Sports are about heartbreak, and no fanbase knows heartbreak better than Minnesota.
With the Wild loss last night, Minnesota sports fans begrudgingly carved another notch in their collective Belt of Sadness and reset the counter. It’s all too familiar — a promising team with a promising regular season fails to deliver in the playoffs, and poof: a first-round exit.
“What have we done to deserve this?” we ask, while searching desperately for whichever corner of the Mall of America we accidentally built over an ancient burial ground. And while some of us shouted more “Why Us?” questions into the godless, unforgiving void, Will Ragatz turned to Twitter (by far the healthiest place to exorcise demons), to compile this thoroughly depressing list of 30 Years of Minnesota Sports Misery.*
None of us really needed to read this—we know what’s on the list. It’s chiseled into our rock-hard hearts. For Ragatz this was pure clickbait catharsis, but you’re fucking right I read it. The whole damn thing, A Clockwork Orange style. And while I read, line by excruciating line, I had an epiphany: Minnesota isn’t special. This is just the point of sports. Everyone is fucking miserable about their team(s).
This isn’t supposed to be a cHaMpIoNsHiPs WoN’t MaKe YoU hApPy post, or an it’s-not-about-the-destination-it’s-about-the-journey post, or even a careful-what-you-wish-for post. But there is some truth there.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m desperate for a championship and I’m crushed by another playoff exit. But as disappointed as we are, fellow Minnesotans, relish this, fucking take it in, because this pain loop we’re on might just be hiding a bigger, more painful truth: that when we win one, no one else will care, and soon enough we won’t care, either.
Forever Sports Flyover Country
If I know anything about Minnesotans, it’s that we’re so horny for the shine of the national media spotlight that we’ll take any attention we can get, for whatever reason. Unrelated, DID YOU KNOW VINCE VAUGHN WAS BORN IN MINNEAPOLIS?!
Well, Minnesota, this is it. This is our “thing.” We are smack in the middle of our sports pity window. We are loved, almost universally, for fucking up.
Remember this, because if you think They (capital T) will care more about us after we win a title, you’re wrong. The closest the Vikings came to national relevance wasn’t 1998 or 2009 or 2017, it was when the NFL almost moved them to Los Angeles. The Twins will never matter more nationally than they do now, during their 18-game postseason losing streak. The Timberwolves never mattered more than when
Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns fought hard but lost in the first round of the playoffs, and the Wild haven’t mattered since Norm Green moved the North Stars to Dallas.
And tell me this, does Kansas City matter more in the wake of its World Series and Super Bowl wins? No, because it’s still fucking corn country. And no one ever remembers who wins titles, anyway, even in big markets.
Championships—BETCHA CAN’T EAT JUST ONE.
When the Vikings do manage to win a Super Bowl or if the Wild win the Stanley Cup, as soon as the offseason is over you’ll be right back where you started, because titles are like drinking salt water. Anecdotally I know this to be true, because I live in Boston.
From a sports perspective (especially as a Minnesotan), it fucking sucks. Their baseball team spends money, they’ve enjoyed HOF coach-quarterback stability, and all of their teams have gone on multiple deep playoff runs with TWELVE CHAMPIONSHIPS SINCE 2000.
If this were Stranger Things, Boston would be the real world and Minnesota would be the Upside Down. But despite all that, Boston sports fans are some of the most miserable, pessimistic pricks I’ve ever met. Patriots fans spend just as much time, if not more, dwelling on their 2007, 2011, and 2017 Super Bowl losses as they do celebrating their SIX SUPER BOWL WINS.
Between the MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL there are 124 professional sports franchises. Only four win championships. This means that every year, there’s, mathematically, a 97 percent chance you’ll be disappointed at the end of the season.
If you became a sports fan to find happiness, there’s no gold in them hills.
Soak in the Sports Love, While it Lasts.
We hate Boston for its success now, but remember when we used to love them? The 2001 Patriots upsetting the St. Louis Rams, or the 2004 Red Sox overthrowing the Yankees. That’s what Minnesota is today. We are Cleveland before the 2016 Cavs, Chicago before the 2015 Cubs, and we are Phil Mickelson before the 2004 Masters. We are Buffalo, like, right now. And on the flip side, remember how much we all hated the Cowboys in the 90s? I feel bad for them now. I present to you a graph of National Good Will in relation to time without a championship:
Someday the Vikings or Wild or Twins or Timberwolves will float down Hennepin Avenue with a championship trophy. But after the confetti falls, it will still be the hope and pain of sports that defines us, like it does for everyone else.
*The Lynx don’t count. They rock.