As a thought exercise Wednesday, I asked a simple question on Twitter: Who is the biggest star in Minnesota pro sports right now?
While Twitter is hardly a scientific polling system, and responses from 1) People who follow me and 2) Happened to have seen the tweet make the results even less scientific, the sample size grew substantial enough to reinforce some points.
Of the 120 people who replied, about half had serious answers. The unsurprising takeaway — unsurprising, I say, because I have a hard time with the question myself — is that there is really no consensus. I gave one point for a full vote and half a point to each if someone said Player X or Player X.
The results, as best as I can tell: Vikings QB Kirk Cousins was the leader with 12.5 votes, followed closely by wide receiver Stefon Diggs with 11.5. Maya Moore of the Lynx had nine, while Karl-Anthony Towns of the Wolves had 7.5.
Recently retired Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen managed to garner five votes even though she doesn't play any more, while Jimmy Butler got 3.5. Harrison Smith of the Vikings had three, Joe Mauer had two while Zach Parise of the Wild, Darwin Quintero of United and Dalvin Cook of the Vikings had one apiece.
The tabulation of random votes is one thing; trying to make sense of what it tells us is another. So here are a few possible takeaways:
• Either there are a lot of stars in this pro sports market right now, or there isn't one clear-cut star who rises above the rest. I tend to think some of it just comes down to personal preference, but I also think this market is wide open for someone to really emerge as the biggest of the big.
As opposed to when Kirby Puckett was a World Series hero … or Randy Moss burst onto the scene … or KG was an MVP … or Mauer was in his prime, there isn't one person dominating the Twin Cities sports scene.
• The tilt toward Vikings and NBA/WNBA players is indicative of both the hold the Vikings have on the market and the way basketball does a good job of marketing its stars (and how the Lynx and Wolves have their fair share of marketable players).
• Conversely, it has to be troubling for both the Twins and Wild (and a lesser extent Minnesota United, though that franchise is still in its infancy) to have so little representation. It speaks to how the Twins and Wild have had some good players but no bona fide young stars emerge in recent years.
• It was somewhat surprising to see Adam Thielen receive zero votes, particularly with Diggs getting so many. Thielen is the more accomplished receiver, having been an All-Pro last year. Sure, he didn't perform a miracle … but he also seems to still be battling a perception issue even among local fans.
• How would I vote? Here is my thought process: Cousins? He hasn't even thrown a pass as a Viking yet, and he wasn't a star in Washington. Let's hold on a little. Diggs? He's talented and had the play of the year, but he's never even topped 1,000 yards. KAT and Butler need to win more. Mauer is too far-removed from his prime.
My vote goes to Moore. She's an international star, she's won at every level, she's a former league MVP and she's still in her prime.