This is my weekly section where I will bring you topics from the sporting world (obscure or otherwise) that “I Don’t Get”. I’ll either discover the legitimacy of something thought absurd, or further exploit the sheer stupidity of it all. This week I bring you…
Minnesota Sports & the Inevitable Choke.
Now, I’m a hometown girl through-and-through. I’m a Vikings season ticket holder, and I go to as many other games as I have time for. Like all other prideful Minnesotans, I go into each season with a blind faith and voracity for my squad that would leave even the most devout of Catholics doing 85 Hail Marys. And like any good Minnesotan, I will hold out hope until that final nail is in the coffin.
So why is it that we can’t get a franchise that doesn’t blow their load the instant they make it to the playoffs? Basically every local team that anyone actually cares about is guilty of this; so don’t come at me with some B.S. about how our minor league lacrosse team won nationals, or our lumberjacking crew beat Canada for the title of “Most Lumberjackiest”. Let’s go through this team-by-team…
The Vikings. The only Super Bowl they’ve been to is IV. IV = 4. FOUR. Keep in mind that at the end of this season it’ll be Super Bowl XLIV – a whole lotta Super Bowls more. [EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that they've been to 4 Super Bowls. But don't worry - they lost those, too.] Oh, and they dipped out of that one, giving the win to Kansas City Chiefs. And lest we forget “The Kick Heard Round the World” from the ’98 play-offs.
I’m pretty sure Gary “Automatic” Anderson is running around in drag somewhere with his serial “hit-list”. In 2000, the Vikings got sodomized with a spiked bat by the Giants’ in a 41-0 playoff loss. Then for the first time ever in 2004, the Vikings defeated the Packers in the playoffs, only to fall to Philly. Lastly we have the 2008-09 season, where they hosted their first playoff game in 8 years and lost to Philly again. With the success and insane hype of the current season, I can’t help but feel like we’re being set up for disappointment of epic proportions.
The Timberwolves. Where do I even begin? A good place to start would be to point out that Kevin Garnett poured his heart and soul into the Wolves for TWELVE YEARS, without ever getting a ring. Only to finally leave for the Celts and earn one after his first season. Proving two things: Kevin McHale is a fool, and KG has an insurmountable gift. The Timberwolves, founded in 1989, didn’t make their first playoff appearance until 1996 – immediately getting swept by the Rockets. But hey, ’96 was the year they got a new logo! FTW! At least in ’97, they put up more of a fight and fell to the Sonics in 5 games instead of three. After a tumultuous ’98 season due to some major drama-for-your-mama between Tom Gugliotta and Stephon Marbury, they battled their way to the playoffs again, this time falling to the Spurs. 1999-00: lost in the first round. 2000-01: lost in the first round. 2001-02: lost in the first round. 2002-03: same shit, different year. Then came the 2003-04 season. The Wolves actually made it past the Nuggets AND the Kings, to face the Lakers. This was memorable for me, because it was during this series that I got into a bit of an altercation with a very large, drunk man in the Bellagio sportsbook re: The Lakers vs. Timberwolves. Oh, guess what? They lost again, even with the addition of Ervin Johnson, Sam Cassel, and SPREEEEEEE (R.I.P. HMS Milwaukee’s Best).
So now the Wolves are in their “rebuilding stage” after finally kicking McHale to the curb, and drafting a bunch of young cats outta college (don’t even get me started on the Rubio debacle). Expect at least 2 more years of disappointments, y’all.
The Wild. Minnesota begrudgingly lost their Beloved North Stars to Dallas in 1993. Finally, in 2000, The State of Hockey was granted an expansion team: The Minnesota Wild. They made their playoff debut in the 2002-03 season, but were swept by Gordon Bombay and his Mighty Ducks in the Western Conference Finals.
They didn’t return to the playoffs in 2003-04; and probably wouldn’t have in ’04-’05, either, but didn’t get the chance to miss out due to season lockout. The Wild returned to the playoffs in 2007, but lost it to the Quack Attack once again. The 2007-’08 season is memorable for two reasons: the Wild achieved their first Northwest Division title; and I Soulja Boy’d Marion Gaborik in the foot one night at the club, wearing heels, while he was on the IR (video demonstration below).
We ended up losing out to Colorado, for which I am fully prepared to take responsibility. Oh, that and WE BLEW IT despite having home-ice advantage.
The Twins. SMH. Can I just say, we really need to stop clinging to our ’87 and ’91 World Series wins like a refugee on a shipping crate in the Gulf of Mexico. Trust me, I grew up during that era and it was beyond magical, and generated some truly revered legends. But the next 8 years following ’91 were marred by injuries, retirements, and loss. Finally, in the face of contraction in 2002, the Twins made it to the ALCS, but were defeated by Anaheim. ’03, ’04, ’05 – loss, loss, loss. Then in 2006, the Twins won their division at the very last second, but ended up losing to the A’s anyway. In 2008, the Twins lost their one-game playoff that would’ve sent them to the ALDS. Which brings us to 2009. Ohhhhh, 2009. In a truly remarkable rally by the Twins, they beat the Tigers to win the AL Central. Then this past weekend happened. All I have to say is, at least the Twins put up a fight against the Yankees (unlike the BoSox who got completely bent over by the Angels – GOOOOO TORII!). In the end, they beat themselves, but were significantly hurt by a shallow bullpen and an injured Morneau. I have mad respect for the Twins, and the way they build their players/team from the ground up, but they could seriously benefit from just a slight budget increase. I know the organization likes to keep it frugal, but with a few dollars more I really believe we could make it over the last hump and back into the World Series. But, better act quick before Boston buys up Mauer.
So what is the deal? Are the organizations too cheap? Is all this “Minnesota Nice” and humble conservatism standing in their way? All of that being said, there is never any doubt in my mind that my squads are going to win every single game. I never believe it’s over until it’s really, truly over. Be that as it may, getting proverbial “blue balls” every season is beyond frustrating. But as I always say, we’ll get’em next year.