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 — far more likely.
A voice mail 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 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 Championship 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 only 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, only six of 32 NFL teams have flying nicknames. In the NHL it's only three of 31, and in the NBA it's five of 30.
The chance of all three Minnesota teams facing — let alone losing to — teams with flying nicknames in all three sports is only 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 those cancel each other out?
If you're worried about the Lynx, there's good news. In addition to their general excellence, the WNBA has no bird or aviation team nicknames. 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. 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.