Is this Minnesota sports at its lowest?

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 16, 2011 - 9:33 AM

Minnesota sports fans already suffering over the local teams' lack of success are now agonizing over tragic news about two former players.

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The worst loss for Danny Valencia and the Twins this week was news of former star Harmon Killebrew entering hospice care.

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

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If this isn't rock bottom, dear Minnesota sports fans, we're not sure we want to know what is.

Though we won't try to recapture here the eloquence of those who have much closer ties to Derek Boogaard or Harmon Killebrew, it goes without saying that Friday's double dose of terrible and jarring news hit plenty of people, including fans in an already downtrodden sports market, with a particular wallop.

The news on both men would have been tragic at any time. Coming as it did made several fans openly ask if Minnesota sports had hit an all-time low. E-mails last week from two separate people -- unrelated, curious, seemingly desperate fans -- offered on-field evidence that things were as bad as they seemed.

One from a reader named Peter indicated that among the North American markets with at least one pro team in each of the NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB, the Twin Cities had the worst combined winning percentage. The other was a chart produced by the folks over at fasthorseinc.com that showed the combined winning percentages for Minnesota's "major" teams (the aforementioned pro teams plus the Gophers men's basketball and football teams) and found this to be the worst year (to date) in state history, dating back to the arrival of the Vikings and Twins in 1961.

This wallowing and production of historical context is not done with a sense of pride. Minnesota sports fans -- unlike, say, the masses at Wrigley -- as a group tend not to find much that is lovable about their losing teams. A series of unsuccessful Vikings Sundays fills that base with cynical angst; even a series of successful ones is met with a wariness that awaits the other shoe dropping.

Twins fans have become increasingly caustic since Target Field opened. It grew from a first-half lull/playoff failure gurgle last year to a full-throated roar this season. When virtually everything possible is going wrong, though, what does anyone expect?

If sports are supposed to be our escape (and we will save a dissertation on how far down the rabbit hole some folks have fallen for a later date), then lately they have been leading us not only to miserable win/loss outcomes but also harsher realities.

The only good news, we suppose, is that at some point -- maybe now? -- things can't get any worse.

 

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