My wife often teases me about my ability to see plausible paths to victory or success for Minnesota sports teams when the reality tells us the alternative is — if not assured — then at least far more likely.
A voicemail from a random reader left on my office phone the other day reinforced that idea, at least when it comes to what have traditionally been considered the four major men’s professional sports in the United States.
With the Wolves losing their playoff series to the Rockets on Wednesday, the caller noted, Minnesota teams in the NHL, NBA, MLB and NFL have now gone 100 combined seasons since any even played in the championship game or series of their league, let alone won it. Yes, it’s been since the Twins won the World Series in 1991 — 26 seasons of the Twins, 27 for the Vikings, 27 for the Wolves and 20 combined for the North Stars (two) and Wild (18).
When does Lynx training camp open again? Sunday! Good! The WNBA dynasty has been the pro sports antidote to all of this gloom and doom.
But first, I want to circle back on the misery because my brain made a very strange connection the other day (as it often does). While I don’t technically believe in “curses,” it’s hard not to believe in this:
In 2018, Minnesota teams have been subjected to the Curse of the Flying Objects.
The Vikings had one of their best regular seasons in history and advanced all the way to the NFC title game, where they were one game away from playing in the Super Bowl in their home stadium. Instead, they were crushed 38-7 by the Eagles.
The Wild and Wolves then made the postseason in the same year for just the second time ever. The giddiness quickly dissipated, though. First, it was the Wild getting bounced in five games by the Jets. The Timberwolves’ series followed the same pattern, and they, too, lost — to the Rockets.
Three trips to the playoffs. Three resounding defeats at the hands of teams with flying nicknames.
Surely, though, such nicknames aren’t that uncommon, right? Well, by my count just 6 of 32 NFL teams have flying nicknames. In the NHL it’s just 3 of 31 and in the NBA it’s 5 of 30.
The chance of all three Minnesota teams facing — let alone losing to — teams with flying nicknames in all three sports is just 0.3 percent.
Does this apply to college teams as well?
Glad you asked. The Gophers women’s basketball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, only to be routed by the Oregon Ducks.
St. Cloud State was the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA men’s hockey tournament before being ousted by the Air Force Falcons in the opening game. BUT: Minnesota-Duluth knocked out the Falcons in the next game en route to a championship. Maybe it’s just a metro area curse?
If you’re worried about the Lynx, there’s good news. One, they seem immune to curses (though there is that whole even-year jinx thing whereby their four WNBA titles have come in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017). And two, the WNBA doesn’t have any teams with bird or aviation nicknames. Just to be safe, though, the Lynx are going to want to avoid the Dallas Wings, Connecticut Sun and Chicago Sky in this year’s playoffs.
Minnesota United, should it make the playoffs, has no flying concerns in Major League Soccer. The Loons’ greater problem is that balls keep flying into their goal at an alarming rate.
The Twins will want to steer clear of the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Cardinals in the postseason — though in the last case, it would at least mean they were in the World Series and had broken that 100-season drought mentioned above.
Great, you say. At least they wouldn’t have to play their real nemesis, the Yankees.
Sure, except you know what they also call the Yankees, right? The Bronx Bombers. A combat aircraft. Gulp.