Americans will vote Tuesday and move forward from an acrimonious campaign that often left us frustrated and weary.
Minnesotans might feel the same way about their sports teams. So on this Election Day we ask you to consider one more ballot and cast your vote on this Minnesota sports issue:
Which team do you believe will be Minnesota’s best when the next presidential election rolls around in 2020?
The local sports scene has undergone a lot of change since the last presidential election in 2012. The Timberwolves, Vikings, Twins, Wild, Gophers football and basketball teams all have new coaches. The Twins, Wolves and Gophers (athletic director) have made front office changes. The Vikings got a new stadium and Major League Soccer is coming to town.
That’s a lot of change in four years. What will the next four years bring? And which local sports outfit will earn your vote for 2020’s top team?
Is this franchise better off than it was four years ago: Jerry Kill led the program to its first bowl game after back-to-back three-win seasons. The Gophers have since played in four consecutive bowls, including one on New Year’s Day, and won their first bowl last year in 11 seasons under new coach Tracy Claeys.
What they have to build on: The Gophers are 7-2 in Tracy Claeys' first full season as head coach, but aren’t ranked. They have two big games remaining on the schedule against ranked opponents Nebraska and Wisconsin. These games will likely tell a lot about the direction of the program and Claeys’ future in Minnesota. New athletic director Mark Coyle has met with each university coach since taking over the department this summer and expressed the importance of winning Big Ten football and basketball championships.
Gophers men’s basketball
Is this franchise better off than it was four years ago: The Gophers hadn’t advanced past the first round in the NCAA tournament since 1997 leading up to the last election. Tubby Smith would break that streak with a first-round victory against UCLA in 2012-2013 season, but he still lost his job after the season. Richard Pinto was hired as the new coach and the team hasn't made the NCAA tournament since. However, they did win the NIT during Pitino’s first season.
What they have to build on: The program has endured one scandal after the other over the past year won just eight games, two in the Big Ten, last season. Pitino’s job security was debated, but he has survived the storm and is hoping this year’s new talent led by local product Amir Coffey can help the program turn the corner.
Is this franchise better off than it was four years ago: The Lynx were among the best in the WNBA after winning the franchise’s first championship in 2011 and earning the chance to repeat in 2012. The team has played in five of the last six WNBA Finals, winning three championships. They lost the 2016 series finale by one point, 77-76, to Los Angeles.
What they have to build on: The Lynx still have one of the best coaches in the game in Cheryl Reeve and one of the best rosters with veteran stars Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, Rebekkah Brunson and Sylvia Fowles. However, the team will face the same questions it has the last few years: How much longer can they keep this group together and when will their age catch up to them?
Is this franchise better off than it was four years ago: In November 2012, the Wolves were in their second season under coach Rick Adelman and Ricky Rubio was returning from ACL and LCL surgery. Kevin Love was the star of the team, but the franchise was still at the bottom of the league.
What they have to build on: The ownership has made all the right moves to help the franchise turn the corner. The Wolves hired experienced coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden this offseason. They are built around two former No. 1 draft picks and former Rookie of the Year recipients Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Their supporting cast includes other young stars Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn. Target Center is under renovation. Most of the necessary pieces to transform this franchise have been put into place and if this core can stay together the future should be bright.
Is this franchise better off than it was four years ago: The Twins were in the middle of three-consecutive dismal 90-loss seasons during the 2012 election and while they briefly broke a run of losing seasons in 2015, things got worse in 2016. The team just wrapped up a franchise-worst 103-loss season.
What they have to build on: The Twins restructured their front office this fall after firing longtime general manager Terry Ryan. They brought in 33-year-old rising star Derek Falvey to oversee all baseball operations and 44-year-old Thad Levine as the new general manager. They’ll give Paul Molitor at least another season, his third, to help turnaround the franchise that has quality young position players, but lacks pitching depth. Falvey helped rebuild Cleveland into a World Series contender and Levine did the same in Texas.
Is this franchise better off than it was four years ago: The Vikings were 10-6 in 2012 and lost in the first round of the playoffs after Adrian Peterson’s MVP season. Leslie Frazier was the coach and Christian Ponder the quarterback. However, the team had back-to-back losing seasons before returning to the postseason in 2015 under new coach Mike Zimmer.
What they have to build on: While 2012 was a successful year on the field, it was a good year for the rebuilding process. They drafted offensive lineman Matt Kalil and safety Harrison Smith in the first round that year. The 2012 draft class also included Jarius Wright, Rhett Ellison and Blair Walsh. The Vikings have continued to rebuild around their new leader and quality draft picks. They also have a new $1 billion stadium to help inspire them. They started the 2016 season 5-0 and established themselves as Super Bowl contenders, but a recent three-game losing streak might argue the franchise still has some bugs it needs to work out.
Is this franchise better off than it was four years ago: The Wild had missed the playoffs four consecutive years leading up to the 2012 election, but that streak would end with the new season that year following the addition of stars Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. The Wild lost in the first round, would make the playoffs the next three season, but never advanced past the second round.
What they have to build on: The early exits from the postseason and problems in the locker room led to the firing of coach Mike Yeo during the 2015-2016 season. Bruce Boudreau, the veteran coach with a winning track record, now has the job to get the Wild into the conference finals and eventually the Stanley Cup Finals. The roster is still built with veteran stars, but how the young talent develops will play a big role in the team’s success.
Is this franchise better off than it was four years ago: The United was a semi-professional team four years ago happy playing in front of large crowds the National Sports Center in Blaine.
What they have to build on: The franchise will get a new stadium. The $150 million venue that will be located in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood should attract some of the top talent around the league and more fans. The success of the team will likely depend on what ownership chooses to invest in the on-field talent.
Now that you have the information you need, cast your vote: What local franchise will be the most successful when the next presidential election rolls around in 2020? Which team do you believe will be Minnesota’s best team when the next presidential election rolls around in 2020? Vote here.