A penalty certainly could have been called against the Avalanche on Saturday with the Wild’s Charlie Coyle trying to make his way to the puck to cement a Game 5 victory and finding his progress impeded. Colorado took the puck, instead, and appeared to cross the Wild blue line a fraction of a second early. Offside certainly could have been called there.
What happened next, of course, changed the complexion of the series. The Avs scored with an extra attacker for the second time in the series and eventually won in overtime to take the series lead.
The only thing more predictable than the outcome, in this gloom-and-doom sports market, was the reaction of fans.
Every other facet of the game — any breaks the Wild got along the way, any other factors in the loss — became irrelevant. The focus among the vast majority of the Wild faithful, at least those we follow on Twitter, was outrage over the perceived injustices committed by the referees against Minnesota all night, and particularly in that important handful of seconds.
It made me wonder: Has it always been like this?
That is to say, before social media allowed so many of us to share opinions with the masses in real time, how did we respond to the highs and lows of sports … and does this new ability to vent and commiserate with like-minded fans change how we remember these moments?
I tried to think back to the collective pain the state felt early in 1999 after the Vikings appeared destined to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in a generation, only to lose to the Falcons in the most excruciating fashion.
Then I attempted to imagine Twitter — had it existed 15 years ago — the moment Gary Anderson missed his field goal … or when Dennis Green ordered the Vikings to take a knee … or when the Falcons finally won the game.
Or better yet, I tried to conceive of how Vikings would have reacted on Twitter during the Drew Pearson push-off (or as Cowboys fans call it, the Drew Pearson Hail Mary).
It would have been virtual pandemonium in both cases, and it would have dwarfed anything we witnessed Saturday night.
Does that bring a situation to a boil faster, thus helping us move past it more quickly? Or does the collective shared outrage cause situations to escalate and fester?
I don’t think we’ll know for several years — until we have had a chance to fully understand how this virtual sports bar of social media affects us.
The only thing that is certain at this point is that we are always angry at the referees and umps (unless they are ruling in our favor; then they become part of 1991 World Series lore).