Since 1985, seven big-time sports teams in the Twin Cities have given this area's citizens 89 postseason appearances -- defined as a bowl game for Gophers football, an NCAA tourney berth for Gophers men's hockey, an NCAA or NIT appearance for Gophers men's basketball and the league playoffs for the Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves and Wild/North Stars.
It might go without saying, but there has never been a year since 1985 when at least one of those teams didn't qualify for the postseason. Every team has at least eight postseason berths since that time: 21 for Gophers hockey, 18 for Gophers hoops, 14 for the Vikings, 11 for Gophers football, nine for the Wild/North Stars and eight apiece for the Twins and Timberwolves.
But if we are to define a combined "season" for the seven teams as the years the postseasons end in their respective sports, then ...
It's all up to you, Twins, in 2011.
This general theme isn't news to many of you. It's a sad review. But the starkness of it hit home now that every other team is done -- and playoff-free -- in 2011. The Timberwolves, who were officially eliminated from this postseason sometime in July 2008 if we're not mistaken, concluded their year Wednesday. Nobody in the NBA had a record that was worse.
The Gophers football team and Vikings were the first to finish. Their postseasons had the ability to carry them into January and February, respectively. Of course, they ended much sooner than that.
Early on, it seemed as though the Gophers men's hoops team was a cinch for an NCAA berth. The season finished, as you know, without even an NIT spot. Improved play down the stretch gave the Gophers hockey team a shot until a home playoff series loss to Alaska-Anchorage ended such thoughts. The Wild gave it a run, but a fade sealed its fate.
So we turn to you, Twins, to restore a measure of pride to a battered sports market and to stave off an historic 0-for-7.