players battling daily headaches related to concussions that have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements.

Many parents today, particularly mothers, are directing their sons away from football. Hockey, like football, is so much faster today. The game itself requires a lot of physical contact, and because athletes are bigger and faster the collisions that ultimately take place sometimes put many athletes in danger of injury.

One thing is certain: Regardless if it’s baseball, football, basketball, hockey or soccer, the risk of injury cannot be ignored. The physical and mental demands are always there. Sports leagues today and their unions have worked harder together in recent years to protect and do what is required to look closer at their athletes and players.

Then there’s boxing On August 26 Floyd Mayweather, Jr and Irish UFC sensation Conor McGregor will battle in Las Vegas in one of the biggest fights in boxing history. Never has there ever been a fight like this.

Mayweather, after being retired, is coming back for another big payday. The unbeaten 49-0 champion is a convicted domestic abuser who spent some time in prison back in 2010 because of it. He was sent to jail because he battered his woman, Miss Josie Harris, the mother to three of his children. His 10-year-old son Koraun was witness to it and told police.

Since this fight was signed on, McGregor, the cocky, arrogant UFC champion, has verbally badgered Mayweather on his history of domestic abuse. When these two get into the ring, based on their history anything can happen. That in itself makes boxing, and particularly this fight, so barbaric.

Both men are confidently stoking the fire using vulgar verbal threats in pre-fight promotional tours to antagonize each other. And of course the millions of fans thirsty for this battle will pay $100 each to see the fight on pay per view. This is the ultimate example of risk versus reward.

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.

Twins among MLB’s surprise teams

An old cliché that has stood the test of time is “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” With this in mind, look at the two best teams in baseball as we have reached the mid-summer classic.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are on fire with the best record in the big leagues, 61-29, winners of 26 of their last 30 games. Pitching ace Clayton Kershaw is 14-2 — that’s tops in MLB.

Rookie sensation Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees with 30 home runs is the talk of baseball. The slugger has hit several long home runs. For a franchise with a history of legendary sluggers, the buzz has many dreaming and comparing him already with the past greatness of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Reggie Jackson, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle.

Houston has the best record in the American League, 60-29, with a 16-game lead in the AL West. The Dodgers are 39-11 at home and are +163 in runs scored. The Astros are +162 and 33-11 on the road. Both the Dodgers and Astros are clearly playoff-bound.

The 2017 All-Star Game is in Miami, Florida. The 45-43 Twins are two and half back of Cleveland in the AL Central and have three All-Stars this year. Third baseman Miguel Sano has carried this team; he leads the team with 21 home runs and 61 RBI.

Ervin Santana, 10-6, has been lights out, the ace of the staff. His ERA is 2.99 and he leads the Majors with four complete games. Closer Brandon Kintzler has 22 saves, among the best in baseball. Joe Mauer leads the team with seven game-winning RBI. His back has flared up on him, and he is currently on the disabled list.

With 30 teams in MLB and only 12 of those having winning records, the fight for the playoffs will be the story of the season’s second half.

I would like to see some of the teams that were expected to be in the playoffs play better, like the Chicago Cubs, who won 103 games last year and the World Series. So far they have been a major disappointment, 5½ games back of Milwaukee in the National League Central.

We have a long way yet to go, and I pointed out, it’s not always how you start but how you finish. However, some teams have dug some deep holes to climb out of in the second half. Just five teams in the National League have winning records. The Cardinals, Pirates, Blue Jays, Texas and Baltimore have not played consistently this year.

The Twins will have a chance to stay in the race in the second half; however, they need Mauer back healthy.

Pitching and defense have carried them so far. Young Jose Berrios is 8-2 and looking good. He and Santana give the Twins a solid one-two punch at the top of their starting rotation.

Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to info@larry-fitzgerald.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.

Timberwolves get a new beginning

Photo- Steve Floyd

Jimmy Butler Press Conference Click here

It finally has arrived after 13 years of absolute failure, four different head coaches in four years, and four team presidents. In 2017-18 the Timberwolves will return to the NBA living.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on renovating Target Center. The three-time WNBA champion Lynx have been sent to St. Paul this year while their Target Center home make-over and renovation continues. As the World Champion Golden State Warriors have proven, if you can win NBA titles in Oakland at Oracle Arena, you can win anywhere.

The Timberwolves again have looked to Chicago to save their lost franchise. Remember, Kevin Garnett played high school basketball on the West Side in Chicago before Timberwolves Vice President Kevin McHale and Flip Saunders drafted the high school star.

He helped turn the Timberwolves into winners on their first (logo) and once was an MVP. Last week on NBA Draft Day, the Timberwolves, now on their third logo, agreed to a blockbuster multi-player deal with the six-time NBA champion Chicago Bulls for three-time NBA All-Star forward Jimmy Butler.

Last year the Bulls signed Chicago native and three-time NBA champion Dwayne Wade away from Miami. His contract is for two years with $48 million guaranteed. That put the Bulls in a bind financially.

Butler is already under contract, and because Tom Thibodeau coached in Chicago for five years and Butler was his best player, he was able to dangle just enough chips at Chicago’s general manager to tease this deal.

Chicago gets two-time NBA slam dunk champion guard Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, last year’s number-four overall pick. Plus they get the 2017 number-seven overall pick of the Timberwolves, Lauri Markkanen, in exchange for Chicago’s number 16 overall pick, 6’-11” center Justin Patton from Creighton. It looks like a win-win for both teams.

Both teams get value and talent. The Bulls need cap space. The Wolves have plenty of cap room after releasing center Nickalo Peckovic and desperately need Butler, a winner, a team leader, and a great defender.

Block buster deal brings Jimmy Butler !

The Bulls get LaVine, who averaged 19 points a game last year before injuring his knee late in the season. His upside potential is unlimited. I saw LaVine at the NBA Finals and talked to him. He said he is 90 percent recovered from the injury. Obviously the Bulls think he’s ready or no way would they make this deal.

This is the type of deal that can make the Timberwolves a playoff contender right now. Butler loves Thibodeau and his rugged style and will run through a wall for him.

Thibodeau needs a veteran superstar like Butler, 27 and a former All-NBA defensive second-team player, to show the young stars Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns that it starts on defense and to trust in Thibodeau’s system and work ethic.

I love this deal for the Timberwolves. It is exactly what they need now, and the timing is perfect. I think the Timberwolves have the foundation talent now to win 50 games a season for years to come. My question to you is this: Did the Timberwolves get better with Butler?

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.