Souhan: Quick, sports fans, get basking time in winning teams

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 12, 2012 - 5:16 AM

After a couple of miserable years, winning feels like 60 in February - lovely, and fleeting.

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Twins General Manager Terry Ryan

Photo: McKenna Ewen, Star Tribune file

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During the Olympics, Londoners accustomed to rainy summers reacted to warm weekdays by leaving their offices and basking in the nearest park, creating the unusual juxtaposition of wing-tips and pale chests. And that was just the women.

We value what is scarce, so Minnesotans should be performing the sporting version of shedding ties and button-downs to soak in the sun. In a sports landscape that has resembled the pictures being sent home by the Mars Rover, the last few days have provided the kind of relief one feels when an LMFAO song ends.

Fans work so hard at being fans. They invest countless hours and dollars, and the return on those investments, in major sports in the Twin Cities the past two years, has been what athletic trainers like to euphemistically call "flu-like symptoms.''

So, for a few days, we should smell the roses without counting how many decades the Gophers narrowly have missed qualifying for the Rose Bowl.

The Gophers are 2-0. You can't read too much into a victory over the New Hampshire School of Cosmetology, but you can read about it without laughing, which is progress.

As easy as it would be to dismiss victories over the UNLV Rebels and the Hampshire Hamsters, Louisiana-Monroe just beat Arkansas and Appalachian State once won at Michigan. Surviving lesser teams is part of the challenge of playing major college football.

Winning two games with a young roster at the start of his second season also makes Jerry Kill's meeting rooms feel less like dungeons and more like those fun science labs where they let you blow stuff up.

After victories, Kill said, "the coaching seems to be better because their morale is better. When you don't win, and you get after them, they feel like they get beat down a bit.''

The Vikings are 1-0. Downplay their opening-day victory all you want, but when a team is expected to win five or six games and suddenly finds itself with a realistic chance to start 2-0, players can feel the sort of hope prisoners feel when they see cake.

When you finish the previous season 3-13 and bring back the same front office, head coach and quarterback, blowing your home opener against a mediocre team can lead to all kinds of uncomfortable questions. By winning with a late rally and an overtime drive, the Vikings were able to spend 48 hours talking about Adrian Peterson's fortitude rather than Chris Cook's apparent vertigo.

"This,'' said coach Leslie Frazier, "was a big win for our football team,'' and who could blame him if he was speaking a subjective rather than objective truth?

On Sunday, Vikings kicker Blair Walsh and Twins slugger Justin Morneau sent two balls in the same area code on about the same trajectory to win games at about the same time, and then the Lynx won their 11th game in a row.

Minnesotans haven't experienced that much sporting joy in one day since Tim Brewster was fired.

Sports and media organization are prone to hyper-analysis, forever spinning stories forward. Sometimes, like Kill's players, you should just enjoy the week.

The Gophers and Vikings are 3-0. The Packers and Badgers are 1-2. As Jim Harbaugh likes to scream at his players, "Who's got it better than us?''

Ask that question while the answer is short.

"I'm a fan of all our teams,'' Twins GM Terry Ryan said. "I saw football games at old Memorial Stadium, when Tony Dungy was playing. I went to the U for a couple of quarters, and my son played baseball there.

"I like the U, and I like the Vikings, and Wild, and Wolves, and Lynx. I like to see the other teams in the market succeed. It creates an energy in the town, and gives you something good to read in the morning paper, and it raises the bar. After the Wild made their big signings, I got a lot of questions about what I was going to do to follow those up.''

Ryan's response seemed to be calling up Esmerling Vasquez. So maybe we shouldn't get our hopes up, after all.

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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