Rand's Minnesota Sweet 16: And then there were two — '87 and '91 Twins

  • Updated: April 17, 2014 - 6:34 AM
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Gene Larkin made the final swing in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, driving in Dan Gladden with a single to beat Atlanta in a 1-0, 10-inning thriller.

Photo: Jim Mone • Associated Press,

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Brief recap: This is the “Sweet 16” of what I determined to be the 16 greatest single-season teams in Minnesota sports history. I limited my prospective candidates to teams that play at the highest possible level of college or professional sports. There were 16 numbers chosen at random for the 16 teams. The team assigned No. 1 “played” the team assigned No. 16, and so on. I set these up at random instead of truly “seeding” the teams because this would be pretty boring and predictable if I seeded them. We’re now down to the Final Four:

• 1976 Vikings vs. 1987 Twins: Winner — 1987 Twins. All you need to know about the 1987 Twins and how much they meant to the state of Minnesota could be witnessed on Oct. 12, 1987. The Twins had won the American League Championship Series in Detroit earlier in the day on a Monday. Their charter flight arrived around 10 p.m., and players then headed to the Metrodome for a welcome-home celebration with fans. Twins officials expected about 5,000 people to show up, according to a Star Tribune story from the time.

Instead, more than 50,000 people were on hand, cheering loudly and waving Homer Hankies. Twins players took turns thanking fans in a genuine display of two-sided admiration. All of this was before the team even won the World Series, which it would do by winning all four home games against the Cardinals. This was bigger than any Vikings Super Bowl appearance, and it earned the 1987 Twins a spot in our title game.

• 1991 Twins vs. 2003-04 Gophers women’s basketball: Winner — 1991 Twins. The Gophers’ Final Four appearance in 2004 made a lifetime star out of Lindsay Whalen and galvanized the sports fans in this state like few events have done. But just like that dream season, the team’s run ends here in the Final Four, two games shy of a championship. It’s not just that the 1991 Twins went from last in the AL West in 1990 — 29 games behind Oakland — to winning their second World Series title in five years.

What truly puts the 1991 Twins over the top is just how amazing the seven-game series with Atlanta was. Several games in the series, including, of course, Games 6 and 7, were edge-of-your-seat theater. Capping things with a 1-0, 10-inning home victory and Jack Morris’ masterpiece in the finale? There’s no doubt this is one of Minnesota’s greatest teams of all time.

• Coming Friday: The championship game, a showdown between two World Series winners … plus reader comments on the teams that didn’t make the cut for the Sweet 16.

michael rand

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Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 FINAL
Atlanta 104
Utah 93 FINAL
Memphis 82
Washington 92 FINAL
Chicago 97
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
Denver 106
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 3 FINAL
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 3
NY Islanders 2 FINAL(OT)
Dallas 3
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Arizona 1
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
Edmonton 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Northern Ill 65
Nebraska Omaha 80 FINAL
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 66 FINAL
Clemson 61
Texas A&M 62 FINAL
Florida 66
Kentucky 72 FINAL
Georgia 64
West Virginia 69 FINAL
Kansas 76
Auburn 61 FINAL
Missouri 63
Michigan 78 FINAL
Northwestern 82
Villanova 76 FINAL
Creighton 72
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
NJIT 51 FINAL
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 55 FINAL
Kansas State 59
TCU 45 FINAL
Texas 79
Fresno State 61 FINAL
Air Force 41
San Jose St 76 FINAL
Boise State 91
Nevada 61 FINAL
Colorado State 68
UNLV 61 FINAL
San Diego State 76
Wyoming 61 FINAL
Utah State 57

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