The St. Paul Saints, with their jewel of a ballpark (CHS Field) and their strong on-field product, are in many ways the model for how a non-major pro sports league hopes to operate.
But for all the fun the Saints insist on having with their fans and for all the winning that has tended to happen along the way, their last championship before this past weekend came in 2004 — back when they were playing in the Northern League. Between then and now, they had lost in the American Association finals four times.
The championship that arrived Saturday, then — unlikely given how the Saints had to rally to earn it — was a long time coming.
And in true Saints fashion, the franchise celebrated … with a parade Monday that lasted about as long as it takes to properly pour a beer.
One minute. One block.
How do you celebrate a minor sports championship without taking yourself too seriously? How do you squeeze a little extra (and well-deserved) attention out of an accomplishment?
You march one block down Broadway, playing music, carrying the championship trophy and soaking up the sun and cheers from fans. And then you stop. (Photo by the Star Tribune’s Renee Jones Schneider).
Plan a real parade and insist on taking yourself too seriously? Nah. Ignore your accomplishment and let the glory fade? Nope.
Like a crafty NFL receiver who can find a soft spot in a zone or — if you prefer a same-sport analogy more — a really good utility infielder in baseball, the Saints pick their spots and know their role about as well as possible.
Six pro sports teams in town fall into the “major” category: the Vikings, Twins, Wild, Wolves, Lynx and United.
The Saints are not the Twins. They’re not the Lynx, the last professional team with major status around here to deliver a championship (four of them, in fact).
But the Saints’ niche is undeniable, well-earned and self-identified.
From 11:30 until 11:31 a.m. Monday, the spotlight was all theirs.