Reusse: Every loser in Loserville finally has reason to smile

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 20, 2012 - 10:34 AM

After a two-year stretch where Murphy's law ruled, most local sports teams appear to be on the upswing.

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Vikings Jared Allen celebrates his sack with fans in the endzone.

Photo: Brian Peterson, Star Tribune

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Look what's happening with Loserville, USA.

On Oct. 6, 2010, the Twins were playing the New York Yankees in a first-round playoff series for the fourth time since 2003. The best-of-five series started in Target Field, where the Twins had a 53-28 record in the initial season in their spectacular yard.

Francisco Liriano was selected to pitch the opener. He was dealing and carried a 3-0 lead into the sixth inning.

That day had a chance to be among the most memorable in Minnesota sports history. Earlier, the Vikings confirmed receiver Randy Moss had been reacquired from New England, causing an outbreak of Purple zealotry across Minnesota.

Hours after that, Liriano had this new generation of outdoor ball fans optimistic that the Twins were about to reverse their October trend against the Yankees.

And then New York started to rally, cutting the lead to 3-2. With two on and two outs, Liriano came with a 94-mph fastball to Curtis Granderson. The ball was lashed to deep right-center for a two-run triple.

Liriano departed trailing 4-3. The Twins lost 6-4 and then were swept in three games, which put their postseason losing streak at 12 games.

Five nights later, the Vikings returned from a bye week with Moss, for a Monday night game on the road against the New York Jets. The Vikings lost 29-20, and lost three of four with Moss, before coach Brad Childress fired Randy as a disruptive, unproductive force.

Childress was fired three weeks later after a 31-3 home loss to the Packers. The Metrodome roof collapsed. The Vikings played designated home games in Detroit and at TCF Bank Stadium. Brett Favre's career ended with an injury that stopped his record streak for games played.

The Vikings went 3-3 for interim coach Leslie Frazier, to finish 6-10 in this season of astounding chaos.

Oct. 6, 2010. It was a Wednesday. And here's what took place in the next couple of years for the six most followed sports entities in the Twin Cities:

• The Twins put up the worst records in the American League back-to-back -- 63-99 in 2011 and 66-96 in 2012.

• Frazier was given full-time status as the Vikings coach one day after the 2010 season ended. The Purple went 3-13 in 2011. The third victory came in Game 15 at Washington, which included an ACL tear for Adrian Peterson and a missed chance to draft quarterback Robert Griffin III.

• The 2010-11 Timberwolves went 17-65. Basketball boss David Kahn fired coach Kurt Rambis. The Wolves managed to hire Rick Adelman and were challenging for the playoffs in early March 2012. Rookie Ricky Rubio blew out a knee and futility returned.

• As Granderson was turning on that Liriano fastball, the Wild was getting ready to start the 2010-11 season in Helsinki, Finland. The Wild missed the playoffs, fired coach Todd Richards, hired Mike Yeo for 2011-12, collapsed mightily after a fast start and missed the playoffs again.

• Tim Brewster was 1-6 in 2010 when he became the first Gophers football coach to be fired in midseason. Overall, the 2010 Gophers finished 3-9 (2-6 in the Big Ten), and matched those records with coach Jerry Kill in 2011.

• Tubby Smith returned most of the nucleus from the 2009-10 Gophers men's basketball team that reached the Big Ten tournament final and lost an NCAA opener to Xavier. Tubby's program then descended to the Big Ten depths with 6-12 conference records in 2011 and 2012.

I'm calling it two lost years -- from Oct. 6, 2010, to Oct. 7, 2012, when the Vikings pasted Tennessee 30-7 inside the Metrodome and put themselves at 4-1 in an impressive start to a season of low expectations.

And now look:

The Vikings remain alive at 8-6 in the playoff race and Adrian Peterson is in fanatical pursuit of Eric Dickerson's all-time rushing record. Tubby's Gophers have a full boat of talent, are 11-1 and rated No. 13 by the Associated Press as the Big Ten beckons. Rubio has returned and if he's soon playing full-time with Kevin Love, it will make this the Wolves' most interesting winter in nine years.

Kill has the Gophers back to 6-6, in a bowl game vs. Texas Tech, and even a high-scoring loss to the Red Raiders will be tolerated, which wasn't the case with Glen Mason six years ago.

As for the Twins, well, it's still a spectacular yard, and the Wild certainly will be interesting with Parise, Suter and Granlund, if the NHL ever decides to play.

Bottom line: After two years as Loserville, USA, there's a heartbeat in our sporting life.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500-AM. preusse@startribune.com

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