Bill Stafford | Sports Columnist | 01/19/2011
As the the NFL playoffs begin, the NBA season is in full swing, the NHL is flourishing in the dead of winter, and the San Francisco Giants are finishing the clean up from their championship celebration.
I’ve been thinking, when will the streets of Minneapolis or St. Paul be covered with ticker tape? When will people be hanging from balconies and tipping over cars in celebration of a world championship? And who will bring it to us next?
I’ve never been good at multiple choice tests, but it shouldn’t be hard to use the process of elimination with this question. Lets start with the obvious, and maybe the painfully obvious.
I’m going out on a limb and saying that the Minnesota Timberwolves, yes they still allow them in the NBA, are not the best candidate for the next Minnesota championship. Granted they are making moves like drafting potential all-star Kevin Love, trading for former first round pick Micheal Beasley and developing other early round draft choices such as Johnny Flynn.
Even if the Wolves get it together in the next five years or so, they still need to go through teams like the L.A. Lakers, San Antonio Spurs and the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder. Not a likely scenario for the Wolves.
Next on the elimination board is the disappointment of the season: the Minnesota Vikings. Last season was magical and Minnesotans got a taste of what a championship might taste like, but the New Orleans Saints made sure that the heartbreak kept on hurting, and sent the Vikings packing with high expectations, which the Vikes naturally disappointed.
A new coach, a new quarterback, and a new stadium (maybe), usually aren’t the ingredients for a Lombardi Trophy team, at least not for the next three to five years.
Now for some positive notes. The team with the second best chance to bring a championship to the great state of Minnesota naturally plays the sport BSU is most known for—hockey. The Minnesota Wild made their biggest impact in the NHL playoffs not long after they became a team, and if for no other reason, it’s our state’s sport so we’re expected to win.
There are no old, semi-retired men playing on the ice. There are few young, inexperienced and incapable players skating at the Xcel Center in St. Paul, so the Wild have that going for them. However, much like the Wolve’s problem, Anaheim, Detroit and Vancouver all dominate the West and will not give it up easy.
My vote for the team most likely to bring a championship to Minnesota shouldn’t be a surprise, but baseball fans shouldn’t hold their breath for it either. The Minnesota Twins front office is finally figuring things out.
In recent years it seems like they understand that if they write the check, then they don’t have to sell the home grown farm players to teams who will. Also, it seems like someone has let the Twins GM know that free agency exists, and that a balance of veteran players and young players is the equation for a championship team.
The only small problem that the Twins face is that they still play in a league with the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Rangers, and even if they were to get by those teams by some miracle, they would still need to beat the best team four times from the National League.
Now being a Minnesota sports fan is tough, and people can call me a traitor as much as they would like for rooting for my Sox and Bears, but all I’m really doing is saving myself the heartache all Minnesotan sports fans are familiar with. I would love to see it, I really would, a championship of any kind to the much deserving fans here.
But my best advice, for fans who want to stay loyal to their state, but not feel the heartache is to stand up and say, “Go Gopher Wrestling!”