This Minnesotan Can Start Losing Once His Favorite Teams Stop
In last week’s column, I wrote about a skin condition that was causing me to have a very red face. It has calmed a little, and that is a positive step in improving my overall appearance. I started another step the day I wrote that column just one week ago.
Wait. One week? It feels like one month. I started a “weight loss program with very rigid restrictions.” Or, for those of us who don’t think avoiding the dreaded four-letter word is worth it, I’m on a diet.
Losing 20 or 25 pounds is my goal, and the look and distribution might mean more to me than any number on a scale. My radio show is sponsored by a brewery. My abdomen looks like it should be too.
It’s going to be a grind and require a long-term commitment. My coach has already told me that in order to assure that I’m losing to the degree I want to be, I need to be engaged for the long haul.
As I processed this idea, I had to pinch myself and realize that this statement came from a weight loss coach and not a coach of the Twins, Wild, Wolves, or Vikings. Long-haul engagement in losing at high levels? How did she know I loved Minnesota sports?
Now you might think this column is about to take a “turn towards Negative Town,” but in fact, I’m choosing the opposite. Just as I hope for a brighter future for my physique, I’m hoping for better times ahead for my favorite teams. Success would reduce stress for all involved.
Who can shed the weight of being labeled a loser? I hope there is a remedy for each squad. Let’s take a quick look.
Twins: The Twins are the most intriguing of the franchises. They’ve offered the only championships in the last 35 years but are often chided for not “wanting to win.” They’re close to winning, but so far away.
I’m disappointed after seeing the Twins lead their division for over half the season, that Rocco Baldelli and company are stuck watching the postseason. That said, I just hope they’re watching. They need to see the pitching in these playoff games. Multiple games have gone to extra innings with teams held scoreless. Starters have pitched (gasp) beyond the third time through the order.
I’m not breaking news here that the Twins need pitching, but they need to also figure out their true philosophy on the mound as well. Throwing money at quality starters is one thing, but if the label on the team is that five innings is the maximum all too often, what quality pitcher wants to come here? Sonny Gray hinted at his annoyance with this often enough to raise even the heaviest of eyebrows.
If you’re not going to utilize starters, then build a dominant bullpen. The Twins are close to doing this already, which is ironic considering what most likely cost them the division title. Offensively, you need a shortstop that is somewhat economical if you’re going to address pitching (Carlos Correa pipe dream is likely over), and you need to accept “addition by subtraction” in ditching Miguel Sano and Max Kepler. In many areas, the youth movement needs to work, but without healthy bodies, we may never find out.
Timberwolves: All aboard the hype train! Please let them have as much bite as they do bark.
This is easily in the top three of the most-anticipated seasons in Wolves history. Granted, that bar was set low, but expectations should now be very high. This roster has size, athleticism, and proven talent. Their depth has been a question due to the small village they shipped to Utah to acquire Rudy Gobert, but basketball pundits believe the quality of depth is better than ever.
On paper, the Wolves haven’t looked this good since I was 24 and weighed about 135 pounds. Ahh the good old days.
My co-host Dave Cook thinks that of our four major franchises, the Wolves are the closest to winning a championship. I disagree, but only due to a loaded Western Conference, and the high number of playoff victories it takes to actually hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy. That said, 50 wins is possible, with the first coming last night in a 115-108 victory over the Thunder.
My hope is Minnesota no longer will be a “casual” NBA fanbase.
Wild: The season started, but were they not told? Oof. What a brutal start. I had hamstring surgery in 1994 and played NHL video games with friends for an entire summer. Our scores were lower than current games featuring the Wild.
Conventional wisdom says you build a hockey team from the back end out. This team is a pain in the back end to watch defensively. Is it the goaltenders or the play in front of them? The answer is yes. “The Flower” looks like the roses you bought before bar close for a dollar, all in hopes of a “romantic” end to your night.
Filip Gustavsson? Simply not ready. The hope is the D would be solid, but for a team we all thought would be lamenting losing Kevin Fiala, it looks more like they miss Dmitri Kulikov. Yet, it’s only been three games, and I just won’t panic yet, but will admit I’m less interested. I’ll go college hockey in my thought process, and trust their reputation will have them in the mix sooner than later. Trusted leadership goes a long way.
Vikings: 5-1 at the bye!! We are losers no more! Speaking of trusted leadership, I think that’s the theory within the organization, but the fans will need more convincing.
I’m not one who has the “Championship or Bust” mentality, but I think most fans will need a Super Bowl win to ever feel good. We’ve been 6-0, we’ve gone 15-1, only to have hearts broken. Games are still tight, and inconsistent play is glaring each week, but they are wins.
The roster didn’t change much, but the attitude and ability to finish have to this point. Bad teams lose the type of games the Vikings have been in, good teams win them, and great teams don’t play in those types of games. The Vikings are good, and it’s time to go be great. It just may happen with a new level of confidence.
Imagine what consistent winning could do for these teams. It would feel like the weight of the world came off their collective shoulders – and my abdomen too.
Brian's show, 'The Northland Sports Page', can be heard Saturdays from 10 am to noon on the FAN 106.5 FM/560 AM. You can catch previous episodes on the Northland FAN On-Demand area of our website or on our mobile app.