Souhan: Local teams face sports voodoo

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 19, 2012 - 6:47 AM

It's no accident that most of the local teams have a history of crashing and burning. There's some sports voodoo going on.

Some Twins whined about the black spruce trees making it difficult to see while batting in 2010. Then, in 2011, they lost 99 games.

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When Ricky Rubio fell to the court on March 9, generations of Minnesota sports fans groaned, then nodded in recognition: Their teams are cursed.

But curses don't just happen. They are earned. A curse isn't merely a series of unfortunate events; it is a penalty levied by an aggrieved party. So if Minnesota teams are cursed, who did the cursing?

Timberwolves

In the early days of the Wolves they employed an "entertainer" nicknamed Joey Two-Step, who would pretend to be a fan, then rise up out of his seat during timeouts and dance.

When Joey proved too amorous for the tastes of some female employees, the Wolves asked him to move along. Joey said, according to witnesses, "Curse you, Timberwolves, no one fires Joey Two-Step! I'm putting a hex on you!"

Which explains Ndudi Ebi, Jonny Flynn, the Joe Smith deal and Martell Webster's haircut.

A serious question: If you know your franchise is cursed, how do you bring in a guy named Darko?

Wild

If Tiger Woods and Brett Favre have taught us anything, it's that we shouldn't have to spend too much time contemplating athletes' groins.

The best player in Wild franchise history gave us no choice. Marian Gaborik ranks as the best player in franchise history. He was the only outstanding scorer the Wild has ever employed. His series of groin injuries damaged his career and the franchise.

Gaborik injured his groin playing a game mastered by the least athletic people on earth: stoned college students. The Curse of Hacky Sack has lingered, and now current Wild players are more adept at handling the puck with their feet than their sticks.

Vikings

The Vikings own the longest and most sadistic curse among local sports teams. They've lost four Super Bowls and their past five NFC Championship Games, so the personalities of Vikings fans tend to be a toxic blend: paranoid and defensive.

So where did the curse start? Let's go back to the beginning.

Had the Vikings won even one Super Bowl, their fans wouldn't be able to claim the existence of a curse. Their past three Super Bowl appearances required them to play dynasties: the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders, all teams that would win multiple Super Bowls and send large portions of their rosters to the Hall of Fame.

In the Vikings' first Super Bowl appearance, they faced the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs had played in one previous Super Bowl, and lost by 25 points to the Packers. The Chiefs would follow Super Bowl IV by missing the big game for the next 42 years and counting. They represented what was then considered an inferior league, and they were coached by exactly the kind of guy Bud Grant would least like to lose to: Hank Stram.

Stram prided himself on his appearance. He even hired a Kansas City tailor to produce suits for each of his players to be worn on road trips. He cackled on the sideline, and allowed himself to be miked for sound during the game. He said of Vikings safety Karl Kassulke, "Look at Kassulke out there, it looks like he's in a Chinese fire drill," and after a play he called worked, he yelled, "Ha, ha, 65 toss power trap! What'd I tell ya, boys?"

The Vikings franchise has never recovered from having their stoic legend shown up by a football hyena.

Twins

In 2010, the Twins scored 781 runs and won 94 games. Because of hitters' complaints, the team removed the black spruces that beautified center field at Target Field.

In 2011, the Twins scored 619 runs and won 63 games.

Never anger trees. Aren't these people familiar with "Lord of the Rings?"

Gophers athletics

This is the curse of the Iron Range. Two local sporting entities have hired Iron Rangers to run their operations: The Wolves chose Kevin McHale. The Gophers chose Joel Maturi. Maybe university President Eric Kaler should start his search for a new AD somewhere farther south and more exotic, like Albert Lea.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. jsouhan@startribune.com

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